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Black Haw Bark

Product Name Size ZIN Price Quantity Add to Cart
Black Haw Bark - 450 mg 100 capsules 518771 $24.65
Black Haw Bark Powder 4 oz 518772 $25.69
1 oz 518773 $11.18
Black Haw Bark Cream 2 oz 524279 $34.68
Black Haw Bark Salve 2 oz 524280 $38.05
Black Haw Bark Tea (Loose) 4 oz 518774 $22.22
8 oz 518775 $37.29
Black Haw Bark Tea 25 tea bags 518776 $21.97
50 tea bags 518777 $35.06
Black Haw Bark Glycerite Liquid Extract (1:5) 1 oz - No Flavor 522137 $27.99
1 oz - Strawberry 522138 $30.95
1 oz - Vanilla 522139 $30.95
1 oz - Chocolate 522140 $30.95
1 oz - Mint 522141 $30.95

Medicinal Usage

Indian uses of this native tree are not we documented, but one source mentions that they employed a decoction, or extract, from the boiled bark to help support symptoms of infections. Black haw's service as an early home supplement, by contrast, is well recorded.

Although the plant was used in the early 1800's, the first published mention of it appeared in 1857, in the Family Physician, by Dr. John King, who described it as a "uterine tonic". Doctors largely prescribed a decoction of the bark to help avoid miscarriage or threatened abortion. Black haw was also used for the support of painful menstruation and the afterpains of childbirth. As a result of growing demand and repeated articles in scientific journals, black haw bark gained a place in the U.S. Pharmacopeia in 1882 and was listed there until 1926.

An extract of boiled black haw bark has traditionally been employed as a uterine tonic (a substance that aids in childbirth by stimulating the muscles of the womb) and as a medicine to help avoid abortion or miscarriage. Research indicates that a bark decoction probably acts as a uterine sedative (an agent that relaxes uterine muscles and hence alleviates menstrual cramps), but they doubt it can reduce abortion or miscarriage.

General Herb Information

In early fall hikers often pause to enjoy the sweet fruits of the black haw tree. The Indiana poet James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916) extolled their virtues, writing: "What is sweeter, after all, than black haws, in early fall?"

Habitat: Rocky hillsides, thickets, woods, shores, borders of streams.

Range: Connecticut to Michigan, south to Florida and Texas.

Identification: A shrub or tree growing up to 30 feet tall. The gray- to reddish-brown bark is rough and cracked into small plates on older trees. Heavily veined, finely toothed leaves are elliptical and grow in opposite pairs. Tiny white flowers (April-May) in round-topped clusters are followed by fruits that turn bluish black when they are ripe.

Black Haw
Viburnum prunifolium L.

Family: Caprifoliaceae.

Other Names: sloe; viorne à feuilles de prunier (French); Amerikanischer Schneeball (German); viburno prunifolio (Italian).

Description: Black haw is a woody, deciduous shrub of up to 4 m in height, with lobed leaves, clusters of small, white flowers and black berries. It is closely related to the guelder rose or crampbark (V. opulus). The latter is a deciduous shrub with lobed leaves, attractive rounded (globose) clusters of white flowers and bright red berries.

Origin: Central and eastern parts of the USA (V. prunifolium); Europe, Asia and the Mediterranean region (V. opulus). Both species are commonly cultivated as an ornamental garden shrubs.

Parts Used: Stem bark (black haw bark - Viburni prunifolii cortex). The bark of V. opulus (Viburni opuli cortex) can also be tried to some extent.

Therapeutic Category: Spasmolytic.

Uses and Properties: Black haw bark is specifically used to help support menstrual cramps, uterine pain and menstrual disorders. In traditional health it can also be used against morning sickness and to help support menopausal women. The closely related crampbark (V. opulus) appears to be less specific in its actions but it has been considered in former times as a supportive for menstrual disorders and to help avoid a miscarriage. It is traditionally used (both internally and topically) to help support stomach cramps, colic, muscle spasms and high blood pressure.

Preparation and Dosage: About 1 g of finely chopped bark of black haw is taken two or three times a day as an infusion.

Active Ingredients: Numerous chemical compounds are known from black haw bark, including amentoflavone and other flavonoids, triterpenoids (alpha-and beta-amyrin, oleanolic acid, ursolic acid and derivatives), coumarins (aesculin, scopoletin, scopolin), organic acids (chlorogenic acid, isochlorogenic acid and salicylic acid), a phenol glucoside (arbutin) and sitosterols. Arbutin and four iridoid glycoside esters have been isolated from V. opulus leaves; the bark compounds are similar to those of V. prunifolium.

Health Effects: Aesculetin and scopoletin are considered to be active as musculotropic spasmolytics, but the active ingredient responsible for the spasmolytic effects on the uterus is not yet known.

Notes: Black haw bark and crampbark are rarely employed in modern phytomedicine. They should preferably be used only under professional supervision.

Status: Traditional health; Pharm.

The bitter-tasting stem and root bark of black haw, also called sloe or stagbush, can support the liver and nervous system. It contains coumarins, scopoloteine, amentoflavone, arbutin, oleanolic and ursolic acids, salicin, and tannin which are responsible for the herb's ability to act as an antispasmodic, a uterine tonic, a nervine, and an anti-dysentery. Black haw may have been used traditionally to help support menstrual pains, supporting menopausal women, miscarriage, nervousness, and diarrhea.

Equal or more powerful than its relative cramp bark (V. opulus), black haw can also be used as a uterine tonic to ease menstrual pains and to help avoid miscarriage. It can be used as an adjunctive antispasmodic agent to help support asthma, palpitations, heart health issues and mood swings. Finally, because of its tannin content, it can be used to help fight diarrhea.
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