Health benefits of hackberry

Health benefits of hackberry

Hackberries form one of the best foods when it comes to a survival situation. They can be plucked right off the tree and eaten as such without any cooking. Since these berries are high in caloric value, they provide long lasting energy when consumed. In addition to the pulp, the seeds and kernel of the fruit are also very nutritious and so eating the whole fruit provides you with plenty of protein, carbohydrates, fats, fiber along with considerable amounts of nutrients like calcium and phosphorus. Samuel Thayer, the author of Nature’s Garden, suggests in his book that it is possible for an individual to live for several months just by eating hackberries and nothing else at all.

Hackberry is a tall tree that can be seen growing throughout the eastern parts of the US. It can also be found in almost all continents except Antarctica. With its light gray colored bark and warty masses all over the bark, it is very easy to identify the hackberry tree. It produces small tasty berries that are at first green in color, which later turn into bright red when they are ripe. The entire berry, along with its stone and kernel is a rich source of calcium, and contains up to 20% protein, carbohydrates, fat, fiber and other important nutrients. Although the hackberries ripen during September-October, they tend to remain on the trees all through winter and sometimes through the spring season too. Hackberries have relatively low moisture content and high sugar content, which makes them less prone to damage.

Health benefits of hackberry fruits

The fruits of the hackberry tree have been found to have many medicinal properties and so they are used in the treatment of various ailments. The Native Americans used the extracts of the hackberry tree to treat common health problems like colds, sore throats and coughs. Given below are some of the health benefits offered by these amazing berries:

Hackberries help reduce heavy menstrual bleeding

The leaves and berries of hackberry tree contain astringent properties. A decoction of the fruit and leaves is used in the treatment of amenorrhoea (absence of menstrual periods) and inter-menstrual bleeding. It is useful to regulate blood flow during menses.

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Hackberries and digestive health

In addition to their astringent effects, the hackberry leaves and fruits also have laxative and stomachic (promotes appetite or assists in digestion) properties. A decoction of hackberry fruits and leaves is used to astringe or contract the mucous membranes, which helps in finding relief from peptic ulcers, dysentery, diarrhea and colic.

Hackberry is a good source of antioxidants

Scientific studies reveal that hackberries are a rich source of polyphenolic compounds that possess strong antioxidant properties. According to a study published in Scientia Pharmaceutica by scientists in Egypt, the leaves of hackberry tree shows significant levels of antioxidant properties. Because of these properties, hackberries have the potential to be used to negate the harmful effects of free radicals, thus slowing down the aging process and preventing deadly diseases like cancer.

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Hackberry bark has potential to cure cancer

The bark of hackberry has been found to contain a compound known as quercetin, which is known for its anti-cancer properties. A study published in the 2013 issue of Anticancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry reveals that this compound has the ability to inhibit growth and multiplication of cancer cells. The ability of quercetin to inhibit this growth of cancer cells makes it a safe and natural remedy for the treatment of various types of cancers. Studies also reveal that quercetin has anti-inflammatory properties and have the ability to help relieve inflammation and atherosclerosis.

Other uses of hackberry

The bark of hackberry is used to make a decoction, which is used for treating sore throats. A compound decoction, prepared using the barks and powdered shells is used as a remedy for treating venereal diseases. Some parts of the hackberry trees have been used for firewood, producing drugs and for making various types of craft items. Boiling the leaves and bark of hackberry produces a red or dark brown dye, which is used for coloring wool. The papago tribe made use of the bark of the hackberry tree to make footwear.

Food use of hackberries

Hackberry trees are found in abundance throughout the North American continent, mainly in areas such as wetlands, swamps, rocky hillsides, stream banks, and hardwood forests. It has been found that the Native American tribes like Acoma, Yavapai, Omaha, Tewa, Navajo, Papago and Laguna consumed hackberries in its fresh or dried forms. The people of the Comanche tribe use to make a pulp out of the hackberry fruits, combine it with fat, roll the mixture into balls and then roast them over a fire. The Kiowa tribe also made a paste of the hackberries, casted the paste onto a stick and roasted the pulp over an open fire. The Apache, Chiricahua, and Mescalero tribes however consumed the hackberries in many different ways. In addition to eating them fresh, they also used these berries to make jelly and dried cakes.

