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Medicinal Trees: Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera), Tulip Poplar

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Location: Blue Ridge Mountains
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Tuliptree is very common in my region.

Native Plants, Native Healing states of Tulip Poplar:

Tulip poplar, as a medicine, is particular to the heart. It has a tonic effect, cleaning plaque slowly, from the inside of the arteries, so it is useful for hardening of the arteries. A tincture is made by soaking strips of inner bark in strong alcohol. … This is good for people recovering from stroke, people with pre-heart attack conditions, or those who have suffered several heart attacks and/or bypasses.

Resources of the Southern Fields and Forests states:

Tulip Bearing Poplar {Liriodendron) and the Willow bark supply remedies for the fevers met with in camp. The Cold infusion is given.

This plant is tonic, diuretic and diaphoretic, and is generally considered one of the most valuable of the substitutes for Peruvian bark. It has been employed as a warm sudorific in the treatment of chronic rheumatism and gout; and Bigelow thinks it valuable as a stomachic. It was administered by Dr. Young and himself, combined with laudanum, in hysteria, and the former says that in all the materia medica be does not know of a more certain, speedy, and effectual remedy for that disease. See his letter to Governor Clayton. He has never known it to fail in a single case of worms. Am. Museum, xii; Griffith, Med. Bot. 98. Eafinesque says the seeds are laxative, and the leaves are used as an external application for headache; they are washed and applied to the forehead. Merat states that it is useful in phthisis, and he also refers to its vermifuge properties; employed in relaxed states of the stomach (reldchemens) and in the advanced stages of dysentery; this is corroborated by Thacher. Anc. Journal de Med. Ixx, 530 ; J. C. Mayer, Mem. on L. tulipifera, in the Mem de I'Acad. de Berlin, 1796; Euch. Mem. sur le tulipier, Tilloch's Magazine; Hildebrande, Essai sur un nouveau succedane du quinquina in Ann. de Chim. Ixvi, 201; Carminati sur les proprietes medicinales de I'ecorce de tulipier. Its analysis, etc., in the Mem. of Eoy. Inst. Lombardy, iii, 4; in the Supplcm. to Mer. Diet. 1846, 436. M. Bouchardat advises, as the most preferable mode of exhibiting it in fevers, the wine made with the bark in equal parts of alcohol, to which he adds of white wine seven or eight times the amount of the alcohol infusion. Bull, de Therap. xix, 246; S. Cubicre's Hist. Tulip. Paris, 1800; see Tract, of Bouchardat in Ann. de Therap. 75, 1841. Dr. J. P.Emmet, in his Analysis in the Phil. J. Pharm. iii, 5, announced the discovery of a new principle in it— liriodendrine. This is solid, brittle and inodorous at 40°, fusible at 180°, and volatile at 270° It is soluble in alcohol, thought to be analogous to camphor, and to the principle found in the Magnolia grandifiora, and to consist of a resin and a volatile oil; hence the alcoholic tincture is preferable. The powdered bark in syrup is given to children who are liable to convulsions from worms, to promote their expulsion, and to strengthen the tone of the digestive organs. The bark should be pulverized and bottled. I have employed a strong infusion of the bark and root of this lant as an anti-intermittent, among a number of negroes, and am much pleased with its efficacy. See the wild Jalap {Podophyllum peltatiwi,) in conjunction with which it was usually given. In Virginia, the decoction of the bark, with that of the Cornus Florida (dogwood) and the Pmios verticillatus, is given to horses affected with the hots. The poplar bai-k powdered is a valuable remedy as a tonic for horses. An infusion may be given to a horse, or the bark placed in his trough to be chewed. It gives tone to the digestive organs when they are "off their feed," in veterinary or jockey parlance. This tree I notice in unusual abundance along the line of railroad from Kingville to Columbia, S. C; also in Spartanburg district, S. C, on the banks of streams. Dose of bark xx-xxx grs. It is a stimulant tonic, slightly, diaphoretic. The infusion or decoction is made in the proportion of an ounce to a pint of water; dose one or two fluid ounces. Dose of the saturated tincture a fluid drachm.

