Most people associate the herb Bayberry with Christmas time because this plant produces small waxy berries that are used to make fragrant candles used during Christmas time. Hence the popular name “Wax Myrtle” also refers to the same plant. This herb grows to be a large evergreen shrub or small tree. Barberry is widely distributed and common throughout the East and South parts of the U.S. The tree is characterized by its small bluish white berries. Bayberry is a hardy shrub that grows to almost 10-12 feet in height. It requires a lime-free soil, and it loves moisture. It is naturally found in sandy swamps and marshes.
Bayberry for Health Treatments
A tea is made by boiling the bark and the root. When taken internally, the drink has certain stimulant properties that are effective against diarrhea. In traditional medicine, Bayberry is used as a general health tonic.
The bayberry root bark contains myricitrin, an antibiotic, which fights a broad range of protozoa and bacteria. Because of this, Bayberry is used to treat wounds and skin infections. It can generally be used as a douche against fungal skin infections. Its antibiotic properties help reduce and fight symptoms of fever. Since Bayberry effectively fights bacteria, it is also used a mouthwash or gargle that prevents bad breath.
In traditional medicine, Bayberry is used extensively to increase blood circulation and to stimulate perspiration. It is believed to tighten and dry mucous secretions, therefore it is effective against colds and sore throat. Bayberry is a potent chi-stimulant, diaphoretic, expectorant and bactericidal. It is a powerful anti-kapha medicine and the herb effectively cleanses the lymphatic system of the body. By mobilizing the body’s natural defenses at the early stages of infection, Bayberry helps fight diseases.
Benefits of Bayberry
Bayberry is a general health stimulant. When used in small doses, it improves the circulation in the body. It can also be used as a poultice over varicose veins. It strengthens blood vessels, and gets rid of ‘thread veins’. It is also known to treat mild occurrences of soar throat and tonsils.
If taken internally, Bayberry may lead to problems. Studies have shown that long-term injection of the substance in rats has led to malignancies.
Some herbalists stake their reputation on the use and effectiveness of Bayberry, going so far as to say that Bayberry is the most useful medication in botanic practice. Recent studies show that in addition to Myricitrin, Bayberry also contains Tannin. Since there are no published or scientifically proven studies to back the beneficial effects of Bayberry, it is better to limit the use of Bayberry to small doses. Tannin is potentially carcinogenic and in an experiment conducted on rats, tannin has led to the formation of malignant tumors when used for a long period.
Bayberry alters the way the body uses sodium and potassium. People suffering from high Blood Pressure, kidney disease and congestive heart failure should use this with extreme care.
To make a tea out of Bayberry bark, put 1 teaspoonful of the powder into a cup of cold water and boil. Let this cool for about 20 minutes. Drink this tea three times a day.