If you live in a cold climate area, you’ve probably used oak, cherry, or ash wood to build a fire and keep chills out of your bones, but did you know that there’s more to firewood that meets the eye? The bark of several firewood species can be used to treat a wide range of conditions, and teas and balms made from white oak, wild cherry, sassafras, black locust, and ash have been used in alternative medicine for centuries. If you’re looking to ditch pharmaceuticals and switch to organic fountains of youth and good health, check out these quick facts on the benefits that lurk inside bark-based products and go all-out green in your medicine cabinet.
White Oak Bark
White oak bark has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which is why it’s often used in tea mixtures and wound dressings.
With its high tannin, potassium, iron, and vitamin B12 content, tea made from white oak bark is an efficient remedy for diarrhea, bronchitis, colds, cough, fever, digestive problems, and appetite drops. In its drinkable form, white oak bark is a potent diuretic and internal astringent, and it can be used to alleviate excess menstrual flow, nosebleeds, kidney stones, bladder infections, vomiting, and mucous congestion.
Apart from its use as herbal beverage, white oak bark can be added to compresses, washes, and baths to remedy pain, skin inflammation, and frostbites. Alternative medicine practitioners also use white oak bark to make pastes to accelerate wound healing: even a few drops of oak balm will be enough to stop bleeding and create an antiseptic layer to protect the injury from bacteria that can cause infections and painful abscesses.
Wild Cherry Bark
If you’re struggling with a respiratory infection or a bad case of indigestion, try wild cherry for a quick and natural health fix.
Whether taken from the root, branches, or trunk, wild cherry bark is a common ingredient of tea mixtures used to treat diarrhea, digestive problems, whooping cough, bronchitis, gout, lung infections, and even cancer. Wild cherry is a well-known remedy for colds, colic, and dyspepsia among Chinese and Native American medicine men, and it’s also often used as a flavoring agent in the contemporary food and drink industry.
Since it has sedative and expectorant properties, wild cherry bark is also used to make cough syrups, and it can speed up the elimination of thinned mucus from the lungs and bronchial tubes while at the same time coating inflamed tissue with a protective antiseptic layer. As an extract, wild cherry bark can suppress the development of colorectal cancer and prevent the growth of new cancer cells.
Once used to flavor root beer, the root bark of the sassafras plant is another herbal remedy with a wide range of applications.
Sassafras has a powerful healing effect on urinary tract problems, nose, eye, and throat swelling, bronchitis, elevated blood pressure, arthritis, rheumatism, gout, syphilis, skin problems, and even cancer, and it can also be taken as a blood purification tonic and immune system booster. Sassafras oil can also be used to treat sprains, soothe menstrual pain, insect bites, and head lice, which makes it a great all-in-one natural remedy you should have in your medicine cabinet.
Still, be very careful with this botanical pick-me-up: the sassafras plant and products made from it contain safrole, a carcinogenic chemical that can cause severe poisoning, which is why the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided to impose a ban on the sale of sassafras-streaked medications back in 1976.
Black Locust Bark
Rich in calcium, phosphorus, protein, fats, and fibers, black locust is an extremely healthy herbal cure, and its wood, leaves, flowers, seeds, and bark are all used to make balms, tonics, and tea.
Black locust bark contains tannin, albumin, starch, gum, cane sugar, and inactive resin which are extremely efficient detoxifiers. A natural analgesic and anti-spasmodic, locust bark can also help alleviate toothache, and it is also commonly added to tea to promote secretion, toxin flushing, and bile flow. Locust bark is also known to help induce vomiting, but you should be careful when using it to induce stomach cleansing and follow up on the tea with sufficient quantities of water to avoid dehydration.
Flowers, seeds, leaves, and berries of the black locust plant can also be used to heal burns and injuries and keep viruses at bay. Nevertheless, don’t use black locust-based remedies too often: the plant has potent diuretic effects and can lead to unwarranted loss of liquid from the body.
Ash Tree Bark
One of the most popular botanical remedies in traditional Chinese medicine, ash tree bark has been in use for almost 2,000 years now, and for a good reason, too.
Ash tree bark has proven extremely efficient in inhibiting the action of pathogenic microorganisms, alleviating inflammation, relieving pain, countering oxidation and reducing oxidative stress, and protecting nerves and blood vessels. In alternative medicine, ash bark is the closest to a fountain of seamless health it can get, and the list of its clinical applications is quite impressive.
A cost-efficient all-natural fix for chronic bacillary dysentery, regular intake of ash tree bark can help prevent and treat a host of dysentery-related bacterial infections, including constipation, diarrhea, chronic bronchitis, whooping cough, acute hepatitis, osteoarthritis, fever, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, infantile epilepsy, and vaginal discharge.
Ash tree bark is also a powerful diuretic and it can facilitate the excretion of uric acid, which makes it ideal for people who suffer from chronic bladder and kidney problems. But there’s more still: ash bark has powerful sedative, antitussive, expectorant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-asthmatic properties, and it can prevent Escherichia coli and a host of other bacterial infections.
Herbalists are privy to all the secrets of Mother Nature, and they certainly know how to put its powers to good and healthy use – and you should take their cue and make natural remedies a faithful ally on the quest to lasting vigor. Don’t go barking up the tree of traditional pharmacy: stock your medicine supply with products made from firewood bark and wave Goodbye to an array of nasty conditions fate may decide to throw your way. The trees we regard as standard firewood are trees of life no less, so the next time a bout of ill health comes knocking on your door, grab a medicinal bark and fend off the health impostor without synthetic chemicals in the mix.