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Copyright © 1990-2016 by Robert Dale Rogers. All rights reserved.

No portion of this book, except for a brief review, may be reproduced, or copied and transmitted, without permission of author. This book is for educational purposes only. The suggestions, recipes and historical information are not meant to replace a medical advisor. The author assumes no liability for unwise or unsafe usage by readers of this book.

 

GREEN ALDER

(Alnus crispa [Ait.] Pursh)
(
A. viridis ssp. crispa [Ait] Turrill)
(
A. viridis [Vill.] Lam. & DC.)
(
A. viridisssp. fruticosa)

SITKA ALDER

(A. sinuata)
(A. sitchensis
)
(
A. viridis ssp. sinuata [Regel] Hult.)

RIVER ALDER
MOUNTAIN ALDER
THIN LEAF ALDER

(A. incana ssp. tenuifolia [Nutt.] Breitung)
(
A. tenuifolia Nutt.)

SPECKLED ALDER
SMOOTH ALDER
GRAY ALDER

(A. incana ssp. rugosa [Du Roi] Clausen)
(
A. rugosa [Du Roi] Spreng.)

 

 

PARTS USED catkins, leaf, bark

 


The Alder, whose fat shadow nourisheth Each plant set neere to him flourisheth.

WILLIAM BROWNE

 

The meadows were veiled in a low creeping haze, through which tufts of Alders peered out like puffs of dark smoke.

POLISH SAYING

 

I thought the sparrow’s note from heaven
Singing at dawn in the alder bough.
I brought him home in his nest at even,
He signs the song, but it cheers not now, for I did not bring home the river and sky.

EMERSON


Introduction

Alder is derived from the Anglo Saxon ALR, the Old English ALOR and in turn from the Old German ELAWER or ELO meaning “reddish-yellow”. It progressed to ALER, then ALLER, and ALDIR to today’s form.

The German term ALUZA may be from the Indo-European ALISA. Alys was the name of the goddess on the burial island. It is possible the Elysian fields, or “islands of souls” were originally found in similar metaphorical rivers.

The allusion to yellow and red may stem from characteristic of wood to change colour after felling. INCANA is from Latin meaning light gray, in reference to the white under leaf. CRISPUS meaning curled, and tenufolia means thin leaves.

At one time it was considered unlucky to fell an alder, most interesting considering that the city of Venice is built on alder and larch posts. The wood hardens like iron under water, and makes long-lasting bridges, jetties, sluices and pumps.

The ancient Greeks considered alder sacred to Cronos, the God of time. Its Greek name KLETHRA is derived from kleio meaning, “to surround or enclose”. Alder was considered the transformed sister of Phaeton, the son of Helios and brother of Circe.

In Scotland, the wood was valued for construction and known as Scottish mahogany, due in part to the rust colour of the new cut wood and sap.

Alder represents the letter F (fearn) in the Druidic tree alphabet. It was known in medieval legend as the tree of the Erl King, sacred to the Celtic God Bran, the brother of Branwen, who kept the cauldron of Regeneration. His name means crow or raven.

Bran is god of the dead, and he carried a cauldron that brought the dead back to life. The cult of Bran was melded with the cult of Teutates, that drowned humans in alder groves. Later, they were transformed into the Fisher King to accommodate Christian myth.

This cauldron was the womb of the Great Goddess of paleolithic times, and thus the fountain of youth.

In the famous Battle of the Trees, from a 10th century Welsh poem, followers of Bran wore alder sprigs. Fatally wounded, he had them cut off his head and carry it to a secret island (Avalon?) where for 80 years he told stories and recited songs. Other versions tell of his head remaining alive for 80 years on the way to London before being buried in the White Hill beneath the Tower of London. The purple on buds is associated with Bran, and known as royal purple.

In the territory of Celtic Druids there was at one time a tribe known as Averni, or People of the Alder. In Irish legend, the first human male was created from alder, and the first female human from mountain ash.

In fact, only one female figure, representing Alder Woman, carved from alder and dated between 728 and 524 BC, has been found in a peat bog on the west coast of Scotland. Across the sea, in Ireland, alder wood was carved into wooden clogs for dry, warm footwear.

Alder is associated with the God Neptune, planet Venus, and the astrological signs of Cancer and Pisces (water).

In Norse legends, the month of March was associated with the waking Alder, and known as Lenet. This was a time of enforced fasting due to lack of food, and became the origin of the Christian festival of Lent. Alder is associated with the 11th Norse Rune, IS.

