Viburnum opulus / Gelderse roos, Wollige sneeuwbal

De schors van de Gelderse roos en de wollige sneeuwbal, worden toegepast bij allerhande vrouwenkwalen. Het ontspant de spieren van de baarmoeder, en werd daarom wel eens gebruikt bij dreigend miskraam (steeds onder medische begeleiding!), maar ook bij menstruele krampen (dysmenorroe, pijnlijke maandstonden).

De samentrekkende eigenschappen van de schors vinden hun toepassingen bij te overvloedige maandstonden (hypermenorrhee) en bij bloedingen na de bevalling of in de menopauze

Werkzame stoffen in de schors van 2 à 3 jaar oud

  • valereenzuur en baldriaanzuur zoals in valeriaan (ontkrampend, spasmolytisch)

  • hydroxycumarinen: scopoletine en aesculetine (ontkrampend bij pijnlijke menstruatie)

  • tanninen (looistoffen) catechine en epicatechine (overvloedige menstruatie)

  • organische zuren: oxaal,- citroen-, appel- caprine- en azijnzuur

  • mineralen: magnesium, calcium, kalium, ijzer, chroom, kobalt, seleium, aluminium, mangaan, fosfor en zink.

De bessen

zijn vers, licht giftig, veroorzaken o.a braken, gekookt zijn ze te eten maar wel bitter. De rode bessen hebben vlgs wetenschappelijk onderzoek een goede anti-oxidantwerking. In het boek van Vasili Peskov "Lost in de taiga", worden de Siberische overlevers gewaarschuwd niet te veel van de bessen te eten, omdat ze bloeddruk verlagend zouden werken.

Viburnum opulus monograph

Family: Caprifoliaceae

Common names: Cramp Bark, Guelder Rose, Cranberry Tree, Pembina, Snowball Tree (2).

Part(s) used: Dried Bark (1)


Viburnum opulus is native to Northern America and Europe, where it grows in woodlands and thickets (3). It is related to Viburnum prunifolium (Black Haw) and they are often used interchangeably (3).

Viburnum opulus is an upright shrub 1- 3.5m tall, with small white flowers that grow in clusters (4). The leaves are dark green, have 3-5 lobes, and are approximately 6cm wide at the broadest part (5). The fruit are small berries that are red to black in colour. The bark of Viburnum opulus is green-brown on the outer surface, and green-yellow to red-brown on the inner surface (5). The bark has a strong characteristic odour and tastes somewhat bitter (6).

The bark is harvested in spring and summer when the plant is flowering. It is removed in strips from the young shoots, ensuring enough remains for the plant's continued growth (3, 5).


Traditional use is predominately in Northern America and Canada, where it was used by native Americans as an anti-abortive (5), to remedy uterine prolapse (7), and as a spasmolytic for cramping pains in all parts of the body (3). A decoction of the bark was also used as a social beverage, diuretic, eye-wash, and for conditions involving swollen glands (7).

Cramp Bark was used by Eclectic practitioners of the 19th century for all types of cramping. Indications included dysmenorrhoea, threatened miscarriage, skeletal muscle cramping, ovarian pain, angina, palpitations, spasm of the bladder and infantile enuresis (4, 6, 8, 9,). It was used interchangeably with Viburnum prunifolium, but was considered more specific to the uterus in its action (3) and a more potent antispasmodic (6).

Widespread adulteration of Viburnum spp preparations with Acer spicatum (mountain maple) yielded varying results in research trials conducted in the early 20th century regarding the efficacy of Viburnum opulus (7, 10).

Two species of the viburnum genus, cramp bark (Viburnum opulus) and black haw (Viburnum prunifolium), have been used in Native American medicine for menstrual pain and other types of spasmodic pain. The Cherokee, Delaware, Fox, and Ojibwa all used cramp bark, with the Delaware employing it specifically for menstrual pain. Both plants were used for menstrual pain or delayed menses in Thompsonian, Physiomedicalist, and Eclectic medicine.

