Health Guide

Northern prickly ash

What is it?

Northern Prickly Ash is an herbal medicine used to treat cramps, Raynaud's disease, arthritis, and lack of blood getting to the arms and legs.

Other names for Northern Prickly Ash include: Prickly ash, Toothache Bark, Xanthoxyylum, Suterberry, Angelica Tree, and Zanthoxylum.

Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you need more information about this medicine or if any information in this leaflet concerns you.

Before Using:

Tell your doctor if you

  • are taking medicine or are allergic to any medicine (prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) or dietary supplement)
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine
  • are breastfeeding
  • have stomach or intestinal ulcers or inflammation
  • have any other health problems, such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease


Talk with your caregiver about how much Northern Prickly Ash you should take. The amount depends on the strength of the medicine and the reason you are taking Northern Prickly Ash. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the medicine bottle. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to.

To store this medicine:

Keep all medicine locked up and away from children. Store medicine away from heat and direct light. Do not store your medicine in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down and not work the way it should work. Throw away medicine that is out of date or that you do not need. Never share your medicine with others.

Drug and Food Interactions:

Do not take prickly ash without talking to your doctor first if you are taking:

  • Blood thinning medicine (example: warfarin (Coumadin(R))(9)


  • Before taking Northern Prickly Ash, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Do not use if you have stomach or intestinal ulcers or inflammation without first consulting your health care professional (7)

Side Effects:

Stop taking your medicine right away and talk to your doctor if you have any of the following side effects. Your medicine may be causing these symptoms which may mean you are allergic to it.

  • Breathing problems or tightness in your throat or chest
  • Chest pain
  • Skin hives, rash, or itchy or swollen skin

Other Side Effects:

You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine.

  • Your skin may become more sensitive to sunlight and may burn easier (8)


1. Bradley PR (ed.): British Herbal Compendium vol. 1. British Herbal Medicine Association, Bournemouth, UK; 1992.

2. Anon: British Herbal Pharmacopoeia. British Herbal Medicine Association, Keighley, UK; 1983.

3. Addae-Mensah I et al: Structure and anti-hypertensive properties of nitidine chloride from Fagara species. Planta Med 1986; 52 (suppl.):58.

4. Bowen JM & Cole RJ: Neuromuscular blocking properties of Southern prickly ash toxin. Fed Proc 1981; 40:696.

5. Simanek V: Benzophenanthridine alkaloids. In: Brossi A (ed.): The Alkaloids, vol. 26. Academic Press, New York, NY; 1985:185-240.

6. Newall C, Anderson L & Phillipson J. Northern Prickly Ash. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. The Pharmaceutical Press, London, UK; 1996.

7. Brinker F: Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions, 2nd ed. Eclectic Institute, Sandy, OR; 1998.

8. Fetrow CW & Avila JR: Professional's Handbook of Complementary and Alternative Medicines. Springhouse Corporation, Springhouse, PA; 1999: 522-524.

9. Product Information: Coumadin(R) oral tablets, IV injection, warfarin sodium oral tablets, IV injection. Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Princeton, NJ, 2007.

Last Updated: 7/4/2018
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