- Family Orchidaceae
- Cypripedium pubescens
- Cypripedium calceolus
- American Valerian, Nerve Root, Bleeding Heart, Moccasin Flower, Monkey Flower, Noah’s Ark, Slipper Root, Venus Shoe, Yellows
- In view of the plant’s scarcity, it should not be used medicinally.
- The leaves and aerial parts induce severe contact dermatitis, and excessive use can cause hallucinations.
Native to eastern North America, it is a rare perennial orchid with several stems sheathed by broad, lance-shaped leaves. It has beautiful, complex, golden-yellow and purple flowers appearing in late summer. Its natural habitat is woods and pastures, but because of overharvesting, it is rarely found in the wild anymore, and is cultivated only to a limited degree.
The plant was held in high regard by Native Americans, who used it to ease menstrual and labour pains and to counter insomnia and nervous conditions.
Its common names give a good indication as to its shape and use. The flowers resemble slippers; and the root was used to relieve nervousness, headaches, spasms, and cramps. The Chippewa placed the dried and remoistened root directly onto skin inflammations and toothaches to relieve discomfort. The Cherokee used one variety to treat worms in children.
In the Anglo-American Physiomedicalist tradition, it had many uses. Swinburne Clymer, in his Nature’s Healing Agents, 1905, considered it of special value in “reflex functional disorders, or chorea, hysteria, nervous headaches, insomnia, low fevers, nervous unrest, hypochondria, and nervous depression accompanying stomach disorders”.
- volatile oil
Like valerian, lady’s slipper is an effective tranquillizer, reducing emotional tension and often calms the mind sufficiently to allow sleep. It appears to have more positive restorative effects than that of valerian. However, because of its scarcity and cost, lady’s slipper is now used only on a small scale as a sedative and for relaxing herb treating such stress-related disorders as palpitations, headaches, muscular tension, panic attacks, and neurotic conditions.
It also appears to promote perspiration, and is used as a general tonic.