The Benefits of Wild Cherry Bark

What Should I Know About It?

Wild cherry bark is a natural substance sold in supplement form. Extracted from the bark of the Prunus serotina tree (a plant native to eastern North America), wild cherry bark has long been used in herbal medicine.

Uses for Wild Cherry Bark

Said to treat colds and suppress coughs in alternative medicine, wild cherry bark is also used as an ingredient in cough syrups.

Its active constituents are believed to include the tannins, scopoletin, and cyanogenic glycosides, such as prunasin, which may help to reduce inflammation, relieve spasms in smooth muscles, and have an astringent effect on tissues.

Along with coughs and colds, wild cherry bark is typically touted  as a natural treatment for the following health problems:

In addition, wild cherry bark is said to alleviate pain and stimulate the digestive system. Some alternative medicine proponents also claim that wild cherry bark can help prevent cancer.

Benefits of Wild Cherry Bark

Despite its long history of use in certain systems of alternative medicine (including traditional Chinese medicine), there is currently a lack of research on the health effects of taking wild cherry bark. However, in one preliminary study published in the journal Oncology Reports in 2006, scientists discovered that wild cherry bark shows promise for protection against colorectal cancer.

For the study, researchers tested the anti-cancer effects of wild cherry bark and horehound (Marubium vulgare) in a series of laboratory experiments involving human colorectal cancer cells.

Results revealed that both substances suppressed the growth of cancer cells and helped induce apoptosis (a type of programmed cell death essential for stopping the proliferation of cancer cells). In addition, the study determined that wild cherry bark (as well as horehound) offers anti-inflammatory benefits.

Although the study's authors note that wild cherry bark may hold potential as a cancer-preventing agent, more research is needed before wild cherry bark can be recommended for cancer prevention.


Due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of using wild cherry bark supplements. However, there's some concern that wild cherry bark may be harmful to people with liver or kidney disorders. In addition, wild cherry bark may have sedative effects.

Keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals. Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established. You can get further tips on using supplements here.

It's also important to note that self-treating a chronic condition with wild cherry bark and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

If you're considering the use of wild cherry bark for treatment of a condition, make sure to consult your physician prior to starting your supplement regimen.

Alternatives To Wild Cherry Bark

If you're seeking a natural remedy for coughs and colds, there are several herbs found to offer cold-fighting effects in scientific studies. For instance, research indicates that garlic, elderberry, ginger, and mullein may help soothe certain cold symptoms.

When taken as soon as cold symptoms set in, remedies like echinacea and astragalus may help stimulate your immune system and shorten the duration and severity of colds. Drinking plenty of water (and herbal tea), getting sufficient sleep, and following a balanced diet high in vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables may also help shore up your immune system when you're dealing with a cold.

Where To Find It

Widely available for purchase online, wild cherry bark is sold in many natural-foods stores and in stores specializing in dietary supplements.


Yamaguchi K, Liggett JL, Kim NC, Baek SJ. "Anti-proliferative effect of horehound leaf and wild cherry bark extracts on human colorectal cancer cells." Oncol Rep. 2006 Jan;15(1):275-81.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

Continue Reading