Alder is the only broad-leaved tree to produce cones. These ripe cones were decocted in water in parts of England and was ingested daily to alleviate gout.

The alder of northern Alberta would be considered a tall, spreading shrub rather than a tree. The branches have a somewhat sticky surface that can be used as natural flypaper.

Alders are natural nitrogen fixers, like clover, and change atmospheric nitrogen into a form plants can use. They are valuable for restoring and regenerating mine sites, gas and oil sites, checking erosion, and building up organic content.

These pioneer trees add the equivalent of ten bags of high nitrogen fertilizer to each hectare every year. It has been estimated that the leaves, when shed, provide another 160 kilos of nitrogen per hectare of soil. Inter-planting with hybrid poplar increases growth.

Green Alder is a very protein-rich source of food that is virtually never browsed by moose or mice. This may be due to the presence of pinosylvan methyl ether, a strong herbivore repellant and abortifacient. In fact, this compound, when extracted from tropical plants, and used as a wood preservative at low concentrations, protects wood from termites for over two years.

Metal binding, histidine-rich proteins have been isolated from the root nodules of alder, suggesting some potential in bioremediation. Gupta RK et al, Journal Protein Chem 2002 21:8.

Experiments in Holland have shown that growing alders in an apple orchard raised fruit yield by 36%.

It is much prized for smoking fish or game due to the mild flavour and slow burning properties of the wood. When well-dried it will produce a hot fire that doesn’t throw sparks and leaves little ash. It is not as rich in BTUs as birch, but much better than aspen or pine.

The Cree call it ATOSPI or MISKWATOSPI and use the plant in a variety of ways. The dormant bark was stripped and dried for dying hides used for clothing and moccasins. The bark was mixed with animal fats to make body paint used for traditional dances.

The Flathead boiled the bark for a bright red dye. They sometimes used this to produce odd-looking bright orange hair. Alder contributes a number of dye colors. The flowers give a green dye, the bark a fiery red, the young shoots cinnamon, and with copper mordant a pure yellow.

The Eastern Cree call Green Alder, NEPATIHE, and use bark decoctions to treat dropsy.

Speckled Alder is known to Potawatomi, as ATOB, meaning bitter. The inner bark was used for itchy skin and a bark tea for vaginal infections and enema for hemorrhoids.

The wood can be carved into pipes, form the framework of birch bark baskets, or bent into small bows for hunting squirrels or birds.

A pipe stem can be made by sealing a grub into one end of an alder stem, forcing the insect to burrow its way out the other end.

The natural curve commonly found at the base of the shrub can be carved and fire hardened to peel bark from other trees. The wood was traditionally used to make the bottom and lid of birch bark containers, including the beaver castor container.

Work at the University of Maine in the 1960s, showed alder makes good kraft pulp, or can be chipped for hardwood composite board.

The rotten wood makes a good smudge, a smoke for tanning hides, or smoking fish. This dry rot was traditionally mixed with powdered willow bark for burns, in the form of a poultice.

Alder walking sticks, made from rotting branches, were lit and smoldered as a traveling mosquito repellant. The drifting smoke kept them away, and the periodic waving of the stick kept the fire slowly smoldering.

The fresh leaves were crushed as a poultice by nursing mothers with sore or swollen breasts. If the fresh leaves are ground and combined with small amount of warm milk, a suitable cheesecloth poultice can be used. The crushed leaves will relieve pain and decoctions of the leaves will quickly relieve sore feet when soaked in a warm footbath.

Leaves, with the morning dew still clinging, are placed in areas of the home having problems with fleas. They are attracted to the resins and can then be gathered and removed.

Various western tribes injected cool alder enemas to soothe bleeding hemorrhoids.

The Blackfoot used hot bark decoctions internally to heal tuberculosis of lymph glands in the neck. They call it A-MUCK- KO-IYSTIS, or red mouth bush, caused by chewing the bark.

The Dene people used the dried green cones, finely chopped, in smoking mixtures.

Both the Dene and Cree of northern Saskatchewan boiled the green female catkins to treat venereal disease in men. The stems were boiled as an emetic for upset stomach.

The roots are dug up and decocted to relieve menstrual cramps or used as part of a steam/sweat to bring on menstruation.

The Chipewyan of northern Alberta know green alder as K’AI LISEN, or “willow that smells”.

