Health Benefits of Guelder Rose

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Guelder Rose Quick Facts
Name: Guelder Rose
Scientific Name: Viburnum opulus
Origin Native to Europe
Colors Bright red
Shapes Globose drupe, 7–10 mm diameter
Flesh colors Yellowish
Taste Astringent-bitter-sour
Guelder Rose is indigenous to the northern part of the United States and Canada. It is a handsome shrub, growing in low rich lands, woods and borders of fields, presenting a showy appearance of flowers in June. The flowers are succeeded by red, very acid berries, resembling low cranberries, and sometimes substituted for them. They remain on the bush after the leaves have fallen and throughout the winter. The bark has no smell, but has a peculiar bitterish and astringent taste, which leaves a clean feeling in the mouth. Viburnine is the active principle found in the dried bark of the stem. The berries are a rich source of Vitamins C and K.

Plant description

It is a conspicuous, large and nearly flattopped heads of snow white flowers measuring 3-5 inches across. Inner ones are very small but with an outer ring of large, showy and sterile blossoms which contains undeveloped stamens having no pollen and an ovary without ovules. Leaves are deciduous, ovate, 5-12 cm long, deeply 3-lobed and coarsely toothed. Flowers are white, 7-10 cm broad with flowers of two different types. Fruits form a drooping cluster of bright red berries, translucent and shining.

Facts About Guelder Rose

Name Guelder Rose
Scientific Name Viburnum opulus
Native Native to Europe
Common/English Name High Cranberry, Guelder Rose, Snowball Tree, Squaw Bush, Cramp Bark, European cranberrybush, American cranberrybush, Crampbark, European Highb, Cranberry tree, Crampbark tree, Wild gueldes-rose, Cherry-wood, Rose elder, Marsh elder, Water elder, White elder, Gadrise, Gaiter tree, Gatten, Love rose, May rose, Pincushion tree, Dog rowan tree, Whitten tree, Squaw bush, Witch-hobble, Witchhopple, Stagbush, Guelder-rose, Water elder, Arrowwood
Name in Other Languages Danish: Almindelig kvalkved, Kvalkved;
English: European cranberrybush, Guelder rose, Guelder-rose,
Crampbark, Viburnum, Cranberry viburnum, European cranberry viburnum, European cranberry-bush
Plant Growth Habit Tall, flowering shrub
Plant Size 6 to 10 feet
Leaf Opposite, 3-lobed maplelike leaves and from 2 to 5 inches long
Flowering Season May and early June
Flower White, 3 to 5 inches across
Fruit shape & size Globose drupe, 7–10 mm diameter
Fruit color Bright red
Flesh color Yellowish
Fruit Taste Astringent-bitter-sour
Medicinal part The bark

Leaves are opposite, simple, 3-lobed and about 2 to 4 inches long. They are glossy dark green which turns to yellow-red or red-purple in the fall. Petiole is grooved and has round, raised glands near the base.


The plant blooms flowers in June in clusters which are 2-3 inches across with outer ring of larger and sterile flowers. Flowers are hermaphrodite and self-fertile which means individual plant flowers can pollinate one another. Flowers are pollinated by wind and insects.


Fruits are nearly round drupe about 1/3 inch diameter with single large seed, juicy, bright red and quite acid like cranberry. Seeds ripen from August to September. It produce fruit when reached at five years of age.

Health Benefits of Guelder Rose

1. Menstrual Cramps

In vitro studies, Guelder Eose block spasms of smooth muscle.  It is used for menstrual cramps following PMS. It helps to soothe severe cramping associated with vomiting, nausea and sweaty chills. Boil 2 teaspoons of dried bark into a cup of water and then simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Take this tea three times per day for cramps.

2. Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a condition in which the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus grows outside the uterus. Fruits are used for treating gynecological disorders such as painful periods as well as ovarian cysts.

3. Muscle Relaxant

Guelder Rose acts as a natural muscle relaxant. It provides relief from menstrual cramping due to its ability to halt smooth muscle spasms. It provides relief from muscle spasms and aches throughout body whether associated to physical exertion and PMS. Other side effects of NSAIDs are leg swelling, stomach pain, dizziness, headaches, kidney issues and high blood pressure.

4. Muscle Relaxant

Cramp bark has anti-spasmodic compounds effective for all other types of cramp in the body. It includes gastrointestinal, bronchial, genitourinary and skeletal muscle spasms. As a skeletal muscle relaxant, it is effective for leg cramps.

5. Nervous health

It restores parasympathetic and sympathetic balance in voluntary and involuntary muscle spasms of autonomic nervous system. The sympathetic controls fight and parasympathetic controls rest and digest-balance between these two systems is crucial for overall vibrant health. It ensures that adequate resources in right place and at right time.

