The wild prunes of the prunus spinosa refresh walkers and are a fall food for doves, thrushes, and other birds. They have a slightly rough but pleasant flavor. Their medicinal properties are not extraordinary, and their effects could be produced by physical exercise when gathering them. However, it is worth taking advantage of this humble and happy wild fruit.
Prunus Spinosa Scientific Facts
- Scientific Name: Prunus spinosa L.
- Other Names: Sloe, blackthorn.
- French: Prunellier noir, sauvage.
- Spanish: Endrino.
- Environment: Common on sunny slopes and roadsides of the European mountainous regions. Naturalized in America.
- Description: Shrub of the Rosaceae family, which grows from one to three meters high, which dark-ochre bark and many woody thorns. Its flowers are ivory-white and small. The fruit is a round berry, dark-blue when ripe.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally: The flowers and the fruits (sloes).
Prunus Spinosa Benefits
The flowers of this plant contain amygdalin (a cyanogenetic glycoside), coumarin derivatives, and flavonic glycosides. They have laxative, diuretic, and depurative properties. The laxative properties are mild and are accompanied by an antispasmodic (relaxing) action on the muscles covering the large intestine. They are highly recommended for spasm-caused constipation in the so-called irritable colon.
The FRUIT (sloes) contain tannin (hence their strong flavor), flavonic substances, malic acid, saccharose, pectin, gum, and vitamin C. Unlike the flowers, they have astringent properties, being thus useful for mild diarrhea and intestinal upset. Moreover, they have eupeptic (stimulate digestive processes), appetizer, and invigorating properties o the entire body.
Prunus spinosa berries give those people eating them an increased appetite and an invigorating and refreshing feeling. They can be eaten fresh, cooked, or used as syrup.
The liquid obtained from the sloes decoction is used to stop epistaxis (nasal hemorrhages) by soaking a nasal packing. It is also helpful for gargles and rinses to treat gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and pharyngitis.
The almonds of the sloes, like many others of the Rosaceae family, liberate hydrocyanic acid, which is a potent poison. So they must never be eaten or ground. The bark of the branches and the root also contains hydrocyanic or prussic acids, another toxic substance. Therefore, the bark must not be used, although some recommend it as an astringent substance.
How to use Prunus Spinosa
- Infusion with 60 grams of flowers per liter of water. Drink a cup in the morning every day.
- Fruits – Sloes can be eaten fresh or boiled in water (only two minutes) to eliminate their rough flavor.
- Syrup, prepared with half a kg of fruits, the same amount of sugar, and a glass of water. Boil the mixture for 15 minutes. The resulting red, pleasantly tasting syrup must be strained and taken by spoonfuls as an antidiarrheic or appetizer.
- Decoction with 100 sloes per liter of water, boiling on low heat for 10 minutes. Strain and take by the spoonful.
- Nasal plugging with gauze soaked in the decoction mentioned above.
- Mouth rinses and gargles, with the decoction used in internal applications.
Fresh cooked, or in the form of syrup, sloes are appetizing and stimulate digestive processes.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. Vols. 1 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 372, 373. Print.