SALAL

Gaultheria shallon 

Part/s Used:  Leaves + berries 
Energetics:  Cooling, astringent, mildly bitter 
Actions: Anti inflammatory, hemostatic, analgesic 

Medicinal Preparations

Tea:  Hot infusions/decoction   Ounces: 8 oz    Times a day: 4x

Habitat:

Salal is an evergreen shrub that grows in moist, shady areas along the coastal forests and mountains.  A backdrop for the northwest woodlands.  It’s a strong plant with large 2 to 4-inch-thick, waxy, leathery alternate oval leaves, light underneath with a pronounced central vein.  The flowers are little pink urns that are oriented in one direction along the stem.  In the late summer, early fall they mature into purple black berries.

Medicinal Uses:

Salal is a safe and simple herb high in tannins and makes an excellent astringent and overall anti-inflammatory herb for short term use.  A simple tea can be effective for many common problems. Sore throats, sinus infections, allergies, GI flare ups from food sensitivity, diarrhea and bleeding ulcers.  Salal is a specific for the urinary tract, during or following a UTI infection or cystitis by reducing inflammation of the bladder when pain is present after urination.

Salal is one of the best treatments for poison oak due to its astringent properties.  When the skin is broken, moist and itchy.  Blends well with manzanita.  Make a strong tea, up to two gallons in a lukewarm bath or use a fomentation if it is more localized.  Salal is great for any moist skin condition that need to dry out and reduce inflammation.  Great first aid wash for cuts, abrasions, bites and stings and in powdered form, salal makes an excellent hemostatic and pain reliever.

Harvesting:

Collect the branches with young, green leaves in late spring to summer.  Bundle and dry.  When completely dry, strip the leaves off and store in a glass jar.  They are quite stable and good for several years.  The berries are edible, but they are mealy, bland and tart (unless picked at the perfect time) and are high in flavonoids.  Collect in mid summer to mid fall.  The fruit also serves as food for a variety of native animals that help distribute the seeds. 

Projects:

Natural dye (berries: purple, leaves: yellow), floral arrangements, fruit leather, jam

Contraindications: 

Salal can be super drying and dehydrating.  Stop if you become thirsty or constipated.

Sources:
Northwest School for Botanical Studies by Christa Sinadinos
The Earthwise Herbal by Matthew Wood
Medicinal Herbs of the Pacific West by Michael Moore