Prickly Ash

Scientific Name/Common Name: Zanthoxylum clava-herculis / Zanthoxylum americanum / Prickly Ash

Part(s) Used: Bark

Constituents/Active Ingredients: Alkaloids (isoquinoline-type): Chelerythrine and magnoflorine (main constituents), candicine, lauriflorine, nitidine, N-acetylanonaine, tembetarine. Amides: Cinnamamide, herculin, neoherculin. Lignans: (-)-Asarinin, (-)-sesamin, -acetylanonaine, tembetarine. Other Ingredients: Resins, tannins, an acrid volatile oil (3.3%).

Overview: Prickly ash bark, also known as toothache bark, comes from a prickly shrub or tree grown in the United States. The bark has a strong fragrance and a pungent, bitter taste. When chewed, it imparts a sweetish aromatic taste, followed by bitterness and acridity; the berries act similarly but are more pleasant to taste. The bark induces a copious flow of saliva and mucus and has significant diuretic activity. Swallowed, it warms the stomach and augments gastric and intestinal juice secretion, and probably increases hepatic and pancreatic activity. Native Americans traditionally used prickly ash bark tea for rheumatism, dyspepsia, dysentery, kidney trouble, heart trouble, colds and coughs, lung ailments, and nervous debility. It is also used in folk medicine as a remedy for toothaches and abnormal growths. Zanthoxylum strengthens the action of the heart; pulse is slightly quickened, arterial tension slightly lowered, and the glands of the skin are stimulated to greater activity.

Traditional Use/Benefits/Body Systems: Bitter, antispasmodic, tonic, diaphoretic; used as a circulatory stimulant, for rheumatism, antimicrobial.

Clinical Studies/Scientific Research/References:

Newall CA, Anderson LA, and Phillipson JD. 1996. Northern and Southern Prickly Ash In Herbal Medicines. A Guide for Health Care Professionals. The Pharmaceutical Press, London. Pp. 219-221.

Foster S, and Duke JA. 1990. Prickly Ash in Medicinal Plants. Houghton Mifflin Co., New York, NY. Pp. 238.

 

 

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