(Cramp bark, Guelder rose)
This beautiful native shrub has just finished flowering, the creamy halos are so angelic! It’s a herb, like Valerian that I wouldn’t want to be without in the clinic! Both contain Valerianic acid and are fantastic for relaxing the nervous system.
Stress is a major cause of disease so addressing it with herbal medicine is so important.
It also contains; salicosides, tannin resin & glycosides.
It’s main use is as an Antispasmodic for relaxing muscle tension & cramps. It works on skeletal muscle and smooth muscle, so not only is it good for muscle tension due to stress and anxiety but also on visceral tension. As such its great for nervous bowel, asthma, colicky pain from the gut, gall-bladder or urinary system, migraine, spasm of the arterial musculature (high blood pressure), poor circulation following nervous tension, difficulty in swallowing due to tension, painful periods, convulsions in children and so on.
Parts used: the stem bark in the autumn or early spring.
Harvest the bark any time but ideally spring/ early summer. Use a small knife to remove the bark in short strips, taking care not to take too much from any branch and not to ring the limb or it will die. The bark can be used fresh or dried for later use.
Fresh or dried bark tea – decoct 1tsp of chopped bark in a mug of water, or 25g to one pint of water. Bring to boil in a pan and simmer for 20 mins. Strain and drink. Dose: 1 cup 3-4 times daily.
Tincture – Decoct all your harvested bark in a pan adding enough water to just allow them to float. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 mins. Leave to cool then strain the liquid. Measure it and add an equal amount of vodka and pour into a jar with the bark pieces you’ve just boiled. Keep the jar in a cool dark place for a month, shaking it most days. Strain off the liquid, bottle and label.
Dose: 2-5ml in a little water, 2-3 times daily. For acute conditions you can put 15 drops in a little water and sip frequently. The tincture can also be used as a rubbing liniment for aching muscles.