King's American Dispensatory, 1898 tells us

Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Tulip-tree bark is an aromatic stimulant tonic, and has proved beneficial in intermittents, chronic rheumatism, chronic gastric and intestinal diseases, worms, and hysteria. In hysteria, combined with a small quantity of laudanum, it is said to be speedy, certain, and effectual, and also to abate the hectic fever, night-sweats, and colliquative diarrhoea of phthisis. The warm infusion is diaphoretic, and under certain states of the system has proven diuretic. It is now seldom used. Prof. Bartholow found the alkaloid tulipiferine to act energetically upon the nervous system of frogs and rabbits. Dose of the powdered bark, from 20 grains to 2 drachms; of the saturated tincture, which is the best form of administration, 1 fluid drachm; of the infusion, from 1 to 2 fluid ounces; of liriodendrin, from 5 to 10 grains.

Turning to Plants for A Future once more:

The intensely acrid bitter inner bark, especially of the roots, is used domestically as a diuretic, tonic and stimulant. The raw green bark is also chewed as an aphrodisiac. The bark contains "tulipiferine", which is said to exert powerful effects on the heart and nervous system. A tea is used in the treatment of indigestion, dysentery, rheumatism, coughs, fevers etc. Externally, the tea is used as a wash and a poultice on wounds and boils. The root bark and the seeds have both been used to expel worms from the body.

Peterson Field Guides Eastern and Central Medicinal Plants tells us:

American Indians used bark tea for indigestion, dysentery, rheumatism, pinworms, fevers, and in cough syrups; Externally, as a wash on fractured limbs, wounds, boils, snake bites. Green bark chewed as an aphrodisiac, stimulant. Bark tea a folk remedy for malaria, toothaches; Ointment from buds used for burns, inflammation. Crushed leaves poulticed for headaches.

Botany In A Day states:

Tulip tree: some Native Americans ate the bark to expel worms and gave the seeds to children for the same purpose. The Tulip tree has also been used to reduce fevers, as a diet diuretic for rheumatism. The root has been used in Canada to take away the bitterness in brewing alcohol.

The Physicians’ Desk Reference for Herbal Medicine tells us:

The alkaloids contained in the drug are antimicrobial in effect, a positively entropic effect has been described. Its usefulness is a tonic and stimulant appears to be plausible, based upon its qualities as a bitter substance. Unproven uses: folk medicine indications have included fever, menstrual complaints, insomnia, and malaria. Precautions and adverse reactions: the drug is considered toxic, due to its alkaloid content.... No case of poisoning among humans has been recorded.

This article is an excerpt from The Medicinal Trees of the American South, An Herbalist's Guide: by Judson Carroll

His New book is:

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Medicinal Shrubs and Woody Vines of The American Southeast An Herbalist's Guide
Read about Medicinal Shrubs and Woody Vines of The American Southeast An Herbalist's Guide: https://southernappalachianherbs.blogspot.com/2022/06/medicinal-shrubs-and-woody-vines-of.html

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Growing Your Survival Herb Garden for Preppers, Homesteaders and Everyone Else

Read About Growing Your Survival Herb Garden for Preppers, Homesteaders and Everyone Else: http://southernappalachianherbs.blogspot.com/2022/04/growing-your-survival-herb-garden-for.html

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The Encyclopedia of Bitter Medicinal Herbs:


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Christian Medicine, History and Practice:


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Herbal Medicine for Preppers, Homesteaders and Permaculture People


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Look Up: The Medicinal Trees of the American South, An Herbalist's Guide


The Herbs and Weeds of Fr. Johannes Künzle:


Author: Judson Carroll. Judson Carroll is an Herbalist from the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

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The information on this site is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease or condition. Nothing on this site has been evaluated or approved by the FDA. I am not a doctor. The US government does not recognize the practice of herbal medicine and their is no governing body regulating herbalists. Therefore, I'm just a guy who studies herbs. I am not offering any advice. I won't even claim that anything I write is accurate or true! I can tell you what herbs have "traditionally been used for." I can tell you my own experience and if I believe an herb helped me. I cannot, nor would I tell you to do the same. If you use any herb I, or anyone else, mentions you are treating yourself. You take full responsibility for your health. Humans are individuals and no two are identical. What works for me may not work for you. You may have an allergy, sensitivity or underlying condition that no one else shares and you don't even know about. Be careful with your health. By continuing to read my blog you agree to be responsible for yourself, do your own research, make your own choices and not to blame me for anything, ever.
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