Cramp Bark – Materia Medica


For as unusual as the name camp bark may sound, it tells us that its primary use is in relieving cramps. It is the national symbol of the Ukraine and is called Kalyna in their language. The name stems from a legend where young lady named Kalyna was associated with the birth of the universe. Traditionally, Native Americans used the bark to ease menstrual cramps and for lessening spasms after birth. This plant is also of great benefit to those experiencing headaches, arthritis and muscle pain.

  • Common Name: Cramp Bark (Guelder Rose, High-Bush Cranberry, European Cranberrybush, Snowball Tree, Whitten Tree, Squaw Bush, Pimbina, Water Elder, King’s Crown, May Rose)

  • Latin Name: Viburnum opulus L.

  • Family: Caprifoliaceae

  • Areas of Origin: Europe and North America

  • Botanical Description: A deciduous shrub which can grows to 13-16’ and can spread from 10-15’ wide. It has white, lace-cap type flowers which are similar to the shape and look of hydrangeas and large, maple-like leaves. The red berries grow in clusters during the fall.

  • Parts Used: Bark

  • Uses: Good for muscle, menstrual and bowel cramps; arthritis, high blood pressure, spasmodic coughing, headaches

  • Actions: Antispasmodic, astringent, diuretic, hypotensive, nervine, phytoestrogen, relaxant, sedative, uterine tonic,

  • Preparations: Decoction (tea) or tincture

  • Taste: Bitter and astringent

  • Safety: May not be suitable for use while pregnant or nursing

  • Contraindications (Plant-Medication Combinations): None known.

Until next time, discover the power of welcoming nature’s healing plants into your life.


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