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Uses of Alternanthera Sessilis

By Karen Hellesvig-Gaskell ; Updated June 13, 2017

Alternanthera sessilis (sessile joyweed, noxious weed) typically grows in warm and humid regions around the world, including Asia and Africa. A noxious weed is specified by law as being especially objectionable, problematic and hard to manage. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, sessile joyweed is prevalent in the south central and southeastern United States, including Texas, Arkansas, Alabama and Florida. The weed is prohibited in Massachusetts and Minnesota. Depending on its geographic location Alternanthera sessilis may grow along the road, in a rice field or in gardens. This particular noxious weed is purported to have a number of remedial uses.

Uses in Africa

According to legend, Alternanthera sessilis can make sick people well. In some parts of the world, Alternanthera sessilis weed is used for a variety of medicinal purposes. For example in Nigeria, it is used to relieve headaches and dizziness. In various regions of Africa, sessile joyweed, when ground to a powder, is considered to be a viable treatment for snakebites and to stop the vomiting of blood. Another use in Africa is sniffing of the leaf sap to treat neuralgia (acute spasmodic pain along the course of one or more nerves).

Uses in Taiwan and Thailand

In Taiwan, Alternanthera sessilis is often combined with other medicinal herbs to treat conditions including bronchitis, asthma and hepatitis. People in Thailand and Sri Lanka use the weed as a galactagogue (agent that increases milk supply). In addition, the leaves are boiled and ingested to treat hypertension (high blood pressure). Alternanthera sessilis is also considered to be a remedy for gastrointestinal issues, chronic liver congestion and gonorrhea.

Miscellaneous Uses

The stems and leaves of sessile joyweed are used to treat eye problems. The shoots of the weed are mixed with other ingredients to improve male sexual potency. The weed is sometimes used topically to treat acne. In Southeast Asia, young shoots and leaves are eaten as vegetables.

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