Further north on the Mackenzie delta, the Gwich’in call the plant red willow, or K’OH. Sophie Thomas, a Sai’Kuz healer, uses bark shavings of K’US for cancers and ulcers, and sores in baby’s mouth. It is combined with raspberry and chokecherry as a wash for skin ulcer and cancers including leukemia.

They used the inner bark to dye hides, skins, snowshoe frames and fish nets. Animal hides, for example, were soaked in a cool bark solution for 24 hours.

The inner bark was pounded and rolled up in beaver and wolverine skins to make them softer. This same decoction was used to revive worn moccasins, or at least restore and recondition them.

For various human skin conditions, the bark was peeled from the stem, boiled, and cooled. The liquid, including the oily film on surface, was bathed on skin sores, scabs, eczema, sunburn and rashes. Stiff, arthritic joints were likewise treated.

The small green cones were chewed and the juice swallowed to relieve colds.

The Dena’ina of Alaska call this species fire willow or QENQ’EYA. It is used for fish traps and net-like drags, and digging sticks. The inner bark is boiled and taken for gas and to relieve fever. Like others, the bark was used to dye skin, and wooden objects, the latter preserved by rubbing animal fat over the newly dyed wood.

Alder roots can be split and used as twine if spruce or tamarack roots are not available.

The Nlaka’pamux used fragrant stems of mountain alder as a perfume, and the small twigs for basket ornamentation. The Okanogan people made a string from the bark of young alder, as well as coiled baskets from the peeled, split and soaked roots.

The Gitksan name is AMLUUX, meaning neck ring, in reference to a special neck ring worn by chiefs and shamans composed of red cedar inner bark dyed red from alder bark decoctions.

Thin-leaf Alder (A. incana) was used by Dena’ina for a similar purpose to above. Some say it should not be used for cooking as the red juice looks like blood when it is burning. The red juice from tea is taken to treat tuberculosis.

This same dye was used for woven maple baskets and to colour wools. After the bark is cut in small pieces and boiled, it is removed and chewed and chewed until all the dye is removed and spit into a container. It is believed that the saliva acts as a mordant to set the color.

Green Alder is known as GIIST to the Gitksan, with the root and bark decocted six hours for cough medicine. The pistillate catkins are a physic made by crushing the catkins and eating them when one was sleepy and thin.

For gonorrhea both pistillate catkins and bark shaving were boiled and taken three times daily, working as a strong diuretic.

Natives of New Brunswick boiled stems until the bark came off, then chewed and swallowed the juice for lung hemorrhage, and to promote healing of fractures, and wounds.

The Mohawk used a decoction of alder twigs and couch grass root for “thick” urine.

Gray alder green cones were decocted to treat venereal disease in men, and as a wash for sore eyes. A root decoction was used by Seneca to treat burns, scalds and menstrual cramps.

Strong root decoctions were painted on traps for various animals, helping disguise the scent of humans.

Another interesting use was adding four dried, powdered bees to a root decoction for eye disease.

The early Acadian settlers brewed a reddish-brown tonic from the bark, to prevent anemia, and for kidney and skin complaints. Bark decoctions give a natural looking brown rinse to white or gray hair. In parts of Newfoundland, bark infusions are used for skin itching and rheumatism, or oil infused salves applied to burns.

Herbals of the 1600s suggested use of fresh leaves to dissolve tumours. In 1973, a study into the properties of Alnus oregona verified that the stem bark contains lupeol and betulin, two compounds that suppress tumor activity. Sheth K et al, Journal Pharm Sci 62:1.

Charcoal made from alder was used in Europe for making gunpowder. The wood produces a charcoal highly prized by artists. River alder charcoal was mixed with pitch by boreal natives, to seal canoe seams.

Bark decoctions were used to soak toboggan boards. This process softened them for bending and shaping.

A parasitic plant that grows near the root of Green Alder, or Spruce has shown strong free radical scavenging activity. Poque, or Northern Ground Cone (Boschniakia rossica) contains various iridoid glucosides, and several other compounds of interest. It is occasionally found near birch, willow, and even leather leaf. Grizzly bears sometimes like to gorge on the thick, fleshy plants, which can be abundant in the floodplain cottonwood forests of northern valleys. In Alberta, it is most commonly found in the northern Caribou Mountains; but is somewhat rare.

The plants can grow for 4-5 years as an underground tuber, before flowering.

The name Poque probably originates from P’UKW’ES, the name given to the parasitic plant by the Kwakwaka’wakw.

The Slave tribe drank decoctions of the thick base stem for stomach aches.

