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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 American Sloe, Cramp Bark, Sheepberry, Stagbush, Sweet Haw, Sweet Viburnum
(Viburnum prunifolium)

Can cause tinnitus in some individuals.

CONTAINS: Salicin, scopoletine (coumarin which has a sedative effect on the uterus), amentoflavone, aesculetin, arbutin, oleanolic acid, oxalic acid, citric acid, malic acid, ursolic acid, sulphates, tannin, resin, valerianic acid, sterol, triterpenoids and chlorides of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron.

Deciduous shrub or bushy tree native to the eastern and central United States (New England south to Florida and west to Texas) found growing in moist and open woods. Hardy to -30ºF, growing to 15 feet in height (sometimes more) with a 3 to 20 foot spread. Leaf is opposite, shiny, pinnately veined, elliptic, finely serrate being 1 to 3 inches long and possessing reddish colored petioles; leaves turn red in fall. Flowers are tiny, white with 3 to 5 lobes and produced in flat clusters up to 4 inches across in late spring and early summer. Fruit is a small, blue-black drupe (plum-shaped) on reddish stems. Bark is gray-brown (reddish brown where outer bark is scaled off) in square plates like an alligator hide. Root bark is cinnamon colored.
Sadly, some black female slaves felt the need to rid themselves of their fetuses with abortifacient herbs. When the attempt was discovered, Black Haw was given to counteract the effects of the abortifacient.
Astrologically ruled by Saturn.

PROPAGATION: By seed and semiripe cuttings in summer.
NEEDS: Grown as an ornamental in deep, moist soil in sun to part shade. After flowering, remove dead wood and older stems. Susceptible to aphids and leafspot.
FLOWERS: April to May in south; May to June in north.
HARVEST: Stem bark is collected in spring before leaf buds open and root bark taken in fall before leaves change color, then dried for use in decoctions, liquid extracts, tinctures, infusions, elixirs, and powders.
PART USED: Stem bark, root bark.
SOLVENT: Water, alcohol
CRAMP BARK (Viburnum opulus): In Russia, the berries are used for ulcers.


Bitter, antispasmodic, analgesic, astringent, sedative, stimulant diuretic, nervine, hypotensive, tonic, regulates uterine function; affects liver; extracts of the whole bark have been shown to have an effect on the central nervous system.
Has been used internally for menstrual pain (decoction of root bark, sometimes combined with Mugwort); threatened miscarriage (combined with False Unicorn Root and Goldenseal); conditions accompanied by convulsions (sometimes combined with equal parts ginger and angelica root plus 3 parts chamomile); also hysteria, muscle cramps, dysmenorrhea, false labor pains, heart disease, asthma, arthritis, rheumatism, and nervous palpitations; has also been used to treat nervous conditions associated with pregnancy.
Tincture of the root bark has been used to alleviate pain after childbirth (1 ml doses every 20 minutes for muscle cramps) and arrest bleeding.
Has been used in Asian medicine for nervous conditions, convulsions, hysteria, spasms, menstrual cramps.
Once used by Native Americans as well as Shakers in the form of decoction, extract, pills and plasters as a diuretic and detergent (taken daily in the form of a decoction to prevent and remove cancers); also used by Native Americans to treat diarrhea and dysentary as well as to alleviate chills and fever.

!All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully!
BARK of ROOT = 30 to 60 grains, 2 times daily.
INFUSION = 1 tsp dried, powdered root bark to 1 cup boiling water, steeped 10 minutes, taken cold, a mouthful at a time; 1 to 1½ cups daily total.
DECOCTION = 2 tsp dried bark simmered 10 minutes in 1½ cups water; taken 3 times daily in mouthful doses.
TINCTURE = 4 oz. bark in 1 pint alcohol; 5 ml (1 tsp), 3 times daily.

Used in cases of threatened miscarriage, dysmenorrhea, menorrhagia, tetanus and cancer of the tongue.

Fruits used for preserves.
Leaves were once used in the southern United States like tea.
Fruit eaten by the Meskwaki indians.
ALSO SEE: Black Haw - Cooking with Herbs and Wild Foods.

Bark was smoked like tobacco by Western tribes of Native Americans.

©2004 by Ernestina Parziale, CH