Prickly ash is a natural herbal remedy which has been used for thousands of years to treat a multitude of illnesses and wounds. This perennial plant can be grown as either a tree or a shrub, making it a perfect addition to survival garden for preppers, wherever they may live.
Prickly ash is commonly named the toothache tree, pepper oak, northern prickly ash, Chuan jiao, yellow oak, and clavalier. It is from the genus of the plant family Rue – the genus Rutaceae. The Asian variant of prickly ash tree is referred to as crow ash.
For making natural home remedies, both the bark and the fruit berries from the prickly ash tree and shrub were used.
History of Prickly Ash
Native American tribes treated prickly ash bark to treat a variety of medical problems, from mild to serious.
Some ailments that have been used to treat prickly ash bark infusion include: back pain, fever, dry and itchy skin, sore throat, common cold symptoms, infant colic, lung problems, toothache, post-labor pain in women, and stomach cramps.
Members of the Algonquin tribe combined approximately two quarters of water with two cups of either dried or fresh prickly ash berries and cooked it about an hour over an open flame. Then, members of the Native American tribe would consume the hot tea to lather up into an intense sweat before soaking in a stream.
The members of the tribe used this regimen to relieve stiff joints, back pain, rheumatism and arthritis pain, as well as fatigue from muscle paralysis.
Members of the Chippewa tribe were known to make a prickly ash tea not only for drinking but also for soaking the feet and legs of the sick or frail elderly and young, helping to strengthen muscles, tendons, joints and ligaments.
Among other severe medical problems, Charles Millspaugh proclaimed prickly ash a natural cure for typhoid, cholera, pneumonia, and typhus in the book of the 19th century, American Herbal Medicine. Millspaugh went on to say that prickly ash has behaved so rapidly that it can be associated with electricity. “I think prickly ash is superior to any medicine I know of,” wrote Charles Millspaugh.
Some 19th-century physicians used prickly ash in medications used to treat problems with the nervous and digestive systems. We would substitute cayenne pepper in treatments with prickly ash, because we felt it had provided a longer lasting result.
Related: 16 Free Alternative Pain Meds
How to Identify a Prickly Ash Tree
This healing tree naturally grows in great abundance in Missouri and is often commonly found or grown in the eastern regions of the United States and Canada in many countries.
Prickly ash trees can grow to 26 meters high. It has deep brown branches which boast up to half inch thick prickles, hence its name.
The prickly ash tree’s distinctive look makes it easy to recognize, but this soothing tree also boasts an almost odd fragrance. If you happen to come across one of those soothing shrubs or trees, the first thing you may note is the strong lemon smell.
The branched twigs boast red and rather woolly buds, followed each spring by flowers in shades of greenish yellow.
Darker green leaves show up as the seasons continue. Over the late summer days the fruit from the prickly ash tree matures, going from green to a reddish brown shade once they mature.
Prickly ash trees and bushes usually grow in heavily wooded areas, in or adjacent to damp ravines, and thickets along the edge of the forest. Prickly ash trees can also be found in forests, as well as along rocky ridges. This is a hardy plant that can withstand-and thrive in highly diverse environmental types.
Health Benefits of Prickly Ash
Prickly ash counts nitrogen producing alkaloids among its compounds. These compounds give rise to physiological reactions. Some examples of the alkaloid groups that include prickly ash include quinine, alkamide, and morphine. Alkamide’s numbing effects are undoubtedly why prickly ash has acquired the nickname of the toothache vine.
The fruit that the prickly ash tree produces contains volatile oil compounds that may have various medicinal uses. Such volatile oils can stimulate body tissues and improve blood circulation by inducing dilation of the veins.
When the oils are rubbed onto the skin from prickly ash fruit it induces a reddening, because the oils dilate small blood vessels just below the surface.
If these same oils are used internally, the entire circulatory and digestive systems may experience a similar effect.
Prickly ash is believed to help in facilitating blood flow across the body. Since both rheumatism and arthritis derive from issues with inflammation of the joint, muscle, or ligament and associated pain, the potential capacity of prickly ash to improve blood flow may be highly beneficial in curtailing irritation and swelling. In order to help repair damage, peripheral blood flow transfers essential nutrients to joints, discs and cartilage tissue.
Top 20 Health Benefits of Prickly Ash:
- Digestive Aid
- Lymphatic Stimulant
- Gas Relief
- Muscle Liniment Active Ingredient
- Circulatory System Stimulant
- Anti-fungal Cleanser.
- Post-Childbirth Pain
- Blood Pressure Issues
- Body Invigorating Tonic
- Sialagogue (to treat dry mouth)
- Minor Wounds
- Cytotoxin (an agent that can be toxic to destructive cells, like cancer cells)
- Varicose Veins
- Leg Cramps
- Raynaud’s Syndrome
Prickly Ash Usage
Soak a piece of clean cotton cloth or a cotton ball in the tincture while taking prickly ash to soothe an aching tooth, then apply it gently directly to the tooth.
You may also use thinly sprinkled powdered ash bark on a small piece of bread that has peanut butter on it-the powder sticks to the peanut butter. The peanut butter and bread are then wrapped like a bandage around the tooth.
Simply nibble or suck on a piece of clean bark in a survival situation, or for making a simple and quick natural toothache remedy.
To treat dry mouth with prickly ash to induce saliva production, sprinkle a pinch of prickly ash bark powder beneath your tongue and let it dissolve. You may need to repeat this regimen every few hours, in order to prevent the dry mouth from presenting again.
Simmer two teaspoons of bark (whether fresh or preserved) in hot water for around 15 to 20 minutes to brew prickly ash into a tea. Prickly ash typically settles better on the stomach and could be most effective when taken right before eating a meal.
Prickly Ash Dosage
Prickly ash is usually mixed into a tincture, powder, or oil for human use. Adults can take between 250 and 750 milligrams up to three times a day, according to the Chrysalis Natural Medicine Clinic guide.
When you’re doing a prickly ash home remedy, it’s recommended to boil 1 teaspoon of chopped bark in water for about 20 minutes to create a decoction for adults to consume up to three times a day. The suggested dosage for adults is between 10 and 20 drops, taken up to three times a day, when taking prickly ash in tincture form.
Prickly Ash Storage
Your homemade or store bought prickly ash natural herbal supplement should be kept in an airtight container, away from both direct sunlight and heat – but not in a humid or damp spot.
When exposed to both humidity or dampness and heat, the compounds of prickly ash can break down faster and make it much less effective in fighting health problems.
Prickly Ash Side Effects
Although few studies on the potential health benefits of prickly ash have been performed, there is also no information available regarding possible side effects. This is a widely common fact that people who use prickly ash will experience sensitivity to the sunlight and experience sunburn much easier.
Simply because a home remedy comes from nature does not mean it is safe for everyone to use. Possible signs of a prickly allergic reaction to ash include skin rash, hives, chest and/or throat tightness, chest pain , shortness of breath.
To people with the following medical conditions, prickly ash is not recommended: Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, Gastrointestinal tract infections, Gastrointestinal medical conditions, peptic ulcer, gastroesophageal reflux, Irritable Bowel syndrome.
Individuals taking a blood thinner medication, medication for the reduction of stomach acid, heart disease, or medicines for high blood pressure should also not use prickly ash.
I am no medical doctor of any kind. This is shared information from my personal experience and research. Consult your doctor always before embarking on some kind of regimen in natural herbal medicine.