Herb: Catgut

Latin name: Tephrosia virginiana

Family: Leguminosae

Medicinal use of Catgut:

The root is anthelmintic, diaphoretic, diuretic, pectoral and tonic. A tea made from the roots is said to make children muscular and strong. A cold tea is used to improve male potency and also to treat TB, bladder problems, coughs, irregular menstruation and other women's complaints. Experimentally, the root has shown both anticancer and cancer-causing activity. The leaves have been placed in the shoes in order to treat fevers and rheumatism.

Description of the plant:


60 cm
(2 feet)

May to

Habitat of the herb:

Dry sandy woods and openings.

Other uses of Catgut:

The root is a source of the insecticide "rotenone". This is especially effective against flying insects but appears to be relatively harmless to animals. A decoction of the roots has been used as a hair shampoo by women in order to prevent hair loss.

Propagation of the herb:

Pre-soak the seed for 12 hours in warm water and then sow in a greenhouse in spring. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow on in the greenhouse for their first winter, planting out in the following spring or early summer.

Cultivation of Catgut:

Dry sandy woods and openings.

Known hazards of Tephrosia virginiana:

Contact with the plant can cause dermatitis in sensitive people. The seeds are toxic.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.