Substances & Homeopatic Remedies

Oxytropis Lambertii

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oxytropis lamberti L.


from the Greek oxys, "sharp," and tropis, "keel"


Traditional name

Syn.: Oxytropis campestris
     English: Rattle-weed, Loco-weed

Used parts

The whole plant without the root is macerated in two times its weight of alcohol.


Plantae; Spermatophyta, Angiospermae - Flowering Plants; Dicotyledonae; Rosiflorae / Rosidae; Fabales; Leguminosae / Fabaceae / Papilionaceae - Legume Family / Pea Family



Original proving

Proving of the "loco weed" was conducted by the late Dr. W. S. Gee, of Chicago, in 1887); Clarke: A Dictionary of Pract. Mat. Med. Vol. II, 702.

Description of the substance

How it grows:
This North American perennial plant grows wild from the middle provinces of Canada all the way south to Arizona and Oklahoma. It's found in mountains up to 8000 ft. The base of the plant forms a clump that sends up flower stalks, each with up to 25 flowers on it. The hermaphroditic flowers appear May-July and can be bright blue, purple, or fuchsia; they are very attractive to Monarch butterflies. The flowers gradually give way to the pods in August (you will get plenty seeds if you want them). This plant likes full sun and dryish soil, such as is found in dry prairies, gravelly areas (good for rock gardens), and bluffs. Like many members of the pea family, this plant helps enrich the soil by fixing nitrogen from the air and depositing it in the ground, so it helps the transformation of rocky soil. Purple locoweed is also known as rattleweed and Lambert crazyweed.
The plant is exceptionally showy because, on robust plants, the long stems bear up to twenty-five bright bluish or purple flowers about three-fourths of an inch long. A single root crown may produce a dozen stems over a foot long. About two dozen hairy leaflets are arranged along a midrib to form erect leaves about six inches long. The heavy, alfalfa-like taproot penetrates deep underground. At maturity the silvery-hairy legumes (pods) are about as long as the flowers.

Purple locoweed is a member of the huge bean family (Fabaceae). Fab means "bean" in Latin. The generic name Oxytropis was compounded from the Greek oxys, "sharp," and tropis, "keel," in reference to the pointed tip on the two lower flower petals. The German botanist Frederick Pursh dedicated this species to the English botanist Aylmer Lambert from whose cultivated plants he described it in 1814.

This species can cause locoism, a chronic disease that results after long-term grazing. The plant contains swainsonine, an alkaloid, which results in cellular dysfunction through a long biological process. Affected animals show nervous system impairment, with symptoms such as dullness and excitement, as well as immune system impairment. Abortion and congenital birth deformities may occur. Animals affected include cattle, horses, and sheep. Animals may become habituated to locoweed. Death can result (James 1983, Cheeke and Schull 1985).