The two species are used interchangeably in contemporary herbalism, but some differentiation may be made between them on the basis of prior medical use as well as on their constituent profile. The Physiomedicalist William Cook wrote in 1868 that V. opulus is primarily an antispasmodic, acting on the nervous system (Cook). V. prunifolium, according to Cook, is more useful as a uterine tonic for uterine weakness, prolapse, leukorrhea, and passive bleeding. Fifty years later, the Eclectic Harvey Felter wrote that both plants may be used as antispasmodics and tonics, but that V. opulus has stronger antispasmodic properties (Felter). Felter considered V. prunifolium to be one of the most important of the uterine tonics, saying that it was used as such “oftener than any other drug.” The Eclectic Finley Ellingwood agrees with Felter and suggests the prunifolium species as the best tonic, and V. opulus as having superior antispasmodic properties (Ellingwood).

Major Active Constituents

There is little information regarding the constituents of Cramp Bark (10).

  • Scopoletin -A coumarin, the major constituent responsible for antispasmodic action (7, 8, 11);

    • Viopudial* - Contributes to antispasmodic action (2, 7); The administration of viopudial, produces bradycardia, hypotension, and some decrease in myocardial contractility. Experimental evidence indicates that viopudial's mechanism of action is partly due to its effects on cholinesterase. In vitro demonstrations of a competitive inhibitory effect on both acetylcholinesterase and butyrylcholinesterase showed viopudial to be relatively weak when compared to the known potent inhibitor, physostigmine. Additional mechanistic effects, such as a direct musculotrophic action, may also be responsible for the overall activity. Viopudial, a Hypotensive and Smooth Muscle Antispasmodic from Viburnum opulus.

  • Viburnin - Antispasmodic bitter specific to the uterus and peripheral vasculature (5);

  • Catechin, Epicatechin - Presence required for differentiation from Viburnum prunifolium (12), they largely contribute to the astringent activity of cramp bark (1).


  • Powerful smooth and skeletal muscle antispasmodic (2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 13, 14);

  • Anti-abortive (4, 6, 8, 9, 15);

  • Partus preparatory (6, 12, 14);

  • Astringent (1, 3, 8, 12);

  • Sedative (3, 8, 12);

  • Hypotensive due to peripheral vasodilation caused by arterial smooth muscle relaxation (1, 3,5, 12, 15);

  • Anti-inflammatory (5, 11);

  • Uterine tonic (6).


An in vitro study found that water extracts taken from Viburnum opulus berries and branches inhibited superoxide anion formation, and had strong free radical scavenging action. Increased concentration of the extract resulted in increased antioxidant activity (16).

A study conducted in rats found that proanthocyanidins extracted from Viburnum opulus protected gastric mucosa on exposure to ingested ulcerating substances. The study suggested that Viburnum opulus proanthocyanidins decreased lipid peroxidation, while increasing nitric oxide and antioxidant activity. This resulted in an overall protective effect (17).

One in vitro study extracted water-soluble polysaccharides from the berries of Viburnum opulus. These were found to possess immunostimulating action, as they improved phagocytic activity and lysosomal enzyme secretion of macrophages (18).

A study conducted on rats with induced hepatic damage assessed the hepatorestorative and protective effects of oligomeric anthocyanidins from Viburnum opulus. The study found that the complex of oligomeric anthocyanidins saved glutathione, improved antioxidant action and inhibited lipid peroxidation (19).

Clinical Outcome Studies

No clinical trials concerning the use of Viburnum opulus in humans have been conducted to this date (2, 3).


Major Indications

  • Dysmenorrhoea (4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13)

  • Skeletal muscle cramping, particularly of the legs and back (4, 6, 13, 14)

  • Threatened miscarriage (4, 6, 8, 9, 14)

Minor Indications

  • Hypertension (5, 8, 12)

  • Asthma (4, 5)

  • Tension headache and migraine (5, 12)

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (3, 5, 12)

  • Arthritis where muscle contraction is present (3)

Contra-indications and Cautions

Caution is advised where there is known allergy to other members of the Caprifoliaceae family, or where there have been previous hypersensitivity reactions to cramp bark (2).

