Mitchella repens (L)
Synonyms: checkerberry, deerberry, winter clover, hive vine, one-berry, twin-berry, squaw vine, squaw berry
Description: Mitchella is a small creeping perennial evergreen herb indigenous to wooded areas of eastern and central USA. Its trailing stems are up to 30cm long, rooting at various points. It has opposite ovate-orbicular leaves which are dark green and shining on top and often streaked with white. Two sessile funnel-shaped white flowers appear at the tip from April to July, giving way to red or occasionally white berries.
Parts used: whole plant
Collection: during the flowering period, between April and June.
Constituents: Largely unknown. Tannin, bitter principle, saponins, mucilage, unspecified alkaloids, glycosides, resin
Actions: partus preparator, uterine relaxant, anti-dysmenorrhoeic, emmenagogue, astringent, nervous tonic and restorative
Indications: Dysmenorrhoea, pregnancy, catarrhal colitis. Specifically indicated for the facilitation of parturition.
Therapeutics and Pharmacology: Mitchella is reputed to promote an easy labour by aiding contraction of the womb during childbirth. It is also recommended for dysmenorrhoea and other painful conditions of the female reproductive tract. It also has a calming effect on the nervous system and, in addition, improves the digestion. As an astringent, it has been used in the treatment of colitis, especially if there is much mucus. It may be used in nervous exhaustion, irritability or debility in either sex, especially when symptoms involve the reproductive system.
Preparation and Dosage: (thrice daily)
Regulatory Status GSL
Dried plant: 2-4g or by infusion
Liquid Extract: 1:1 in 25% alcohol, 2-4ml
Additional Comments: Native American women used this herb in the last weeks of pregnancy to prepare themselves for childbirth.
BHMA 1983 British Herbal Pharmacopoeia, BHMA, Bournemouth.
Grieve, M. 1931 A Modern Herbal, (ed. C.F. Leyel 1985), London.
Hoffmann, D. 1990 The New Holistic Herbal, Second Edition, Element, Shaftesbury.
Lust, J. 1990 The Herb Book, Bantam, London.
Mabey, R. (ed.) 1991 The Complete New Herbal, Penguin, London.
Mills, S.Y. 1993 The Essential Book of Herbal Medicine, Penguin, London (First published in 1991 as Out of the Earth, Arkana)
Mills, S.Y. 1993 The A-Z of Modern Herbalism, Diamond Books, London.
Polunin, M. and Robbins, C. 1992 The Natural Pharmacy, Dorling Kindersley, London.
Wren, R.C. 1988 Potter's New Cyclopaedia of Botanical Drugs and Preparations, C.W.Daniel, Saffron Walden.
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Christine Haughton, MA MNIMH MCPP FRSPH
Wold Farm, West Heslerton, Malton, North Yorkshire YO17 8RY, UK
Last updated 27th November 2014 ęPurple Sage Botanicals