English Alder - The Herb

Page Summary/Index:

General description, origin and history of English Alder
Primary therapeutic effects of English Alder
Minor and potential therapeutic effects of English Alder
Cultivating English Alder - how to grow English Alder
Preparing English Alder remedies and part used
Side effects or contra-indications of English Alder
Properties of English Alder
Constituents of English Alder

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Common Name/s: Other Name/s: Botanical  name/s:
Alder, English Alder Betula alnus Alnus Glutinosa

General description and domicile:
The Alder is a relative of the Birch family of trees. It is an attractive tree with arched branches that can grow to almost 100 feet tall.
The Alder is native to Britain and Europe but it will survive a wide range of climates and conditions from cold to tropical and it is also capable of surviving in very wet conditions often found flourishing on the banks of rivers and even in swamps.
The timber is very water resistant which has made it a favorite of boat builders. Venice is built on century old piles of Alder.
The bark of the tree contains a very high percentage of tannins but it is not used in the leather industry because it has a deep dark pigment which stains leather. Extracts from the bark has been used as a dye.
The tree has smooth green wide oval leaves.

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Remedy Profile
Primary therapeutic effects:
A decoction was used hundreds of years ago as a gargle for sore throats and to bathe skin inflammations and it can still be used today but it is a lot of effort for a remedy that has little other application.

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Secondary therapeutic effects:


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Minor and potential therapeutic effects:
These are differentiated from the major therapeutic effects of English Alder for the following reasons: either the constituent that causes the effect is relatively weak (in other words marginal efficacy) or the constituent causing the effect is present in English Alder but in such small quantities that it is too low in dosage.
Potential therapeutic effects are also noted here when there is some evidence of effect or efficacy but the information is either anecdotal or subjected to too little testing to be conclusive. Not all herbs have minor effects noted.


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How to choose the right remedy/Herb:
In many cases there are several herbal remedies to choose from. This can be very confusing. Our Choose the Herbal Remedy page explains how to refine your choice

Cultivation of English Alder:
The tree can readily be grown from seed or cuttings.

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Part used:
Bark and leaves.


Remedy preparation:
A decoction made from the bark and sometimes bark and leaves.


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None as a topical application


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Lignans: Lignans occur in a variety of plants and cannot be classified in terms of properties as a group. Some are antiviral and antimicrobial while others are antioxidant and anti-tumour. The latter are currently being researched as there is some indication that they may have a positive cardiovascular effect.

Tannins: Tannins are the largest group of polyphenols found widely in bark, wood, leaves and even some fruit. Widely used to tan animal hides in the leather production industry this constituent is an Astringent, works against inflammation in mucus membranes and other skin conditions, prevents bleeding of small wounds as well as uterine bleeding and is effective against diarrhoea and dysentery.

Tannins should be used with care as they tend to inhibit the absorption of other nutrients and substances therefore reducing the efficacy of other medicinal compounds in the medication.

Phenolic Glycosides: The Phenolic structure is found in many compounds of medicinal herbs. The group Phenolic Glycosides include most of the flavonoids and anthraquinones.

Triterpenes: A very wide group of compounds that include saponins and steroids some of which could be harmful.

The leaves also contain Flavonoid Glycosides

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