Medicinal Uses of Wild Hydrangea

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This post is about the medicinal qualities of Wild hydrangea. These are the native forms of the showy ornamental shrubs.

Botanical Information

Family

  1. Hydrangeaceae (formerly Saxifragaceae)
  2. There are 9 genera of Hydrangeaceae in the US

Genus species

  1. Three eastern species are the most commonly used for medicine
  2. Two were classified as subspecies of Hydrangea arborescens, but are now divided into 3 individual species 
  3. Hydrangea quercifolia (Oakleaf hydrangea) is a fourth species, though I don’t know if it is used medicinally.
  4. It is likely that all three were used interchangeably
    • Hydrangea arborescens-Wild hydrangea
    • Hydrangea cinerea-Ash-leafed hydrangea
    • Hydrangea radiata-Silverleaf hydrangea

Here are a few different genera of Hydrangeaceae growing in the US

Wildcrafting

Before gathering, learn the differences between the four species and know which ones are most common in any particular area.

Wild hydrangea species are small to medium-sized shrubs and there are four native species that grow in the eastern and Appalachia region of the US. They generally grow on the margins of trails and roadsides or along stream banks.

The root is the medicinal part of the plant. This entailsdigging up the shrubs to gather the root, killing the plant. Hydrangea speciescan be fairly common in their native habitats, so only gather species wherethey are most abundant. I tend to gather from areas where people have already alteredthe landscape, to avoid further disturbing the land. Make sure to fill in thehole after the plant is gathered. With consideration for the environment, Ifeel these plants can be gathered for personal or small-scale use. Be cautiousand environmentally conscientious while gathering to avoid disturbing local populations and vegetation.   

Do not gather plants growing along stream banks, as this is more likely to create erosion.

I do not know anyone who uses the cultivated species for medicine nor would I recommend gathering them. Also, if you live in the right ecological niche, some of the native species are quite beautiful to grow (andnot nearly as garish as the cultivated types).

Preparations
  • Capsules
  • Tea
  • Tincture
Primary Medicinal Uses
  1. Diuretic
    • Kidney stones
    • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
    • Benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH)
    • Prostatitis
Medicinal Use Details

The main medicinal use for Hydrangea root is as a diuretic, to increase the outflow of urine via the kidneys. Hydrangea root seems most useful for these specific conditions.

Kidney stones-the plant does not directly reduce the size of the stones (breaking up the stones), but helps by increasing urine flow thereby reducing the tendency for the stones to gain size making them more difficult to pass. It combines well with other diuretics as well as antispasmodics to help with the pain of passing a stone.

Urinary tract infections-Hydrangea root helps increase the outflow of urine possibly reducing bacteria in the urinary tract as well as carrying other medicinal plants to the source of the infection. It combines well with other diuretics and antimicrobials to help kill the infection.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)-increases urine flow and decreases residual urine in the bladder. This can help with nocturia if taken during the day. Combines well with other diuretics and specific BPH plants.

Prostatitis-increases urine flow and decreases residual urine in the bladder. Combines well with other diuretics and antimicrobials to help kill the infection.

Constituents

Hydrangin is the only chemical isolate commonly noted from Hydrangea species. It is more commonly called Umbelliferone, and is a type of coumarin and found in many plant species. It is not known if this is the constituent responsible for the medicinal properties of this plant.

Plant Combinations
  1. Barberry root-Berberis spp
  2. Black haw-Viburnum prunifolium
  3. Cannabis-Cannabis spp
  4. Corn silk-Zea mays
  5. Crampbark-Viburnum opulus
  6. Cranberry-Vaccinium spp
  7. Dandelion leaf-Taraxacum officinale
  8. Echinacea-Echinacea purpurea
  9. Goldenrod-Solidago spp, Euthamia spp
  10. Gravel root-Eutrochium purpureum, E. maculatum
  11. Jamaican dogwood-Piscidia piscupula
  12. Juniper berry/leaf-Juniperus spp
  13. Lobelia-Lobelia inflata
  14. Nettle leaf/root-Urtica dioica
  15. Oregon graperoot-Berberis spp
  16. Silk tassel-Garrya sppSkullcap-Scutellaria lateriflora
  17. Stoneroot-Collinsonia canadensis
  18. Uva ursi-Arctostaphylos uva ursi
  19. Valerian-Valeriana officinalis
  20. Yarrow-Achillea millefolium
Therapeutic Categories

Diuretics-increase urine outflow

  1. Corn silk
  2. Dandelion leaf
  3. Goldenrod
  4. Gravel root
  5. Nettles
  6. Stoneroot

Antimicrobials-kill microorganisms causing infections

  1. Barberry
  2. Cranberry
  3. Echinacea
  4. Juniper
  5. Oregon graperoot
  6. Uva ursi
  7. Yarrow

Antispasmodics-reduce pain when passing stones or urinating

  1. Black haw
  2. Cannabis
  3. Crampbark
  4. Jamaican dogwood
  5. Lobelia
  6. Silk tassel
  7. Skullcap
  8. Valerian

Dosage-these are very approximate dosages which will vary considerably depending on the other herbs in the formula, sensitivities of the patient, and the severity of the problem

Tea

4-8 oz cup 2-3 times daily

Tincture

1-3 dropperfuls 3-5 times daily (2-6 ml, 3-5x/day)

Capsule

2-4 capsules 2-4 times daily

Formulas

These are some basic formulas; the exact plants and the amounts per formula would change depending on numerous factors including severity and individual preferences.

Benign Prostate Formula

  1. Saw palmetto fruit (Serenoa repens)
  2. Nettles root
  3. Hydrangea root

Kidney Stone Formula

  1. Nettles leaf
  2. Dandelion leaf
  3. Hydrangea root
  4. Gravel root

Prostatitis Formula

  1. Echinacea root
  2. Oregon graperoot
  3. Nettles root
  4. Dandelion leaf
  5. Hydrangea root

Urinary Tract Formula

  1. Oregon graperoot
  2. Juniper berry
  3. Corn silk
  4. Hydrangea root
  5. Yarrow
Safety

Hydrangea root is generally considered safe and side effects are uncommon. But anytime there is an increased urinary output with a diuretic other problems can occur such as lowered blood pressure or increased output of electrolytes. These possibilities should be monitored especially with long-term use.

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