The Gwich’in call this plant DU’IINAHSHEE, meaning “uncle’s plant”. They took the white core at the base of the plant and ground it into a powder, or simply chewed it for medicine. The powder could be combined with fat for skin rashes. The white middle part was boiled and eaten to increase appetite or relieve stomachaches.

It was called “pipe”, as the wet, bulb-like underground portion was dried and a hole cut in to make a pipe. This was filled with dried willow leaves. Or the ground cone roots were dried, pounded and mixed with tobacco.

Studies in Poland show that pollen extracts from alder increased the survival rate of mice injected with acetaminophen.

Speckled, or smooth alder is identified by its distinct visible triangular pith in a cross section of the stem. The leaf tea was used as a skin wash for pimples and a tonic, according to Seton. The bark and cones were used by the Inuit to dye reindeer and caribou skins.

River alder is distributed from Alaska to western Saskatchewan; where the nearly identical speckled alder continues on to Atlantic Canada. River alder may be simply a regional variation.

Sitka alder is found in the extreme southwest part of Alberta, near Waterton National Park, but throughout British Columbia and north. Its uses are similar to above.

 

MEDICINAL

CONSTITUENTS A. crispa bark- tannins, oils, resins, emodin, alnulin, protoalnulin, beta sitosterol, pinocembrin and phlobaphenes.
A. crispa- resins from buds and catkins (30-60%), pinosylvin and its methyl ether, pinostrobin and 2-phenethyl cinnamate, alpha and beta amyrin, betulin, lupeol, sterols.
Buds- betuletol, mikanin, quercitin, iso-rhamnetin, and 4’-6-7trimethyl- pectolinarigenin, scutellarein.

A. incana bark- triterpenoids alnin-canone,taraxerol, salicin, and taraxerone. Buds- ayanin, 3’-4’-5-trihydroxy-3-7-dimethoxy flavone, and 4’-5-dihydroxy-3-7- dimethoxy flavone, and genkwanin, quercitin, quinic and ferulic acids, benzenoid 4’-5’-dihydroxy-3’-methoxy stilbene.

Both the leaves and dried inner bark of alder are bitter, helping stimulate digestion. Decoctions of the dried bark are astringent and hemostatic, reducing inflammations and even stopping internal hemorrhage. The powdered bark is a good hemostat for external bleeding. The fresh bark is emetic, and may cause cramping and vomiting.

Decoctions make an effective gargle for sore throats, pharyngitis, and toothaches. Milder dilutions cleanse teeth but can help tighten and strengthen abscessed gums.

Work by Ritch-Krc et al, College of New Caledonia in Prince George, BC found mountain alder (A. incana) showed anti-cancer activity against mouse mastocytoma cells, with an IC50 value of 6 ug/ml. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 1996 52 151-6.

He mentions the case of an 11 year-old boy diagnosed with leukemia by a medical doctor in town of Vanderhoof. Sophie Thomas kept the boy at her home for a month and successfully treated him with Alnus incana. She also treated a young native woman with cervical cancer using alder and willow species.

Earlier studies have shown A. crispa extracts possess activity against gram-positive bacteria.

The inner bark of A. incana ssp. rugosais a partial agonist of PPAR gamma activity, suggesting use in obesity and metabolic disease. Martineau et al, Planta Med 2010 13. Oregonin was identified as an inhibitor of adipogenesis in volume 14.

Pinocembrin, found in poplar and scullcap species, is active against Bacillus subtilis, Candida albicans, Saccharcervisine species and Cryptococcus neoformans.

Work in Poland by Gryzbek et al, found water extracts of A. incana cones to have an inhibiting effect on HIV-1 reverse transcriptase. Both stipes and cones, when extracted with ethyl acetate were found to exhibit weak activity against the D6 and W2 clones of Plasmodium falciparum,implicated in malaria.

Janice Schofield gives a recipe for diarrhea, using the unripe, green cones in decoction internally. (See below)

Externally, a useful wash can be made for various skin conditions including eczema, impetigo, poison ivy, bee stings, and various itching rashes.

Work by Webster et al, J Ethnopharm 2008 115:1 found mild anti- fungal activity from alder and giant goldenrod, and significant activity from strawberry, fireweed and Potentilla simplex.

David Winston, AHG says, “Alder bark is considered a specific for skin conditions where the eruptions (pimples) are red, raised, and never come to a head. It can be used orally, and topically for boils, carbuncles, staph infections, and large painful pimples on back, buttocks, face or neck”.

Ellingwood noted similar benefits, as well as improving gastric secretions and digestion.

