Herb: Madwoman's Milk


Latin name: Euphorbia helioscopia


Synonyms: Euphorbia lunulata


Family: Euphorbiaceae (Spurge Family)



Medicinal use of Madwoman's Milk:

Antiperiodic. The leaves and stems are febrifuge and vermifuge. The root is anthelmintic. The plant is cathartic. It has anticancer properties. The milky sap is applied externally to skin eruptions. The seeds, mixed with roasted pepper, have been used in the treatment of cholera. The oil from the seeds has purgative properties.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Annual


Height:
35 cm
(1 foot)

Flovering:
May to
October

Habitat of the herb:

Common in cultivated ground throughout Britain to an altitude of 450 metres.

Edible parts of Madwoman's Milk:

Young stems - cooked. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Young leaves are used as a tea substitute.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - sow spring or late summer in situ. Germination usually takes place within 2 - 3 weeks at 20C.

Cultivation of Madwoman's Milk:

Common in cultivated ground throughout Britain to an altitude of 450 metres.

Known hazards of Euphorbia helioscopia:

The sap contains a latex which is toxic on ingestion and highly irritant externally, causing photosensitive skin reactions and severe inflammation, especially on contact with eyes or open cuts. The toxicity can remain high even in dried plant material. Prolonged and regular contact with the sap is inadvisable because of its carcinogenic nature.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.