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Cramp Bark

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Cramp Bark - Viburnum opulus

The dried bark is used in a tincture, known as "Cramp Bark," to alleviate painful menstrual cramps.

Cramp Bark. Snowball Tree. King's Crown. High Cranberry. Red Elder. Rose Elder. Water Elder. May Rose. Whitsun Rose. Dog Rowan Tree. Silver Bells. Whitsun Bosses. Gaitre Berries. Black Haw.

The bark, known as Cramp Bark, is employed in herbal medicine. It used formerly to be included in the United States Pharmacopoeia, but is now omitted though it has been introduced into the National Formulary in the form of a Fluid Extract, Compound Tincture and Compound Elixir, for use as a nerve sedative and anti-spasmodic in asthma and hysteria. In herbal practice in this country, its administration in decoction and infusion, as well as the fluid extract and compound tincture is recommended. It has been employed with benefit in all nervous complaints and debility and used with success in cramps and spasms of all kinds, in convulsions, fits and lockjaw, and also in palpitation, heart disease and rheumatism.

Cramp Bark’s remarkable ability to relax muscular tension and cramps has been attributed to its natural content of Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium- Minerals well known for their beneficial effect on nerve and muscle functions. For effective premenstrual support, herbalists recommend using Cramp Bark at the onset of discomforting symptoms. To create your own custom herbal muscle relaxant formula, Cramp Bark can be combined with Wild Yam, Valerian, and False Unicorn.

It is commonly grown as an ornamental plant for its flowers and berries, growing best on moist, moderately alkaline soils, though tolerating most soil types well. Several cultivars have been selected, including 'Roseum' (synonym 'Sterile', 'Snowball'), in which all the flowers are only of the larger sterile type, with globular flower heads. There is some confusion, as there are a few other bushes, including other members of the Viburnum genus, also referred to as "snowball bush". The shrub is also cultivated as a component of hedgerows, cover plantings, and as part of other naturalistic plantings in its native regions. It is naturalised in North America, where it has been misleadingly re-named as "European Cranberrybush" (it is not a cranberry). The fruit is edible in small quantities, with a very acidic taste; it can be used to make jelly. It is however very mildly toxic, and may cause vomiting or diarrhea if eaten in large amounts (Plants for a Future). This can be reduced by drying the bark first.

Cramp bark is essentially nontoxic, although taking large quantities of the fruit or leaf (5 or more times the recommended dose) can cause diarrhea. Not recommended while taking blood thinning medications.
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.