Latin: Viburnum opulus
Family: Caprifoliaceae (Adoxaceae)
Parts Used: Bark (occ. fruit and leaves)
Taste/Energetics: Bitter, cooling, pungent
Properties: Antispasmodic, anxiolytic, analgesic, hypotensive, astringent, sedative, diuretic
Actions: This is one of my go-to herbs for many different preparations. Like it sounds it is primarily useful as an anti-spasmodic so it is helpful for cramps, muscle and headache tension and pain, abdominal distress, restless legs and bronchial spasms and coughing. Beyond that it has a distinct relaxant effect that makes it useful for anxiety and sleep formulas, especially where there is noted physical cramping and tension. It has a nice hypotensive quality as well that makes it useful in formulas for hypertension. Cramp bark finds its way into my tincture formulas for sleep, pain and anxiety. A wonderful herb.
Dosage: I prefer this herb as a tincture as the taste is so bitter as to be fairly unpalatable in a decoction. It is mainly useful as a symptomatic relief herb used for short periods of time as it rather strong in effect. 2-4 ML of tincture as needed. If it is taken in tea form, its best to add other tastier herbs such as licorice and burdock to complement the bitter taste. As decoction, 2-4 tsp to 1 pint of water simmered at low heat for 40 minutes. It is also useful in syrups where its very bitter taste is somewhat masked by a sweetener.
Contraindications: Avoid with sedative psych drugs (Benzodiazapenes, Z-drugs and antipsychotics, avoid in elderly, children and infirm, avoid with blood thinners.)
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Cramp bark monograph by Rosalee de la Foret