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Squaw vine is an evergreen herb that can be found in wooded areas in parts of North America such as Florida and Nova Scotia. The plant has a variety of other names, such partridgeberry, winter clove, and hive vine, but its proper name is Mitchella repens. The use of the name squaw vine is generally credited to the Native Americans, who used the herb for medicinal purposes.
The plant generally grows at the base of trees. Its stems can grow from .5 to 1 foot (15.24 to 30.48 cm) long. Between April and July, squaw vines generally produce fragrant flowers that are white or light purple. These flowers typically produce a scarlet colored berry-like fruit that contains numerous seeds. Although these small fruits can be full of color and they are edible, they are generally flavorless, and therefore typically eaten only for the purpose of health benefits.
The Native Americans are also credited with revealing the benefits of this herb to women. Squaw vine is used for various alternative medicinal purposes, but it is typically best known for the relief that it offers pregnant women and new mothers. Use of the herb is believed to be most popular in the United States.
Pregnant women sometimes consume squaw vine products to prepare their bodies for childbirth. It is generally only taken in the last weeks before birth and during labor. Women are typically advised against taking any squaw vine products in the first or second trimester. When women take it at the end of their pregnancy, however, it is believed that the herb can help to reduce labor pains.
After delivering their babies, some women use squaw vine for their breasts. It is believed that the herb can help to relieve pain associated with lactation. The herb is also used for sore nipples associated with breast feeding.
Some women use squaw vine for other female issues. The herb is sometimes consumed to help relieve pains associated with menstrual cycles. It may also help to relieve symptoms of vaginitis.
The herb is not only regarded as being of benefit to women. Squaw vine, which is believed to have tonic, astringent, and diuretic properties, is also believed to be useful in treating conditions such as gonorrhea, diarrhea, and dysentery. The form in which the herb is used depends on the ailment. Sometimes it may be consumed as an infusion or in capsule form. At other times, parts of the plant may be used to produce tinctures or salves.
@ahain - "Astringent" is what you call it, huh... I tried to drink squaw vine tea. Couldn't stand the taste -- I had to dump it out. A nice hot cup of tea always sounds nice, and sitting and sipping is always a pleasant image, but the sad fact is that I don't care for the taste of most teas. I'm a coffee kind of person.
No problem, though -- I moved on to one of the other options you listed, pill form, and it's working fine for me. Better than fine, actually. I've always had severe menstrual cramping, and squaw vine has been such a great help for cutting down on that that I would probably gag down the tea if
there were no other forms of it available just for the benefits.
Oh, on a fun side note, the Mohawk Native American name for this herb is Noon kie oo nah yeah. Quite a mouthful, right? But I think it sounds much cooler than "squaw vine", so sometimes I call it that.
@Hawthorne - Good, solid information to bear in mind when considering taking squaw vine -- thanks for your post. I like that you can list all of these things that could go wrong with taking it, but you don't just write it off either. It's really a useful herb -- and I'm not a woman or pregnant, but it still helps me with my own problems so I take it regularly.
Squaw Vine is for well known for helping women with health problems that people tend to overlook a great benefit it has for both genders: treating intestinal inflammation.
I have irritable bowel syndrome, and as such my intestines get flare-ups of inflammation often. I have found that taking squaw
vine supplements helps to ease my irritable bowel syndrome symptoms and make them milder. If you don't have irritable bowel syndrome, it's hard to understand just how big of a relief that is.
Suffice it to say that I love squaw vine and I'll probably keep taking it as long as it's available for me to buy -- in proper moderation, of course, so that I'm taking it safely as you talked about. I already have enough trouble with the intestines without adding stomach and kidney irritation to the list!
Squaw Vine is one of those herbs that people always talk about in a positive way, but as with any strong medicine or herb, you've got to take some precautions, too.
Squaw Vine, as you might guess from the fact that it helps ease childbirth, should be avoided during all but the last few weeks of pregnancy because it can cause miscarriages.
Overdosing on squaw vine isn't harmless, either, even if you aren't pregnant. It can cause serious irritation to the stomach and kidneys -- scientifically proven. There are some oils in it that, if not processed out during treating the herb before consumption, can also actually poison you.
Last but not least (in fact, possibly the most
important), test yourself for allergies to squaw vine before you start taking a bunch of it! People have gotten severe allergic reactions from squaw vine before. It's strong stuff, so naturally some people are going to have a sensitivity to it.
Don't get me wrong, squaw vine is probably very helpful for what it is intended to help -- childbirth -- but respect it as a powerful tool that can hurt you if you don't use it properly.
Squaw vine can be taken in tincture form, but for me squaw vine tea is a lot more palatable. The plant contains tannins, so adding hot water to some fresh or dried squaw vine does technically create a pot of tea.
Many herbal extracts don't taste very good, and squaw vine is one of those teas with a flavor that can be described as "astringent". It smells pretty nice, though -- aromatic.
If you don't like squaw vine tea, you can also buy the herb in dried form to take in pills, in powder form to take in pills or mix into drinks, and of course in tincture form to mix with water.