Sweet Gum : Medicinal Uses


The resin also serves many medicinal purposes. Native Americans traditionally used the inner bark and resin to help wounds, sore throats, coughs, and to treat infectious diarrhea. Cherokee Indians used the inner bark to make a green tea infusion as a sedative   to calm nerves. Indians of Alta Verapaz have been known to bathe in leaf extractions of the tree as well to treat gonorrhea when ingested. During the 16th century in Eastern Mexican cloud forests, temperate forests with high moisture from clouds and fog, the sweet gum was used in medicines, smoked with tobacco, and burned as incense. Some resins were even used to form figurines that were painted and used in sacrifices. Historical evidence also shows that Aztecs would fill ceramic pots full of resin and transport large quantities yearly. Some tribal women also were believed to mix the resin with honey and ingest after childbirth. The resin was also combined with water, onion, and garlic to digest and treat intestinal worms.

 “It was even reported that animals cured their wounds by rubbing against a tree where the resin was exuded”. Liquidambar styraciflua branches have also been collected by Guatemalans to use as a type of deodorant for their skin and clothing. In China, the resin is made into pills or powder to treat wounds. It is also prescribed for toothaches, bleeding and boils.