Wild Cherry Bark: At a Glance
Wild cherry bark, sometimes called black cherry bark or American cherry bark, is the inner bark of the cherry (Prunus serotina) tree, a relative of the rose. Its bark ranges from dark gray to black in color. It is smooth and shiny on young trees but becomes rough and peels from the trunk of mature cherry trees in flakes. The extracted inner bark has a distinctive almond scent.
Native American tribes swore by the bark’s healing properties, which are today celebrated throughout the world. Studies show wild cherry bark calms coughs, dries mucus, and opens the airways, so it’s a common ingredient in cold remedies, including cough syrups and throat lozenges. It is also often used in teas.
Cooking With Wild Cherry Bark
Wild cherry bark is often added to cold water and left to steep before drinking. Simply add an ounce of the wild cherry bark to two cups of cold water and let the bark infuse for a few hours. Experts recommend drinking one to four fluid ounces of the cold infusion four or five times a day to enjoy its healing benefits.
The bark can also be added to boiling tea, much like regular tea leaves. Add one teaspoon of the dried wild cherry bark for every cup of boiling water. Simmer the tea for 10 to 15 minutes, then drink. Try to drink the tea three times a day for the best results. Wild cherry bark yields a pungent-tasting liquid, which is bitter yet slightly sweet at the same time. Add lemon or honey to your taste.
While commercial cough remedies containing wild cherry bark are available, you can also make your own at home. Fill a quart jar with your wild cherry bark, then pour in your choice of vodka or brandy. Most if not all of the alcohol will distill when you add the honey, so you can safely give this cough solution to children one year old or over. Let the mixture sit for three weeks before straining it into a kettle. Add a quart jar full of honey. Heat the solution until the honey melts, then simmer it for another five minutes. Your homemade cough syrup enhanced with wild cherry bark is now ready to use.
Wild Cherry Bark: History and Origination
Native American tribes were among the first people to use wild cherry bark.
The Cherokee believed the bark could alleviate cold symptoms by easing congestion and suppressing coughs. They also used it to cure indigestion, as an astringent for cleaning sores and ulcers, and to reduce labor pains during childbirth. The Delaware people used it to ease coughs and cure diarrhea. They were so impressed with the bark that it was commonly prescribed as a tonic for any kind of infirmity. The Chippewa swore wild cherry bark could eliminate worms and treat cholera and tuberculosis, while the Ojibwa took it for chest pain and soreness.
Today, proponents of natural therapies believe wild cherry bark may have even wider applications. The bark could provide relief for a host of health complaints including asthma, bronchitis, heart conditions, fever, and gout. It’s also thought to stimulate the digestive system, calm upset tummies, reduce pain throughout the body, condition hair, and encourage its growth. Preliminary studies suggest wild cherry bark could prevent colorectal, prostate, breast, and pancreatic cancer.
Cultivation of Wild Cherry Bark
Cherry trees grow to around 100 feet tall with large trunks up to four feet in diameter. The tree is native to North America’s east and central regions but has spread to the southwestern United States. Cherry trees grow best in rich, well-drained, sandy loam. You’ll find it along roadsides and fence rows, in fields, and in hardwood forests.
Wild cherry bark is harvested in the middle of summer or fall, when the cyanogenic compounds that give the bark its nutty scent are lowest.
Once harvested, wild cherry bark is either dried to preserve it and prevent fermentation or extracted into a tincture or syrup. Once wild cherry bark ferments, it becomes toxic. While wild cherry bark contains cyanogenic glycosides, which are metabolized into hydrocyanic acid, experts say you needn’t worry about these low levels. Even children’s bodies can detoxify small amounts of hydrocyanic acid, making moderate levels of wild cherry bark safe for the whole family.
About Our Wild Cherry Bark
Our wild cherry bark is proudly sourced from the tree’s native United States. That means that when you choose Burma Spice wild cherry bark, you’re supporting America’s local producers. While wild cherry bark is commonly available in capsule and syrup form, we sell this therapeutic spice in a more natural state. This ensures that you enjoy all of the benefits without the heavy processing. Our wild cherry bark comes in five sizes to suit your needs, from small 1-oz swing-top bottles for anyone experimenting with wild cherry bark for the first time, up to bulk 20- and 40-oz jars for commercial food businesses.