Benefits Of Alder (Alnus Glutinosa) For Health

Benefits Of Alder (Alnus Glutinosa) For Health


Alder (Alnus Glutinosa)


Alder (Alnus glutinosa) is known as other name: Aliso Negro, Alnus barbata, Alnus glutinosa, Aulne Glutineux, Aulne Rouge, Aune, Aunette, Betula Alnus, Betula glutinosa, Fever Bush, Common Alder, English Alder, European Alder, European Black Alder, Owler, Winter Berry.

Alder is a deciduous tree belonging to the birch family of the genus Alnus. While this genus includes approximately 30 species of trees and shrubs, the alder tree found in Europe may grow up to a height of even 100 feet. The branches of the tree extend to a curved top, while the leaves are wide, large, alternate and serrated. The leaves of alder are about four inches long and have a profound lustrous green hue at the top, while they are light and sultry below. The alder trees bear both male and female flowers in unattached clusters or catkins (a spike of unisexual, apetalous flowers having scaly, usually deciduous bracts) resembling cones during the month of March. While the male flowers are greenish-yellow, the female blossoms have a reddish hue. The fruits of the tree also grow in smoothed cone-type structures. The fruits are green during summer and turn brown and woody during the fall. The red alder trees look a lot like the European tree, but bear egg-shaped, roundly jagged leaves.

Benefits Of Alder (Alnus Glutinosa) For Health
Alder (Alnus Glutinosa) Picture

Alder trees are often found growing in dense thickets or coppices that are able to provide winter shade for cattle on highland grazing grounds with no apparent harm to the grass growing underneath. The trunk of these trees can be felled for use as poles once in every nine or ten years.

The timber from the alder trees is used extensively. When the plants are immature, they are fragile and it is easy to work on them. As the wood becomes mature it becomes hued and veined. For instance, the timber of the alder trees found in the mountainous regions of Scotland are still utilized for making attractive chairs and is also referred to as ‘Scottish mahogany'. This timber possess the features of enduring water, in fact can withstand being under water for long period, and is also valuable for trenches, pumps, sluices and especially for piles. During the 16th century, timber from alder was particularly used for piles in Venice and was also extensively used in Holland and France.

The roots of the alder tree as well as their joints provide excellent raw material for carpenters, especially those who make cabinets. In addition, the demand for the roots and knots is great, often surpassing the supply, for making blocks in Lancashire mill towns as well as the southern regions of Scotland. When there is a deficiency of these materials, people have to do with birch. The timber of the alder tree is also made use of for making cart wheels, spinning wheels, wooden heels, bowls, spoons, herring-barrel staves (pieces of thin slats of wood forming the sides of a barrel or bucket) and so on. In Europe, the wood from the alder tree is extensively used for making cigar boxes, as its reddish hue and the wood resembling cedar is best suited. When the alder wood is placed in marshy lands, the timber retains its hue, but not the solidity of ebony. In addition, the branches of the elder tree are useful as a charcoal that is important for making gunpowder. On the other hand, the bark of the alder trees is utilized by tanners, dyers and leather dressers. In addition, the bark of the tree is also used for making nets of fishermen. The alder tree is preferred for using as pilings and posts in the construction of bridges and sluice gates, for water channels as well as manufacture of wooden shoes primarily owing to the timber's outstanding ability to confront wet rotting.

For several centuries, herbal medicine practitioners have used the brew prepared with the bark and leaves of the alder tree as a substitute to quinine as well as an astringent to treat fevers and inflammations respectively. In addition, the leaves and branches of the alder are known to act as effective natural pesticides. Even the inner bark of the tree has therapeutic value. When the solution prepared by boiling the inner bark of the alder in vinegar and massaged on the body, it helps to eliminate lice and scabies mites as well as dries up scabs (crust-like surface of healing skin lesions).


Benefits Of Alder (Alnus Glutinosa) For Health


The alder is extensively used as a mouthwash and gargle for throat, gum and tooth problems owing to its astringent properties.

Since the bark is high in tannin, it can be used in all situations where astringency is needed, including diarrhea, and sore throats, and has been known to cure ague.

Benefits Of Alder (Alnus Glutinosa) For Health
Alder (Alnus Glutinosa) Picture

A decoction prepared with the bark of the alder may also be used to stop internal as well as external bleeding and also to cure injuries. A medication prepared with the leaves of the alder is also an effective wash for scabies (a contagious skin infection caused by the itch mite). 

People in Spain curve the leaves of the alder and put them on the soles of aching feet. Herbalists often recommend the alder leaves for nursing mothers to help them lessen the breast inflammations.

A decoction prepared with the bark of the alder is an effective medication to wash swelling and inflammations, particularly of the throat. This decoction is said to heal ague (a fit of shivering or shaking). Farmers inhabiting the Alps are said to use the alder leaves to alleviate rheumatism.

According to records, ancient herbalists also recommended a decoction of the alder leaves to cure cancer of the face, throat, tongue, duodenum, esophagus, breast, rectum, pancreas, pylorus and uterus. The alder leaves are collected during the summer and always used fresh.