Comments: Species in this same genus, Cypripedium, have been used medicinally by both Native and Euro-Americans (Niering 1979, Weiner 1980).
The roots of Cypripedium parviflorum were used by the Cherokee as a treatment for worms, and the roots of all Cypripedium species were used as a treatment for insomnia, nervousness, or nerve-related disorders by Native Americans and Euro-Americans (Niering 1979, Weiner 1980). References describing medicinal uses cannot be associated with single species or varieties with great confidence, as the species/variety and nomenclature for Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens and related strains (complex) is confusing and perhaps not yet standardized; although, references do imply that the medicinal uses were not restricted to one species or variety of Cypripedium.
Herbalists in the U.S. have agreed not to purchase, dig, or use any Cypripedium species in their formulas [however, not all companies are complying with this agreement, and wild-collection continues]. In the late 1800s, Cypripedium was very popular as a nervine tonic (Robyn Klein pers. comm.). Cypripedium pubescens is listed as an ingredient in a recipe for making a homeopathic remedy for poison ivy and poison oak on internet websites (Frontier Co-op 2000). As a medicinal herb, the rhizomes are used to make a tincture. Two more common species, Scutellaria lateriflora and Lavendula angustifolia, are recommended as suitable substitutes for Cypripedium for medicinal uses (Ed Fletcher pers. comm.).
Prices for this species were found as follows:
Georgia: $6.00/single root or rhizome (Tom Patrick pers. comm.)
Toronto, Canada: $24.95/individual plant, $68.00/3 plants (Elizabeth Punter pers. comm.)