CRAMP BARK, Viburnum opulus


Latin name:  Viburnum opulus

English name: Guelder Rose, Water Elder, European Cranberry bush, Cramp Bark, and Snowball Tree

Medicinal parts used: Bark

Viburnum opulus is a deciduous shrub growing to 4-5 m tall. The leaves are opposite, three-lobed, 5-10 cm long and broad, with a rounded base and coarsely serrated margins; they are superficially similar to the leaves of some maples, most easily distinguished by their somewhat wrinkled surface with impressed leaf venation. The leaf buds are green, with are valvate bud scales.

Cramp Bark is native to North America, and the parts of the plant used medicinally are the dried bark of root and stem.

Therapeutic use:

  • Guelder rose is a powerful antispasmodic and is much used in the treatment of asthma, cramps and other conditions such as colic or painful menstruation.
  • It is also used as a sedative remedy for nervous conditions.
  • The bark is antispasmodic, astringent and sedative.
  • The bark contains ‘scopoletin’, a coumarin that has a sedative affect on the uterus.
  • A tea is used internally to relieve all types of spasms, including menstrual cramps, spasms after childbirth and threatened miscarriage.
  • It is also used in the treatment of nervous complaints and debility.
  • The leaves and fruits are antiscorbutic, emetic and laxative.
  • A homeopathic remedy is made from the fresh bark. It is used in the treatment of menstrual pain and spasms after childbirth.

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