Information regarding cramp bark safety in pregnancy and lactation is currently unavailable, therefore avoid use in pregnant or lactating women (13).


2 - 4.5 mL per day (1:2 extract) or 15 – 30 mL per week (1:2 extract) (8);

For acute dysmenorrhoea – 4 – 8 mL tds (1:5 extract) (1, 13);

Decoction made with 2 teaspoons herb to one cup of water, tds (1).


1. Hoffmann, D. 2003. Medical Herbalism - The science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester: Healing Arts Press.

2. Viburnum opulus. Natural Standard Database. Accessed 18 September 2008.

3. Chevallier, A. 2001. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. Sydney: Penguin.

4. Felter HW, Lloyd JU. 1898. King's American Dispensatory, Vol II. Sandy, Oregon: Eclectic Medical Publications, 1983.

5. Mills, S. 1993. The Essential Book of Herbal Medicine. Ringwood: Penguin Arkana.

6. Felter, HW. 1922. The Eclectic Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics. Accessed 18/9/2008.

7. Trickey, R. 2003. Women, Hormones and the Menstrual Cycle. 2nd edition. Crows Nest: Allen and Unwin.

8. Bone, K. 2003. A Clinical Guide to Blending Liquid Herbs – Herbal Formulations for the Individual Patient. Missouri: Churchill Livingstone.

9. Lyle, TJ. 1897. Physico-Medical Therapeutics, Materia Medica and Pharmacy.

10. Bone, K. Mills S. 2005. The Essential Guide to Herbal Safety. St. Louis: Churchill Livingstone.

11. Bone K. Mills S. 2005. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy. St Louis: Churchill Livingstone.

12. Bone, K. 2007. The Ultimate Herbal Compendium – A Desktop Guide for Herbal Practitioners. Warwick: Phytotherapy Press.

13. Hutchings U. Viburnum opulus. Canadian Journal of Herbalism [serial online]. September 2003;24(4):20-21.

14. Vogel, VJ. 1970. American Indian Medicine. Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press

15. Costello, CH. Lynn, EV. 1943. Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association. 32:20-22.

16. Altun M, Citoglu G, Yilmaz B, Coban T. Antioxidant properties of Viburnum opulus and Viburnum lantana growing in Turkey. International Journal Of Food Sciences And Nutrition 2008;59(3):175-180.

17. Zayachkivska O, Gzhegotsky M, Terletska O, Lutsyk D, Yaschenko A, Dzhura O. Influence of Viburnum opulus proanthocyanidins on stress-induced gastrointestinal mucosal damage. Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology: an Official Journal of the Polish Physiological Society 2006;57 Suppl 5:155-167.

18. Ovodova R, Golovchenko V, Popov S, Shashkov A, Ovodov I. [The isolation, preliminary study of structure and physiological activity of water-soluble polysaccharides from squeezed berries of Snowball tree Viburnum opulus]. Bioorganicheskaia Khimiia 2000;26(1):61-67.

19. Sprygin V, Kushnerova NF, Rakhmanin Yu A. Antioxidant action of oligomeric anthocyanidins isolated from Viburnum opuli on liver lesions caused by carbon tetrachloride and prevention of its toxic effects. Gigiena i Sanitariya 2003, No. 3:57-60

This monograph was authored in 2008 by Ellen Garrett, a student in Southern Cross University's Bachelor of Naturopathy programme, and edited by Nena Aleschewski BNat. While the author and editor have strived to cite published information accurately, Southern Cross University will not be responsible for any inaccuracies that may have occurred.

