Stillingia sylvatica

Queens delight

Queens delight is an excellent alterative, acting primarily on the lymphatic system. As an astringent, it may also be used in a number of conditions, most especially for haemorrhoids. Another area of application for this herb is in bronchitis and laryngitis, especially where it is accompanied by a loss of voice.


Queens delight (Euphorbiaceae) is a perennial herb, with an angled glabrous stem, growing to 1.2 m high, with a milky sap. The leaves are sessile, leathery and tapering at the base. Flowers yellow on terminal spike. Fruit a three-grained capsule. It flowers from April to July; a milky juice exudes from the plant or root when cut or broken. This should be used when fresh as it deteriorates if kept. The root is 2 - 10 cm long and 2 cm or more thick, covered with a bark wrinkled longitudinally, greyish brown externally, and reddish-brown or rose-coloured internally, odour peculiar, oleaginous, taste bitter and unpleasant, followed by a persistent pungent acridity in mouth and throat. Fracture fibrous, short, irregular, and shows a pithy soft, yellowish-pink interior porous woody portion. The inner bark and medullary rays with brown resin cells, its best solvent is alcohol.1


Only one modern chemistry study of the plant has been published in which a series of eight daphnane and tigliane phorbol esters were isolated based on their irritancy to mouse ear. Six of these compounds were novel, while prostratin and gnidilatidin were previously isolated from other plants.2 Positive alkaloid tests have been reported, but have never been substantiated by elucidation of the proposed alkaloid 'stillingine.' 3-4% volatile oil, 10-12% tannin.3

Scientific investigations

No pharmacologic studies have been reported on the plant or its extracts. There are no pharmacological or clinical studies listed on MedLine.


Lymphatic, alterative, sialogogue, expectorant, diaphoretic, astringent, spasmolytic, dermatological, cathartic and emetic (large dose).3

Traditional usage

American Indians used the root to repel fleas; Creek Indian women were reported to consume the boiled, mashed roots after giving birth. The root was used in the southern United States for constipation, as a purgative, and to treat syphilis and liver, skin, and lung diseases. The dried root is considered to be less toxic than the fresh root. Stillingia was used by the Eclectic medical movement and is an optional ingredient in the controversial Hoxsey cancer formula (Cascara - Rhamnus purshiana, poke root Phytolacca americana, burdock root - Arctium lappa, barberry - Berberis vulgaris, buckthorn bark - Rhamnus frangula, Queen's Delight - Stillingia sylvatica and prickly ash bark - Zanthoxylum americanum). Queen's Delight has also been used in homeopathy.

American Eclectic physicians in the nineteenth century used it as a treatment for tuberculosis, syphilis and cancer, as well as other conditions for which an alterative could be recommended including psoriasis and eczema. Irritation of the mucous membranes of the bronchial tubes, larynx, throat and both nasal cavities, deficient secretion, membranes red and tumid or glistening, blood dyscrasia with general enfeeblement, skin diseases of a moist character, red and irritable. It was applied to the chest with the internal use of small doses of the tincture for bronchial cough where there is a sensation of tightness in the chest, where the cough is hoarse and croupal without secretion. It was often used in conjunction with lobelia in the treatment of croup. Queen's Delight was one of the most important of laryngeal remedies, not only relieving irritation, but proving beneficial in irritative disorders of the fauces, trachea, and bronchiae. Almost a specific for the irritative winter cough. Queens Delight was traditionally thought to be helpful in cases of fluid imbalance in the body, including blood, bile and lymph. In large doses Queens delight is emetic and purgative causing a disagreeable, peculiar, burning sensation in the stomach or alimentary canal with considerable prostration of the system; in smaller doses it is an excellent alterative, and influences the secretory functions. The specific Eclectic indications and uses were for feeble tissues, with tardy removal of broken-down material, and slow renewal of the parts; mucous membranes, tumid, red, and glistening, with scanty secretion; skin affections, with irritation and ichorous discharge; laryngeal irritation, with paroxysmal, hoarse, croupous cough; irritation of the superior pharynx just behind the fauces, with cough; winter-cough of irritation; pain and tendency to form nodes; an important remedy in struma and syphilitic affections.5

Homoeopathically, queens delight is used to treat chronic rheumatism, syphilitic and scrofulous affections. Torpor of lymphatics; torpid liver, with jaundice and constipation. Symptoms are better in the morning, dry air; and worse in the afternoon, damp air, motion. There is a sense of gloomy forebodings; depressed. Sore throat; pain; rawness. Deposits white sediment; urine milky and thick. Hoarseness and chronic laryngeal affections of public speakers. Trachea feels sore when pressed. Larynx constricted, with stinging in fauces. Dry, spasmodic cough; intermittent; evening. Enlarged cervical glands.


Respiratory disorders including bronchitis, bronchial congestion, laryngitis, especially when accompanied by loss of voice and laryngismus stridulus (sudden laryngeal spasm, sometimes called spasmodic croup). May be combined with blood root, aniseed and eucalyptus.3

Chronic skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, and it is specifically indicated where there is lymphatic involvement. Skin disorders including cutaneous eruptions, haemorrhoids. BHP specific indication: Exudative skin eruption with irritation and lymphatic involvement. May be combined with burdock, yellow duck, blue flag and fumitory in cutaneous eruptions.3

Enlargement of lymphatic glands

Gastrointestinal disorders including constipation.3

Use in pregnancy

Not recommended during pregnancy or lactation.

Contraindications and cautions

The diterpene esters are irritants to the skin and mucous membranes

Administration and dosage

Dried root

1-2 g or by decoction 3 times daily.

1:1 25% alcohol extract

0.5 to 2.0ml 3 times daily


  1. Grieve, M.'s03.html 1931 Accessed 28.07.08
  2. Adolf W.,Hecker, E.Tetrahedron Letters 21 (30), 1980, Pages 2887-2890
  3. British Herbal Pharmacopoeia 1983
  4. Ellingwood F. 1919: The American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy
  5. Felter HW, Lloyd JU. King's American Dispensatory, 1898