As with many plants, the common name of this herb aptly describes its properties. It is effective at treating cramping and spasmodic pains affecting both smooth and skeletal muscles; so, for example, it is a useful treatment for colic as well as for leg cramps. Native to Europe, northern Asia, and North America, the shrub is an attractive and popular garden plant.
Take 1 tsp (5ml) 3 times daily as a relaxant for nervous or muscular tension, or for colicky pains affecting the digestive tract or urinary system. Add 20 drops (1ml) to remedies for IBS or combine with rhubarb root for constipation.
Infuse (p342) 2 tsp in 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil and simmer gently. Take 1?2–1 cup every 3–4 hours for period pain or colic. Can also be used with other remedies for excessive menstrual bleeding.
Use regularly for muscle cramps, including night cramps in the legs, or for shoulder tension.
Use the macerated oil as a basis for massage rubs for muscular aches and pains associated with cramps and spasm. Add 10 drops of lavender, thyme, or rosemary essential oil to 1 tsp (5ml) of the macerated oil.
Prefers moist yet well-drained soil in sun or dappled shade, and can be a useful addition to a hedge or woodland garden. Propagate by softwood cuttings in summer, or plant seed as soon as it is ripe and over-winter in a cold frame or unheated greenhouse.
Bark from the branches is collected in spring and summer when the plant is flowering.