Volgens Green Deane:

Several Viburnums had medicinal applications. V. opulus and V. prunifolium have scopoletin, which is a coumarin glycoside that acts as a sedative particularly on the uterus. It is suspected that all Viburnums might have the coumarin glycoside. Viburnum prunifolium also contains salicin which when mixed with the acid of the stomach makes a crude aspirin. The Cherokee, Iroquois, Menomini, and Ojibwa used Viburnum acerifolium to make an infusion to relieve cramps and colic. It’s also a diuretic. Iroquois women used a decoction of Viburnum dentatum twigs as a contraceptive.

Some say the term Viburnum comes from Dead Latin, others say no, some insist it means “Wayfaring Tree.” From the time of Virgil (70-19 BC) folks have mentioned Viburnums. Virgil wrote “lenta viburna,” lenta meaning pliant, flexible, and viburna perhaps meaning of the path.) Viburnums bend easily. Because of that the Romans called them Lantagenem. This led to them being called lantana in English as early as 1200 AD. Also called Arrow-wood, as one Florida species is, the Neolithic Iceman, Oetiz (right) found frozen in the Alps in 1991, was carrying arrow shafts made from the Viburnum lantana.

Antioxidant properties and polyphenolic compositions of fruits from different European cranberrybush (Viburnum opulus L.) genotypes. Department of Food Technology, Kaunas University of Technology, Radvilėnų pl. 19, Kaunas LT-50254, Lithuania.

Food Chemistry (Impact Factor: 3.33). 12/2013; 141(4):3695-702. DOI: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2013.06.054

ABSTRACT Antioxidant properties of fruit juices of six Viburnum opulus genotypes were evaluated by DPPH, ABTS(+) radical scavenging capacity (RSC), ferric reducing antioxidant power (FRAP), oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) and Folin-Ciocalteu total phenolic content (TPC) assays. TPC varied in the range of 5.4-10.6mg gallic acid equivalents/g, RSC (ABTS(+)), FRAP and ORAC values were 31.9-109.8, 32.3-61.8 and 141.6-260.4μmol trolox equivalents/g, respectively. V. opulus var. sargentii fruit juice was a remarkably stronger antioxidant than the other five V. opulus genotypes. The content of chlorogenic acid (the main phenolic compound in berry juices) depending on plant cultivar varied in the range of 0.54-6.93mg/ml. The RSC of individual constituents was measured by the on-line HPLC-UV-DPPH method: chlorogenic acid was the dominant radical scavenger in V. opulus P3 (74%), while epicatechin and catechin (the main antioxidants in V. opulus var. sargentii) contributed to 40% and 23% of the total RSC for the sargentii genotype. Nine constituents were identified in V. opulus juice by using ultra high performance liquid chromatography coupled to quadruple and time-of-flight mass spectrometers (UPLC-QTOF-MS). In general, the study demonstrated that V. opulus var. sargentii followed by V. opulus P3 and V. opulus var. americanum possessed the highest antioxidant capacity. The obtained results may assist in selecting the most valuable V. opulus genotypes for the production of fruits possessing strong antioxidant capacity and containing beneficial phenolic constituents.

Preclinical Evaluation of Antiurolithiatic Activity of Viburnum opulus L. on Sodium Oxalate-Induced Urolithiasis Rat Model.

Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM 01/2014; 2014:578103. DOI: 10.1155/2014/578103

ABSTRACT The aim of the present research is to evaluate the antiurolithiatic effect of the various extracts prepared from the fruits of Viburnum opulus L., in regard to its ethnobotanical record. To induce urolithiasis, 70 mg/kg sodium oxalate was injected to the rats which were housed individually in metabolic cages. The test materials were applied during 7 days. Biochemical (urine and serum parameters), histopathological and antioxidant (TBARs, TSH and GSH) assays were conducted. The urine samples were examined by light microscope for the determination of the calcium oxalate crystals. Lyophilized juice of V. opulus (LJVO) and lyophilized commercial juice of V. opulus (LCJVO) exerted potential antiurolithiatic activity which was attributed to its diuretic effect along with the inhibitory action on the oxalate levels and free radical production. We also determined the chlorogenic acid content of the LJVO by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Chlorogenic acid was determined by using Supelcosil LC-18 (250 × 4.6 mm, 5 µm) column and acetonitrile: water: 0.2% o-phosphoric acid as a mobile phase. The chlorogenic acid content of V. opulus was found to be 0.3227 mg/mL in fruit juice. The results obtained in this study have provided a scientific evidence for the traditional usage of V. opulus on passing kidney stones in Turkish folk medicine.

Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2008 May;59(3):175-80. Antioxidant properties of Viburnum opulus and Viburnum lantana growing in Turkey.

Altun ML1, Citoğlu GS, Yilmaz BS, Coban T.

In the present study, antioxidant properties of the water extracts of different parts of Viburnum opulus and Viburnum lantana (Caprifoliaceae) were investigated using the 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) scavenging and superoxide anion scavenging methods. The extracts were prepared from the fruits, branches, and leaves of V lantana and V opulus species. The branch extracts of V lantana and V opulus inhibited superoxide anion in a concentration-dependent manner. Compared with t-tocopherol, the fruit extract of V lantana did not show any scavenging effect on superoxide anion formation. V lantana leaf extracts, however, showed a moderate scavenging effect on superoxide anion formation, whereas V lantana branch extracts showed a strong scavenging effect (IC50 = 3.1 mg/ml) on superoxide anion in higher concentration. On the other hand, all extracts exhibited a scavenging effect on the DPPH radical with various potencies. When compared with butylated hydroxytoluene, V opulus branch and V lantana leaf extracts, as well as V lantana branch, V opulus fruit and V lantana fruit extracts, showed strong DPPH radical scavenging activity with IC50 values of 0.014, 0.035, 0.052, 0.057 and 0.085 mg/ml, respectively.

J Physiol Pharmacol. 2006 Nov;57 Suppl 5:155-67.Influence of Viburnum opulus proanthocyanidins on stress-induced gastrointestinal mucosal damage.Zayachkivska OS1, Gzhegotsky MR, Terletska OI, Lutsyk DA, Yaschenko AM, Dzhura OR.

Recent studies demonstrated that the proanthocyanidins (PA), the polymers of flavan-3-ols, naturally occurring plant metabolites widely available in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, flowers and bark, have anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic, anti-allergic, antioxidant and vasodilatory actions. We hypothesized that Viburnum opulus PA (VOPA, Caprifoliaceae), due to activation of multifactorial gastrointestinal mucosal defense mechanisms, exert gastroduodenoprotective effects. The aim of the study was: 1) to investigate VOPA effects on gastroduodenal mucosal integrity and pattern of carbohydrate binding proteins and nitric oxide (NO) content in intact mucosa and that exposed to non-topical ulcerogens (stress) in rats without and with capsaicin (125 mg/kg, sc) denervation; and 2), to assess the role of activity of antioxidizing enzymes superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), gluthatione peroxidase (GPx) in VOPA-induced gastroduodenoprotection against water immersion and restraint stress (WRS) in rats. VOPA was administered orally in dose of 25, 50 or 75 mg/kg body weight. Gastroduodenal mucosal damage detected by routine light microscopic investigation and lectin histochemistry set, purified from plant and animal sources of Carpatian region. NO content, pro-and antioxidant system were determined by routine laboratory methods. Pretreatment with VOPA afforded gastroduodenoprotection and was accompanied by an increase in NO expression, both changes being reversed by sensory denervation, as well as by the rise of SOD, CAT activity and fall in MDA content. Our study shows that VOPA exerts a potent gastroduodenoprotective activity via an increase in endogenous NO generation, suppression of lipid peroxidation and mobilization of antioxidant activity and changes in glycoconjugate content of the gastroduodenal mucosa of rat.

