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What is Onosmodium?

Sara Schmidt
By
Updated May 17, 2024
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Course and hairy, onosmodium is a white flower-bearing plant native to North America. The leaves, seeds, and roots of the plant are employed in homeopathic medicine. Remedies for various maladies, including those of the kidneys and the sexual organs, can be created from the plant.

Also known as false gromwell, the plant is sometimes referred to as gravel weed and Wild Job's tears. It works as a diuretic and tonic for various ailments. The plant serves as a swelling reducer. To cure kidney or gall stones, an infusion from the plant's seeds and roots may be imbibed up to four times daily until the stones are released from the body. It may also provide a remedy for male sexual dysfunction.

Migraines can be treated with the bristly herb. Female lack of sexual desire can be reversed through use of the plant, while painful urination can be cured as well. Bladder irritation in general may be alleviated from using the onosmodium plant. The plant's root, which is still flexible once dried, can help relieve kidney irritation when used as a tonic. Drinking such a solution is said to also support and strengthen renal areas.

Caution should be used when self-medicating with onosmodium. Because it causes excessive urination, it can also cause dehydration. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use the supplement.

Found in New England, North Dakota, New Mexico, and along the southern coast from Louisiana to Florida, onosmodium prefers dry, open woods or prairie full of sandy soil. Dry, hilly grounds make a good habitat for the herb as well. Optimal onosmodium growth occurs in areas with light to moderate grazing pressure. False gromwell is a member of the Boraginaceae family, named for its unpleasant odor.

The perennial herb features five-petaled, curled yellow-white flowers that bloom from June to July. These crowded, half-inch (one and one-half centimeters), residing on the upper third of the plant, are melded with a tubular center corolla. Inside the corolla, the long styles, or female reproductive organs, protrude like a group of needles.

Elongated leaves, graduated in length, sprout from the coarse, bristled, slender stem. Some onosmodium plants appear to be bushes. This is due to the presence of both dead and living stems pushing up from the brown root. During the winter, after the plant freezes, it bears white nutlets that remain throughout the winter. The entire bristle-covered plant can grow up to three to four feet (.9 to 1.2 meters) tall.

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Sara Schmidt
By Sara Schmidt
With a Master's Degree in English from Southeast Missouri State University, Sara Schmidt puts her expertise to use by writing for WiseGeek, plus various magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She published her own novella and has other literary projects in the works. Sara's diverse background includes teaching children in Spain, tutoring college students, running CPR and first aid classes, and organizing student retreats, reflecting her passion for education and community engagement.
Discussion Comments
By pastanaga — On Nov 12, 2011

It sounds like this herb could have a lot of potential as a medical supplement. Although I'm a bit wary of the part about kidney stones. I feel like, if they are able to come out at all, drinking four big cups of water per day would definitely help, with or without the herb!

But I know that often modern medicines are discovered through herbal research and this could be one of the many old wives tales that happens to have some truth.

Like fox glove which found out in small quantities can be very helpful for people with heart conditions.

But, also like foxglove it should be used cautiously. Anything can kill if you take too much of it.

By Mor — On Nov 12, 2011

@browncoat - I would be cautious about using it for medical purposes. Although it might not be harmful if used in moderation, there hasn't been a lot of scientific research done on this herb.

It's very difficult for people who don't have experience with an herb to know how much they should take for it to have an effect but not do any harm. Either it has medical properties, and can be harmful in too-large doses, or it doesn't and it's pointless using it anyway.

And if you are suffering from something like kidney stones, you'd be better off going to a doctor to try and get them fixed. I know it can be tempting to try and do things on your own, but life isn't worth the risk.

By browncoat — On Nov 12, 2011

False gromwell is related to borage and forget-me-nots and you can kind of tell when you see it, although the flowers look completely different.

It has that same, soft and hairy look to the leaves. The flowers are long and bunched together, and not very remarkable looking.

We've always thought of it as a weed. The flowers aren't really all that pretty to look at or anything and it tends to spring up in pastures.

I didn't realize you could use it for medications.

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt
With a Master's Degree in English from Southeast Missouri State University, Sara Schmidt puts her expertise to use by writing for WiseGeek, plus various magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She published her own novella and has other literary projects in the works. Sara's diverse background includes teaching children in Spain, tutoring college students, running CPR and first aid classes, and organizing student retreats, reflecting her passion for education and community engagement.
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