This is dried devil's club root bark which is sustainably harvested by Native American's in Alaska. It contains only the potent outer bark, the inner root is woody with little medicinal value. Most dried devil's bark contained the woody inner part which can consist of up to 75% of the weight. Ours only contains the outer bark painstakingly removed from the woody roots.
Devil’s Club is best taken in times of stress or nervous exhaustion. It can treat everything from depression, to diabetes, from blood poisoning and cancer. Externally it can provide amazing relief to painful and inflamed joints and promotes healing.
The bark can be used to make salves for external use, tinctures for internal, or tea, or even to make bitters for flavoring and providing medicinal benefits to drinks and food.
Devil's·club (Oplopanax horridus; Araliaceae) is a deciduous, spiny shrub which was and still is an important medicinal plant for many Native American peoples in western North America. Its traditional uses involve both physical and spiritual realms of medicine. The inner bark and roots were used to treat rheumatism and arthritis, stomach and digestive ailments, tuberculosis, colds, skin disorders, diabetes, and many other ailments. Extracts from it have marked hypoglycemic properties, but little else is known of its pharmacological attributes. It was taken by shamans, initiates, and others wishing to attain supernatural powers. Special protective powers were attributed to it, presumably because of its prickliness. Its wood was used for fishing lures and the charcoal as a pigment in a protective face paint for ceremonial dancers. Devil's-club was named in almost every Native language used within its geographic range. There are some 13 to 15 known separate etymons for it in more than 25 different languages. In most languages, the derivation of the name is presently unknown. More pharmacological research on this plant is needed.
The effectiveness of devil's-club as a medicine for arthritis, skin ailments, malignant tumors, and other types of afflictions requires further investigation. It is remarkable, considering the widespread and continuing usage of devil's-club among Native and even non-Native peoples, that its chemical composition and pharmacological properties have not been more thoroughly studied to date.
The fresh plant and extracts made from it have a characteristic sweetish odor. The late George Young, a Haida man from Skidegate who had taken the "devil's-club treatment" for arthritis, apparently with remarkable success, recalled that shortly after one had drunk the decoction of devil's-club, he could smell it from his joints (Turner 1970). MacDermot (1949:181) noted that the plant has "apparently a hygroscopic and detumescent effect on swellings," Justice (1966:38) notes several testimonies as to the efficacy of devil's-club as a medicine. One was a Chief of one of the Alaskan villages who took it for a red, painfully swollen finger that was unrelieved by the prescribed treatment of aspirin, raising the hand, and heat. He took one glass of devil's-club extract, which relieved the symptoms completely in eight hours. Another was a case of four teenagers who used the dried inner bark laid directly into a tooth cavity and experienced prompt pain relief. Adult males reported that they had applied the stalk strips to axe wounds received in the bush, sufficiently relieving the pain to enable them to continue on until they came to medical attention. Yet another case is described by Justice (1966:38) where a male patient with metastatic adenocarcinoma [secondary malignant tumor] was discharged from the hospital with a few month's prognosis and a terminal supply of morphine. Three years later, he had regained his health and strength after extensive treatment with devil's-club extract. John Thomas (personal communication, 1981) also explained that within his own group (Nitinaht), and among neighboring Coast Salish groups, devil's-club is considered "sacred." Along with red ochre paint, it is considered to be a link between the ordinary, or profane world, and the supernatural, or the spirit world.
The protective or supernatural powers attributed to devil's-club are also reflected in Northwest Coast mythology and oral tradition, particularly among the Haida, Tsimshian, and TIingit. A good example of this is in a story told by the late Willie Matthews, a Haida speaker and Hereditary Chief of Masset on the Queen Charlotte Islands: One of his ancestors had been fasting out in the forest for several days. Eventually, he came across a giant devil's-club plant with a trunk about 0.5 m (1¥.< ft.) in diameter and leaves almost 2 m (5 ft.) across. He ate the inner bark from it, and immediately lost consciousness. Upon awakening, he saw a supernatural being, similar to a "fairy," who was thenceforth his guardian spirit.
Devil's club, in Northwest coast cultures, was associated with bears. The Tlingit apparently based their original use of the plant as medicine on the observation of two bears attempting to soothe battle wounds by chewing devil's-club roots (Justice 1966:36).
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