What are the Medicinal Uses of Boxwood?

Kerrie Main

Many people look for herbal remedies as part of a homeopathic health regimen. Boxwood is a strong smelling plant that is sometimes used to treat a number of ailments. Some of the medicinal uses of boxwood include the treatment of HIV/AIDS, arthritis, stimulating the immune system, detoxifying the blood, lower fevers, and purging the bowels. In indigenous cultures, boxwood has been used to treat secondary syphilis, as well as leprosy.

Boxwood bark oil is sometimes used to treat toothaches.
Boxwood bark oil is sometimes used to treat toothaches.

The American boxwood is a small, hardwood evergreen plant with many branches and hairy twigs. Its leaves are a half inch long and green, and contain alkaloids and a volatile oil. The boxwood’s trunk bark is gray, and its branch bark is a yellow color. The bark is the primary substance used for medicinal treatment, and it contains tannic and gallic acids, resin, phosphates of lime, iron, silica and sulphates of potassium and lime. Some people use oil distilled from the bark for the treatment of epilepsy and toothaches.

Some believe boxwood can help fight HIV, although doctors recommend all HIV positive patients continue to take their prescribed antiretroviral combination therapy.
Some believe boxwood can help fight HIV, although doctors recommend all HIV positive patients continue to take their prescribed antiretroviral combination therapy.

The extract of boxwood is called SPV 30, and is usually safe for most people. Some people have diarrhea and cramps when it is taken in excess. While there is no scientific proof that it can treat health problems, there is a long history of it being used medicinally. Native Americans used the bark as a tonic for stomach issues and as an antiseptic.

Some naturopaths use the oil that is extracted from boxwood bark to treat stomach ailments.
Some naturopaths use the oil that is extracted from boxwood bark to treat stomach ailments.

Boxwood has been used around the world for thousands of years. The Greek physician Hippocrates used the berries to treat diarrhea, and the Greeks also used it for bowel problems. In Chile, the juice from boxwood leaves are used to help with angina, and in France, the boxwood is sometimes used as a substitute for hops. The dwarf boxwood, C. Suecica, is used in Scotland as a remedy for appetite loss.

Boxwood has been used to treat stomach issues.
Boxwood has been used to treat stomach issues.

There are many warnings associated with using boxwood as a medicinal treatment. For example, pregnant or breastfeeding women should never consume it. It can be toxic if eaten in excess, and leaf extract should be used in place of the whole leaf. The whole leaf is known to cause vomiting, convulsions, seizures, paralysis and death, because it works like a poison. Some people have skin irritations after touching the leaves.

Excessive amounts of boxwood may cause diarrhea and stomach cramps.
Excessive amounts of boxwood may cause diarrhea and stomach cramps.

The appropriate medical dosage of boxwood depends on the person’s health, age and other conditions. It can interact with over-the-counter or prescription medicine. Before adding it as a dietary supplement or dietary aid, people should speak with their doctor or pharmacist.

Breastfeeding women should avoid boxwood.
Breastfeeding women should avoid boxwood.
Boxwood has shown some promise in the treatment of HIV.
Boxwood has shown some promise in the treatment of HIV.
The juice of boxwood leaves may be used to help with angina, whose symptoms may include chest pain.
The juice of boxwood leaves may be used to help with angina, whose symptoms may include chest pain.

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