A practical guide for nutritional and traditional health care.
Fraxinus americana or Fraxinus excelsior
Ash (botanical name Fraxinus excelsior) is a tall growing thin tree that often reaches the height of anything between 33 ft and 99 ft (10 meters and 30 meters). The branches of this tree do not have any hair or bristle and has a grayish-green hue. Ash produces bisexual flowers that are devoid of petals, but the reddish stamens of the flowers emerge prior to the opening of the leaves. The fruit (key fruit) of ash encloses a solitary seed.
It is easy to identify this variety of ash trees from other types of ashes growing in the campus, as they have comparatively elongated strings of samaras that are themselves long measuring approximately 1.5 inches each. A minute notch is present on the external terminal of the solitary wing. Ash bears about seven to 11 leaflets that are oval shaped and approximately four inches in length. These leaflets have a jagged margin and a shiny green on top, while underneath they are pale green having a few somewhat furriness along the midribs. When any leaf of the tree is pulled during summer, the leaflets coil firmly. The leaf buds of the ensuing season that are well-formed by the time it is summer have a blackish hue.
Often known as the American ash, the majestic white ash may well be called the all-American tree. The wood for making baseball bats is obtained from this tree. Being indigenous to the United States, ash is a widespread shade tree that is found in most regions on the eastern half of the country. The timber of ash is hard and yielding and forms the basis for almost all wooden constructions, including bowling alleys to the church pews. In fact, the tough and durable timber of the ash tree is suitable for making handles for axes, tennis racquets, skis, ladders and many other similar utilities.
Leaves, mature seeds, inner bark.
It is interesting to note that almost all parts of the ash tree possess therapeutic uses. This was first demonstrated to the early European settlers by the American Indians. In effect, the Connecticut Indians employed the sap of the tree for treating external cancerous developments, while in Maine, the Penobscot tribe held a decoction (actually an extract) prepared from the ash leaves in high esteem owing to its use as an antiseptic for internal cleansing of women following childbirth. Other North American tribes also prepared a specific tea from the bark of ash and drank it to cure sores and a prickly scalp. Another tea prepared from the ash leaves was used in the form of a vermifuge or a medication that helped to force out worms from the body. In effect, the seeds of the ash tree also possess a number of therapeutic properties and were employed by many American tribes in the form of a diuretic, an aphrodisiac, a tonic to enhance appetite and also cure fevers. During the 19th century, physicians in the United States prescribed medicinal preparations from white ash in the form of a styptic with a view to end small bleeding, in the form of an emetic to encourage vomiting and also for various different purposes.
The bark of the ash tree possesses tonic as well as astringent properties. Ash bark is seldom used in herbal medicine in contemporary period, but sometimes it is taken to cure fevers. The leaves of this tree also possess astringent properties, in addition to having a purgative as well as a diuretic effects. The ash leaves have often been employed in the form of a gentle substitute for senna.
Teas prepared from ash leaves are still used to cure fevers as well as alleviate water retention by the body. The seeds of ash are also used to bring down fever as well as augment the appetite. A tincture prepared from the ash leaves is employed to augment sexual desire or libido in men. However, this tincture should be used in restraint and only once in a day since it has extremely potent effects.
It may be noted that the white ash tree is among the most widely used trees for routine purposes and to meet the high demands for this variety of ash, it is cultivated roughly in all places where it can be grown. The timber of white ash is white in color and reasonably solid, tough and straight-grained. This timber is preferred for making baseball bats and handles of different tools, like axe and hammers. In addition, the wood of white ash is also preferred for making furniture as well as flooring.
Owing to the high perishable nature of ash wood when it is exposed to ground soil, woodworkers mainly use the timber of this tree for internal purposes. The timber of white ash is also employed for making lobster traps. Lately, this timber has assumed popularity and is preferred for making the solid body of an electric guitar too. Provided it is worked in a proper way, white ash timber also make an excellent material for longbow. Earlier, between the period from the 1970s and the middle of the 1980s, the wood of white ash was also used to make the blades of electric fans, while sometimes cane too was created with plastic during that period. However, in most countries, this wood is no longer used for making blades of electric fans.
Habitat and cultivation
Ash is also widespread in Europe and prospers in high grounds as well as plains. The leaves of this tree are collected during the summer, while the bark is gathered during the spring.
This tree has a preference for alkaline and damp soils and is found growing by the side of the periphery of woods as well as properly aerated lowlands, where the common ash may occupy plenty of area for ideal growth.
Side effects and cautions
People using therapeutic products prepared from ash ought to be aware of the side effects caused by the herb and take necessary precautions. For instance, owing to the emetic attribute of ash, it causes vomiting and, hence, people ought to exercise caution while taking this herb internally. Ash has very potent actions and, therefore, if you are taking any other medicines, it is advisable that you talk to your doctor prior to using this herb for treating your health conditions. The safety of using ash in infants, pregnant women and nursing mothers as well as people suffering from kidney or liver ailments is yet to be ascertained. Hence, it is advisable that such people should avoid using this herb for treating their problems.
The dried up leaves of ash are employed to prepare herbal teas that possess diuretic as well as fever-reducing (febrifuge) attributes. During the fall, you may utilize the fruits to prepare a mother tincture by using one portion of the crushed fruit and four parts of alcohol. Marinate the mixture for about a month and subsequently filter the liquid. Men may take as many as 10 drops of this mother tincture about 30 minutes prior to engaging in sexual intercourse. However, it can only be used once daily for this purpose. It has been established that ash facilitates reproduction, but one should always use this herb with restraint since the virilizing consequences of ash are extremely potent.
Take one teaspoonful of the dried inner bark of ash and add it to one cup (250 ml) of simmering water. This solution is actually a potent febrifuge and diuretic. You may drink a maximum of three cups (750 ml) of this liquid every day for a maximum period of 10 days in succession.
The leaves of ash may be used to prepare a sparkling wine. The ingredients required to prepare this sparkling wine include:
To prepare the sparkling wine, boil the ash leaves and chicory root in water at low heat for about 10 minutes. Then add sugar, yeast and tartaric acid to the mixture, allow them to dissolve in the liquid and leave the mixture for about 10 days at 68ºF (20ºC) to ferment in a covered pot. However, it is important not to close the pot completely, provided the cover does not fly off. Subsequently, store the liquid in a bottle and wait for about three months. Drink this wine in small amounts (in doses of 1 oz or 25 ml) in the form of a remedy for slimming or as a diuretic prior to taking meals for 10 consecutive days. In addition to slimming and working as a diuretic, this homemade champagne is also effective in treating water retention, fever and gout.
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