Beta-amyrin is a triterpene with analgesic properties found in the white latex of common milkweed. The structure shown is an epimer of the naturally occurring compound.
The genus Asclepias was named by Carl Linnaeus after Asclepius, the Greek god of healing, due to the plant's many uses in traditional medicine, including as a treatment for cancer, asthma and some venereal diseases. The latex can be used to treat warts. It contains cardiac glycoside poisons which repel pests, although some species, such as Monarch butterfly larvae, are immune.
Milkweed filaments can be coated with wax and used as insulation and are currently used as a filling for hypoallergenic pillows. Due to their rich carbon content, some milkweeds have been evaluated as a source of fuel.