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The Meskwaki tribe used to make porridge out of ground hackberries. The Dakota tribe dried hackberry fruits and then powdered them to make a condiment for seasoning their meat. A special kind of food was prepared by the Pawnee tribe by pounding the hackberries into a powder, and then mixing it with fat and parched corn. In historic times, early Native Americans used to Karmin Pulver the entire hackberry fruit, including the seeds and make cakes out of them. They also made a sweet bread from it, which could be used and store for an indefinite period of time. These cakes often served as a food source for explorers during their long treks towards the west.

Although quite uncommon, hackberries can be used to make jelly and jam, which is considered a delicacy by many. The reason why it is not so popular is that it takes significant effort to gather adequate amount of these tiny berries to prepare a batch of jam.


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There are 8 comments for this article
  1. Wayne at 2:37 am

    How long do u boil the bark to make a tea

  2. Jacklyn at 8:58 pm

    I have never made the tea. I’d also like to know. Interesting fact: when our dog was diagnosed with cancer; she shortly after began eating the leafs off young hackberry trees. She is doing very well. Showing no signs of pain, discomfort, fatigue. The weather was bad for a week and we weren’t able to take her walking in the area where these grow. She began feeling bad, lost her appetite and drinking gallons of water daily. I made an appointment to take her to our vet. In the mean time weather faired and we began our walking routine. In 3 days of consuming the hackberry leafs she is back to her original self.

  3. John at 5:45 am

    the photo at the top of the page is not hackberry or any Celtis species.

  4. David W Thomson at 10:20 am

    I started consuming a hackberry supplement my wife and me made from the dried and powdered leaves and berries, which we picked in the Spring. I also stopped consuming foods with commercially processed calcium in the ingredients. In just a few months, two of my teeth ejected dental fillings, and then filled in with brand new teeth. One of the fillings was old, and the other filling had just been drilled and set by a dentist a few months earlier. I’m 58 Years old. Since taking a hackberry supplement for seven months my bones feel stronger, and my overall health has improved considerably. I had a compound fracture of my lower leg twelve years ago, and have suffered intense bone pain since. However, after seven months of one 00 capsule of hackberry a day, my bone pain is almost completely gone. The hackberry is a seriously overlooked food supplement, which I am very grateful to have learned about.

  5. David Thomson at 11:39 pm

    Two years ago, I had a calcified tooth, which was causing me a lot of pain, and which the dentist couldn’t fix without have the tooth pulled or doing a root canal. When he finally told me it was a calcified tooth after two hours of treatments, I told him I would take the pain home with me and work on it myself. The fact that the condition was called “calcified tooth” had given me an idea.

    I went through all my food and found a large part of my diet included commercial foods that had various calcium compounds (calcium carbonate, calcium triphosphate, calcium citrate, and others) added as ingredients. I threw away all those foods with commercial calcium added, and in three days my calcified tooth pain completely and permanently disappeared. I also noticed that 20 years of constipation suddenly ended, that my blood pressure returned to normal without medication, and my chronic bone pain was just about completely gone. Apparently, commercial calcium is treated with high temperature, pressure, and other processes that makes the calcium compounds unfit for the body to use.

    I started looking for natural calcium replacements and discovered hackberry. By luck, I have a huge hackberry growing in my yard. I made powder by drying and grinding the leaves and whole berries in the Spring. We then made our own capsules and I take one 00 capsule of hackberry powder four days a week.

    After just a few months of taking the hackberry powder, two of my teeth popped out fillings. One was a filling put in by the dentist that day I had the intense pain. But instead of going back to the dentist, I decided to leave it because it wasn’t painful. After a few months, I noticed that my teeth were filling in the cavities naturally. Today, about two years later, one tooth is completely regrown and the other tooth is nearly completely filled in (it was a very deep filling).

    Apparently, natural calcium, such as that provided in abundance in the hackberry plant, is a great source of calcium that the body can use to regenerate teeth and bones. I have no deep bone pain like I used to have (I will be 59 this year), and my bone strength feels excellent.

    I suspect that calcium plays a very important part in nerve development, as well. Since getting rid of commercial calcium and consuming only natural calcium, my eyesight has improved (no floaters and no more signs of macular degeneration), my brain feels more alert, my arteries no longer contract to produce hypertension, and my intestines function absolutely great. The regenerative power of natural calcium, along with the absence of commercial calcium, is absolutely stunning. I can’t believe that the world has been missing out on this knowledge all this time.

  6. CORINNA WARNER at 1:03 am

    One small correction to your otherwise informative article: amenorrhea means “no menses” not heavy menses. High doses of the decoction can be used as an abortifacient, and should not be consumed by pregnant women for this reason. This important gact needs to be noted in your article.