Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Staghorn Sumac Used for Allergies Respiratory Infections

By Liliana Usvat
Blog 311 - 365

Sumac is any one of about 35 species of flowering plants in the genus Rhus and related genera, in the family Anacardiaceae

A decoction of the cambium or an infusion of the leaves has been used for diarrhea, dysentery, asthma, urinary tract infections, sore throat, chronic gum problems, and cold sores. 

The Native Americans chewed the root to ease swollen or infected gums and to stop kids' bed-wetting, and they applied sumac compresses to burns and cuts, to stop bleeding, and reduce swelling. This plant certainly merits scientific testing.

Often found in dry, rocky soils. Ranges from Southern Canada through Northeastern United States, west to the Great Lakes region.

Sumacs also grow in subtropical and temperate regions throughout the world, especially in Africa and North America.

Shrub or small tree, 1.22-4.47 meters (4-15ft) high. Twigs and leafstalks hairy. Leaves have 11 to 13 toothed leaflets. Fruits are hairy, red, and arranged in a pyramidal structure. Fruits present June through September. Autumn leaves are deep red.

The flowers are in dense panicles or spikes 5–30 cm (2.0–11.8 in) long, each flower very small, greenish, creamy white or red, with five petals. The fruits form dense clusters of reddish drupes called sumac bobs. The dried drupes of some species are ground to produce a tangy crimson spice.

Medicinal use

  • Heals Inflammation 
  • Boosts Circulation

Sumac was used as a treatment for half a dozen different ailments in medieval medicine, primarily in Middle-Eastern countries (where sumac was more readily available than in Europe). 

An 11th-century shipwreck off the coast of Rhodes, excavated by archeologists in the 1970s, contained commercial quantities of sumac drupes. These could have been intended for use as medicine, as a culinary spice, or as a dye. Staghorn sumac is a powerful antioxidant, with ORAC rating over 1500 ╬╝mol.

Fruits:Native Americans used fruits in cough syrup. Gargled for sore throat and tonsillitis.

Bark: Root bark used as an astringent and to staunch bleeding.

Staghorn sumac is an excellent herb for 

  • the treatment of inflammatory conditions of the urinary tract whether or not they are due to infection. 
  • It will reduce inflammation, promote tissue healing, and 
  • help reduce infection due to many kinds of bacteria as well as 
  • Candida albicans. 
  • is beneficial in the treatment of rheumatic conditions such as 
  • rheumatoid 
  • arthritis and 
  • gout.
  • Sumac is helpful for the treatment of fever and respiratory infections
  • It helps to dry out the sinuses in colds
  • sinus infections and 
  • allergies
  • It is a very safe herb and can be used for the
  • such as chicken pox and 
  • measles.
  • Sumac is an excellent herb for the treatment of cardiovascular conditions. 
  • It improves circulation, 
  • helps lower blood pressure and is a mild heart tonic. 
  • It reduces inflammation of the blood vessels in conditions like varicose veins,
  •  hemorrhoids, and even more serious conditions such as 
  • arteriosclerosis.
  • Another traditional use of sumac is for the treatment of diabetes.
  • Sumac has a moderate effect on the nervous system. 
  • It helps reduce nervousness,
  •  anxiety, 
  • tension 
  • headaches and 
  • general tension throughout the body. 
  • It also improves concentration and reduces mental fatigue.
  • It is excellent for the treatment of burns


The fruits can be dried and taken as a tea, or used fresh or dried to make a tincture. To make a tincture, use about 30% alcohol (three parts vodka to one part water). As with most herbs, use the tincture of the fresh fruits. For topical use sumac can be used as a compress.

When using sumac as a medicine, the usual dosage is one cup of tea or 3-4 ml of either the 1:5 fresh fruit tincture, or 1:7 dried fruit tincture. These should be taken three times per day on an empty stomach, preferably 10-15 minutes before meals. To make the tea, add 2-3 teaspoons of the fresh or 1-2 teaspoons of the dried fruits to boiled water and allow it to steep for 15-20 minutes. It will taste much stronger than when it is prepared as a beverage.
Raw Tabouli Salad
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, seeds removed (and saved for smoothies or juices), chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp dried sumac seasoning
  • bunch of parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp dried mint, crumbled and added
  • 1 Tbsp (or more, to taste) onion, chopped very small
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • drizzle olive oil (about 1 Tbsp)
The fun thing about sumac is that even if you missed harvesting it last fall, it’s available all winter. As long as you can find those red bundles on the otherwise bare trees, you can harvest and use sumac, which tastes fresh and lemony and is high in vitamin C.

The warm days of summer are a great time to make a commitment to spend a bit more time outdoors and connect with this beautiful world that we live in. If you happen to be out there mid summer and see some of those clusters of fuzzy red fruits growing on top of the sumac trees, take one home and try a sun tea. Hot or cold it’s a refreshing summer drink. Enjoy!


The best time to harvest the ripe berries is after a prolonged dry spell. The worst time is the day after it's rained, when most of the flavor has been washed away.
The best berries are brightly colored and dotted with whitish deposits of tasty acid. Pinch a berry and touch your finger to your tongue. You should detect a strong, sour flavor. This means it's harvest time.
Cut off the red seed heads with garden shears or a knife and transfer them to a bag, or twist and break them off with your hands.

Food Preparation
Don't rinse off these berries before use or you'll wash all the flavor down the drain. The best-known way to use sumac is by making a wonderfully flavored pink lemonade with it. 

Submerge the berry cluster (minus any six- or eight-legged stragglers) in a bowl of room temperature or warm water, and squeeze and twist it with your hands for a minute or so (you may also steep the clusters in hot water, but lemonade is better cold). Strain out the berries through a fine sieve or cheesecloth-lined colander, sweeten to taste, and enjoy.

You can also make sumac concentrate, which you can use like lemon or lime juice.

The young growth at the tips of the plants—the shoots, are also edible, raw or cooked, after you peel them. They make quite a tasty vegetable you can use in a variety of dishes.