Ozark Encyclopedia – C – Cocklebur – Mountain Man Traditional Healing

Cocklebur – Xanthium spinosum, X. strumarium

Parts used: burrs

Traditional uses: Infusion of root given to induce vomiting. Roots chewed for rattlesnake bite. Plant used for the kidneys. Decoction of seeds used for bladder ailments.

Tea used for rheumatism – “A tea made by boiling cockleburs in water is another remedy for rheumatism.” ~Randolph OMF 108

Used in love divinations – “Another girl picks a cocklebur, names it for her lover, and throws it against her skirt; if it sticks, she knows that her lover is true to her, if it doesn’t stick she thinks he is false.” ~Randolph OMF 172

Tea made for cold – “We always drank cocklebur tea for a cold. Dried burs, boil them in water, put a little sugar in it, strain them and drink it.” ~Carter and Krause HRIO

Used for coughs – “Boil ripe cuckleburrs. Make a tea out of the juice. Add enough sugar to make a syrup.” ~Parler FBA II 1970

For gall bladder – “Drink a quart of cockle-burr…tea each day for gall-bladder trouble.” ~Parler FBA II 2289

For kidney stones – “Take dry kickleburrs and place them in a stone jar. Then fill the jar with water (hot but not boiling) and set on stove next to fire. Let them simmer for 2 to 3 hours and then drain juice into jug. Take 1 tablespoon full 3 times per day for kidney stones.” ~Parler FBA III 2592

For kidney health – “Cucklebur…tea is good for kidneys.” ~Parler FBA III 2593

With alcohol and glycerin for tuberculosis – “To cure tuberculosis take dry cockleburrs, alcohol, and glycerin. Cook down and drink the water of it. You will spit up the T.B.” ~Parler FBA III 3474


Carter, Kay & Bonnie Krause Home Remedies of the Illinois Ozarks (HRIO)

Moerman, Daniel E. Native American Ethnobotany (NAE)

Parler, Mary Celestia Folk Beliefs from Arkansas (FBA)

Randolph, Vance Ozark Magic and Folklore (OMF)

Source: Ozark Encyclopedia – C – Cocklebur – Mountain Man Traditional Healing

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