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Wild cherry bark is a substance extracted from the inner bark of the cherry tree, belonging to the Roseaceae family.

This tree was originally from North America but has now expanded into some southern states of America.

Traditionally, native American tribes used wild cherry bark for various illnesses. In particular, the Cherokee tribe commonly used it for colds, indigestion, and to ease labor pains.

Wild cherry bark is now available as part of syrups and teas, or via supplementation in capsule form. It may also be available in some medicines such as cough syrups, cough drops, and lozenges.

The main active components of wild cherry bark are glycosides such as prunasin and amygdalin, flavonoids, benzaldehyde, volatile oils, plant acids, tannins, calcium, potassium, and iron.

Wild Cherry Bark Health Benefits

May Help with Respiratory Infections

Wild cherry bark may help with opening the lower respiratory system and helping with breathing difficulties.

However, there is a clear lack of research on this topic so it is hard to determine whether there is a real effect or if it is just speculation.

  • Some data appears to indicate a slight sedative action that helps to ease the cough reflex and calm any throat irritations from coughing [1].
  • There may also be a slight anti-inflammatory action that may help inflammatory respiratory conditions such as acute and chronic sinus inflammation and allergies. The flavanoids would work to repair irritation in the capillaries and eliminate circulatory congestion and heat. Together with the prunasin in wild cherry bark, this may exert a noticeable cooling effect [2].
  • It has also been mentioned to have relax blood vessels and act as a bronchodilator (dilates airway passages) which can ease coughing and open up the airways [3]. As a bronchodilator, it also helps relieve asthma and is appropriate for use in combination with other herbs to control asthma [4].

For the above reasons, it is a potential remedy for dealing with infections that involve mucus, coughing, and constricted airways, however more conclusive evidence is needed.

May Fight Cancer

There is a very limited pool of evidence that suggests wild cherry bark may have a mild targeted effect on certain cancer cells.

As the extracts of wild cherry bark are anti-inflammatory, this has led to showing mild anti-proliferative activity in human colorectal cancer cells.

This is due to the suppression of cell growth, in addition to the induction of apoptosis (programmed cell death) from the activation of a gene called NAG-1 [5].

The down-regulation of beta-catenin signaling (contributes to tumor progression) and reduced cyclin D1 expression (dysregulates human cancers) may also be reasons for this effect in cancer cells.

How To Use Wild Cherry Bark

Instructions to use wild cherry bark depends entirely on the form of the extracts used:

  • Tincture: 5-10ml per day (split into 3 doses)
  • Hot Decoction: 3 teaspoons of dried bark per day (split into 3 doses)
  • Cold Infusion: 5 ounces of dried bark per day (split into 3 doses)

If you are going to use other forms of the product, such as lozenges or teas, be sure to follow the instructions provided on the label.

Wild Cherry Bark Safety And Side Effects

Due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of using wild cherry bark supplements.

Of note, this product contains a compound called prunasin which is known to be hydrolyzed to produce hydrogen cyanide – an extremely poisonous liquid solution.

Cyanide can be lethal to humans at a dose of just 1mg per kg of bodyweight.

Many experts suggest that wild cherry bark supplementation is only safe if taken for less than 10 days in recommended dosages, and supplementation should never be continued beyond this timeframe. In any case, everyone wanting to use this supplement should inform and check with their doctor before use to ensure medical supervision.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is recommended to avoid consuming wild cherry bark as safety cannot be guaranteed.


Wild cherry bark is a substance extracted from the inner bark of the cherry tree, used by native American tribes to treat various illnesses.

The flavonoids within wild cherry bark may help with opening the lower respiratory system and improving airflow and breathing. There is also potential for this substance to have a mild anti-proliferative activity in human cancer cells.

There is not enough evidence for either of these statements to be conclusive.

In addition, a major concern with wild cherry bark supplementation is that is may increase cyanide levels in the body and become poisonous if the dose if high enough, or if it is taken for prolonged periods.

It is not worth the risk for a reward that is not guaranteed.

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Fact Checked

This article has been reviewed and fact-checked by a certified nutritionist, and only uses information from credible academic sources.