As early as the 1700s, the root had reached Europe, where it was given for respiratory problems, such as pneumonia. In the first half of the 1900s, it was an ingredient in many patent medicines and over-the-counter remedies, especially for bronchitis.
In the 1950s and 60s, as antibiotics and other new drugs came on the market, the demand for Seneca-snakeroot declined. While, in 1930, Canadians had harvested - and mostly exported - over 700,000 pounds of dried roots, by the 1960s the harvest was no longer commercially important. With the resurgence of interest in herbal medicines, however, demand for Seneca-snakeroot began to increase again in the late 1900s.