As we approach the end of our fruit season, we cannot go without acknowledging one of my favorites-cherries! Those bite-sized, tasty berries are full of vitamins and antioxidants and also help to reduce inflammation. I just love the deep purple-red color that cherry juice leaves on your fingers. Sometimes I even purposefully apply some to my lips and cheeks. (Nature’s makeup!) Besides the delicious berries, Wild cherry trees actually have so much more to offer. Did you know that the bark has been used medicinally for hundreds of years? Wild Cherry Bark is a must-have in your fall and winter home apothecary. Most commonly used for treating coughs and lung infections, this expectorant is a powerful plant ally to help you and your family overcome those seasonal colds or to help you open and soften your heart during the darker, introspective winter months.
The wild cherry tree, or Prunus avium, is a large tree in the rose family and is related to another beloved medicinal tree Crataegus, or hawthorn. Native to North America, wild cherry trees love to grow along roadsides and fences and prefer hardwood forests or fields. They can grow up to 80 feet tall and fashion beautiful seasonal adornments such as shiny leaves that turn to beautiful reds and yellows in fall and fragrant white flowers during the springtime. During this time of year, they fruit those rich dark cherries that we know and love!
The bark of Prunus avium holds medicinal value and has been used for hundreds of years by Native Americans. The Cherokee used the bark and berries to treat diarrhea and worms, while the Chippewa often applied the bark as a poultice to wounds or for other skin problems. Wild cherry bark is an astringent and an expectorant. Its taste is bitter, sweet, and pungent. Energetically, wild cherry bark is both warming and cooling, giving it a duality and ability to treat a unique variety of tissue states. Wild cherry bark is rich in flavonoids, tannins, volatile oils, iron, potassium, and calcium.
Wild cherry bark is exceptional for use within excited tissue states such as redness and inflammation, heat, or tenderness. It helps to clear excess heat from the body and restore vital force when suffering from long-term illnesses such as bronchitis. Infusions of the bark help to dry and expel mucous, open airways, reduce inflammation, ease cough and sore throat, relieve spastic muscles especially when related to cough, and tone tissues. This bark is most effective for dry and spastic coughs, coughs that linger even after the infection has passed, or for coughs that make it difficult to sleep through the night.
The bitter actions of wild cherry bark help our bodies to secret digestive enzymes, stomach acids, and bile that assist in the breakdown of foods, and nutrient absorption. The astringent qualities of the bark also help to tone the stomach and intestines and can help to reduce uncomfortable indigestion.
Wild cherry bark is amazing because it can be cooling for inflammatory skin conditions such as sores, ulcers, or shingles, yet is warming for those who have poor circulation or cold skin. A lovely member of the rose family, wild cherry trees tend to our heart centers both energetically and physically. Similar to the medicinal properties of Hawthorn, wild cherry bark helps to nourish, strengthen and tone the cardiovascular system as well as improve circulation and decongest our heart. Energetically, wild cherry opens our hearts to allow more softness, compassion, and love into our life.
“All about Wild Cherry Bark .” Herbal Academy, 15 Apr. 2021, theherbalacademy.com/wild-cherry-bark-monograph/.
“Black Cherry.” American Botanical Council, www.herbalgram.org/resources/healthy-ingredients/black-cherry/. Accessed 18 Aug. 2023.
“Wild Cherry Benefits.” Indigo Herbs, Indigo Herbs, 7 Aug. 2020, www.indigo-herbs.co.uk/natural-health-guide/benefits/wild-cherry.Winter, Elizabeth. “Wild Cherry Bark.” Strongwater, www.strongwater.com/pages/wild-cherry-bark#:~:text=Wild%20cherry%20bark%20is%20most,as%20an%20astringent%20to%20tissues. Accessed 18 Aug. 2023.