Alder as Alterative & Lymphatic

Alnus spp.
Energetics: cool, dry
Actions: Lymphatic, Alterative, Anti-infective, Astringent, Pain Relieving

I’ve already emphasized Alder’s amazing ability to clear up stubborn infections of many kinds (toothaches, UTIs, vaginal infections etc., especially when used with Bee Balm) in several other posts. Here I want to talk a bit more about Alder’s very efficient ability to effect the lymphatic system as well as other systems that enhance elimination. I expect it is this strong alterative capacity that makes it so effective against infections as well.

I’ve found that small amount of Alder tincture (made from dried bark and cones) to be a powerful yet gentle way to move sluggish lymph indicated by swollen glands, slow healing wounds, chronic sore throat and other typical symptoms. It also has a remarkably quick action on all kinds of skin conditions, from PMS related outbreaks to scaly patches and red rashes. It works especially well with Dandelion for any hot, inflamed skin condition.

I don’t have the slightest conception of the biochemical mechanism here, but I do know from repeated experience that it works very well, even in children. I believe Alder contains some amount of methyl salicylate (as does its very close relative the Birch), which could account to its use for sore joints, headaches and other kinds of pain when used externally or internally.

Despite the fact that I work closely with several other well known Alterative/Lymphatic herbs like Violet, Mullein, Burdock and Cleavers I find myself consistently choosing Alder for most situations, especially when I need something to get things moving very quickly. I am of the opinion that it works even quicker than Redroot (Ceonothus spp) and that they make a superb pair for severe lymphatic congestion.

PS Because of the satellite outage, I’m not able to access all of our Anima and Bear Medicine Herbal accounts, so please be patient with us as we get this figured out. 

7 Comments

  1. Rebecca
    Dec 9, 2007

    I really appreciate your work with Alder, Kiva. I’m going to look for some trees this winter, and get to know its lymphatic properties. (One always needs more lymphatics!)

  2. Henriette
    Dec 10, 2007

    There’s two interesting bits with alder:
    1) it’s strongly astringent. I haven’t quite worked out the thing with tannins and flavonoids, yet.
    2) it’s almost identical (herbally) to tormentil root.

    Nice plants, are alders. Do you get the red red wood, when cutting alder, too?

  3. Kiva Rose
    Dec 11, 2007

    The astringent aspects seem extra extra strong in water preparations much less so with the tincture. The infusion messes with my stomach in any amount but the tincture seems gentle enough for long term use.

    Hmm, haven’t used tormentil root much, isn’t it used for cramps as well?

    Yep, we get amazing red inner bark and wood.

  4. Henriette
    Dec 12, 2007

    Hmm. I’ll have to give alder cone tincture a swirl.
    I’ve been on the lookout for locally available strong lymphatics … we don’t have ceanothus, or poke.

  5. peaches
    Sep 11, 2010

    Hi Kiva,

    I love all your articles and writings! Always so informative.

    You mentioned somewhere that you tincture the freshly dried bark / twigs ~ how come not freshly chopped?
    Also, how do you make your tincture? 1:5 in 50% alc ?
    I’d love to know,
    Thank you so much!

    • Kiva Rose
      Sep 11, 2010

      Well, I find that fresh Alder tincture seems different than dried. The dried tends to come out sweeter testing, and dark red in color, seems stronger acting and I just generally prefer it… plus, if something works better dried, then that makes me happy because it means I spend less money on alcohol (I use 1:2 95% for fresh plant tincture, 1:4 or 1:5 50% for dried alder tincture).

      Fresh Alder also has a reputation as being an emetic. I haven’t seen this as a problem in the tincture in the normal dosages though.

  6. Ange
    Oct 9, 2010

    Have you ever made an alder tincture using apple cider vinegar? Do you think it would pull out the properties as well as alcohol?

    Thank-you for sharing your wonderful knowledge

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