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Wahoo as an Herb

Wahoo as an herb

Euonymus atropurpureus

Other Names: Burning Bush, Fusanum, Fusoria, Gadrose, Gatten, Gatter, Indian Arrowroot, Pigwood, Prickwood, Skewerwood, and Spindle Tree

Wahoo is also known as a Spindle Tree. In old herbals it is called Skewerwood or prickwood (the latter from its employment as toothpicks), and gatter, gatten, or gadrose. Chaucer, in one of his poems, calls it gaitre.

Its chief constituent is a nearly colorless intensely bitter principle, a resin called Euonymin.

Medicinal Uses for Wahoo

The medicinal parts are the trunk and root bark and the fruit. The seeds are poisonous.

Tonic, alterative, cholagogue, laxative and hepatic stimulant. Was also used to treat uterine problems and as an eyewash.

In small doses, Euonymin stimulates the appetite and the flow of the gastric juice. In larger doses, it is irritant to the intestine and is cathartic. It has slight diuretic and expectorant effects, but its only use is as a purgative in cases of constipation in which the liver is disordered, and for which it is particularly efficacious.

Wahoo is specially valuable in liver disorders which follow or accompany fever. It is mildly aperient and causes no nausea, at the same time stimulating the liver somewhat freely, and promoting a free flow of bile.

In the past, the herb was used as a cholagogue, laxative, diuretic and tonic, and for dyspepsia. Today, it is used in homeopathy.

To make the decoction, add an ounce to a pint of water and boil together slowly. A small wineglassful to be given, when cold, for a dose, two or three times a day.

Of the tincture made with spirit from the bark, 5 to 10 drops may be taken in water or on sugar.

Euonymin is generally given in pill form and in combination with other tonics, laxatives, etc.

Culinary Uses of Wahoo

Unknown; not recommended.


Wahoo, or Spindle Tree (image below), is very toxic. Poisonings caused by the berries have been recorded. Thirty-six berries are said to be enough to kill someone. Use of this herb is not recommended, and is on the FDA unsafe list.

Spindle Tree

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