CRAMP BARK or HIGH CRANBERRY (Viburnum opulus var. americanum; CAPRIFOLIACEAE: RUBIACEAE)
Cramp bark, high cranberry, guelder rose, snowball tree, cranberry tree, white dogwood, marsh elder, water elder, squaw bush, mundillo and sauquillo (Span.).
Stem It is a handsome upright shrub, 4 to 12 feet high with several nearly smooth and branched stems coming from the same root.
Bark Thin 1/50-1/8 inch thick quills, light gray in color with brownish stripes. It has curved and chip-like fragments, lenticels (warts or corky growths), fissures (faintly longitudinal cracks) and thin scales. The inner surface is pale yellowish brown in color, tough, with flat splinters, and fractures into 2 layers. The powder is light grayish to brown in color.
Leaves Three- lobed, three-veined, dentate and broadly wedge-shaped.
Flowers Very showy, with large white, greenish-white or reddish-white cymes.
Fruit Red, ovoid, resembling and used as a substitute for the common cranberry. The fruit succeeds the flowers; it ripens late and remains on the bush after the leaves have fallen. It is very acid.
Taste Peculiar, but not unpleasant. It is bitterish and mildly astringent.
Odor Slight and characteristic.
Dried stem bark.
Antispasmodic, nervine, tonic, relaxant, diuretic, expectorant, astringent, sedative and emmenagogue.
Cramp bark is highly regarded as an antispasmodic agent. It is considered one of the best female regulators and relaxants of the ovaries and uterus, and is highly effective in preventing abortions due to nervous affections during pregnancy. Cramp bark will speedily quiet the uneasiness and relieve the pains of uterine and abdominal cramps, and is a remedy for nervous disorders and spasms of all kinds.
Nervous conditions of pregnancy, abortive preventive, dysmenorrhea, menorrhagia, ovarian irritation, asthma, hysteria, cramps, spasms, flatulent stomach, fits, convulsions, fainting, neuralgia and lockjaw.
Decoction, fluid extract, infusion, powder and tincture.
Decoction-strong 1 tablespoonful, 3 to 4 times daily.
Fluid extract 1/2 to 2 fluid teaspoons.
Infusion 2 fluid ounces, 3 to 4 times daily.
Tincture 1/2 to 1 fluid teaspoon.
Cramps, vomiting of pregnancy, nervous indigestion, delayed menstruation, hysteria, congestion and hardening of the liver, enuresis, cystitis, prevent abortion, epilepsy, St. Vitus' Dance:
Cramps of pregnancy, uterine pains, or any nervous trouble during pregnancy:
Give the decoction of cramp bark alone, or combine with other appropriate agents. See "Formulas
Strong decoction of cramp bark:
2 ounces Cramp bark (Viburnum opulus)
1 quart Distilled or D-cell water
Boil slowly in a closed vessel for 20 minutes, strain and return to clean vessel. Reduce to 3/4 pints, add 4 ounces glycerine or 3 ounces yellow D sugar. Boil slowly 5 minutes, cool and bottle.
1 tablespoonful, 3 to 4 times daily.
Children: 1 teaspoonful or more.
5 tsp Cramp bark, fluid extract (Viburnum opulus)
5 tsp Lobelia, tincture (Lobelia inflata)
1 tsp Ginger, essence or tincture (Zingiber officinale)
5 drops in warm water every 10 minutes until relieved. If nausea and emesis follow, these will only hasten relief.
Cramps from pregnancy, uterine pains, or any nervous troubles during pregnancy:
2 parts Cramp bark (Viburnum opulus)
1 part Squaw vine (Mitchella repens)
1 part Wild yam (Dioscorea villosa)
1 part Blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides)
Mix the herbs thoroughly, and use 1 ounce of the compound in 1 quart of water. Infuse for 20 minutes tightly covered; strain, and sweeten to taste.
2 fluid ounces, 3 to 4 times daily.
Cramps, nerve tonic:
1 ounce Cramp bark (Viburnum opulus)
1/2 ounce Skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus)
1/2 ounce Scullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)
2 teaspoons Cardamon seeds (Elettaria cardamomum)
2 teaspoons Cayenne (Capsicum minimum; C. fastigiatum)
Use as a strong infusion, or make into a tincture by macerating the herbs 4 days in 1 pint of a good wine or brandy. Strain, press and bottle.
1 tablespoonful 4 times daily.
Dr. Shook's compound nervine, hepatic and female regulator (see "Administration" for uses:
1 ounce Cramp bark, cut (Viburnum opulus)
1 ounce Wild yam, cut (Dioscorea villosa)
1 ounce Vervain (Verbena officinalis; V. hastata)
1 ounce Scullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)
1 ounce Cloves (Eugenia aromatica)
12 ounces Glycerine
Dissolve 8 ounces of the glycerine into 2 quarts of distilled water; put the mixed herbs into the cold water and soak for 12 hours. Bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer slowly for 30 minutes. Strain, return the liquor to the clean vessel and reduce by simmering to 1 pint. Add 4 ounces of glycerine; cool, bottle, and keep in a cool place.
1 teaspoonful to 2 teaspoons in warm water.
Children's dosage is proportionate to age and condition.
Dysmenorrhea (difficult or painful menstruation):
1 ounce Cramp bark (Viburnum opulus)
1 ounce Squaw vine (Mitchella repens)
1 ounce White poplar or quaking aspen bark (Populus tremuloides)
1/2 ounce Unicorn root (Aletris farinosa)
1/2 ounce Beth root (Trillium pendulum; T. erectum)
1/2 ounce Blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides)
1/2 ounce Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium; Hedeoma pulegioides)
1/2 ounce Sacred bark (Rhamnus purshiana)
1/2 ounce Allspice or pimento berries (Pimento officinalis)
Place the herbs in 1 quart of water; cover tightly. Steep for 20 minutes, then strain and sweeten with honey. Add 2 tablespoonfuls of glycerine.
1 tablespoonful before meals and at bedtime.
Cramp bark is perennial and is found in northern and western United States. It grows in low rich lands, foothills, the woods, and the borders of fields. Cramp bark flowers in June and is a very showy plant.
Black Haw or Stagbush or Sweet Viburnum or American Sloe (Viburnum prunifolium; RUBIACEAE) The root bark is used in threatened abortion, after-pains, dysmenorrhea, nervous diseases of pregnancy, menorrhagia, asthma and hysteria. See The Herbalist for a description.