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bark in the kitchen?

Here at Don Juan Chiles, we are proud to carry many herbs, spices, teas, seasonings, and chiles, which can easily get your mouth watering as you ponder the various ways that you can add them to your kitchen. Chances are, unless you were raised in a tradition that used them, you may not associate barks with the kitchen unless it is what the hardwood floor is made out of. 

We hope that after you have read this article you will consider adding bark to your kitchen for both its culinary significance and its importance in worldwide holistic medicinal traditions.  

During this time of Pandemic and virus uncertainty, we would like to be clear that barks cannot replace many modern medicines, and instead can be seen as a helpful addition to your holistic health care routine. As always, we encourage you to conduct your own research before utilizing barks for any healing purposes.   


These days, many of us are learning that the wisdom and ancient power of many traditional medicinal cultures can bring healing and wellness to our modern lives. Many teas, roots, herbs, and spices that helped relieve pain for our ancestors thousands of years ago have been confirmed by modern science for their healing properties. Bark has been used in native cultures around the world for thousands of years.  

It turns out, we have all already been using the power of barks in our daily lives without even knowing it – Willow Tree bark is used to make Asprin due to its pain-relieving properties! Historians have found evidence that willow bark was chewed for its pain-relieving properties since ancient Egypt. Cinnamon comes from tree bark – our Cassia cinnamon comes from the Chinese Evergreen tree.  

This is just one example of the power of bark – many other barks have incredible everyday uses, and we would like to highlight some of them for you. 

our favorite barks

Bitter Bark 

Bitter bark can refer to a few different types of tree bark – today we are going to focus on Quassia, a bark native to the West Indies. This bark has been used in Trinidad, Argentina, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and across the South American continent for thousands of years. It traditionally is used to combat indigestion, anorexia, constipation, and fever. Bitter bark has also been used as a traditional mouthwash and a way to rid hair of lice. Amazing! 

In addition to its medicinal use, Bitter Bark has been used in modern times as a bitter and flavor-rich substitute for hops in beer brewing. When it is used in this way, it does not lose any of its stomach-healing traditional properties, serving as a one-two punch.  


This bark originates in Southern Mexico. It comes from a shrub called Jurema Preta, which looks a lot like a fern. Indigenous people in this region have used the bark of this shrub to treat a wide variety of ailments, from tooth pain to leg injuries. It has become popular recently for its skin healing properties, and it can even be found in many modern products for this purpose. The bark is either turned into a syrup, used in a tea infusion, or added to water to soak in order to be consumed.  

Sacred Bark 

Sacred bark [cascara sagrada] is also known as Chittem Stick in the Chinook language. Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest have used it for thousands of years as a natural laxative. It is native to California and Montana. Spanish explorers were the first to name the bark ‘sacred’, humorously noting its effectiveness as a laxative. It is considered the most widely used cathartic (laxative) in the world. In order to be used for human consumption, Sacred Bark is dried and aged for a full year. The bark is baked at a low temperature for a few hours and then consumed. It can also be dissolved in water or added to a tea infusion.  


Cedron comes from the Lemon Beebrush tree, which can be found across the South American continent. It makes a perfect herbal infusion in tea and is traditionally tapped to treat everything from fevers to hemorrhoids to skin conditions. Its rich scent makes it a staple in many perfumes as well. In recent years, cedron has also become common in many IPA’s. It pairs most naturally with the sharp and fresh taste of lemon.  

Encino Rojo 

Encino Rojo comes from the bark of the Red Oak tree. These iconic North American trees are a part of the landscape of many beloved milestones across the country – chances are, you may not have known that in addition to their potential as a great material for hardwood floors, the bark of these trees has significance in traditional medicine. You will know this right away when you see its rich maroon undertones. This bark has been used traditionally in native cultures across the central and southern United States for thousands of years to treat gum pain, toothaches, and gum disease.  


This bark is traditionally used across Mexico and the American Southwest for a wide variety of purposes. It is added as an infusion to teas or consumed in water to fight nausea and dizziness. Some believe that it has the ability to combat hair loss. It originates from the handsome elephant tree, which is native to Baja California and Sonora, Mexico.  

Fennel Root Bark 

You might be familiar with the various uses of fennel seed (we’ve got that, too!) But fennel bark has many great uses in its own right. It is a staple of many Asian and Indian dishes, and it is prized for its sharp, minty flavor. For this reason, fennel bark also makes an interesting infusion in tea. Fennel is believed to lower blood pressure, improve eyesight, and aid with indigestion and stomach pain.  


We hope that you enjoyed this overview of the many uses for barks, and that you will consider adding bark to your kitchen cabinet as a holistic addition to your care routine.  



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