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Herb Library

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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.



CRAMPBARK
CAPRIFOLIACEAE
aka Dog Rowan Tree, European Cranberry, Gaitre Berries, Guelder Rose, High Bush Cranberry, King's Crown, May Rose, Red Elder,
Rose de Guelder,Silver Bells, Snowball Bush, Snowball Tree, Squawbush, Water Elder, Whitsun Bosses, Whitsun Rose

(Viburnum opulus)
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CAUTION! Do not use if using blood thinners!
The UNCOOKED berries are potentially poisonous and even in small amounts can cause indigestion.

A large bush or small tree (to 12 feet) with spreading branches which can be found in damp, humid woods. Native to Europe, northern Africa, and northern Asia. LEAVES are broad, deeply divided into 3 or 5 broad pointed lobes with coarse toothed margins and being hairless and shiny on slender leaf stalks and having 2 or more glands at the top and fringe-like appendages at the bottom. FLOWERS are small and white, appearing in cymes, the sterile outer flowers being somewhat larger than the interior flowers. FRUITS are red (becoming black upon drying) globular drupes.

Cultivated in Europe, Asia, the northern United States, and Canada. The name Guelder was taken from a Dutch province where it was first cultivated.

Was official in the USP from 1882-1926.

Astrologically ruled by Saturn §

CONTAINS: Viburnin, valerianic acid, isovalerianic acid, salicosides, scopoletin, tannin, resin.
BERRIES contain: Vitamin C, vitamin K.

PROPAGATION By SEED in spring (germination requires 3 to 8 months after first being stratified for 3 months, then held at 70ºF for 2 months more); by semi-ripe CUTTINGS in summer; by hardwood CUTTINGS with a heel taken from a lateral stem in autumn, then rooting in sand.
NEEDS Grown as an ornamental in deep, moist soil in sun or part shade. Perennial, hardy to Zone 3. Remove dead wood and older stems after flowering. Susceptible to aphids and leaf spot.
FLOWERS May to June
PART USED Dried stem bark
HARVEST Branches in spring before the leaf buds open; scrape or strip off bark, then dry thoroughly and store.
FORM Infusion, decoction, liquid extracts, tincture, cream, poultice, compound tincture (NF), compound elixir (NF).
SOLVENT Diluted alcohol
VARIETIES V.o. 'Aureum'
V.o. 'Roseum'
(seeds are sterile)
V.o. 'Xanthocarpum'
RELATED SPECIES: AMERICAN HIGH BUSH CRANBERRY (V. trilobum)
BLACK HAW (V. prunifolium)
USES
MEDICINAL:
♦ May work partly through the hypothalamus
Muscle relaxant specific (works on smooth muscles to relieve muscle tension); has been used as a relaxant on a short term basis to break the vicious cycles of physical behavior (as in anxiety disorders) which are due to long term stress. Antispasmodic, sedative, nervine, astringent, cardiac tonic, uterine relaxant, and anti-inflammatory.
Has been used to treat dysphagia, irritable bowel syndrome, nervous bowel, asthma (1 tbsp of decoction as needed), hysteria, colic (nursing mothers have taken the tea for colicky infants, the properties of the herb being passed along in the breast milk, or else a very weak tea has been given to the infant, one dropperful every 15 minutes), gallbladder problems, urinary problems, migraine, poor circulation, postpartum pain, ovarian pain, menstrual cramps, high blood pressure, nervous constipation, heart palpitations, muscular cramps, rheumatism, fibromyalgia, threatened miscarriage (often combined with Chamaelirium luteum and Viburnum prunifolium, anxiety symptoms (ie. difficulty swallowing), convulsions (children), and painful menstruation; affects nerves, heart, and genito-urinary organs.
Has been used externally for muscle cramps.
Tincture has been used for nervous or muscle tension, colic of the intestines, gallbladder colic, and for urinary system problems.
A warm tea made by combining equal parts of crampbark, ginger and angelica root with 3 parts chamomile has been used for all types of cramping and convulsions.
The berries have been pounded and spread in a fold of cotton or cheesecloth which was applied over the entire area of erysipelas.
Has been added to wine along with smaller amounts of ginger and cloves for all conditions listed; a half wineglassful having been taken 2 or 3 times daily.
Was used by various Native American tribes to treat mumps and other glandular swellings. The women also used it for false labor; to prevent this they took it daily during the last 2 months of pregnancy.
In Russian Folk Medicine the berries have been made into brandy (nastoika) and used to treat peptic ulcers. Also, fresh or dried the berries have been used for high blood pressure, heart conditions (fruit with seeds), coughs, colds, tuberculosis, shortness of breath, kidney problems, bladder problems, stomach problems, bleeding and stomach ulcers. A strong decoction of the flowers has been used for coughs, colds, fevers, sclerosis, tuberculosis, stomach problems, and stomach cancer; this same decoction has also been used in the bath for tubercular skin conditions and eczema. A decoction of 1 part berries to 10 parts flowers has been used as a tea for scrofula.
In Japan a vinegar extract from the berries has been used to treat cirrhosis of the liver.
In China the leaves and berries have been used as a emetic and laxative.

DOSE: TRADITIONAL DOSAGES FOR PROFESSIONAL NOTE ONLY
!All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully!
GRAINS = 30 to 60
DECOCTION = 1 oz (30 g) dried bark in 1 pint (1/2 liter) of water; simmer 15 to 20 minutes, then replace lost volume with a bit of water; taken 1 tbsp (12 ml) in 1 cup (240 ml) water 3 times daily.
TINCTURE = Combine 4 oz of dried bark in 1 pint of 100 proof vodka or other spirit and steep, shaking daily in a covered jar, for 2 weeks; taken 2 to 4 ml (1/2 to 1 tsp) 3 times daily
FLUID EXTRACT = 1/2 to 2 tsp (1 to 8 ml)
CREAM = Combine tincture in a cream base (see HOW TO MAKE for instructions on making a cream).

HOMEOPATHIC:
A tincture of the fresh bark is used for after pain of childbirth, cough (due to pregnancy), cramps, dysmenorrhea, earache, epididymitis, headache, hysteria, false labor, lumbago, painful menstruation, miscarriage, pain in ovaries, paralysis, uterine cramps.
CULINARY:
After being cooked the fruits are eaten, usually as a preserve of some type.
In Scandinavia and Siberia a liqueur and honey paste have been made from the fruit.
DYE:
When drying, the berries mature to a black color and have been used to dye fabric.
OTHER:
When drying, the berries mature to a black color and have been used to make ink.
An extract and the berries have been used commercially for candy, fillers, pastry, marmalade, and as an aromatic.
The wood has been used for making skewers.

©2001 & 2006 by Ernestina Parziale, CH

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