New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus)

Identification: A low shrub with tiny white flowers in oval clusters rising from the leaf asils on the current year’s shoots. Flowers: About 1/5″ wide; petals 5, clawed; stamens 5, protruding. Leaves: 1 to 3 inches long, 3 prominent New Jersey Tea Flowers
parallel veins, toothed, ovate, sharp-pointed. Fruit: 3-lobed, splitting into 3 parts. Height: 3 to 4 feet.
Other Names: Red Root, New Jersey Tea.
Family: Rhamnaceae (Buckthorn family)
Flowers: April – September.
Habitat: Dry, gravelly banks, open woods. Maine to Florida to Oklahoma to Minnesota.
Parts Used: Leaves, root, flowers.
Constituents: The leaves of Red Root are said to contain tannin, a soft resin and bitter extract, a green coloring matter similar to green tea in color and taste, gum a volatile substance, lignin, and a principle called Ceanothine. The root is astringent due to its tannin content an contains an alkaloid that lowers blood pressure.
Medicinal Properties: Antispasmodic; Astringent; Expectorant; Hemostatic; Hypotensive; Sedative.
Uses: Leaf tea once a popular beverage. American Indians used root tea for colds, fevers, snakebites, stomachaches, lung ailments; laxative, blood tonic. Root strongly astringent (8% tannin content), expectorant, sedative. Root tea was once used for dysentery, asthma, sore throats, bronchitis, whooping cough, spleen inflammation or pain. Alkaloid in root mildly hypotensive (lowers blood pressure).
The flowers are rich in saponins, when crushed and mixed with water they produce an excellent lather which is an effective and gentle soap. They can be used as a body wash (simply rub the wet blossoms over the body) or to clean clothes. The flowers were much used by the North American Indians as a body wash, especially by the women in preparation for marriage, and they leave the skin smelling fragrantly of the flowers.
A decoction of the bark is used as a skin wash for cancer and venereal sores. The powdered bark has been used to dust the sores
Preparations and Dosages: ROOT. Cold Infusion, 2 to 4 ounces.
Tincture [Fresh Root, 1:2, Dry Root, 1:5, 50% alcohol] 30 to 90 drops, up to 4 times a day.

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