The dried bark of the Wild Cherry tree (Prunus serotina) is used medicinally, and is best known for its ability to sedate the cough reflex. Found in herbal cough syrups and teas, this herb can be used to calm a cough as an antitussive and antispasmodic and make a cough more productive as an expectorant. As an expectorant, Wild Cherry is useful for a nonproductive cough where there is no mucus being coughed up or it feels as though it is stuck in the lungs. It is often very useful in cases with lingering, chronic coughs, although the underlying infection or issue will need to be addressed in other ways, perhaps with an added lung tonic, such as elecampane. See additional post on that herbs.
Also, because of its action on mucus membranes, it has been used historically to relieve irritation of the gastrointestinal tract (throat, stomach, and intestines) and the urinary tract, as well as the lungs.
Cherry bark is also known to have a an effect on the circulatory and cardiovascular systems, increasing circulation to the extremities and helping to relieve heart palpitations and high blood pressure. It seems to be useful for the heart when the nervous system is involved, such as in anxiety-induced palpitations or high blood pressure due to stress.
Contains: cyanogenic glycoside, benzaldehyde, eudesmic acid, p-couramic acid, scopoletin, tannins, sugars.
Primary actions: antitussive, expectorant, astringent, nervine, antispasmodic
Dosing: Large doses over prolonged periods of time are not recommended with Cherry bark, due to the cyanogenic glycosides that convert to cyanide in the body. However, the amount of cyanide produced is very low and is not a concern when used appropriately. For tea, it is recommended that 1 tsp of bark is simmered per cup hot water for 10-15 minutes and 3 cups are drank/day. The doses can be divided (say 1/2 cup every 2 hours) for a cough. For tincture, 2 dropperfuls 3 times/day. Most of the time, Cherry bark is in combination with other lung and cough herbs, so the dose is not really an issue. Because it tastes nice, it gives a good flavor to tea and syrups. It is often a part of cough formulas for children.