Prickly ash is a native of Northern, Middle, and Western America. It should not be confused with the Southern prickly ash, properly called angelica tree (Aralia Spinosa).
The LEAVES and the CAPSULES have an aromatic odor resembling oil of lemon. The BARK is the official portion, boiling water and alcohol extract its medical virtues.
Chewing the bark is said to relieve toothaches, and, because of this, it is often called the “toothache tree.” The taste is warm, aromatic, and slightly bitter.
Prickly ash BARK induces a good, free capillary and arterial circulation, stimulates the stomach, the lymphatics, the serous and mucous membranes and, when chewed, die salivary glands, inducing a free flow of saliva. It is valuable wherever a stimulant is required, as when the skin and extremities are cold, and in many chronic conditions such as rheumatism, neuralgia, and paralysis.
It enjoys a considerable reputation as a remedy for chronic rheumatism. The dose of the powder is from 10 grains to 1/2 drachm, to be repeated 3 or 4 times daily. Or a decoction may be prepared by boiling an ounce of prickly ash bark in 3 pints of water down to 1 quart. One pint may be taken in divided doses during 24 hours.
A good formula for rheumatism is as follows: prickly ash bark 1/2 oz., bog-bean and guaiacum chips each 1/2 oz., cayenne 1/3 t. Boil in 1/2 pints water for 15 minutes. Strain and take a wine-glassful 3 or 4 times daily.
If the hands and feet are cold as the result of a sluggish circulation, take a simple infusion of 1 t. bark in 1 C. boiling water, drinking 1 C. daily.
The powdered bark applied externally cleans and stimulates old wounds and indolent ulcers to a healthy tone.
The SEEDS or BERRIES are considered slightly more stimulating than the bark. The OIL is considered the best. Fill a bottle full of the berries and add non-poisonous alcohol. Allow to stand a week or more. Evaporate the alcohol and you have the oil.
Prickly ash acts slower than capsicum, but its effects are more permanent when taken in small and frequent doses.
Prickly ash bark is thought to resemble mezereum and guaiacum in its remedial action, and is taken for the same complaints.