Prepping => Medical => Topic started by: zeker on August 26, 2013, 02:01:37 PM

Title: the lowly poplar tree. medicinal wonderland
Post by: zeker on August 26, 2013, 02:01:37 PM

POPLAR (Aspen, Cottonwood) (Populus)
Popularly speaking, Poplars, by virtue of their natural range into every province and territory of Canada, should be the Canadian National Tree, with the Poplar leaf waving in the wind on a green or yellow-gold Canadian Flag as the natural Poplar leaves flutter in every wind.
Quaking Aspen (Populous tremuloides) has the greatest range of the Poplars, and, with its many cousins, helps bring the Populus family into nearly every area of the United States, reaching also into Mexico. In many areas it is the only tree that will grow naturally, and many a settler has felt blessed by its presence, though the logger generally snubs his nose at Poplar except for pulpwood or when all else has been logged out.
As can be imagined, a tree that has such a wide area of distribution, thus availability to people, will have been tried for many a bodily condition. Poplar has stood well the test of Popular Medicine. Mostly the inner bark has been used, perhaps because it is available year-round, especially in winter when poor nutrition and challenging weather open people up to more dis-ease.
The tea of the inner bark of Poplar has been tried successfully for: toning up a run-down condition from old age or disease, urinary diseases and retention, acute rheumatism, reducing fevers, jaundice, hay fever, arresting nausea, morning sickness, neuralgia, influenza, cholera, failing appetite and indigestion, faintness, diabetes (when mixed with the inner bark of White Pine), hysteria, tuberculosis, VD, diarrhea and dysentery, sciatica, nephritis, coughs, worms and parasites, and headaches due to liver problems or stomach conditions of flatulence and acidity.
The inner bark tea has also been used as a sedative (the salicin content would be the active ingredient here) and is quite often claimed to be better than quinine, and with fewer side effects for all conditions where quinine is used. The usual brew is 1 tsp lightly boiled in a cup of water then steeped for half an hour and drunk two or more times per day.
As an external skin wash, the tea of the inner bark can be used for inflammation, cuts, scratches, wounds, burns, eczema, strong perspiration and sore eyes.
The inner bark can be chewed or boiled to make a poultice for muscular and joint pain, and applied thickly as a healer for cuts and wounds after drawing the edges together. Cree Indians have eaten the inner bark of Poplar in early spring, as have other folk when food is scarce, often as a flour extender or soup base.
Boiled in fat (often bear fat, though coconut oil will do) the buds are considered a soothing salve to be used for earaches and a nasal application to cure coughs and colds in adults and children. When Poplar buds are added to them, other ointments are less likely to become rancid.
Poplar root has also found a place in Popular medicine. Rootsuckering being the main means of propagation for a few species of this vigourously growing tree, this is only proper. The main quality of the root seems to be astringency, and the Dene people of the Arctic used it for stopping the blood flow after amputation. Similarly the Chippewa mixed an equal amount of water and Balsam Poplar Root and steeped it without boiling to give every hour to a woman with 'excessive flow during confinement' and for preventing premature birth. The Delaware and other Algonkians make a strong brew as a tonic for general debility and 'female weakness.' The Tete de Boule people boiled the rootlets until the liquid was syrupy and applied the thick liquid to rheumatic or painful joints.
The sweetish sap layer between bark and wood was scraped in spring or early summer by many native peoples and eaten raw as a delicacy or scrambled up like eggs. They said children especially liked it.
A few native peoples have reported using the cotton (as in 'cottonwood' ) from the seed carriers as absorbents when treating open sores.
Those people who have handled Poplar trees or logs will recall the white powder that coats parts of the outer bark. This is actually yeast. A few pieces of the bark, or scrapings of the powder, added to a sourdough starter mix will get the yeast growing and the bread a-rising.
Known for using all parts of a buffalo creatively with little or no waste, the native American peoples seem to have done similarly with the Poplar tree. The Potawatomi even burned the bark and mixed the resultant ashes with lard to make a salve to apply to sores on their horses.