What Is Gravel Root?

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM Published on , Last Updated on

A gravel root plant. This herb also known as Joe Pye weed is believed to offer therapeutic help for numbers of health issues.

Gravel root, also known as Joe Pye weed, is a therapeutic herb that’s been around for centuries. Historical records from Turkey indicate its use as early as the B.C. era. Throughout history, many cultures have used gravel root as a remedy for an assortment of health complaints. Many of the bioactive compounds responsible for gravel root’s benefits are beginning to be analyzed by the scientific community in order to validate the age-old claims.

A Look at Gravel Root

The origin of the name “gravel root” is appropriately attributed to its popularity as an herb believed to break down kidney stones (gravel). While solid, modern evidence to confirm this assertion is sparse; the root itself exhibits a host of compounds that have earned it a high level of praise among naturopaths and conventional physicians alike.

The most potent part of the herb are its leaves, roots, and rhizomes (root-like stems) and contain high concentrations of oleoresin euparin, tannins, flavonoids, and sesquiterpene. [1] All of these play a role in supporting metabolic actions.

Historical Uses and Benefits of Gravel Root

Gravel root is believed to offer therapeutic support for a number of health conditions.

For Kidney Stones

Thought to be an antilithic (anti-stone) by Native American Indians, gravel root was traditionally considered an important tool for softening, dissolving, and promoting the passage of kidney stones. Most of the claims surrounding gravel root’s power for reducing kidney stone size have remained anecdotal.

Gravel Root and Gallstones

Gallstones form when an excess substances accumulate in the bile, resulting in hard, crystalline stones. Gravel root has been cited by some cultures as able to dissolve existing gallstones and discouraging new stones from forming.

As an Astringent and Diuretic

Gravel root was sometimes used against edema due to natural diuretic properties. [2] Natural diuretics may help flush excess water.

Nutritional Support for the Urinary Tract

Traditional and conventional uses of gravel root cite its use for urinary tract ailments and bladder infections. Gravel root has also been used in the alleviation of painful bouts of urination (dysuria), possibly due to its soothing, astringent properties on the mucus membranes of the urinary tract.

Gout and Arthritis?

Although no recent research confirms its efficacy, gravel root was used by primitive tribes to alleviate uncomfortable joint conditions such as gout and arthritis. Excess uric acid buildup in the joints can lead to gout and is also one of the few contributors to arthritis. Gravel root was believed to encourage kidney cleansing and provide an antilithic effect to uric acid crystals.

Supplementing With Gravel Root

The most common consumption methods of gravel root today are in the forms of teas, tinctures, and capsules. All types of gravel root preparations are believed to impart the same benefits to the human body. As always, only consume gravel root that’s wild crafted or certified organic from a trustworthy source. Unfortunately, there are a lot of low-quality herbs and supplements coming in from polluted supply houses for the sole purpose of capitalizing on some people’s complacency when purchasing health-related products. Only purchase supplements from reputable and verifiable companies!

One Final Thought

The healing benefits and properties of this mighty herb are among the most prominent in traditional medicine and modern research is still catching up. As you can see, gravel root has earned a reputation as a timeless, must-have remedy. Hopefully more research will determine its exact effects and mechanisms. Have you used gravel root? What was your experience? Please leave a comment and share with us!

References (2)
  1. Habtemariam S. Anti-inflammatory activity of the anti-rheumatic herbal drug, gravel root (Eupatroium purpureum): further biological activities and constituents. Phytotherapy Research. 2001 December;15(8):687-90.
  2. Robert H. Mohlenbrock. Hollow-stemmed Joe-Pye weed. USDA. Plant Fact Sheet. USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database/USDA SCS. 1989. Midwest wetland flora: Field office illustrated guide to plant species. Midewest National Technical Center, Lincoln.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

  • Mark J.

    if you were going to make the perfect combo for kidney and gall stones and release of uric acid. what one or two combos would you use?

  • DaveT

    I have used gravel root for many years since I have been prone to kidney stones since in my 20s. I don’t believe in taking anything 365 days a year. After all these years and 5 doctors diagnosis I know when I’m developing a stone. Gravel root as a tea has always brought relief.

  • Judy

    Hey Dave my mom is in severe pain with a 5 mm trying to pass. She has had the stones for a while and one started moving Wednesday the dr says. Just went and got some herbs cleavers and gravel root to make a tea. How much does she drink and how long does it take for the stone to pass

  • Kat

    My naturopath recommended it when I was experiencing significant pain in my left kidney area. Made a tea with the dried root and the pain resolved within a week. So either it was coincidence or this herb really does work wonders. I think anecdotal information is useful because it’s based on personal experiences.

  • After I lost a lot of weight, I ended up with gallstones, as is common. It was debilitating pain radiating up my back into my shoulder. After a lot of research — and not wanting gall bladder removal surgery as my doctor recommended — I decided on a one-two punch of herbal remedies. I started taking gravel root for about a week to soften and break up the stones. Then I took chanca piedra to try to eliminate them — doing it in this order prevents a life-threatening bile blockage with a large stone. Within two days of taking the chanca piedra and a little over a week after starting on gravel root, I woke up one morning, got violently ill, and passed out. While scary at the time, this was because my stones all came out along with a flood of bile, and that’s what made me terribly nauseous, and the blood rushing to deal with this left my brain without enough oxygen temporarily, so I blacked out. But after going to the doctor to confirm, I was stone free and perfectly healthy. I haven’t had any pain or other issues since.

  • AliGal

    Why is it that these posts are a year-old? Also, a couple of people have asked questions, and they haven’t been answered, as of yet. What’s up?

  • These herbs are a good place to start.

  • Mark J.

    Thank You! 🙂

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