Black alder - a tree with dark brown bark, the bark on young branches is greenish-brown or red-brown, glossy. The leaves are opposite, round, with a serrated edge, dark green, with distinct veining on the underside. Young leaves sticky. 10-30m tall. Average lifespan 150-300 years.
White alder - a tree with gray, smooth bark, up to 20 m tall. The root system is superficial. The leaves are opposite, broadly ovate, pointed with a toothed edge, the underside is greyish green. Blooms two weeks earlier than black alder. Average lifespan is 50-70 years.
In black alder and white alder, the male inflorescences are prickly, the female inflorescences are similar to cones, which become woody in autumn and turn into seed pods. Nuts are formed in the markets of cone scales. Flowering time is March-April. Fruits ripen in October, fall out in February, March.
Female inflorescences of alder, often called cones, as well as bark and leaves, are used for medicinal purposes. Drugs are dried on sieves or in forced dryers at a temperature not exceeding 50-60C.
For medicinal purposes, the leaves of the plant are collected in May-June, the bark in spring, when it easily separates from the wood.
Alder inflorescences contain tannins from the group of pyrogalls, which includes tannin (up to 2.5%) and gallic acid (about 4%). Glycosides, organic acids, steroids, coumarins, alkaloids and flavonoids are also found in the plant.
Tannins obtained from alder bark (2.3-3.5%), triterpene compounds: ketone glutinone, alcohol taraxerol, triterpene glycosides, taraxerone and lupeol.
Flavonoids (hyperoside, quercitrin), caffeic acid, protocatechinic acid and chlorogenic acid are found in the leaves of the plant.
A decoction of alder inflorescences has a pronounced astringent effect. The astringent and disinfecting properties of the inflorescences are provided by the tannins contained in it. Alder "cones" also have anti-inflammatory, desensitizing and hemostatic properties.
Tannins present in the plant form a dense coating on the intestinal mucosa by interacting with proteins, preventing irritation of nerve endings, reducing intestinal peristalsis.
There are also clinical observations that show the positive effect of alder on the treatment of stomach and intestinal ulcers. Alder decoctions also reduce the processes of fermentation and putrefaction, which is useful in the treatment of chronic colitis accompanied by diarrhea.
Decoctions of alder female inflorescences show good results in the treatment of diarrhea, on average 60% of patients have improvement. And by the way, no side effects are usually observed.
Decoctions of alder female inflorescences are usually used together with other medicinal plants that affect various stages of diseases of the digestive tract. Infusions of female inflorescences and alder bark have diaphoretic, bactericidal and pain-relieving properties.
Due to the fact that the plant is able to create a protective layer on the wound, it has wound healing, anti-inflammatory and bactericidal properties and is used to treat wounds, burns and ulcers, etc. Externally, decoctions of female inflorescences are used for phytoapplications.
In folk medicine, alder is used especially widely. Decoctions, infusions and extracts are used as astringents in case of digestive diseases: dyspepsia, dysentery, enteritis, enterocolitis and colitis. The female inflorescences together with the roots of the fleabane are used in the composition of gastric teas, which are used for the treatment of gastritis, enteritis, especially if these diseases are associated with diarrhea.
Cone and bark extracts are used as astringent, hemostatic, anti-inflammatory and bactericidal agents. Alder preparations are also used in baths to reduce allergic skin reactions, as applications in wet eczema.
Decoctions of bark, cones and leaves are used to treat gout, rheumatism, malaria and colds. It is believed that alder leaf baths can help with tired legs.