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Kiva's Post reminded me of some of the Pacific Northwest Native American uses for Devil's Club Oplopanax horridum. Native American tribes in British Columbia used a tea made from the root of Devil's club to treat diabetes (Kiva talks about her success with blood sugar levels in her post)
Other Coast Native American's used a strong decoction of the bark to cause vomiting to purify themselves before important events. It was given to all members of war parties, and to hunters before important expeditions. Strong sacred medicinal power is attributed to this plant by the Pacific Northwest Native American tribes. The medicine man of the tribe would wear devil's club wood as an amulet for protection from negative energies or supernatural beings. Entire lodges were built of devil's club to keep bad intruders out. Pieces of the bark were also attached to fish hooks to ensure a good catch of fish.
Devils club root tendencies are cooling, stimulating and supportive, it is part of the ginseng family. According to Sharol Tilgner (see references) Paraphrased; This is another plant that is indicated for adrenal burnout with mental, emotional and physical exhaustion. Devil's club is indicated for generally worn out individuals who lack mental and emotional strength. It would be indicated for an individual who needed spiritual strength and invigoration. This herb would be indicated for someone who is feeling oppressed and insecure (timid), needs a spiritual uplifting, and is overwhelmed by a stressful situation either physical, emotional or both. I have not used Devil's club for this specific purpose, but the Native American uses tell me at the very least, perhaps it may be a good herb to wear or have on your person(something that not many people think of using herbs nowadays, but can be very effective) for emotional spiritual uplifting & security. I see this plant working on a deep emotional level with the person who is using it as healing medicine. I have read other sources that state it is part of the ginseng family but not the same medicine or to be used as a substitute for ginseng ( not that I would think of it as exactly the same). According to Gregory Tilford it is a strong respiratory stimulant and expectorant. It's use for blood sugar regulation has been documented in this century by scientific studies~ Plus Kiva Rose reports hands on experience or it working great for this purpose~ Quote"Really helps with those evil sugar cravings that potentially drive you to ripping open candy bar wrappers with your teeth" Even Better!. Michael Moore states in his book "Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West" (1993, Red Crane Press, Santa Fe) that it works best for stocky mezomorphs with elevated blood fats, and perhaps hypertension. Devil's club is a plant I plan on working with more, to experience it's subtle energies and especially it's effect on a emotional level.
Devil's club must have gotten it's name from it's brittle sharp spines that can easily break off in your skin, they can be considered a weapon of sorts if one breaks off in your hand while trying to collect it, or it stabs you in your leg as you are hiking past (perhaps this is the plant teaching us awareness and respect) The plant can get quite large under the right rain forest type conditions, some as tall as 8 ft. The stems often curve and turn in several directions and the leaves can be quite large in diameter up to a foot. The flowers are small and white, later developing into long clusters of bright red berries, it blooms from April till June. If you want to eat this plant the young shoots are edible, but catch them early because of the spikes (make sure you know the plant you are identifying) Devil's club can be found in Alaska as well as the Pacific Northwest, mountains of California, parts of Montana, and the Idaho panhandle. The whole bark of the root and the lower portion of the stalk are used as medicine it is very aromatic and high in essential oil; use, or dry and store immediately to retain volatile oil components.
Resource: Profiles of Northwest Plants by Peggy Robinson
Herbal medicine from the heart of the earth S. Tilgner N.D
Edible and Medicinal Plants of the west Tilford