Skip to main content

Wafer Ash

Common Name: wafer ash
Botanical Name: Ptelea trifoliata
Native Range: Eastern and Central United States

A description of the use of wafer ash in American Medicial Plants by Charles F. Millspaugh, 1887: 

Rafinesque first introduced the plant in American medical literature in his work on Medical Botany, 1830, speaking of the leaves as vulnerary and vermifuge.  Schoepf gives the same in substance; and Merat and De Lens speak of the fruit as aromatic and bitter, and an affirmed substitute for hops. Howard speaks of the bark of the root as an excellent stimulant, expectorant tonic; especially useful in agues. Jones speaks of the plant as “a pure unirritating tonic” in cold infusion, especially adapted to convalescence after debilitating fevers. Following these, its use became general, especially in Eclectic practice, for a variety of troubles, especially asthma, phthisis, glandular degeneration in general, syphilis, scrofula, chronic diarrhoea, epilepsy, dyspepsia, intermittent fever, and chronic rheumatism. 

Part Used and Preparation-The fresh bark, gathered after the fruit is ripe, but before the leaves begin to fade, is treated as in the preceding drug. The tincture, separated by pressure and filtration, has a brownish orange color by transmitted light; a bitter odor; an extremely bitter taste; and an acid reaction. 

In Dr. E. M. Hale’s provings of this drug upon a number of observers, who took from 30 to 500 drops of the tincture, and from 1 grain to a scruple of “Ptelein.” the following disturbances occurred: Mental depression and confusion; frontal headache, vertigo; contraction of the pupil; aural pains with swelling of the lymphatics; tongue sore, yellow-coated; ptyalism; voracious appetite; nausea, with pressure in the stomach as of a stone; griping colic; great urging followed by copious diarrhoeic stools; urine increased; heart’s action increased; general restlessness and prostration, followed by chilliness and fever.

Last updated: 1/3/2020