Variously called smooth sumach, Pennsylvania sumach, and upland sumach, this shrub is found in almost all parts of the U.S.
The bark and the leaves are astringent, but the official parts are the BARK and the BERRIES. Both yield their active influence to water.
The red berries have a sour, astringent, not unpleasant taste and are often eaten by the country people. An infusion of the berries has been recommended as a cooling drink in febrile complaints and as a pleasant gargle in inflamed, sore and ulcerated throat. To prepare the drink, cover a quantity of the berries with boiling water and allow to infuse about 1/2 hr. Strain and sweeten to taste. Also useful in irritated conditions of the bladder, in the treatment of diabetics, and in the relief of bloody urine. Mixed with fresh pineapple juice, it is a most useful gargle in diphtheria and sore throat.
An infusion of the inner bark of the root used as a gargle is considered almost as a specific in the sore mouth attending inordinate mercurial salivation.
In relaxed bowel conditions, chronic diarrhea, intestinal and rectal hemorrhage, and in inflammation of the bladder, the bark is often used as it is more stimulating and tonic.
It is a good wash for aphthous sore mouth and spongy gums.
In prolapsed uterus and prolapsus ani, using an infusion of the bark, either by drinking or as an injection, might be helpful.
As an injection in leucorrhea, the leaves prepared in infusion are equal to witch hazel, having the same soothing influence but being more drying. Prepare the infusion by steeping 1 oz. of the leaves in 1 pt. boiling water. As the leaves are the least astringent, they are valuable in dysentery and hemorrhage of the lungs and uterus.
The decoction is made with 1 oz. bark to 1 pt. boiling water. It is used in doses of 1 wine-glassful or more internally or externally.
NOTE—There are several species of sumach which possess poisonous properties such as the one known as poison ivy. Therefore, if you decide to pick the berries, be sure you have the right sumach.