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Health Benefits and Uses of Bayberry (Myrica cerifera)
Bayberry is one of many plants in the genus Myrica, which grows wild in every continent except Australia and Antarctica. Common names for the plant include the Bay-rum tree, Sweet Gale, Wax-myrtle, and Candleberry.

The plant will grow as either a deciduous or evergreen shrub, depending upon the specific species. Bayberry’s fruit is generally small and purple, resembling a raspberry. The fruit is coated in a wax like substance that has been used for candle making for centuries.

Benefits of Bayberry

The Bayberry plant has many health and restorative properties, these include febrifuge, hypertensive, antibacterial, and astringent uses. The myricetin found naturally within the genus is what makes the plant beneficial for human use. Throughout history, Bayberry was used in North America as a means to stop the bleeding associated with miscarriage.

Today, bayberry is commonly used to assist in fighting the flu, poor circulation, and to combat fevers. Applying the herb to the skin induces sweating, which is often the simplest way to break a fever in patients of all ages. Some herbalists still use Bayberry for a variety of illnesses:

  • Induce vomiting
  • Treat diarrhea and inflammation
  • Treat infections of the gastrointestinal tract
  • Treatment for headaches
  • Decongestant for colds, cough, flu, sinusitis, and throat infections.
  • Used to cover hemorrhoids, slow healing wounds, and varicose veins

Using Bayberry

Bayberry is most often used as a poultice or other topical application. While the plant may be steeped into a tea, dried and ground into powder, or mixed into foods, most patients see the astringent and antibacterial benefits more clearly through topical usage. If brewed as a tea, the root may be too bitter for enjoyment. To combat the natural bitter taste of Bayberry, it is safe and recommend to add honey to the tea to balance the bitterness.

To make a bayberry tea, infuse 1 teaspoon of bayberry root and/or bark in a cup of boiling water. Let this steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Bayberry tea can safely be consumed three times a day.

Bayberry leaves or powdered root can be used as an herbal mouthwash due to its aromatic taste and ability to reduce the inflammation sores in the mouth. The capsule is also available as a supplement.

Precautions

Overdose on Bayberry will lead to an unsafe elevation of blood pressure, patients should only use as prescribed. Another danger inherent to overdose is the resulting leaching of potassium from the body, a condition that can cause severe emergency medical issues. Women who are pregnant should not use Bayberry.

Image: Flickr/kanonn

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