Wild cherry bark is a species of cherry native to Europe, Anatolia, Maghreb and western Asia. Across the world, it is known to have many different variations. Its extracts are taken from the Prunus Serotina tree bark. These extracts have been used in various practices of herbal medicine for many years. The tree is said to grow about 15 – 32 meters tall, with a trunk of up to 1.5 meters in diameter.
According to ancient folklore, the wild cherry bark is commonly associated with virginity. This is probably due to the red color of the fruit with an enclosed seed which could be viewed as symbolic of the uterus. Today, it is commonly used to treat digestive and respiratory ailments and can also be enjoyed on its own because of its rich taste.
It goes by other names such as Black Cherry or Choke, Cerezo Silvestre, and Cerisier à Grappes. Other variations in references to this tree include Cerisier d’Automne, Cerisier Noir, Cerisier de Virginie, Cerisier Tardif, and Cerisier Sauvage.
Even if it has been used for thousands of years, more research still needs to be conducted to support these claims. Among its claimed health benefits include the following:
- Treats fevers and cough problems
- Treats bronchitis, asthma, and pleurisy
- Treats digestive ailments including diarrhea and digestive problems
- Reinforces muscular elasticity in the body
- Reduces inflammation of the uterus
- Lowers blood sugar, blood cholesterol and blood pressure levels
- May help protect the body against colorectal cancer
The key component of wild cherry bark is cyanogenic glycosides. This component primarily helps relieve cough problems by quelling spasms in the smooth muscles lining the bronchioles. It is also considered as a “relaxing expectorant” owing to its effects on the respiratory system. It is known to thin mucus secretions and to coat the irritated respiratory tissues.
However, safety precautions have to be considered when taking the plant, especially for children, nursing mothers, pregnant women, or people with severe liver or kidney disease. Since it contains hydrochloric acid, it is not recommended for long term use as it may be somewhat dangerous. As of now, there is also no evidence that the plant has any adverse interactions with medicines. It could still be possible, however, that unknown interactions exist. This is why it is important to consult a doctor first before taking the plant.
Mostly used for cough problems, the wild cherry bark could be an alternative herbal medicine if you are looking for other ways to treat your cough.