The Black Haw is a deciduous shrub that grows to 15 feet in height producing red fruits that ripen in mid July or August. Also known as Cramp Bark, the bark and dried roots of the plant are commonly used for medicinal purposes. The active compounds in Black Haw include Salicin, Viburnin, tannin and coumarins.
BlackHaw for Treatment
Black Haw herbs were traditionally used by slaves of North America to prevent miscarriages. The herb was used to decrease bleeding that follows childbirth. In Catawba it was used to fight dysentery. Black Haw also finds a number of uses in traditional herbology. Its bitter juice was considered to be an analgesic. Thus it was extensively used to fight fever and pain. The plant has been very popular in medieval health care practices and even finds a mention in the works of Chaucer. The herb was also used by many of the ancient tribes like Ojibwa, Shuswap, Catawba, Malecite and Eclectics, just to name a few.
It is also a mild sedative and has been used to induce sleep and languor in patients suffering from pain. The plant also shows strong astringent and mildly diuretic uses. Since it regulates the uterine functions, it was popular among remedies used by women. The extract made from the bark of the plant has been shown to have a positive effect on the entire central nervous system.
The fruits of this plant should not be eaten raw. While there are not many scientific tests conducted to test its effectiveness, traditional medicine is full of praises for Black Haw, especially in its use for gynecological problems in women. It has been used internally to fight menstrual pain and to fight threatened miscarriages.
The plant was also found to be effective against muscle cramps, hysteria, false labor pains, asthma, arthritis and rheumatism. Since the plant has a beneficial effect on the central nervous system, it is also used to treat the anxiety and nervousness associated with childbirth. It also helps alleviate the pain after childbirth and induce sleep after this.
The plant finds greatest use as an anti-spasmodic and relaxant. It is used to combat spasms and convulsions in the uterus, digestive system and urinary tract. As a relaxant, it is used to regulate the blood pressure and lowers hypertension.
Black Haw Cautions
But some people develop allergic reactions to the plant. Therefore, those who are allergic to aspirin should not use this herb. In case of any contraindications, it is necessary to meet a doctor immediately.
Growing Black Haw
A native of the Eastern and Central United States, it grows easily in moist and open woods. The leaves are serrated and turn red during the fall. It is often grown as an ornamental plant in moist soil, and needs shade. After the plant flowers it is necessary to remove the dead stems and falling leaves. The stem and roots are collected and dried for use in extracts, decoctions and tinctures. Tinctures are more effective than decoctions or teas.