Black Cherry Bark

The active constituents in wild cherry include cyanogenic glycosides (prunasin and amygdalin), flavonoids, benzaldehyde, volatile oils, plant acids, tannins, calcium, potassium, and iron (Hoffmann, 2003; Holmes, 1997; Piorier, 2013).

Energetically, wild cherry is both cooling and warming as well as drying, with a sweet, bitter, and pungent taste. As a member of the rose family, wild cherry is an ally for the heart and sacral chakras, as it is sweet, loving, nurturing, and sensual. It helps open the heart, making space to lovingly communicate with and receive from others.

Wild cherry is indicated for an “excited tissue state” (Wood, 2008), meaning heat, redness, inflammation, and tenderness. Wild cherry is considered a general restorative in the case of chronic illness such as bronchitis or during convalescence from illness. As Peter Holmes explains, “wild cherry can speed recovery by recouping lost forces, strengthening the heart, kindling the appetite, and clearing any remaining heat in the skin” (Holmes, 1997).

Wild cherry has expectorant, antitussive, astringent, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, bitter, and nervine actions. Historically, Native American tribes have a record of using wild cherry for a variety of ailments: the Cherokee for coughs, colds, fevers, indigestion, to ease labor pains, as a blood tonic, and as an astringent wash for sores and ulcers; the Chippewa to expel worms, disinfect and dress burns, cuts, wounds, and ulcers, and for cholera and tuberculosis; the Delaware for diarrhea, coughs, and as a tonic for general debility; the Iroquois for coughs, colds, fevers, headaches, bronchitis, lung inflammation, sore throats, blood purification, sores caused by “bad blood,” and burns; and the Ojibwa for chest pain and soreness (Moerman, 1998).

Wild cherry’s popular use is as a remedy for coughs and for opening the lower respiratory system. Its sedative action is helpful for easing the cough reflex and calming irritating coughs (Hoffmann, 2003). It is a great remedy for respiratory infections when there is a lot of mucus, coughing, and constricted airways that making breathing difficult. Due to its astringent, sedative, antispasmodic, and bronchodilator actions, it dries mucus, increases expectoration, eases coughing, and opens the airways. As Matthew Wood (2008) explains, “by soothing the respiratory apparatus it increases expectoration.” It is especially helpful for coughs that make it difficult to sleep through the night, and is nice in a cough syrup for this purpose. It can be used in the case of bronchitis, whooping cough, and croup. It is also helpful for relieving unproductive, irritating coughs that linger after an infection is over (Piorier, 2013). Its cooling and anti-inflammatory action is helpful for inflammatory conditions such as acute and chronic sinus inflammation and allergies. As a bronchodilator, it also helps relieve asthma, and “is appropriate for use in combination with other herbs to control asthma” (Hoffmann, 2003).

Not surprising for a member of the rose family, wild cherry is also a nourishing, tonifying, and strengthening remedy for the heart, also alleviating cardiac irregularities and palpitations. Herbalist Matthew Wood (2008) declares that “Wild Cherry is the American Indian version of Crataegus (Hawthorn), which is also a member of the Prunaceae family used in heart and digestive problems.” Wild cherry’s nervine, sedative action helps slow circulation and heart rate, relieving palpitations and arrhythmia. By repairing irritation in the capillaries, the anti-inflammatory flavonoids in wild cherry eliminate circulatory congestion and heat, redness, tenderness, and rapid heartbeat; together with cyanogens, which reduce cellular heat, flavonoids exert a noticeable cooling effect (Wood, 2008). This temperature regulation action can also be helpful in the case of fever. Wild cherry has a dual nature in that it can also be warming to those with cold skin and poor circulation to the extremities (Wood, 2008).

All About Wild Cherry Bark (Printable Monograph) | Herbal Academy | Come learn all about wild cherry bark and get your free printable herbal monograph for your herbal materia medica!Wild cherry is also a remedy for digestive upset thanks to its antispasmodic action, ability to soothe irritated mucosal tissues, and its digestion-stimulating bitter taste. Herbalist Matthew Wood emphasizes its action on the small intestine, explaining, “it acts as a sedative in cases where there are food sensitivities and as a bitter where there is lack of secretion” and indicates wild cherry for digestive conditions related to nervous irritation of the stomach and intestines, indigestion, and diarrhea (Wood, 2008). Its sedative, anti-inflammatory, and astringent actions are helpful with these conditions as well, calming the digestive tract, reducing inflammation and irritation, and reducing water volume in stool.

The cooling and anti-inflammatory action of wild cherry also recommends it as an external wash for sores, ulcers, herpes, and shingles.

Scientific studies indicate wild cherry bark exhibits anti-proliferative activity in human colorectal, pancreatic, prostate, and breast cancer cells by modulating nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug activated gene-1 (NAG-1) (Yamaguchi et al., 2006; Yang et al., 2014). Another scientific study shows that wild cherry exhibits antibacterial action, inhibiting growth of Neisseria gonorrhoeae (Ng) isolates (Cybulska et al., 2011).