Prickly Ash

Zanthoxylum americanum


Names: Tootheache Tree

Habitat: Canada and the USA.

Collection: The berries are collected in late summer and the bark isstripped from the stems of this shrub in the spring.

Part Used: The bark and berries.

Constituents: Bark: * Alkaloids: [[gamma]]-fagarine, [[beta]]-fagarine(-skimmianine), magnoflorine, laurifoline, nitidine, chelerythrine,tambetarine and candicine

* Coumarins: xanthyletin, zanthoxyletin, alloxanthyletin

* Resin, tannin, volatile oil.

Actions: Stimulant (circulatory), tonic, alterative, carminative,diaphoretic, anti-rheumatic, hepatic.

Indications: Prickly Ash may be used in a way that is similar toCayenne, although it is slower in action. It is used in many chronic problemssuch a rheumatism and skin diseases. Any sign of poor circulationcalls for the use of this herb, such as chilblains, cramp in theleg, varicose veins and varicose ulcers. Externally it may beused as a stimulation liniment for rheumatism and fibrositis. Dueto its stimulating effect upon the lymphatic system, circulation and mucousmembranes, it will have a role in the holistic treatment of many specificconditions.

Priest & Priest tell us that it is “positive diffusive stimulant -induces free arterial/capillary circulation, restores vascular tone. It is ageneral stimulant for relaxed and feeble conditions and atonic digestivestates. An excellent tonic and alterative for convalescence and the elderly.”They give the following specific indications: chronic rheumaticconditions; neurasthenia and poor circulation; gastricdistension, eructations and flatulence; loss of sensitivityin injured nerves.

Ellingwood considered it specific for “lack of tone in the nervoussystem, a general torpidity with sluggish circulation. Also in enervation andrelaxation of mucous membranes, with imperfect circulation, or hypersecretion.It is thus valuable in catarrhal conditions of any mucous surface, as itrestores the tone and normal functional activity.”

King’s Dispensatory gives these specific indications: “(in the smallerdoses) in hypersecretion from debility and relaxation of mucous tissues;atonicity of the nervous system (larger doses); in capillary engorgement in theexanthemata, sluggish circulation, tympanites in bowel complaints, intestinaland gastric torpor (with deficient secretion), dryness of the mucous membraneof mouth and fauces (with glazed, glossy surfaces), flatulent colic, asiaticcholera, uterine cramps, and neuralgia. For the painful bowel disorders, thepreperations of the berries are to be preferred.

Combinations: May be used in many different situations.

Preparations & Dosage: Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water ontol-2 teaspoonfuls of the bark and let infuse for l0-l5 minutes. This should bedrunk three times a day. Tincture: take 1-2 ml of the tincture three times aday.

© David L. Hoffman, M.N.I.M.H.

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Written by David L. Hoffmann BSc Hons MNIMH

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