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Fraxinus excelsior Oleaceae Also called European ash, Common ash.

This large deciduous tree can grow up to 25m tall. Its trunk is upright and is covered in smooth, greyish bark. It was the ability if its bark to reduce fevers that led to ash being called the 'quinine if Europe'. The leaves consist if 9-15 pinnate, serrated leaflets. Clusters of small, brownish flowers are seen among the twigs in April and May, bifore the leaves. The fruit, called the samara, is a tough, flat wing containing a single seed.

Parts used

Leaves and bark

The leaves are collected in June and July. The leaflets are then detached from the main stem and spread out in thin layers, out of direct sunlight, to dry.

The dried leaves can be used in an infusion or are reduced to a powder and put into capsules.

The bark, which is used for decoctions, is taken from the young branches in spring.


The active compounds are iridoids, tannins, flavonoids and coumarins (such as fraxin and fraxinol), which contribute to the anti-inflammatory effects of the plant. The diuretic effect could be due to the presence of manitol and potassium salts.

Medicinal uses

Ash leaves have a recognised antiinflammatory effect, particularly useful for treating rheumatism. The plant's ability to inhibit several inflammatory processes, was documented in 1995 in German laboratory research into the antiinflammatory effects of various plant extracts.

Earlier German animal studies performed in 1989 found that ash produced anti-inflammatory,analgesic (pain-relieving) and antipyretic (temperature-lowering) effects comparable with the strong anti-inflammatory effects of salicyl alcohol and ndomethacin.

The leaves are also diuretic and mildly purgative. As such, ash is beneficial in treating gout, kidney stones, oedema and water retention.

In 1980 French scientists found that ash stimulated the immune response of mice inoculated with Escherichia coli bacteria.

Ash is a tonic and an infusion of ash leaves mixed with leaves of blackcurrant, meadowsweet and mint makes a refreshing drink.

The bark has long been used to reduce fevers and also possesses astringent properties.


Ash should be planted in welldrained neutral to alkaline soil.


No toxic effects have been reported even after prolonged use.

However, you should take medical advice if using ash while also taking pharmaceutical drugs for pain relief.


For Internal Use

TO TREAT kidney stones. rheumatism. gout. oedema. water retention and obesity.

INFUSION Put 10-20g of dried leaves into 1 litre of boiling water. Infuse for 10 minutes and strain. Drink 0.5-1 litre a day. CAPSULES (300mg) Take 2 capsules three times a day with a large glass of water.

TO TREAT fever

TINCTURE Put 50 drops into a glass of water. Take three times a day.

DECOCTION Put 50g dried bark into 1 litre of boiling water. Boil for 10 minutes and strain. Take 3-4 cups a day.



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