Wild cherry bark is a natural substance sold in supplement form. Extracted from the bark of the Prunus serotina tree (a plant native to eastern North America), wild cherry bark has long been used in herbal medicine.
Said to treat colds and suppress coughs in alternative medicine, wild cherry bark is also used as an ingredient in cough syrups.
Its active constituents are believed to include the tannins, scopoletin, and cyanogenic glycosides, such as prunasin, which may help to reduce inflammation, relieve spasms in smooth muscles, and have an astringent effect on tissues.
Along with coughs and colds, wild cherry bark is typically touted as a natural treatment for the following health problems:
- sore throat
- whooping cough
In addition, wild cherry bark is said to alleviate pain and stimulate the digestive system. Some alternative medicine proponents also claim that wild cherry bark can help prevent cancer.
Thinning Mucus Secretions
Wild cherry bark is classified as a “relaxing expectorant” because it thins mucus secretions and coats irritated respiratory tissue, states Shayne Foley, contributing author at HerbalEd.org and education director with Herb Pharm, a manufacturer of herbal medicines. It is easier for the fine hairs of the respiratory system, known as cilia, to move thinner secretions out of the lungs and bronchial tubes.
Supressing Colorectal Cancer Cell Growth
Wild cherry bark extract suppresses colorectal cancer cell growth, according to Kiyoshi Yamaguchi, et al., whose study was published in the January 2006 issue of “Oncology Reports.” The extract prevented B-catenin/T-cell factor transcription, which means that it prevented the formation of new cancer cells. B-catenin is a protein that controls what various cells become as they are created by the body. Transcription is the process by which genetic material in the cell “switches on” to become a given type of cell.
Soothing Colic and Dyspepsia
Although there are no randomized, double-blind studies supporting its use to soothe colic and dyspepsia, or gastric distress, Native American and Chinese herbalists used it for that purpose for centuries. Until such studies are conducted, products containing wild cherry bark are not permitted to state that it has any effect on the digestive system.
Due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of using wild cherry bark supplements. However, there’s some concern that wild cherry bark may be harmful to people with liver or kidney disorders. In addition, wild cherry bark may have sedative effects.
None are recorded.