Eastern hemlock contains tannins (organic compounds), which are responsible for some of its medicinal properties. The bark has astringent properties, and the leaves contain significant amounts of vitamin C.
Traditionally, Eastern hemlock was used to treat digestive disorders, mouth/throat disorders, and diarrhea.
Although the Eastern hemlock is primarily used for lumber today, Native Americans used the tree's cambium (the tissue in a plant that produces new cells) in breads, soups and pemmican (dried, pounded meat mixed with fat and berries). Early settlers also used the tree in dying wool and tanning leather.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
* Key to grades
A: Strong scientific evidence for this use B: Good scientific evidence for this use C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work) F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)
Tradition / Theory
The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Anti-inflammatory, aromatherapy, astringent, diaphoretic (promotes sweating), diarrhea, digestive disorders, diuretic, gastrointestinal distress, liniment (medicinal liquid for massage), mouth and throat inflammation, rheumatic pain, scurvy (vitamin C deficiency).
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to Eastern hemlock.
Side Effects and Warnings
Little information is available on the adverse effects of Eastern hemlock. However, due to its high tannin content, Eastern hemlock may cause gastrointestinal upset, necrosis (tissue death) of the liver or kidney damage. Eastern hemlock is possibly unsafe when used in patients with impaired liver or kidney function.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Eastern hemlock is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.
Theoretically, concomitant ingestion may cause precipitation of some drugs due to the high tannin content of Eastern hemlock. Consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, to check for any interactions.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Theoretically, concomitant ingestion may cause precipitation of some herbs due to the high tannin content of Eastern hemlock. Consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, to check for any interactions.
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.