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Banjo Takes the Stage
An Herbalist Discusses the Rowan Berry
Banjo, thank you so much for this.
I did soak a half pint of these in rum for 2 weeks and have carried them as a snack on the trains. I have generally eaten 5 at a time.
-James

Mountain Ash Berries
Thu, Nov 19, 11:18 PM (2 days ago)
Mr Lafond,
Thank you for the Mountain ash berries. As discussed I have written a bit of information on the fruit.
The scientific name of Mountain Ash or Rowan is Sorbus aucuparia and it is in the Rosaceae family. It is a small shrubby tree that produces clusters of red berries from August to November.
In the past I was taught herbalism by trying around 200 herbs and noting taste, thermal quality and the subjective effects brought on by the herb including initial effects and longer lasting effects. Taste will often give clues as to the effect of an herb. For example sweet tasting herbs often build up blood/qi/fluids and cause satiety which is why people often eat sweets after a meal. The sweet taste causes a person to feel full and satisfied. In the case of the Mountain Ash berries the taste is bitter, astringent and slightly sweet.
Let’s break down the taste pattern of Mountain Ash with its effects:
Bitter tastes of herbs often are indicative of a cool or cold thermal function as is the case here. Herbs with a bitter taste also often have antibiotic actions and this may be why Mountain Ash has been used for colds and asthma. The astringent taste often indicates that the herb has some quality of holding in fluids. The chemical profile of Mountain Ash includes tannins which are astringent in general and thus have the quality of holding fluids in. One of the oft mentioned uses of Mountain Ash berries is for stomach disorders and bleeding. The writing is not clear on whether stomach disorders and bleeding means bleeding in the stomach or these are two separate problems that the berries deal with. I would venture a guess that the berries can stop stomach bleeding due to the tannins and the astringent quality. Painful eyes is another disorder mentioned for the berries. I am guessing that the eye pain that is rectified by the berries has to do with ocular hypertension and that the astringent quality of the herb reduces the pressure. Finally the sweet taste means it probably has some sort of tonification effect. The chemical profile shows high levels of vitamin c and thus this may have something to do with both the tonification effect and the effect on colds and asthma. The asthma may also be aided by the astringent quality. In Chinese Medicine asthma can be caused by a number of different patterns but one is that the lungs are too weak to hold the breath. In this case the astringent and sweet tastes would be very helpful and it makes sense that these are things people used Mountain Ash berries for in the past.
The thermal quality of the berries is cold unless the berries are frozen for a while. Freezing the berries changes the taste profile from more astringent to more sweet. I noticed that an hour after ingesting a handful of the berries I felt very cold and I had an increased rate of micturition. I can see why these berries can be considered poisonous if enough are ingested. Freezing seems to mitigate the potentially poisonous qualities and makes the herb a little sweeter. I have read that Mountain Ash berries were often made into jellies and jams. I assume these were usually collected after the first freeze which would soften the taste and reduce the possible deleterious effects.
One last note is that the berries have been used in the past to treat scurvy due to the levels of vitamin c they contain. There are approximately 30-40mg of vitamin c per berry.
I hope that is an ok overview of the use of Mountain Ash berries. Thanks again for sending them.
Take care,
Banjo
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