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The bark of cramp bark is peeled off the tree during the spring and summer months. The bark should be

peeled off in strips carefully in order not to kill the tree. The bark is chopped up and dried. Cramp bark can be made into a decoction (a water extract), a tincture (an alcoholic extract), or a lotion. Liquid preparations of cramp bark have a reddish-brown color, a slight odor, and an astringent taste.

The decoction is prepared by adding 2 tsp of the dried bark to 1 cup water. The mixture is brought to a boil, the heat is reduced, and the decoction is simmered gently for 10-15 minutes.

Although the recommended doses of the decoction are variable, it is safe to drink up to three cups daily. The dose of decoction for menstrual pain is 0.5 cup every three hours.

Tinctures are more concentrated and act faster (within 30 minutes) than teas or decoctions. The tincture may be taken for long-term conditions caused by muscular tension such as irritable bowel syndrome. Again, the recommended doses vary somewhat, but up to 8 ml may be taken three times a day. The suggested dose of tincture for irritable bowel syndrome is 0.5 tsp in hot water twice a day. The suggested dose of tincture for menstrual cramps is 1 tsp in water three times a day.

A lotion prepared from cramp bark may be rubbed into the skin to relieve painful muscles.

To relieve cramping and back pain at night, cramp bark may be mixed with lobelia (Lobelia inflata). Cramp bark may also be used with Mexican yam (Dioscorea villosa) for ailments of the gastrointestinal and genitourinary systems.

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