Cramp Bark - Viburnum opulus

Cramp Bark

Viburnum opulus

Cramp Bark is used to help ease mensural cramps, muscle spasms & tension headaches.

  • Plant Family: Adoxaceae
  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Other names: High Bush Cranberry, Water Elder
  • Medicinal: Yes
  • Culinary: No
  • Ceremonial: No
  • Parts Used: Bark & Leaves
  • Side Effects: Individuals with blood disorders, those taking blood thinners, people with a history of kidney stones, or those allergic to aspirin should not use cramp bark.
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About Cramp Bark

Viburnum opulus is a deciduous shrub that hails from the Adoxaceae family. Commonly, it is named ‘guilder rose’ and its bark is highly prized due to the phytochemicals it contains.

Viburnum opulus is characterized by its pearl white flowers showcasing the idea of corymbs (where the lower stalks are comparatively longer the ones above them).  The leaves are tri-lobed, big and broad with a wavy margin.

This plant has traditionally been used for its berries as a source of food. Cramp bark is brimmed with methyl salicylate proanthocyanidin, viopudial, and polysaccharides that can bring wonders to one’s health. It is quite fruitful for women’s health due to its analgesic properties. Cramp bark not only regulates the menstrual cycle but also aids in reducing the cramps associated with menstruation.

Cramp bark also caters to the pain related to pregnancy and halts muscle spasms. With recent researches, cramp bark is molded into medicines to counter the urinary tract infections, associated with pain and spasms.

Cramp bark is also hailed as the hero of the herbal world due to its stellar job at ameliorating hysteria and other nervous disorders. Also, this bark has taken it way too far at arresting the proliferation of cells related to cancer.


Cramp bark is a moody diva that does not put up with average conditions. It demands moist loamy soil that is rich in nutrients. It also requires sun exposure with part shade and a region that depicts the idea of woodland, scrub, or forest. The seeds are directed to be sown in fall.

It is better to grow the plant from wild-harvested seeds and should be sown in cold frames. This temperamental beauty takes a lot of time to germinate which can exceed up to 18 months. After a stable growth of viburnum, the plant is capable of being transplanted to pots.

The seeds sown in fall germinate slowly to be transformed into a beautiful plant. The round exquisite blossoms appear in spring that are initially apple green but gradually attains pearl white coloration.

These white blossoms invite pollinating insects to serve the cause of pollination. Fertilization and other momentary processes follow the pollination and soon red round cherries appear that are surely edible. Each cherry contains one seed that promises the perpetuation of the life cycle of cramp bark.


Cramp bark is harvested from the tree when the winds give the signal of early spring and this process can be continued till late fall.

Cramp bark is hailed as of utmost importance and is prized for its medicinal perks. Also, its berries can be harvested for their pleasant acidic taste. During spring, the flowers are also subjected to harvest for ornamental purposes.

Cramp bark is air-dried and broken into pieces or fine powder to be stored in an airtight jar.


Cramp bark has proven to be quite a miracle for women all around the world due to its amazing women-friendly perks. The bark is incorporated into various dosage forms for catering to various diseased conditions.

  • Tincture - Infuse fresh or dried chopped cramp bark leaves in grain alcohol for 4 to 6 weeks. Strain the liquid and place it in a dark and dry place.
  • Tea - Few dried pieces of cramp bark are simmered in water for 10 minutes and strained to be enjoyed as a tea.
  • Decoction - Dried cramp bark is decocted with water for an hour or so to allow its active ingredients to infuse into the water.
  • Salve - Dried cramp barks or its leaves can be employed for formulating a salve.
  • Syrup - Fresh berries of Viburnum are crushed and simmered with a sugar solution to form viburnum syrup.
  • Infused oil - Dried cramp bark pieces are infused with olive oil to make cramp bark oil.