Skunk cabbage was much used by the native North American Indians primarily for its expectorant and antispasmodic properties to treat bronchitis and asthmatic conditions, a use that is still employed in modern herbalism.
Handling the fresh leaves can cause skin to blister whilst excessive doses of the root can bring on nausea and vomiting, headaches and dizziness.
The root is antispasmodic, diaphoretic, diuretic, emetic, expectorant and slightly narcotic.
The rootstock has been used internally in the treatment of respiratory and nervous disorders, including asthma, whooping cough, catarrh, bronchitis and hay fever.
It is occasionally used to treat epilepsy, headaches, vertigo and rheumatic problems.
Externally, it has been used as a poultice to draw splinters and thorns, to heal wounds and to treat headaches.
The root hairs or rootlets have been applied to dental cavities to treat toothache.
A tea made from the root hairs has been used externally to stop bleeding.
An inhalation of the crushed leaves has been used in the treatment of headaches.
The leaf bases have been applied as a wet dressing to bruises.