Botanical Name: Viburnum opulus
Family Name: Adoxaceae
Cramp bark is a large deciduous shrub growing as much as 15 ft. tall and 15 ft. wide. It is native to the moist lowland forests of Europe and naturalized to moist forests of the northern U.S. and southern Canada. The bark is stripped before the leaves change color in the fall, or before the buds open in the spring. A member of the honeysuckle family, cramp bark bears large white flowers, up to 5 in. across that yield red berries in the fall.
Cramp bark has been found to be useful for the common complaints associated with normal menstrual cycles. It has antispasmodic properties that help to reduce menstrual migraines and contains volatile oils that help to soothe and relax uterine cramps. Cramp Bark will not stop the symptoms of period pains by altering the body’s chemical pain signalling system, instead it helps to treat the cause of the pain by releasing tension in the area the pain is coming from. For this reason it can be useful to dose a tincture “little and often” until the cramping subsides. The astringent action of Cramp Bark also helps to slow down heavy menstrual bleeding, especially bleeding associated with the menopause.
The deeply relaxing nature of this herb makes it useful as an aid in meditation. In folklore and magic it is associated with protection and female energy. Cramp bark is also referred to as guelder rose and is an important plant in Slavic songs, folklore, art, embroidery work and mythology. The bark can be decocted, infused, or tinctured.
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