Rabbit Brush Plant Profile
Latin Name: Ericameria nauseosa (formerly Chrysothamnus nauseosus)
There are many species found across their very wide range.
General: Erect, deciduous shrub, usually 20-60 cm tall (sometimes over 1 m), densely branches, often flat-topped; branches flexible, covered with grey, felt-like hairs.
Leaves: Alternate, linear 3-6 cm long, about 1 mm wide, grey-velvety, not much twisted.
Flowerheads: Small, yellow heads of 5 disc florets, about 5 mm across; many flowerheads in dense clusters (cymes) at branch tips; involucral bracts rounded or abruptly pointed, not green tipped, August to October.
Fruits: Hairy, linear achenes; pappus of white hairs.
Where Found: Dry, open sites; plaines to montane; southern BC and Alberta to New Mexico, low elevation to high.
Traditional Uses and History of Plant:
-Rabbitbrush branches were burned slowly to smoke hides and boughs were used to cover and carpet sweathouses.
-Mature flowers were boiled for at least 6 hours to produce a lemon-yellow dye for wool, leather, and baskets. Alum was then added as a mordant, along with the wool or leather to be dyed, and boiled continued for about an hour. When dying baskest the flower and buds were boiled overnight and the basket material was then soaked in dye for about 12 hours. The inclusion of immature buds or twigs gave the dye a greenish tinge.
-The milky sap of these shrubs contains rubbery compounds and was extensively explored as a rubber source by the U.S. government in the 1950’s and early sixties.
-Compounds being researched for nematicide.
-The bark of the lower stem and roots of several species of rabbit brush was widely used as chewing gum.
-The roots were boiled to make a strong decoction for treating coughs, fevers, colds and old internal injuries and for easing menstrual cramps.
-To relieve headaches, the leaves were used to make a medicinal tea and it was applied as a lotion.
-The leaf tea was taken internally to reduce fevers and relieve constipation, colds, and stomach problems.
-Mashed rabbitbrush leaves were packed onto decayed teeth to relieve toothaches.
Essential Oil Case History and Research Facts, Major Chemical Components
Part distilled: Stalk and flower, pre-post bloom.
Blending: Blends well with citrus oils and high oxide oils.
Aroma: Astringent, Coniferous, Cool, Earthy, Exotic, Herbaceous, Pungent, Slightly bitter, Woody, Spicy, Golden.
Monoterpine Family These compounds are known to be effective against air born viruses among many other great attributes. Monoterpines are lypophylic meaning they absorb easily through the skin. Essential oils high in monoterpine compounds are often incorporated into cosmetics for their ability to help out constituents penetrate.
Monoterpine isolates in research studies have shown them to be anti-bacterial/fungal/infectious/inflammatory/oxidant/spasmodic/viral, analgesic, cicatrisant, decongestant, expectorant, immuno-stimulant, mucolytic, rubefacient, and sedating – see below for definitions.
Monoterpines are not water soluble, so avoid using essential oils high in these compounds in the bath unless they are in a fatty substance like Jojoba oil or such.
Delta Limonene makes up 40% of the chemical analysis. One of the main constituents that gives citrus its flavor, as citrus is high in mono-terpine compounds. Isolated limonene is used widely in the fragrant, flavoring, cosmetic and medical industry for its wide array of effects. Also being used as a solvent to degrease machine parts.
Cis-beta-oscimine makes up 35 % of the meausred chemistry of Rabbit Brush essential oil.
The “minor” chemical compounds include sesquiterpines, monoterpenols, sesquiterpenols, a few esters and aldehydes, miniscule ketones and oxides. What do these mean? Consider a course in basic essential oil chemistry from one of our colleagues you can find on our resource page.
Major Chemical components, Case History, & Research Facts:
Monoterpenes: are effective airborne deodorizers and purifiers. They are emotionally uplifting and often provide an analgesic effect where muscle pain and stiffness are present.
Safety: Oils high in monoterpenes can cause skin irritation or sensitization if they have oxidized, an important reason to store them well (cold and dark). Monoterpenes are not water-soluble; avoid in the bathtub unless they are well diluted in carrier oil or fatty substance like milk.
Actions: Activates white blood cells, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiobesity, antioxidant, antitumoral, antiulcerogenic, immunostimulant, skin penetration enhancer, mucolytic.
Medicinal Uses and Indications of Oil:
-Helpful in clearing thick yellow mucous, coughs and colds.
-Diffuse for protection, cleansing, uplifting energy.
-Use with other high oxide oils for depression.
Always use essential oils cautiously!
Kershaw, MacKinnon, and Pojar, Plants of the Rocky Mountains
Still Point Aromatics
Aromahead Institute curriculum
Moore, Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West
Kershaw, Edible Plants of the Rockies
Eckenwater, Conifers of the World
Elpel, Botany in a Day
Gratitude to Jaisy Jahan Zuberi and Ryan Bradley for thier legacy project in apprenticeship to House of Aromatics for compiling the information to create the plant profiles.
No ! FDA Approval. This article is not meant to diagnose or treat any disease or condition. This profile is for education about traditional uses and what scientific research is learning about the complexity of phyto-chemistry. Do not use this document to treat or diagnose any dis-ease. Take your shoes and socks off and put your bare feet on the bare Earth. Sat a spell.
Thanks to all of our friends and colleagues from whom we have been honored with so much wisdom, knowledge and elemental lore.