American hellebore is a perennial plant native to the swampy areas and moist meadows of the eastern and western United States. The root and rhizome of American hellebore has been used historically for fever, pain, and high blood pressure, with a decoction (boiled in water) of the root being used for chronic coughs and constipation. Historically, the whole plant was not routinely used medicinally, only the root and rhizome. Although American hellebore was formerly used as a tea or tincture, potentially toxic and irritating constituents preclude its modern day use by ingestion.
The toxic effects associated with American hellebore limit its ability to be used as an agent to treat hypertension (high blood pressure), related kidney/heart diseases, and hypertension associated with pre-eclampsia in pregnancy.
Currently, there is a lack of scientific information regarding the safety or effectiveness of American hellebore as a whole plant, or homeopathically. Most studies have investigated the isolated jervine alkaloids.
American false hellebore, American white hellebore, cevadine, corn lily, cryptenamine, cyclopamine, false hellebore, germidine, germitrine, green corn lily, green false hellebore, green hellebore, green veratrum, hellebore, Indian poke, itch weed, jervine, jervine alkaloids, Liliaceae (family), Melanthiaceae (subfamily), muldamine, O-acetyljervine, protoveratrine, poison lily, proveratrine, swamp hellebore, verat-v., veratramine, veratridine, Veratrum viride, Veratrone®, veriloid, Vergitryl®, Vertavis®, white American hellebore.
Note: Much of the toxicological data in this monograph is based on the European white hellebore (Veratrum album), as both American hellebore and European white hellebore contain jervine alkaloids, the constituents responsible for the plants' toxic cardiovascular effects.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Cardiovascular and renal dysfunction
Isolated jervine alkaloids found in American hellebore have been studied for cardiovascular and renal (kidney) dysfunction. Additional study is needed before a firm recommendation can be made.
Hypertension (high blood pressure)
Isolated jervine alkaloids found in American hellebore have been used to treat hypertension, however other herbs and prescription drugs that can treat this condition have fewer toxic side effects. Additional study is needed in this area.
Isolated jervine alkaloids found in American hellebore may be beneficial for pre-eclampsia/pregnancy-induced hypertension, but other herbs and prescription drugs that can treat this condition have fewer toxic side effects. Additional study is needed in this area.