A good combination for pustular psoriasis is equal parts of alder bark, Oregon grape root and yellow dock root.

When available fresh the slimy cambium layer can be rubbed over skin conditions for an even better effect.

Alder’s primary use is to improve nutrition, by increasing digestion and the rate of waste excretion.

Like poplar and willow, the bark of alder contains salicin, but in lesser amounts.

Lupeol, is found in both alder and birch. See latter for more information on this important constituent.

Catkins, from red alder show significant anti-fungal activity against all nine species, the catkins even more so than the bark. McCutcheon et al, J Ethnopharm 1994 44:3.

Anti-microbial activity was found in bark and catkins, with all nine showing some degree of inhibition. Journal Ethnopharm 1992 37.

Both A. incana and A. viridis bark are cytotoxic to HeLa cancer cells. A dry extract of the cones is anti-microbial in work by Stevic et al, J Med Food 2010 13:3.

Alnus incana bark has been found, in vitro, to inhibit CYP3A4 enzyme activity in the liver and hence delay breakdown of various prescription drugs; at least in theory. Tam et al, Can J Physio Pharmacol 2011 89:1.

Altan, obtained from the cones of black alder (A. glutinosa) exhibits hepatoprotective activity at 1 mg/kg, which is about ten times less than traditional flavonoid-based medicines.

The green cones may be tinctured and used for allergies, as well as bacteria, fungal and amoebic infections.

The freshly dried cones, catkins, leaves and twigs can be tinctured for moving blood and lymph.

Kiva Rose, noted herbalist, writes: “Alder is a staple of my clinical work and one of my most beloved herbal allies. Its consistent and powerful ability to act as a profound alterative and lymphatic while addressing even the most severe microbial infections makes it truly invaluable to almost any practitioner.”

She notes alder does not add to fluids or move or contain them, but transforms their quality.

She continues. “I have repeatedly seen cases of staph (including several confirmed cases of MRSA) infection manifesting as repeated outbreaks of boils clear up with the consistent use of Alder tincture.”

Combine with Oregon grape root for constipation associated with poor fat digestion and skin problems.

Boggy congested conditions call for alder and bogbean, or perhaps with spanish needles (Bidens tripartita) if the pattern suits.

Small amounts of tincture in ice-cold water will help move congested lymph, swollen glands and chronic sore throats.

Combine with redroot for severe lymphatic congestion, and with wild bergamot or calendula when a warming stimulant for circulation is needed.

Tag alder (A. serrulata) is used for chronic skin conditions, lymphatic stagnation, dyspepsia in the elderly, and external hemorrhoids.

The leaves are a suitable substitute for plantain in cases of insect bites, bee stings, and assorted thorns, splinters and wilderness nicks and scrapes.

The leaf of the related A. hirsuta contains hirsutanonol, a compound that blocks LPS- and IFN-γ-induced macrophage iNOS expression.

Alnustic acid, derived from the leaves of the related A. firma inhibits HIV. Yu et al, Arch Pharm Res 30:7.

The leaves of the related A. japonica possess anti-inflammatory compounds. Han et al, J Ag Food Chem 2008 56:1.

NOTE -The fresh bark is griping and can be emetic or cathartic. Use dried bark.

 

HOMEOPATHY

Red Alder is a close relative used as a remedy for skin afflictions, sub-maxillary glandular enlargements, and poor digestion due to insufficient secretion of gastric juices.

It stimulates nutrition and soothes ulcerated membranes of throat and mouth.

In the female, it may be used for vaginal discharge, cervical dysplasia, or where there is easy bleeding. It will help bring on delayed menstruation when the pain is from the back towards the pubic area.

In chronic herpes infection of the skin, or poison ivy it may be used locally.

DOSE - Tincture to the third potency.

 

GEMMOTHERAPY

EUROPEAN ALDER
(A. glutinosa)

This is the remedy for all chronic, inflammatory conditions. It is for all patients with coronary conditions, arthritis, pleuro-pneumonia, peritonitis, osteomyelitis, and staph infections. It is also for the early stages of acute articular rheumatism, coronary thrombosis, mitral stenosis, Paget’s disease, osteoporosis, Consequently this is a global hypo coagulant, hypo-viscosant and anti-thrombosis bud therapy.

Use in resolution stage after infarction or other vascular spasms, phlebitis, acute or chronic migraines associated with cerebral circulation.

Take at first stage of flu, sinusitis, tracheitis. Use for colitis, peritonitis and cholecystitis.

