It’s not often we see tree bark in home apothecary, however Black Haw Bark can be found in many practitioners' herbal tool kits. Our ancestors found this medicinal bark useful for women’s reproductive health, particularly during pregnancy, making it one of the most important herbs in modern-day midwifery. Let’s explore Black Haw Bark’s nutritional value, botany, and historical use.
Viburnum prunifolium or Black Haw Bark grows from Connecticut down to Texas in North America. Its shrub like appearance grows tall into a tree and thrives in woody forests. You can see tiny white flowers in springtime that develop into dark black haw berries in early winter months. Its tree trunk bark displays red, brown, and grey colors with fissure's distinct pattern. Its leaf blades have teeth like structures that help differentiate it from Viburnum lentago, whom it is most commonly mistaken. Black Haw Bark's close relative, Cramp Bark or Viburnum opulus, can be commonly interchanged for medicinal purposes in Western Herbalism remedies.
WishGarden's Black Haw Forest Farmer
Native Americans, African Americans, and early European settlers used Black Haw Bark throughout central eastern United States. For centuries the Cherokee people made strong hot infusions to support healthy fluid retention, ease occasional cramps, and promote oral health. Its gynecological use has been mostly documented in Native American cultures, however it’s also been used amongst African Americans on plantations. They did not have access to healthcare so they made Black Haw Bark infusions to support a variety of reproductive health matters including unwanted menses during early pregnancy and postpartum cramping. Their tinctures were created using hot water instead of alcohol as they did not have access to alcohol solvents.
Black Haw Bark contains many nutritional plant compounds and has an affinity for smooth muscle tissue. Constituents like salicylic acid (found in aspirin), salicin, and tannins can support a healthy functioning uterus by both toning and relaxing the tissue. Black Haw Bark is most common amongst modern midwives to ease postpartum cramping, when a woman’s uterus is contracting back to its original size. Its abundant mineral content further support healthy blood flow towards the uterus and helps relax the autonomic nervous system. Black Haw Bark is a highly effective herb and key component in WishGarden's AfterEase For After Birth Contractions tincture.
Medicinal barks contain unique plant compounds that can provide effective reproductive support. It’s important to remember responsible harvesting methods when extracting parts from shrubs or trees in bio-diverse forests to ensure its future existence for generations to come.
Moerman E., Daniel, Native American Ethnobotany. 1998 timber Press, Page 595)
Lauren Ann Nichols-Sheffler attended The Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism and received her certificate in medical herbalism. She is the owner of Blue Yarrow Herbs aka Herbal Vice, an herbal product company practicing bioregional herbalism by cultivating plants and sourcing locally. Lauren loves educating and advocating for plant sustainability. She is the sourcing and Purchasing manager for WishGarden Herbs.
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or sell any product.