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Bayberry Root

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Bayberry Root - Myrica cerifera

Astringent and stimulant. In large doses emetic. It is useful in diarrhoea, jaundice, scrofula, etc.

The original use of bayberry was in treating "cankers," at one time understood to be accumulations of cold at various sites in the body. Tannins make bayberry bark astringent, sealing over sites of Inflammation and infection in the mouth, gums, and throat, and stimulant, inducing productive coughs that release phlegm. An alcoholic tincture of the bark for herbal medicine may reduce sensitivity of the prostate to testosterone; research is ongoing.

Bayberry root bark is the part used in herbalism. The plant contains several organic compounds, including: triterpenes such as myricadiol, taraxerol, and taraxerone, as well as chemicals such as different flavonoids, tannins, resins, gums, and phenols. These compounds have varying effects. Myricadiol has a slight impact on levels of potassium and sodium, while a substance called myricitrin has antibiotic properties.

Bayberry has a history of medicinal use. The Choctaw boiled and used the result as a treatment for fevers. Bayberry was eventually adopted as a medicinal plant, but only in the South. In 1722, it was reported that colonists in Louisiana drank a mixture of wax and hot water to treat severe dysentery. Bayberry was reported in an account from 1737 as being used to treat convulsions, colic, palsy, and seizures. Starting in the early 19th century, a herbalist called Samuel Thompson recommended this plant for producing "heat" within the body and as a treatment for infectious diseases and diarrhea. That use of bayberry waned later in the 19th century, in favor of using it for a variety of ailments, including a topical use for bleeding gums. For twenty years starting in 1916, bayberry root bark was listed in the American National Formulary.

Medicinal use of Bayberry has declined since its peak in popularity in the 19th century. The plant is still used today in the treatment of fever, diarrhea, and a few other ailments. The chemical myricitrin has anti-fever properties. In addition, that chemical, along with the tannins, has anti-diarrheal properties. The myricitrin works as an antibiotic, while the tannins have astringent properties.

In general, either a decoction or a tincture is used. Infusions and a topical paste have also been used.

For occasional use only. Since bayberry can stimulate uterine contractions, avoid during pregnancy. If you are allergic to bayberry wax, use with caution.
This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.