Use in cases of chronic urticaria, as well as kidney issues such as cystitis and pyelitis.

MOUNTAIN/RIVER ALDER

(A. incana)

The action is similar to the European species but is stronger and shorter acting in nature. It has the ability to reduce severe inflammatory and thrombosis conditions, but must be used more often in smaller doses.

DOSE - 15-20 drops in water three times daily. European Alder once daily. Both are 1 DH glycerine macerates. Alnus incana buds contain quinic and ferulic acid. 

 

 

NORTHERN GROUNDCONE POQUE

(Boschniakia rossica [Cham & Schltdl] B. Fedtsch)

(B. glabra CA Mey ex Bong)

 

CONSTITUENTS- Two iridoid glucosides, boschnaloside and boschnaside, an oligosaccaride (+)-pinoresinol-beta-D-glucopyranoside, and rossicasides A & G-K, phenylpropanoid glycosides, have been isolated. Orobanin of an iridoid glucoside and the pyridine alkaloids of boschniaside, boschnilactone and boschniakine have been identified.

Boschniakia is named after the Russian amateur botanist A. K. Boschniak.

Boschniakia is a brown to yellow to red parasitic plant found near Green Alder (A. crispa) and other Alnus species. It is commonly found at the foot of trees looking like an upright pinecone, about 20 cm long, with dense dark flowers and a dark scale-like leaf below it. At first glance they appear dead, but are fresh and resilient when touched. It belongs to the Broomrape family.

The Tlingit of Alaska use B. glabra root as part of a treatment for sores. The Dena’ina of Alaska call it QINAZ’IN, “that which sticks up”. A piece of the plant was tied around the neck of puppies or babies to help them grow correctly. It is said to be a favourite food of bears.

In Japan, the dried herb, or stems are used as a tonic. Research conducted by Tsuda et al, in Japan in 1994, found B. rossica to possess strong free radical scavenging activity, and therefore, strong inhibitory effect on disorders caused by free radical damage.

Piao et al, Zhong Xi Yi He Xue Bao 2003 1:2 found extracts clear free radicals for D-galactose-induced senile rats.

Wu et al, World J Gastroenterol 2005 11:1 found extracts prevent pig serum-induced liver rat fibrosis by inhibiting the activation of hepatic stellate cells and synthesizing collagen.

Poque has been found to protect ECly hepatic cells by reducing oxidative stress, suppressing inflammation and improved CYP2E1 detoxification of liver. Quan et al, Biosci Biotech Biochem 2009 73:4. Inhibition of triglycerides in HepG2 cells has been noted. Zhang et al, Fitoterapia 2013 85:69-75. Both mitochondria and death receptor mediated apoptosis pathways are involved in anti-tumor potential of a polysaccharide in Hep2 larynx cancer cell lines. Wang Z et al, Gene 2014 536:1.

In Jilin province, China, B. rossica is used as an anti-senile agent. Ethanol extracts were administered to rats whose cholinergic nucleus had been destroyed by ibotenic acid. Rats treated with the extract showed significant improvement in learning ability, and it was concluded B. rossica would be therapeutic in the treatment of senility.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the herb is known as JOU-TSUNG- JUNG, for it’s nutritious but not harsh qualities, as well as ease and smoothness.

It is considered a sweet, salty flavor with warming properties; affecting the kidney and large intestine.

It nourishes the kidneys and sperm, supplements yang, and moistens the intestines. It has been used for impotence, infertility in women, and cold obstructions of the loins and knees. Pharmacological studies show toning and laxative effect. It increases saliva secretions in laboratory mice and shows hypotensive effect from both water and alcohol soluble extracts.

The parasitic plant contains three compounds that induce the excitable catnip response in cats. These are boschniakine, boschnialactone, and onikulactone. It is possible the scent was used to attract and trap larger cats by native hunters of the coast.

Boschniakine is found in various species of Pedicularis, the semi-parasitic Lousewort.

 

BARK/LEAF OIL

Combine one part of freshly dried bark and leaves to five parts canola oil in a low temperature crock pot for six hours. Strain and use as part of anti-inflammatory salves or ointments, or indolent slow-healing skin ulcers. It combines well with goldenrod and Artemisia plant oils for strained or injured tissue, with arnica and St. John’s wort for nerve and muscle pain, and with wild bergamot or cleaver oil for inflamed, swollen glands.

