The bark of the wild cherry tree is a traditional Native American remedy for
two seemingly unrelated conditions: respiratory infections and anxiety. European
settlers quickly adopted the herb for similar purposes.
Over time, wild cherry has come to be used primarily as a component of cough
syrups. It is tempting to connect the two traditional uses of wild cherry by
imagining that it functions like codeine to affect both the mind and the cough
reflex. However, this is just speculation, as there has been very little
scientific evaluation of this herb.
Syrups containing wild cherry should be taken as directed.
Wild cherry is generally regarded as safe when used at recommended dosages. However, since it contains small amounts of cyanide, it should not be taken to excess. It is not recommended for use by young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease. Some evidence suggests that wild cherry might interact with various medications by affecting their metabolism in the liver, but the extent of this effect has not been fully determined.1
Budzinski JW, Foster BC, Vandenhoek S, et al. An
evaluation of human cytochrome P450 3A4 inhibition by selected commercial herbal extracts and tinctures.
Last reviewed December 2015 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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