6. Circulation

Guelder Rose has relaxant activities which allows for increase circulation and blood flow. Relaxed muscles work efficiently and improvement in blood flow supports elimination of waste products from the body. It has vasodilatory properties which widens blood vessels and allows blood to flow more easily and exerts positive effect on blood pressure.

7. Sedative

Guelder Rose is rich in valerenic acid which is related with sedative herb Valerian. It acts as anti-spasmodic and sedative. The mild sedative effect could be enhanced by combining with other hormone regulating and sedative herbs.


Known to American practitioners for the conditions of which the name implies, Cramp bark, giving relief to cramps and spasms of involuntary muscular contractions such as in asthma, hysteria; cramps of female during pregnancy, preventing the attack entirely if used daily for the last two or three months of gestation.

Steep 1 teaspoonful of the cut bark in l cup of boiling water for ½ hr.; when cold, drink 1 or 2 cupfuls a day. Of the tincture, ½ fl. dram. Spasmodic Compounds:

Add to 2 quarts of the best sherry wine

2 oz. Cramp bark (Viburnum opulus),

1 oz. Skull cap (Scutellaria)

1 oz. Skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus)

½ oz. Cloves (Eugenia caryophyllus)

2 dram. Capsicum

Combine ingredients in powder form, or coarsely bruised. Let stand in covered container at least 24 hr. shaking daily.

Dose: Half a wine glassful, two or three times a day.

Externally: Seasonal but worth remembering. The low cranberry (and probably the high cranberry will have the same results) is known to be direct medication for dangerous erysipelas. If applied early this malady yields at once. Also for malignant ulcers and scarlet fever when applied to the throat. Pound the berries and spread them in a fold of old cotton cloth and apply over the entire diseased surface and the inflammation will speedily subside. Its usefulness is universally acknowledged.

Homoeopathic Clinical: Tincture of fresh bark, collected in October or November—After-pains, Cough (of pregnancy), Cramps, Dysmenorrhoea (spasmodic, neuralgia, membranous), Ears (painful), Epididymitis. Headache, Hysteria, Labour pains (false), Lumbago, Menstruation (painful), Miscarriage, Ovaries (pain in), Paralysis, Uterus (cramps in, bearing down in).

Russian Experience: If you attend a Russian concert, or listen to one on the radio you will hear a beautiful heartfelt song which is touching to people in all corners of the globe. It will be Kalina or Kalinushka, well known to North American Indians as Cramp bark.

Russians like Kalina so much they plant it in parks as well as for home garden decoration and medicinal use. They feel that the beauty and tenderness of its creation is only one of its merits, as a deeper meaning is known to them as a shrub for health. Ukraine, White Russia and Siberia supply the country commercially, but it is grown throughout the land.

Folk Medicine: White Russia especially has a very impressive list of uses. Berries are rich in vitamins, especially C and K, and minerals. They are used alone, fresh or dried, with honey for high blood pressure, heart conditions (recommended with the seeds), Cough, Cold, Tubercular lungs, Shortness of breath, Kidney; Bladder and Stomach conditions, Bleeding, Stomach ulcers. A decoction of the flowers for Coughs, Cold, Fever, Sclerosis, Lung tuberculosis, Stomach sickness (including stomach cancer).

Externally: Children and adults are bathed with a strong decoction of the flowers for Tubercular skin, Eczema and various other skin conditions. For Scrofula a decoction of both berries and flowers in 1–10 parts, used as a tea.

Clinically: Prescribed in doses of 20–30 drops, two to three times a day, in cases of female bleeding, hysteria, cramps, etc.

Industry: Supplied by commercial farms to the food industry which uses an extract and the berries for candy, fillers, pastry, marmalade and aromatics. Pharmacy uses the bark, Folk Medicine, every part of Kalina.

Medicinal uses

  • It is used for treating asthma, cramps, colic and painful menstruation.
  • Use it internally to provide relief from spasms including spasms after childbirth, menstrual cramps and threatened miscarriage.
  • It provides relief from menstrual and stomach cramps and diarrhea.
  • Use the bark to provide relief from hiccups and pain.
  • It is used to treat nervous complaints and debility.

Side effects

  • When consumed in large amounts, it can upset stomach, cause vomiting and diarrhea.
  • In normal doses, it does not cause unwanted side effects.
  • Consult the doctor before using Guelder Rose bark with any medications.

Culinary uses

  • Fruits are consumed raw or cooked.
  • Use it for making preserves and jellies.
  • In Russia, fruits are added to porridge, baked and made into jams, marmalades, jellies, mousse, paste, vinegar, pie fillings and condiments.
  • Fruits are used as a substitute for tea or coffee.






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