 

HYDROSOL

Upon distillation of the green leaves, catkins and twigs of alder, a hydrosol is obtained. Dr. Ayer recommended the use of Alnus water for periodic hyperasthetic rhinitis (hay-fever). The hydrosol is combined with an equal amount of water and snuffed up the nostrils 5-6 times, or atomized at full strength into the nose.

At night the water is combined with un-petroleum jelly and smeared into the nose; while the distillate is taken internally, one teaspoon three times daily one hour before or after meals to improve digestion.

Dr. Ayer also recommended this as a cure in the acute stage of gonorrhea, or as an antidote to poison ivy skin rashes.

The hydrosol is produced when catkins are forming, using bark and catkins.

 

WAX

Psylla wax is secreted by an aphid (Prociphilus alni), living on leaves of River Alder (Alnus incana). It is obtained by extracting it from the insects first in hot ether, in order to remove the glycerides, and then with hot chloroform.

The wax is insoluble in hot ether, and only poorly soluble in cold chloroform. It crystallizes in needles with a silky luster; and melts at 96 degrees Celsius.

Psylla wax is the psyllostearylic acid of psyllostearyl alcohol. No commercial use at present time.

The aphids cover themselves with wax, secreted by their bodies. They have an interesting relationship with the Green Lacewing (Chrysopa spp.)

Their larvae are the same size and shape as aphids, which they love to puncture and suck dry.

The aphids produce honey nectar for ants that protect them like milk cows. Lacewing larvae protect themselves by stripping the wax off their prey and piling it on themselves.

It adheres very well to their bristly hooked body, fooling ants into thinking they are aphids. When stripped of the wax, it takes them only about twenty minutes to go back into disguise.

 

FLOWER ESSENCES

Green alder flower essence helps to open our hearts and minds to aspects of light which are beyond normal perception. This relaxation and expansion of our sensory awareness allows us to access subtle levels of information from our surroundings. It helps us integrate this level so that we may see beyond our current habits and belief systems.        ALASKA

Alder flower essence is for acceptance of our destiny, and the anger and blame, including self-blame, and lack of energy and joy that comes from acceptance of self. With the essence, we learn to forgive ourselves and learn about spiritual protection in disputes.    OGAM

Essence of Alder is associated with the principle of release. It reduces stress, anxiety, and nervousness and increases life energy.           GIFFORD

Speckled Alder (A. incana) essence is for stepping out of habitual patterns, enabling on to listen to instinct and take responsibility. It helps release energy deficiency, victim mentality and not learning from mistakes.       ICELANDIC

River Alder (A. incana) essence helps relax groups and work with colleagues.       MIRIAM

Alder essence is for taking life at surface value; being unable to see what one senses to be true; helps us to integrate seeing with knowing so that we can recognize our highest truth in each life experience.                            DARCY WILLIAMSON

Poque is the remedy for claustrophobia—enables us to survive in close quarters, to maintain self in closed area, cities, apartments. Also assists when feeling too much going on around us. Feeling closed in by demands.    FREEMAN & MONGEAU

 

SPIRITUAL PROPERTIES

Red Alder energy has a quality of innocent, child-like enthusiasm that is both stimulating and cheerful. It offers an outpouring of energy that insists that you get on with life and open your eyes to the beauty around you. Seek out red alder when you feel depressed, overly serious, or find yourself dwelling on the past. Red Alder turns up

the music, sets your toes to tapping, and before you know it, you are dancing into the future.    CHASE/PAWLIK

The alder reminds us of the need to blend strength and courage with generosity of spirit and compassion. There is a time to challenge things and a time to hold our peace. The alder teaches us this discrimination and the need to see beneath the surface of things.    GIFFORD

 

PERSONALITY TRAITS

The flames of Alder are green, but its blood is red. Alder is the bleeding mother and the wounded healer who understands; it is the listener, who can listen to your sorrow and weave your tears into her life-giving carpet.

Master of the elements, Alder can heal with water, fire, earth and air.                        HAGENEDER

Alder is an excellent magical name for one who is secretive, changeable, a fire sign; one who loves color; a seamstress or an artist; one who loves incense, aftershave lotion or perfume; a down-to-earth person who is a forest lover and a wise experienced Witch.

This is the sort of person who loves the drams of ritual, who likes to dance skyclad in the shadows of the forest. Alder will bring out the hidden sensitivity and sentimentality lurking within you.               MCFARLAND

 

 

*********Green Alder catkins

 

 

If the patient is healthy on the emotional level, the only characteristic personality trait may be his tendency to generosity. One would not normally consider “having a kind heart” to be a symptom, but in the case of Alnus it is something that is at the centre of the patient’s being.