Mijn verhaal:

Viburnum met vaginale geur

Soms hebben heel gewone struiken of bomen zo hun geheime kantjes. Oude gebruiken, medicinale toepassingen, magische krachten of vreemde geuren. De Viburnums zijn zo'n plantengeslacht die, als brave sierstruiken onze tuinen bevolken, maar waarvan de bloemen heel verschillende, intrigerende geuren verspreiden. Geuren met een geschiedenis.

Er zijn soorten met een zwaar zoete, tropische geur, anderen verspreiden een vluchtig fris, bijna citroenachtig aroma en verder zijn er ook Viburnums die ons neusorgaan met een stinkende zwavelgeur teisteren.

Nog merkwaardiger was mijn ontdekking dat sommige van die geuren, van zoet tot zuur, in verband gebracht werden met de geur van de genitaliën. En dan ook genitaliënbloem genoemd werden. Bloemen dus die een vaginale geur verspreiden en dan nog wel bloemen van gewone struiken zoals de Gelderse roos en andere Viburnumsoorten.

Seksuele voorlichting

In een klassiek boek over seksuele voorlichting uit 1929, Het volkomen huwelijk van Dr. Th. van de Velde, het standaard voorlichtingsboek uit die tijd. Het enige boek ook dat mijn ouders bezaten en dat ik 50 jaar geleden ontdekte in de linnenkast, diep verborgen onder een stapel dekens. In dat zedige boek schrijft Van de Velde over het clitoraal smegma, een zachte vetmassa, die door de daar aanwezige smeerklieren wordt bereid. Hij beschrijft de geur die van aangenaam naar zeer onaangenaam kan overgaan. En... vergelijkt de geur met viburnumbloesem in zijn tuin. 'Zijne pas ontloken bloesems hebben een reuk, die aan dien van vrouwelijke genitalia herinnert. Het valt mij telkens op dat mannen met blijkbare voorliefde aan deze bloesem ruiken....’. En hij schrijft er bij dat zelf zeer onervaren mannen, het graag ruiken.Worden deze bloesems ouder, zegt hij, dan verandert hun reuk meer en meer, om ten slotte het zeer onaangename ranzig-scherp-zoutige kenmerk aan te nemen, dat ons gynaecologen maar al te zeer bekend is.

Verlokkelijke Gelderse roos

In de randen van bossen, maar ook in struwelen en hagen vind je de Gelderse roos, Viburnum opulus, Ook in onze gesnoeide tuinhaag, maar dan wel in een doorgeschoten stuk, glimmen de scharlaken rode vruchten mij tegen. Deze vruchten worden pas gegeten als de vorst er over heen is gegaan. En dan nog. De smaak is bitter en zelfs de vogels mijden ze. Ze hangen dan ook vaak nog in de winter aan de struiken. Pas wanneer het gevroren heeft worden ze soms door lijsters en pestvogels gegeten. Deze vruchten bevatten cumarinen, diterpenen en glycosiden die spijsverteringsklachten kunnen veroorzaken. De bessen veroorzaken, rauw gegeten, braken en diarree, maar zijn gekookt ongevaarlijk.

In de Flora Batava (1800...) worden ze wel nuttig geacht. Deze heester kan tot levendige heggen dienen, en wordt ook veel in tuinen gezocht. Het hout is taai, en kan tot pennen voor de schoenmakers en tot wevers-kammen gebruikt worden; het geeft een goed brandhout, en kan ook houtskool voor kleine smederijen opleveren. — De beziën, schoon bitter en scherp van smaak, worden door de Russen genuttigd, en ook de vogels azen hierop. — De bladen worden gegeten door runderen, Schapen en Geiten.... Die Russen toch...zijn blijkbaar altijd rare mensen geweest....

Ook herboristen zijn 'rare' mensen, want zij laten de verlokkelijke, glimmende bessen hangen en gebruiken de schors om zijn spasmolytische werking.