Zanthoxylum americanum

Zanthoxylum americanum                    Common name: Prickly Ash

Family: Rutaceae

Part used: The bark & berries

Constituents:  Isoquinoline alkaloids (chelerythrine, nitidine), volatile oil in the berries, amines, lignans, resins, tannin

Actions: Circulatory stimulant, alterative, carminative, diaphoretic, analgesic, anti-microbial, lymphatic stimulant, rubefacient, bitter digestive, hepatic, anti-rheumatic, antispasmodic

Medical uses: May be used in a similar way to cayenne although slower in its action. Can be used in many chronic conditions such as rheumatism and skin diseases. Will promote blood flow to the periphery and joints and is specific for peripheral circulatory insufficiency associated with rheumatic symptoms. Any sign of poor circulation can benefits from its use. Externally it can be used as stimulating liniment. Due to its stimulating effect upon the lymphatic system, circulation and mucous membranes it will have a role in the holistic treatment of many conditions.


  • Alkaloid chelerythrine is anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and potentiates analgesic effects of morphine. Interacts with Na/K+ ATPas and inhibit some hepatic enzymes.

Pharmacy: Dried bark: 1-3g, TID. Dried berries: 1-5g TID. Decoction of bark: 1 tsp/cup, simmer 20 min, TID. Infusion of berries: 2 tsp/cup, infuse 15 min, TID. Tincture: (1:5, 60%), 2-4ml TID.

Contraindications: None known.

Toxicity: No adverse effects expected within recommended doses

Interactions: Avoid with anti-coagulants (theoretical).

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