Botanical: Prunus serotina
Family: Rosaceae (rose)
Other common names: Chokecherry, Virginia Prune, Common Chokecherry, Wild Black Cherry,
Black Cherry, Black Choke, Rub Cherry, Cabana Cherry, Rum Cherry
"Life is short,
like the three-day Glory
of the cherry blossom."
attributed to Masso Yoshikawa
Who has not tasted Wild Cherry cough drops or cough syrup? There is a reason: Wild Cherry Bark is a fine expectorant that loosens and expels phlegm from the lungs and has helped bronchitis, colds, flu, dry coughs, tuberculosis and many other pulmonary complaints. It also acts as a mild sedative that not only may calm coughs, but also nervous irritability and nervous indigestion.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
The Cherry tree is a native of Asia, and was imported to Europe and North America, but the Wild Cherry is believed to be a native of North America, and grows from Canada to the Carolinas and Florida in the United States. It is a large, deciduous tree with a rough, reddish-brown bark and lustrous, dark green, oval, serrate leaves with pointy tips, and it bears small, delicate white flowers that bloom in April. The flowers are followed by one-seeded, purplish-red fruits that ripen in late summer and early autumn. The tree, which may reach a height of one hundred feet, can be found wild in moist woodlands and thickets, by riverbanks, or cultivated in well-drained, neutral-to-alkaline soil in sun, and it is prone to frost damage in a cold spring. The Cherry has been a source of food, drink and medicinal preparations since time immemorial. In North America, the early Colonists included Wild Cherry Bark in cough medicines, and they probably learned of the plant's medicinal qualities from the Native Americans, who utilized the bark for diarrhea and lung ailments. The Mohegans used it to cure dysentery; the Cherokees used it to relieve pain in the early stages of labor; and the Meskwakis used it as a sedative. Wild Cherry Bark was officially listed in the United States Pharmacopœia from 1820 through 1975, as a sedative and antitussive - proving both Native Americans and early settlers correct in their medicinal applications. The Wild Cherry is one of many species of Prunus, which includes cherries and plums, among others, and has been an inspiration in Japanese art for centuries. Interestingly, a highly controversial cancer treatment (called laetrile) that has been conducted in Germany and Mexico (which is debunked by the medical community in the United States) includes amygdalin, a substance that is found in Wild Cherry Bark and other members of the Prunus genus, i.e., plums, almonds, peaches, apricots and sweet cherries. Wild Cherry Bark is also an extremely valuable commercial commodity: Its wood has been important in furniture making, and few people have not tasted cough drops and cough medicines made from Wild Cherry Bark. The fruit is also included in jellies, jams, wines, soft drinks and syrups. Because the Wild Cherry is so naturally sour, it has sometimes been called Chokecherry, and it is an aromatic, astringent, warming herb that is an important factor in herbal medicines. Some of the constituents included in Wild Cherry Bark are starch, resin, tannin, lignin, essential oil, benzaldehyde, caffeic acid, kaempferol, p-coumaric acid, quercetin, scopoletin, ursolic acid, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.
Wild Cherry Bark is a fine herbal expectorant that helps to loosen phlegm and expel it from the throat, lungs and chest, as well as clear bronchial tubes. It has been used for centuries to treat pulmonary conditions such as bronchitis, asthma, dry coughs, tuberculosis, scrofula and catarrh. Furthermore, its antitussive, cough-suppressant qualities have been beneficial in cases of whooping cough, nervous and chronic coughs, colds and influenza; and for that reason, it is, of course, familiar to all of us in cough drops and cough syrups.
As an herbal tonic, Wild Cherry Bark has been used to restore and nourish the entire body and exert a gentle strengthening effect on all body functions. It is said to be particularly helpful in cases of convalescent debility and weakness.
Wild Cherry Bark is considered a mild sedative and has been used to calm irritation, diminish nervous excitability and alleviate nervous dyspepsia. The herb is said to be soothing to the nervous system and has been used to slow a nervous, rapid heartbeat (tachycardia) and help a heart that is characterized by a feeble pulse (bradycardia) or frequent, irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). Cardiac friendly, Wild Cherry Bark is also thought to be helpful for high blood pressure.
As a tonic for the digestive system, Wild Cherry Bark is believed to be very beneficial in cases of dyspepsia, poor digestion, gastritis, excess flatulence and general indigestion. Its astringent qualities may also help to relieve diarrhea, colitis and dysentery.
Wild Cherry Bark is reputed to have antibacterial, antiviral and a parasiticidal qualities and has been used to destroy and expel parasites and worms from the intestinal system.
As a diaphoretic, Wild Cherry Bark encourages sweat, and the increased perspiration helps to cool the body, bring down fever and expel toxins through the skin.
Wild Cherry Bark is believed to possess antioxidant properties that may be helpful in the fight against the oxidative damage to cells and tissue caused by free radicals. Its amygdalin content is believed to be the active constituent responsible for this effect.
Used externally, Wild Cherry Bark has been included in poultices that may be applied to relieve ulcers and abscesses.
Pregnant and nursing women should not use Wild Cherry Bark Herbal Supplement, nor should people who are being treated for hypotension. The leaves and fruit pits of a Wild Cherry contain poisonous hydrocyanic acid and should never be ingested.