The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

We wish you peace and health!


Scientific Names


  • Celastrus scandens L.
  • Celastrus orbiculatus
  • Staff tree family

Common Names

  • American Bittersweet

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Parts Usually Used

Bark of root
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Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Climbing, twining shrub; grows to 50 feet. Leaves ovate to oblong, sharp pointed, fine-toothed. Flowers greenish, in clusters, May to June. Fruit capsule scarlet to orange, splitting, to reveal scarlet seeds.
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Where Found

Rich thickets from Quebec to Georgia; Alabama, Oklahoma to North Dakota.
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Bittersweet Berries

Root-bark tea induces sweating; diuretic, emetic. Folk remedy for chronic liver and skin ailments, rheumatism, leukorrhea, suppressed menses. Externally; bark used in ointment for burns, scrapes, skin eruptions. American Indians used this plant as above, also used astringent leaf tea for diarrhea, dysentery. Root-bark tea is used for pain of childbirth. Bark extracts thought to be cardioactive.
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Fruits are toxic. All parts potentially toxic.
This herb should not be used without medical supervision.
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Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

Buy It! How Indians Use Wild Plants for Food, Medicine & Crafts, by Frances Densmore, Dover Publications, Inc., 180 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014, first printed by the United States Government Printing Office, Washington, in 1928, this Dover edition 1974

Buy It! American Folk Medicine, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

Buy It! The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, Inc, 232 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, First American Edition, copyright 1993

Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

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