Ash, Wafer

Medical Herbs Catalogue


Ash, Wafer

Botanical Name: Ptelea trifoliata (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Rutaceae

Synonyms: Swamp Dogwood. Shrubby Trefoil. Wingseed. Hop Tree.
Part Used: Root-bark.

Description: The Wafer Ash is a shrub growing 6 to 8 feet high, a native of North America, but cultivated here, having been introduced in 1714. In America it is also called the Swamp Dogwood, Wingseed, and Hop Tree.

The root-bark is employed medicinally, both in herbal medicine and in homoeopathy, but it has never been an official drug, though formerly it was employed to a certain extent by physicians in the western United States.

It has a peculiar, somewhat aromatic odour and a bitter, persistently pungent and slightly acrid, but not disagreeable taste.

Constituents: The bark contains at least three active constituents, a powerful volatile oil, a salt, acrid resin, and an alkaloid: Berberine. The alkaloid Arginine is also stated to be present in the root.

Medicinal Action and Uses: The bark has tonic, antiperiodic and stomachic properties, and has been employed in dyspepsia and debility, and also in febrile diseases, especially in those requiring a mild, non-irritating bitter tonic, as it has a soothing influence upon the mucous membrane and promotes appetite, being tolerated when other tonics cannot be retained.

It is also useful in chronic rheumatism.

The dose of the powdered bark is 10 to 30 grains. The infusion of the bark is taken in tablespoonful doses three or four times daily.

The bark occurs in commerce in quilled or curved pieces, 1 1/2 to 3 inches long and 1 to inch in diameter, 1/8 to 3/4 inch thick, transversely wrinkled, with a whitish brown surface of thin, papery layers, the inner surface being smooth, with faintly projecting medullary layers. It breaks with a short fracture, yellowish white, the papery layer pale buff.