Kalmia is a genus of about 8 species of evergreen shrubs from 0.2–5 m tall, in the family Ericaceae. They are native to North America (mainly in the eastern half of the continent) and Cuba. They grow in acidic soils, with different species in wet acid bog habitats (K. angustifolia, K. polifolia) and dry, sandy soils (K. ericoides, K. latifolia).
- People apply mountain laurel directly to the affected area to treat ringworm of the scalp (tinea capitis), psoriasis, herpes, and syphilis.
- The expressed juice of the plant or a decoction of the leaves is believed to have been used by Native Americans to commit suicide in the past. It is hardly ever used in modern herbal medicine, although it is used in homeopathy to cure the symptoms which a large dose can provoke, for example vertigo, nausea, headache, loss of vision, and a number of other ailments. It is also used for rheumatism, or at least the pain of that complaint.
- An infusion of the leaves has been used externally for skin problems, and inflammatory problems. This was also used to clean wounds and to get rid of external parasites such as lice and tics. Internally an infusion of the leaves was used for its astringent and sedative properties, to stop haemorrhages, for diarrhoea and dysentery, for fevers; neuralgia, angina and syphilis.
- A salve made from the expressed juice or sap of the plant is topically applied to rheumatic pains.
- A yellow-tan dye can be obtained from the leaves of Mountain Laurel, and the plant can be used as a living hedge. The wood is, or at least was, used for fuel and can be used to make small items such as tool handles. The roots were used to make spoons, giving it one of its names- Spoonwood.
- Mountain laurel is UNSAFE for people to take by mouth. It can cause many side effects such as pain, cold sweats, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, numbness, dizziness,headache, fever, loss of vision, muscle weakness, serious heart and lung problems, death, and other severe side effects.
- There isn’t enough information to know if mountain laurel is safe when applied directly to the skin.
- Special Precautions & Warnings:
- Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It’s UNSAFE to take mountain laurel bymouth. There isn’t enough information to know whether it is safe to apply mountain laurel to the skin. Don’t use mountain laurel if you are pregnant orbreast-feeding.
- Please consult your doctor.