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Herb Spotlight - Cramp Bark

Herb Spotlight - Motherwort - Sun God Medicinals

Cramp Bark (Viburnum opulus)  

Family: Adoxaceae

Part Used: Bark, inner cambient layer

Flavor/Aroma: Sour, Acrid

Energetics: Cooling


Herbal Actions: 

Antispasmodic, Sedative, Nervine, Astringent, Antispasmodic, Anti asthmatic, Tonifying, Diuretics, Alterative, Anti inflammatory, Hypotensive, Carminative, Bitter, Uterine relaxant

Overview:

Cramp bark has been revered as a plant medicine particular to aiding in the labor process and soothing muscular pains. It is one of the first botanicals recorded to have been adulterated for medical use.

Botany:

Cramp bark grows as a large deciduous shrub, reaching heights and widths of up to 15 feet, that will bloom white flowers in the summer, and will bear red berries in the fall. It thrives in moist lowland forests, and has been naturalized in most of North America and southern Canada.² Cramp bark is native to Europe, northern Africa, and central Asia.4

Cultivation and Harvesting:

The best time to harvest Cramp bark is in the fall before the leaves begin to change color, or in the spring time just before the leaves open. The berries can be harvested for making ink and dyes.  

Southern Oregon Cultivation:

Cramp Bark is not found in the wild in Oregon, but it can be grown easily right in your backyard. It’s aromatic blooms attract pollinators and it’s berries attract foragers as well. Always use your best judgment when harvesting any part of Cramp Bark shrubs.4

History and Folklore:

American Native Uses: Cramp bark has been used to treat swollen glands, treating edema in the limbs, for mumps, and inflammatory eye disorders. 

Other Uses: Cramp bark was commonly embroidered on traditional Slavic works and was woven into the Ukrainian folk traditions. Its berries have been collected as a food source, and has historical usage as an herbal ally for those transitioning into menopause.¹  

Modern Applications:

Cramp bark is indicated for use with muscular cramping with heat patterns present, systemic inflammation, fevers, asthmatic symptoms, to prevent abortion, and to soothe false labor pains or Braxton Hicks contractions. It is also used to remedy the pain associated with kidney stones, and to support nervous tension, heart palpitations, seizures, and lock-jaw. Cramp bark is used to mitigate painful menstrual symptoms by relaxing the uterus and soothing spasms.³  

Uses and Preparations:

Tincture: 

5-10 mL up to three times a day for severe cramping OR 5 mL per half hour for acute situations OR 5-15 mL per day during cramping episodes, taken throughout the day as needed.

Some herbal tinctures can have a strong flavor on their own. Adding your tincture to a glass of 6-8oz of water is one easy way to help, should you wish to dilute the flavor.  

Dosage:

It is important to remember that some bodies may react differently than others when using herbal products. Our recommended dosages are designed to be an average dosage only. If you have specific concerns about the dosage amount or interaction with other medication, please consult with your doctor or health care practitioner prior to using our products.  

Precautions:

Not for use in pregnancy except under the supervision of a qualified practitioner due to the emmenagogue and abortifacient effects. Large doses of the berries can cause death.

References:

  1. Viburnum Opulus (U. S. P.). www.henriettes-herb.com/eclectic/kings/viburnum-opul.html 
  2. Cramp Bark. (n.d.). www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/cramp-bark/profile 
  3. Bolton J., Dietz B., Dunlap T., Hajirahimkhan A., (2016, October). www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5050441/ 
  4. Cramp Bark (Viburnum Opulus). (n.d.). https://strictlymedicinalseeds.com/product/cramp-bark-viburnum-opulus-packet-of-20-seeds-organic/

For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.