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Devil’s Club Root Bark

Veterinarian Reviewed on June 14, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized

Devil’s Club Root Bark


Devil’s Club Root Bark (Oplopanax horridus) is also known as Alaskan Ginseng, Pacific Ginseng, Devil’s Walking Stick or Wild Armored Alaskan Ginseng. The Devil’s Club is a large shrub native to the forests of North America and also along the expansive shoreline of Lake Superior. It has large palm-like leaves and sturdy wooden stems with spines for protection. Looking at the Devil’s Club is like going back to the prehistoric ages; this plant is also very sensitive making it thrive only in places where there is limited to almost no human contact at all.

The Devil’s Club Root Bark is the most common part of the Devil’s Club shrub that is used for medicinal purposes. It has been known to treat respiratory ailments as well as have an anti inflammatory effect which makes it very useful for people who have arthritis and immune disorders. Almost all of the different parts of the plant is used but the Devil’s Club Root Bark is the part of the plant that is more widely used. It is most prepared as a tea and used as an extract in both capsules and in liquid form

History and Origin

The name Devil’s Club is because of the primitive-like appearance of the shrub and the dense thorns that cover its stems may have also given rise to its peculiar name. The Devil’s Club Root Bark was used extensively by the native tribes of Alaska and British Columbia as a cure for sore throat, tuberculosis and chest pain. Its extracts were also used to treat gastrointestinal disorders like stomach pain and indigestion.

Ancient Uses

During ancient times, native people of North America particularly the Skagit and Tlingit tribes, were the first people who used the Devil’s Club Root Bark for the treatment of adult onset diabetes. The Devil’s Club Root Bark and leaves were also used as a poultice for minor skin disorders, wounds and burns. Decoctions of this herbal remedy were also used to treat respiratory illnesses such as Colds and coughs.

Modern Uses

The modern times have made way for the study of the chemical composition of the Devil’s Club Root Bark and studies have shown that this plant has oplopanone which has antipyretic and antitussive properties making the Devil’s Club Root Bark ideal in the treatment of cough, colds, chest pain and other upper respiratory tract infections. It has also been found to contain Stigmasterol and Beta- sitosterol which gives the Devil’s Club Root Bark anti inflammatory properties that is essential for the treatment of rheumatism and arthritis symptoms like pain, redness and swelling.
The effectiveness and safety of Devil’s Club Root Bark in the treatment of diabetes is still uncertain and is subject to more studies and clinical trials.

Side Effects

Since there is a tendency for Devil’s Club Root Bark to interfere with blood sugar levels, people with diabetes would need to consult their doctor regarding the use of Devil’s Club Root Bark for their illness. Devil’s Club Root Bark is also contraindicated in pregnant and breast feeding women. Very young children should be cautioned in taking Devil’s Club Root Bark extracts for the cure of respiratory illnesses since little is known about its adverse effects on babies and toddlers.

Read also: Natural Herbal Antibiotics

Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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