Black haw (Viburnum prunifolium) is a shrub that originated from the woodlands of eastern and central areas of America. The herb, whose extracts and root bark are used in preparing medicine, is also known as sweet haw or stag bush. It is a deciduous shrub that grows creamy white flowers that are loved by gardeners, and reddish-brown bark cherished by Native American tribes for their medicinal benefits. As a matter of fact, the herb contains medicinal properties that are effective for treating gynecological issues.
Black haw is made of compounds such as aesculetin, clibutyl hemimellitate, coumarins, including scopoletin, salicin, tannins, viburnin, volatile oils, l-Methyl-2 as well as 3-dibutyl hemimellitate. As a result of these potent compounds, black haw is believed to possess medicinal benefits, including nervine, antispasmodic, astringent, and sedative properties.
In addition to this, black haw is effective for improving the health of the liver as well as supporting the female reproductive system, urinary system, and nervous system. In fact, black haw is used as a tonic, effective for increasing urine (as a diuretic) to prevent fluid retention; and for treating spasms, diarrhea, and asthma.
What more, women use black haw in the treatment of menstrual cramps and spasms of the uterus after childbirth; and for reducing the risks of miscarriage. Black haw also contains a potent chemical that could relax the uterus.
It is important to note that black haw can be confused for cramp bark (Viburnum opulus), a plant that is of the same genus with properties similar to black haw. However, unlike black haw, cramp bark is not native to the United States and is distributed across Asia and Europe. Their dissimilarities extend further even as their chemical constituents are quite similar. So it is understandable that black haw and cramp bark can be used together and interchangeably.
The Health Benefits of Black Haw
Black haw is effective for preventing and treating the following health conditions:
- After-birth pains
- Uterine prolapse
- Bladder spasms
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Postpartum hemorrhages
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Other health conditions.
Although more research is needed to ascertain the effectiveness of black haw for the uses mentioned above, the herb is believed to act as a natural remedy to health issues that concern the female reproductive system. These concerns mostly include menopause, dysmenorrheal and premenstrual syndrome as well as the pains that accompany childbirth. This is due to black haw’s ability in relaxing the muscles and helping them to function efficiently in improving circulation in the uterus. The herb also helps the body in reducing anxiety and stress via its mild sedative effects. All of these benefits contribute to the effectiveness of black haw.
When used with other herbs such as Patridge berry and chaste berry, black haw functions well in preventing miscarriage. Working together, these herbs can stop contractions and uterine cramps in the early stages of pregnancy. However, it is advisable to do this under the supervision of a professional herbal medicine practitioner.
Due to its antispasmodic properties, black haw can function in other parts of the body as well, including as relief from colic, diarrhea, and bladder spasms. Also, the sedative and relaxant abilities of black haw mean it can reduce the risk of hypertension and relax the blood vessels to ensure that blockage is less likely to happen.
How to Use Black Haw
To prepare a decoction of black haw, you only need to combine one teaspoon of dried root bark with one cup of water in a stainless steel pot or pan then bring to a boil. To reduce heat, cover, and allow it to simmer for about10 minutes. Strain before consuming the decoction of a half-cup either three times a day or once every three hours. In fact, black haw tea can be taken in combination with motherwort or ginger to make it more effective.
Alternatively, you can consume black haw as a drink, similar to how you enjoy a delicious recipe. The juice is believed to go well with bagels, toast, and hot buttered biscuits. In addition to beverages, black haw is so versatile that it can be converted into a jelly, jam, conserve, or relish.
It is important to remember that people who are allergic to aspirin should observe precautions against consuming black haw due to its side effects on the body.
While no side effects have been reported, it is important to note that:
- When taken by mouth in food quantities, black haw stem bark tends to be safe for most people.
- As a medicine, black haw root bark is possibly safe for most people when taken by mouth.
Precautions and Warnings
- Pregnancy: Black haw is may be unsafe for pregnant women as it might adversely affect the uterus.
- Breastfeeding: It is also best to steer clear of black haw if you are a breast-feeding mother. This is because there isn’t enough evidence about its safety.
- Aspirin allergy: Black haw possesses chemicals known as salicylates. There are some concerns that these salicylates could result in allergic reactions in people suffering from asthma or aspirin.
- Kidney stones: Since black haw contains oxalic acid, it might increase the formation of stones in people who have a history of kidney stones.
The right dose of black haw for use as treatment is largely dependent on certain factors such as the user’s health, age, and several other health conditions. Currently, there is not enough scientific evidence to ascertain an appropriate dose for black haw. However, keep in mind that natural remedies are not necessarily safe and dosages can be vital. Strictly adhere to the necessary directions on product labels and seek the opinion of a healthcare professional before using any herb or supplement.
The Bottom Line
Evidently, black haw is effective in preventing and reducing the symptoms of conditions that concern the menstrual cycle, including menopause, dysmenorrheal, and premenstrual syndrome.
In addition, black haw can be used to remedy diarrhea, hypertension, colic, and bladder spasms.