Your Ultimate Guide to knowing all about Cramp Bark and its benefits for women's reproductive system.
Cramp Bark known as Viburum Opulus is considered one of the best female regulators in all of nature. Cramp Bark has long been used in herbal medicine as, true to its name, the bark of this beautiful plant has antispasmodic properties which aid in muscle spasms as well as cramps associated with premenstrual syndrome or PMS.
Overall, Cramp Bark is said to have sedative, relaxant and astringent properties. Let's take a closer look at this intriguing herb and its many possible health benefits.
Cramp Bark Origin
Cramp Bark holds an important place in the historic folk tradition of Ukraine. It is known as Kalyna and is often noted in folk songs and pictured in embroidery work. It is a national symbol of both Russia and Ukraine and is used in festivals.
North American Native cultures used Cramp Bark berries for food such as jams, jellies. sauces, and juice. The berries are also high in vitamin C. Medicinally, the bark of the branches and roots were used to treat painful cramps, body pains, asthma, and swollen glands. The Penobscot tribe of Maine who used Cramp Bark to naturally treat gout. In Wisconsin, the Meskwaki tribe use this herb for back pain, arthritis and menstrual cramps. In 1894, Cramp Bark was regularly used as mentioned in the U.S. Pharmacopeia. It was also included in the National Formulary in 1916.
Cramp Bark synonyms: High cranberry, cranberry tree, white dogwood, marsh or water elder, squaw bush.
Cramp Bark Benefits to Health
What are the benefits of Cramp Bark? Here are some of the top ways it has been known to improve health:
1. Menstrual Cramps/PMS
Cramp Bark can block the spasms of smooth muscle. So, it’s not surprising that one of cramp bark’s most well-known uses as a traditional herbal remedy is for menstrual cramps that can accompany PMS. It's been known to help soothe even severe cramping that is associated with nausea, vomiting, and sweaty chills.
Cramp Bark is traditionally prepared by pouring 8oz distilled water over 2 teaspoons of the dried bark and then simmering it for 15 to 30 minutes. This tea can be consumed three times per day for cramps. Another option is four to eight milliliters of tincture three times per day.
Native American tribes not only use Cramp Bark as an herbal remedy for the body pains above, but also in pregnancy. Cramp Bark has long been used as an antispasmodic during pregnancy, especially in miscarriage prevention.
In the United Kingdom, Cramp Bark is known to be a top pick by herbalists for preventing abortion in nervous diseases of pregnancy, ovarian irritation, dysmenorrhea, etc. Several active substances in Viburnum opulus including scopoletin and aesculetin have been labeled as having antispasmodic effects on the uterus.
Midwives sometimes choose Cramp Bark for a threatened miscarriage, as well as early labor, during actual labor contractions, and for after-labor cramping. While this may sound strange, herbs are known for sometimes having opposite effects on the body depending on the quantity used, when and how they are used and whether or not an herb is used alone or in combination with other herbs.
3. Muscle Relaxant
Cramp Bark has an extended history as a natural muscle relaxant. As we mentioned earlier, it is known to alleviate menstrual cramping due to its ability to stop smooth muscle spasms. For this reason, it’s also known to help relieve muscle spasms and aches throughout the body, such as in stomach cramps, the back or legs, whether related to PMS or physical hard work.
If you’re struggling with muscle spasms, aches or pain, this herbal remedy may be a safer alternative to NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, which have been shown to have numerous dangerous side effects. In fact, all prescription NSAIDs have a warning that they can increase the risk of having a heart attack, stroke and stomach bleeding, etc. Other common side effects of NSAIDs include stomach pain, leg swelling, headaches, dizziness, high blood pressure, and kidney issues, etc.
4. Passing Kidney Stones
Cramp Bark extract is effective in the treatment of kidney and urinary conditions. Including aiding the passing of kidney stones that are less than 1/2 inch (10mm) in size.
How to Identify Cramp Bark?
Shape: Round, large, hardy shrub 8 to 15 feet tall and 8 to 10
Leaves: Simple, opposite, 3-lobed leaves are 2 to 4 inches long and are slightly similar to maple leaves.
Flower: Showy white clusters of five-petalled flowers are 2 to 3 inches across and may be flat-topped or rounded.
Stem: Upright branching habit with young branches having an attractive copper color.
Fruit & Seeds: Round to oval bright red fleshy drupe, each containing a stone-like seed, born in attractive pendulous clusters.
How to Grow Cramp Bark?
In North America, consider sourcing the native species Viburnum trilobum or Viburnum opulus var Americanum. Both the American and European varieties prefer wet to moist conditions in full sun to light shade such as a boreal climate. With cool to moderately warm summers is consistent with this plant’s native habitat. Viburnum is relatively easy to grow. It is an excellent shrub to grow for creating a hedge or screen and attracting wildlife. We buy some of our seeds at Strictly Medicinal (Cramp Bark (Viburnum opulus), packet of 10 seeds, Organic | Strictly Medicinal Seeds).
How to Harvest Cramp Bark?
The fruit is very important to wildlife in the winter, so harvest sparingly. As consuming large quantities of cramp bark fruit may cause stomach discomfort, this is a win-win.
For the bark, harvest young branches that still retain their copper color. As Cramp Bark blooms in early spring on old wood, pruning or harvesting of branches in late summer, fall, or winter may sacrifice next year’s blooms.
When harvesting the bark, gather sparingly, as a little goes a long way with this potent bark.
When harvesting from cultivated varieties in the landscape, harvest in spring, after the bloom has finished. Harvest branches that did not make flowers as this won’t sacrifice the fall’s fruit. Harvesting may also consist of pruning and shaping these lovely ornamental shrubs. This too is best done in late spring after the blooms have finished.
Take the harvested branches and expose the bark’s inner cambium layer by peeling the bark. A sharp knife or potato peeler may work well.
Cramp Bark typically doesn’t cause unwanted side effects in normal doses. However, do not use this herbal remedy if you have a sensitivity to aspirin. People sensitive to aspirin may also be sensitive to Cramp Bark. There are no reported side effects to Cramp Bark supplements.
Cramp bark is considered safe for topical use. As with any new ingredient, do a small skin test by placing a small amount of the bark, tincture, oil, or resin on the skin and wait 24 hours. Any reaction such as itchiness or hives may be an indication of a sensitivity.
Ingesting large quantities of fruit may cause vomiting and diarrhea. This herbal remedy is typically used in young children, but in moderate dosage. Check with your holistic pediatrician before using with your child.
Always check with your holistic healthcare provider before starting new herbal remedies.
Cramp Bark is the Key Ingredient in our Feminine Tea!