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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.

aka False Grape, Five-leaves, Virginia Creeper, Wild wood-vine, Woodbine
Ampelopsis quinquefolia syn Parthenocissus quinquefolia

CONTAINS: Balsamic resin in leaves, stems and its 'gum'; pyrocatachin (oxyphenic acid), free tartaric acid and its salts, sodium and potassium are present in the green leaves; cisso-tannic acid is present in the red autumn leaves. The berries contain a very bitter substance akin to quinine, the alkaloid Hederin, glycollic acid and calcium collate.

Woody, shrubby, North American native vine which is a member of the Grape family. "Ampelopsis" is from the Greek meaning vine-like. Was first brought to Europe from Canada as early as 1629.

HARVEST: Bark and twigs. Bark is harvested after the berries have ripened. The fruit is a small dark blue acid berry. Leaves have also been used to some extent. The bark is dried in the sun in quilled pieces (2 to 3 inches long and from 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter).


Tonic, astringent, expectorant, alterative, cathartic, emetic.
At one time mainly used as a syrup for coughs, colds and tuberculosis or else given in decoction form.
Leaves taste unpleasant, but taken as an infusion they act as a mild laxative or emetic, but also sudorific.
Juice has been said to cure headache when applied to the nostrils and an infusion of the leaves and berries are reputed to help with severe headache.
Fresh leaves, boiled in vinegar, and applied to the sides will ease a 'stitch'; the same combined with rose water and applied to the forehead and temples for headache.
Decoction of the leaves used as a rinse for head lice.
Fresh bruised leaves applied to bunions and corns for relief.
Leaves used as a poultice and fomentation for glandular swellings and indolent ulcers.
Infusion of the berries (strongly purgative and emetic) has been used for rheumatic complaints.
The Meskawi Indians boiled the root and made it into a drink for diarrhea.
Berries were formerly infused in vinegar for use against feverish conditions and plagues; the berries were also used during the Great Plague of London for their antiseptic qualities and to induce perspiration.
Bark was used for dropsy, diseases of the skin, and bronchitis.
In India the leaves are used as a gentle laxative.
In warm climates (i.e. India) the main stems being wounded exude a gum which is used as a stimulant, antispasmodic and emmenagogue; gum is also mildly laxative and was also dissolved in vinegar and then placed in a tooth cavity for toothache.

All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully.
This plant was not official in the British or US pharmacopoeias, but was included in the Canadian Medicinal list of plants.
Tincture is made from the fresh young shoots and the dried autumn bark which are chopped and pounded to a pulp, then mixed with 2 parts (by weight) of 100 proof alcohol and left 8 days in the dark, covered, before being strained. Dose is 5 to 30 drops.
Also: A tsp of the bark or twigs (cut small or powdered) to 1 C. of boiling water, taken cold during the day, a large mouthful at a time.

A decoction of the leaves is used to produce a black dye.

Was once thought to prevent drunkeness and a cup of wine in which a handful of bruised leaves had been boiled was believed to cure drunkeness or discourage further drinking.

©2000 by Ernestina Parziale, CH