He or she is willing to make sacrifices for others and to do favours, which, for most other people, would not be possible.

As this type of behaviour often brings its own day-to-day rewards, there may not be a noticeable loss of vitality in the patient.

Many remedies have the feeling of being isolated and alone. Alnus is unique in their reaction to this feeling of isolation in that, in order to overcome it, they may tell the practitioner: “I try harder and work harder as I easily feel guilt. Also, I have a tremendous natural sympathy for others, especially for those people who have less or who are suffering in some way.”

They deny that they have needs; therefore, they postpone gratification and then eventually they suffer from not having their emotional and physical nourishment needs met. They can become resentful, bitter and empty; then later, in theory, they might “gorge” themselves emotionally, taking more than they need from life.

In the third stage, depression becomes constant and then, finally, they start to become apathetic, as if all the previous caring had been “burned” out of them. Eventually they develop a complete indifference to life. At the end of this stage, when they hate life, they hate other people for being so selfish.             OLSEN

 

MYTHS AND LEGENDS

According to legend, at the time of Creation, there was a rivalry between God and the devil. The wolf was shaped by God, but the devil tried to intervene and bring it to life.

However, the wolf refused to breathe and live. It was only when infused with the power of God that the wolf sprang to life and began to attack the devil. The devil hid in an alder tree but the wolf caught hold of his heal (sic) and blood ran down the trunk. From that time forward, the alder has had its reddish bark.    KNAB

According to one such tale, mink-man, a primordial human-animal figure of the Distant Time, approached a group of human-plant figures known as tree-women…His solemn duty was to inform the tree- women that Raven, the sacred transformer spirit who happened to also be husband to each of the tree-women, had just died. Upon hearing this sad news, each of the tree-women expressed her profound sorrow by inflicting a superficial flesh wound to her body…One of the grieving tree-women was transformed into an alder [and] she cried and pinched herself until she bled…her distinctively colored bark oozed a blood red juice, which the Koyukon traditionally used as a red dye.            KNUDTSON/SUZUKI

The medieval Wulfdietrich Saga gives a strong idea of Alder Woman. In various German legends she appears to wanderers as a seductive woman teaching wanton males a lesson by turning into a hairy or bark-like creature once in their embrace.

Her different German names—Else, Elsa, Elise—are derived from the Anglo-Saxon Alor, or the Gothic Alisa…

In the second song of the Wulfdietrich, Saga the Rough Else, a wild- looking woman of the woods who is covered in hair, puts a spell on the hero eventually making him made. He runs wildly through the woods, living on herbs for six months. Then she takes him on a ship over the sea to another land where she is queen.

She bathes in a magical well that washes away her rough skin, and is transformed into the most beautiful of women and has a new name— Sigeminne (victory of love).                HAGENEDER

An old European legend about the origin of alders is related to April 21st, the festival day of the goddess Pales. She was the Roman goddess of shepherds and herdsmen.

Two men decided to spend the holiday fishing, instead of attending the required ceremonies. In punishment, the goddess turned them both into trees destined forever to haunt the banks of streams, watching for fish.

 

************Dry Brown Alder cone

 

 

RECIPES

INFUSION- To one ounce of fresh or dried bark add one pint of boiling water. Let steep 20 minutes. Take 1-2 tablespoons as needed.

DECOCTION- Take one ounce of green, unripe female cones and simmer in one pint of water for twenty minutes. Drink as needed. (Janice Schofield)

Decoct the dried bark (1:20) for improving food absorption and fat metabolism. Take one to two ounces before meals. Also good for throat gargles, gum weakness, etc.

TINCTURE- 5-20 drops, as needed. For pustular psoriasis, as noted above, 25 drops three times daily in cool water for 4-6 months. A tincture is made from the dried, green cones, and twigs at 1:5 and 40% alcohol. Use for intestinal inflammation.

SALVE- Cover one part fresh-stripped alder bark with five parts coconut oil in a glass jar. Let sit in sun for two weeks, shaking daily. If inclement weather, use low temperature crockpot. Strain and use for skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

SYRUP- Macerate three pounds of crushed dry bark in cold water for six hours. Put into percolator and add water until five pints have passed over. Put on low heat and stir in eight pounds of honey or sugar. When cold, add a pint of whiskey or vodka.

B. rossica- 6-18 grams. For treating constipation, 12-18 grams dry powder.

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