Blackhaw, (Viburnum rufidulum and Viburnum prunifolium) is a native medicinal that I’ve only just started working with. It’s berries are most often used medicinally and can also be eaten when ripe. The bark of Viburnum prunifolium has also been used traditionally for gynecological issues and to aid menstrual cramps (because of its antispasmodic properties). Vance Randolph mentions this usage of the plant in his “Ozark Magic and Folklore”:
“Blackhaw bark, according to the old folks, makes a tea that is useful in all sorts of ‘female complaints.’ It is good for scanty, irregular, or painful menstruation. Women going through the change of life consume large quantities of blackhaw bark, and this use of the stuff is so well known that there is a whole cycle of allegedly funny stories about it.”
Today the bark is most often used to help treat cramps and as pain relief, although caution should be taken by those allergic to salicin as the blackhaw does contain the chemical compound. Large doses of the bark, or prolonged usage also has a purgative and laxative effect, so be careful.
In Cajun and Creole folk medicine Viburnum rufidulum is known as “alisier” and is used in several folk remedies. Here are a few that I’ve translated:
For a Dry Chest
You give some blackhaw berries. Take three of a certain size, cut them up and put them in a glass of honey and a small bottle of olive oil. Then, add a little bit of whiskey.
For a Stomachache
I take some blackhaw berries and I put them in some whiskey. I drink three spoonsful each day.
Put some blackhaw berries in some whiskey and drink that morning and night.
For Chest Congestion
Put some blackhaw berries in half a gallon of whiskey and drink that three times a day.