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Viburnum

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Viburnum is a plant long used in herbal medicine. Also known as cramp bark, extract of the bark of viburnum is available in dietary supplement form. In addition, the berries of the viburnum plant are sometimes consumed as food.

Viburnum bark contains several compounds found to enhance health, including ellagic acid (a chemical with antioxidant benefits). The berries of the viburnum plant also contain a number of antioxidants, including vitamin C.

Benefits of Viburnum

In studies conducted in the 1960s and 1970s, scientists found that certain compounds present in viburnum bark may help suppress muscle spasms and reduce muscle tension. Although viburnum bark is commonly used for conditions involving muscle spasms and muscle tension (such as menstrual cramps and low back pain), there is a lack of more recent research on viburnum bark's effectiveness against such conditions.

While recent research on viburnum bark is lacking, there's some evidence that the fruit of the viburnum plant may offer certain health benefits. For example, a preliminary study published in Toxicology and Industrial Health in 2012 found that the juice of viburnum fruit may help fight colon cancer.

For the study, scientists induced colon tumors in mice by injecting the animals with a carcinogen called 1,2-dimethylhydrazine. Compared to a DMH-injected control group given only drinking water, DMH-injected animals fed viburnum juice had a significantly lower rate of colon cancer. Although the study's authors concluded that viburnum juice "may be useful for the prevention of colon cancer at the initiation stage," more research is needed before viburnum can be recommended for colon cancer prevention.

In addition, a 2006 study on rats (published in the Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology) determined that antioxidants found in viburnum fruit may help protect against the gastrointestinal damage associated with ulcer development.

Uses for Viburnum

Viburnum bark is touted as a natural remedy for the following health problems:

In addition, viburnum bark is said to reduce fluid retention and improve eye health.

Is Viburnum Safe?

There is currently a lack of clinical trials testing viburnum's health effects, so it's unknown whether viburnum supplements are safe for long-term use. However, there's some concern that taking viburnum in combination with blood pressure medication or antibiotics may have harmful effects.

Learn more about how to use viburnum and other dietary supplements safely.

Alternatives to Viburnum

If you're seeking natural relief of a condition associated with muscle tension or muscle spasms, several remedies may serve as an alternative to viburnum.

For help in relieving low back pain, consider the use of capsaicin cream, white willow bark, and/or devil's claw.

To soothe menstrual cramps, remedies like raspberry leaf tea and ginger may be beneficial. 

In addition, many mind-body therapies may help curb chronic pain. These therapies include guided imagery, massage, acupuncture, and yoga.

Where to Find Viburnum

Viburnum is sold in supplement form in many natural-foods stores, drugstores, and stores specializing in dietary supplements. Additionally, viburnum supplements are widely available for purchase online.

 

Sources

Jarboe CH, Zirvi KA, Nicholson JA, Schmidt CM. "Scopoletin, an Antispasmodic Component of Viburnum opulus and prunifolium." J Med Chem. 1967 May 1;10(3):488-9. 

Kraujalytė V, Venskutonis PR, Pukalskas A, Cesonienė L, Daubaras R. "Antioxidant properties and polyphenolic compositions of fruits from different European cranberrybush (Viburnum opulus L.) genotypes." Food Chem. 2013 Dec 15;141(4):3695-702.

Nicholson JA, Darby TD, Jarboe CH. "Viopudial, a hypotensive and smooth muscle antispasmodic from Viburnum opulus." Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1972 Jun;140(2):457-61.

Rop O, Reznicek V, Valsikova M, Jurikova T, Mlcek J, Kramarova D. "Antioxidant properties of European cranberrybush fruit (Viburnum opulus var. edule)." Molecules. 2010 Jun 23;15(6):4467-77.

Turek S, Cisowski W. "Free and chemically bonded phenolic acids in barks of Viburnum opulus L. and Sambucus nigra L." Acta Pol Pharm. 2007 Jul-Aug;64(4):377-83.

Ulger H, Ertekin T, Karaca O, Canoz O, Nisari M, Unur E, Elmali F. "Influence of gilaburu (Viburnum opulus) juice on 1,2-dimethylhydrazine (DMH)-induced colon cancer." Toxicol Ind Health. 2012 Apr 30.

Zayachkivska OS, Gzhegotsky MR, Terletska OI, Lutsyk DA, Yaschenko AM, Dzhura OR. "Influence of Viburnum opulus proanthocyanidins on stress-induced gastrointestinal mucosal damage." J Physiol Pharmacol. 2006 Nov;57 Suppl 5:155-67.

 

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