Devil’s Club (Oplopanax horridus) is a familiar sight in the Pacific Northwest, with its spiny stalk and big, pokey leaves. This time of year, it’s big pokey leaves are turning a bright, autumn yellow, indicating that it is harvest time!
Devil’s club’s leaves are not where the power of the plant lies, though. The root and the inner bark of Devil’s Club is where most of the medicinal constituents lie. A myriad of tribes along the coast of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia have detailed histories of using the root and bark of Devil’s Club for everything from arthritis, tuberculosis, and common colds, as well as a variety ceremonial uses. These days, Devil’s Club is recognized for its adaptogenic qualities, making it a wonderful ailment for stress management. Adaptogens, like Devil’s Club, Ginseng, and Ashwaganda, help balance our cortisol levels (a stress hormone), lightening the load for our adrenal glands, by helping us regulate our body’s blood sugar. These days, Devil’s Club is taken as an herbal supplement by some individuals with type II diabetes to help regulate blood sugar levels.
It is important when harvesting Devil’s Club to be mindful of the forest and only take what you need. Harvesting Devil’s Club can be a fun Fall activity! Even the harvest can be a stress reliever!
About the Writer:
Lauren is a dietetic student at Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. She graduates in June and will continue on to a dietetic internship before she sits for her RD exam in 2018.
Lauren has enthusiasm for local and sustainable food systems, youth education opportunities, and cooperative business practices. She likes learning about the complex relationship that our bodies have with the environment around us. She also likes plants.
In her free time she likes to ride her bike, shoot black and white photography, make lefse from scratch, and listen to funky tunes.
Dr. Alicia McCubbins is a naturopathic physician who strives to educate, motivate and inspire. Please feel free to share your thoughts or questions so that we may collectively grow through knowledge.