Health Benefits of Moonseed

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Moonseed Quick Facts
Name: Moonseed
Scientific Name: Menispermum canadense
Origin Native to eastern North America, from southern Canada south to northern Florida, and from the Atlantic coast west to Manitoba and Texas.
A perennial member of the moonseed family, Yellow parilla grows from Canada to Carolina, and west to the Mississippi. The horizontal, very long woody root, of a beautiful yellow colour, thrives in moist woods, hedges and near streams. The taste is bitter and it is nearly odorousless.

The stem is round and climbing and about 1 ft. in length, with roundish smooth leaves, 4–5 in. in diameter, green above, paler beneath. The small yellow flowers are in clusters in the month of July followed by one seeded fruit which is thick, black and resembles grapes. Its active principle is menispermin, and is sometimes used as a substitute for sarsaparilla.


Vine is dioecious with small and non-fragrant flowers in panicles. Flowers are creamy white to brownish green. Both male and female flowers have four to eight sepals which are 0.4 to 1.8 mm and four to twelve petals which are 0.6-2 mm. Stamens of male flowers are 4 mm long. Pistillate flowers have 2-4 carpels which are about 1.4 mm long. Ovary is superior.


Fruits are blue to black drupe about 6-13 mm long. It resembles glaucous wild grapes and ripens from September to November.

Facts About Moonseed

Name Moonseed
Scientific Name Menispermum canadense
Native Native to eastern North America, from southern Canada south to northern Florida, and from the Atlantic coast west to Manitoba and Texas.
Common/English Name Yellow parilla, Vine-Maple, Texas Sarsaparilla, Canadian Moonseed, Yellow Sarsaparilla, Common moonseed
Name in Other Languages English: Canadian moonseed, Common moonseed, Moonseed, Yellow parilla, Canada moonseed, Moonseed vine;
Swedish: Amerikansk månfröranka;
French: Ménisperme du Canada
Plant Growth Habit Woody climbing vine
Plant Size 6 m tall
Stem Green to brownish red and slightly hairy
Leaf Palmately lobed, 5–20 cm diameter
Flowering Season Late spring to early summer
Flower Dark green, heart-shaped, 5 inches (12.7 cm) long
Fruit shape & size Berry, 1–1.5 cm in diameter
Fruit color Purple-black
Fruit Season September and October
Medicinal part The root

Seed are crescent moon about 6-10 mm across, light tan to brown to gray. Seedlings are long thin cotyledons but typically shaped first true leaf.

Leaves and stems

Leaves are alternate measuring 3 to 8 inches long and heart shaped at the base with 7 to 12 primary veins radiating from the base. The edges of leaf are toothless and have 3 to 7 shallow lobes. The lobe tips are rounded to bluntly pointed. Upper surface is medium to dark green, hairless or becoming hairless. Lower surface is paler, finely hairy especially along the veins. Leaf stalks are 8 inches long and attached on underside near but not at the base of the leaf.


“Yellow Parilla seems to possess one virtue which is paramount to all others, it is essentially and particular antisyphilitic, anti-scrofulous, anti-mercurial.” Achieving this, it is of much merit for all diseases arising from either hereditary or acquired impurities of the system. It exerts its influence principally on the gastric and salivary glands and is found expressly beneficial in cases of adhesive inflammation and where it is found necessary to break up organized deposits and hasten disintegration of unwanted tissue. It is believed by some to be superior to Sarsaparilla as a blood purifier for scrofula, blood disorders, gout, rheumatism and cutaneous skin diseases generally. Also acts as a tonic and nervine and may be given in all cases of debility and dyspepsia.


1 teaspoonful to 1 cupful of boiling water, steeped 15 min.; take 1–4 cupfuls a day. Of the tincture, 5–20 min. Of the powder, 1–4 grains. If it produces vomiting, reduce the dosage.

Homoeopathic Clinical

Tincture of the root; trituration of menisperminum—Back ache, Headache, Itching, Tongue (swelling of).

Medicinal uses

  • Apply the root externally as salve on chronic sores.
  • Cherokee use moonseed as a laxative.
  • Use the root for skin diseases.
  • Lenape use it in salve for treating skin sores.
  • Use the root tea for treating indigestion, bowel disorders, arthritis and as a blood cleanser.
  • Apply the root externally as a salve on chronic sores.






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