What is Wild Cherry Bark?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Wild cherry bark is bark collected from the wild cherry tree. Cherries, found in the genus Prunus, are native to Europe and Asia, where cherry bark has been used for centuries in medical treatment. Bark collected from wild cherries continues to be a popular folk remedy for a range of conditions in much of the northern hemisphere. Many people are also fond of the fruit of the cherry tree, which comes into season during the summer and comes in sweet and sour varieties which can be used in an assortment of recipes.

Wild cherry bark may be used to suppress coughing.
Wild cherry bark may be used to suppress coughing.

The bark is typically collected from young trees, when the pharmacologically active components in wild cherry bark are present in the highest concentrations. People usually dry the bark for storage, and they may powder it to make it easier to store and utilize. This tree bark can be prepared for consumption in a variety of ways. Some people use it to make tea, others create encapsulated medications with it, and others use it in syrupy suspensions.

Wild cherry bark is collected from the wild cherry tree, which also produces fruit.
Wild cherry bark is collected from the wild cherry tree, which also produces fruit.

One of the most common uses for cherry bark is in the treatment of coughs. Wild cherry bark can suppress coughing, easing the discomfort associated with a dry, unproductive cough. It can also act as an expectorant, helping people bring up mucus from their lungs. The bark is also a mild sedative, and it acts as an astringent, which can make it beneficial for the skin in some situations.

Coughing, asthma, and related lung conditions can integrate wild cherry bark into their treatment. While many people assume that herbal medicines are harmless, this is not in fact the case. Cherry bark contains trace amounts of prussic acid, which can make it dangerous when consumed in high qualities. This bark is not recommended for use in people with liver and kidney problems because of the prussic acid, and it is also not recommended in people with low blood pressure, because of the sedative effects.

The safety of wild cherry bark for pregnant women is not fully known. For this reason, people usually recommend against using it during pregnancy. People who are interested in using products such as wild cherry bark extract should ask their doctors or medical care providers about whether or not it is safe for them to use. Although dispensation of this product is controlled by prescription, people should not assume that it will be appropriate for their situation.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


@Markerrag -- That is very true when you are talking about natural cures such as cherry bark, but some people get concerned when their symptoms overwhelm the stuff. What should you do then?

Well, that answer is pretty simple. Use drugs when you need them to deal with more severe illnesses but maybe maintain with natural alternatives when you can get away with it.

A lot of people who swear by natural remedies use that method exactly. Use the natural stuff when you can and take drugs to combat illness only when absolutely necessary.


The great thing about this stuff for coughs, asthma and such is that you are talking about a natural product. Often, that can be better on your system than chemical products meant to do the same thing.

Quite often, natural alternatives to drugs are at least worth trying. If you get something that works, that might actually be the healthier move to make.

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