Cramp Bark has long been recognized for its antispasmodic, astringent and sedative properties. The cramp bark has in fact been traditionally used by Native Americans alleviate pain from menstrual cramps and spasms after childbirth. It has also been used to help prevent miscarriage.
Cramp bark is the name given to the deciduous shrubs with the scientific name of viburnum opulus. A member of the family Caprifoliaceae, this shrub is native to Britain, but has been introduced and now grows in some parts of America and Canada. It typically grows in woodlands, hedges, and thickets. The bark from the branches is collected during the spring and summer when the plant has flowers.
Cramp bark can grow up to a height of 16 feet and can possess a width also of 16 feet. Cramp bark bears white flowers that can grow up to five inches in size. It also produces vitamin C rich berries which may be eaten if cooked.
The following are some of the active constituents of cramp bark: hydroquinones, coumarins, tannins, scopoletin, and resin. Cramp bark tea can be made by mashing the dried bark, and then boiling it in water to release the oils and volatile organic compounds into the mix.
Many herb experts are said to consider cramp bark as the best remedy for muscle pains and body aches associated with movement.
The following are the health benefits attributed to this tea:
- May help relieve pain from cramps, especially in the leg or neck. It may also help uterine cramps or period pains.
- May help in facilitating easy labor to women giving birth by building up the uterine muscles.
- May help relax tense muscles.
- May help lower blood pressure.
- May help in the treatment of asthma.
- May help in relieving constipation, colic or irritable bowel syndrome.
- May help fight arthritis.
- May offer relief from tension headaches.