Ash tree health benefits and therapeutic value

Ash tree leaf, single, against a white background

A tree that comes in about 60 different species and varieties, ash or ash tree belongs to the Oleaceae family. It only lives in temperate climates. Usually, its distinctive composite leaves and dry fruit bunches which are sometimes called “bird tongues” help distinguish it from other trees.

This tree is acclaimed as a symbol of long-lasting life, and in some cultures was deemed “sacred” thanks to the curative properties it bestows. Which ones? Let’s have a look around…

Ash, a short story

If we take a look at the root meaning of the word, “ash” actually isn’t related to what’s left after a fire. It comes from old English “æsc”, which shares common ancestry with the German word “Esche” for this tree. The latin name “Fraxinus” means “light-colored” and refers to the color of the bark.

On the European continent, for some peoples, ash tree was famous for its curative properties.

Indeed, it was used to heal newborn umbilical hernia.

For other cultures, black ash tree leaves were considered to work as an antidote against snake bites. It is said to counter the venom’s activity.

Legends even reminisce that snakes even avoided crawling near the tree, to the point of trying to avoid the shade it projected on the ground!

Today, many are named after the ash tree, either as first names or as last names as well: Ashley, Ash, Ashlyn, Ashton…

For the names of places, there are a great many in England: Ashby, Ashford, Ashbourne, Ashburton…

Health benefits of the ash tree

In medicine

As part of the Oleaceae family, the ash tree is cited in the French pharmacopeia for its leaves which boast properties that are effective since they are:

laxative and diuretic which helps reduce cellulite. Great to ingest together with a diet to enhance evacuation of waste through urine.

anti-inflammatory and antirhumatismal to soothe arthritis, arthrosis, and rheumatism. It’s also recommended to alleviate bouts of gout.

White ash, thanks to its bark, is known to treat dysmenorrhea.

Note that chewing gum prepared from the ash tree produces mannitol, a purgative polyalcohol very much used in the medical field.

In gastronomy

Depending on the species, ash tree chewing gum can taste very sweet. This is because it contains mannose.

Moreover, the bark of the ash tree is edible and the leaves which are described as being refreshing are much appreciated.

Ash tree gum extracted from certain varieties used to serve to sweeten food.

Children in particular love it and will lick their lips when offered as a sweet or a candy.

Lastly, young fruits can be used to prepare and flavor marinades on top of their capacity to alleviate rheumatism pains.

Galenic forms, uses and doses of ash tree

Used internally, ash tree leaves must be boiled and then their juices consumed as an infusion.

For that, prepare one handful of leaves per 1 quart (1 liter) water.

After having brought this to boiling point (to rid them of their bitterness), let it cool off for about ten minutes. You may add a dash of lemon juice before drinking the ash tree infusion. There’s no limit as to how much you can drink.

You can also prepare a medicinal wine or tincture that is mostly comprised of ash tree leaves. For that, the recommended amount is about 20 ash tree leaves steeped in 1 quart (1 liter) white wine. Let the leaves marinate for a few days and then drink.

When using it externally in the form of poultices, first boil the ash tree leaves. Then turn the heat down and steep for about ¼ hour.
To treat the places where the body joints are in pain, apply the leaves in a compress where it hurts.

Ash, what to use it for

It’s possible to use ash tree leaves both internally and externally.

Some persons prepare medicinal wine from ash tree leaves, simply by steeping two handfuls of leaves in a bottle of white wine for a few days.
Others prefer to ingest it in the form of herbal tea. For that, toss one handful of ash tree leaves for 1 quart (1 liter) boiling water. Let steep for 10 minutes and then drink.

Some recommend replacing half the ash tree leaves with black currant leaves.

Lastly, this excellent remedy against rheumatism is also used externally. Best for that is to boil the ash tree leaves for 15 minutes. When somewhat cooler, apply in a compress on the painful joints.

In some areas, ash tree leaves are a potent anti-snake deterrent. Drinking an infusion prepared from 9 oz (250 g) ash tree leaves and simultaneously applying the boiled leaf remains on the wound after having been bitten by a viper is said to soothe the victim.

Growing an ash tree

How is ash grown?
A very common tree in the temperate regions of Europe, Asia and North America, ash trees grow best on cool, clayish and deep soil. Since the roots of the ash tree fear moisture, they shouldn’t be planted in soil that doesn’t drain well.

Key dates for sowing, and pruning are found in the article below: