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Silk Tassel Herb: Historical Uses and Modern Benefits

Updated: Nov 9, 2023

Exploring Silk Tassel Herb: History, Classification, and Modern Uses

You consider yourself to be somewhat of an expert on natural, holistic medicine. But you’ve started seeing one plant mentioned that you’d never heard of before — Silk Tassel herb.

So, what is Silk Tassel?

While this herb may be unfamiliar to you, it has been used by indigenous people for thousands of years for a variety of issues.

We’ll clue you in on the history and medicinal uses of the Silk Tassel herb and let you know how you can try it in a fun candy form.

Table of Contents

Silk Tassel plant

What Is Silk Tassel Herb?

Silk Tassel herb is a plant that grows primarily in the desert. It is typically found in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, parts of Texas, and along some of the California coast. The leaves of Silk Tassel are extremely bitter and have historically been used as a muscle relaxant.

Here is some of the important information botanists and herbalists have collected about Silk Tassel.

Scientific Name: Garrya flavescens

Family: Garryaceae

Common Names: Silk Tassel, Yellow Leaf Silk Tassel, Quinine Bush, Guachichi, Cuauchichic, Bear Brush, Ashy Silk Tassel

Duration: Perennial

Size: 4 to 7 feet tall

Primary Characteristics: Light-colored, green or ash-gray green leaves with a leathery surface and hanging clusters of white flowers

Parts commonly used: Fresh, summer leaf

Properties: Bitter

The History of Silk Tassel

Let’s take a look back at the history of this fascinating plant, including its first uses and when it officially entered the world of botany.

Modern Identification and Classification

Silk Tassel herb was first cultivated in the United States by the botanist David Douglas in 1828. He bestowed its scientific name in honor of Nicholas Garry, the secretary of the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Sales of Silk Tassel as a horticultural plant began as early as 1960.

Earliest Uses of Silk Tassel

Although this plant was classified and named in the 1800s, Native Americans — particularly the Mojave and Kawaiisu tribes — were using it long before then.

Some historical evidence of this herb’s first uses include:

  • As a cold remedy

  • As a relief for stomach aches

  • As a laxative; and

  • As a venereal aid for gonorrhea

Sampling a tincture in a kitchen.

Reported Medicinal Uses of Silk Tassel Herb

Many botanists and herbologists consider the Silk Tassel herb to be one of the top five medicinal plants of the southwest, but there hasn’t been much professional medical research on the effects of the herb.

Michael Moore, a well-known herbalist who wrote many books about medicinal plants of the West, said:

"Silk Tassel is a strong and reliable smooth-muscle relaxant, one of those generally classed as parasympathetic inhibitors or anticholinergics. In proper doses, it has little effect on the central nervous system but slows down the impulses of the vagus nerve, myenteric plexus nerves, and the sacral ganglia of the parasympathetic. This makes it a useful pain reliever and antispasmodic for diarrhea, dysentery, gallbladder attacks, and menstrual cramps."

Here are some of the specific ways Silk Tassel herb may be used.

Medicinal vs. Tonic

Because Silk Tassel is such a potent plant, many herbalists suggest using it medicinally — meaning only for short periods of time — for acute symptomatic issues as opposed to a long-term tonic for chronic issues.

One source describes a tonic as:

“ … an agent that has the capability to restore and/or maintain the physiological functioning of an organ system, leading to the subjective feeling of well-being of the patient treated with it.”

Since Silk Tassel is not recommended for long-term use, it shouldn’t be considered a tonic treatment.

Herbalists report success in using Silk Tassel to help with several types of ailments. Please note that these are their personal experiences and the results may not be the same for everyone.

Muscle Relaxant

Because Silk Tassel herb is considered by many to be such a powerful muscle relaxant, it may be particularly effective for cramping and other spasmodic issues. Some herbalists say that the plant is the most effective non-narcotic treatment for menstrual cramps. It may also be known to help with issues such as asthma and diarrhea.

Silk Tassel herb may help with cramping and spasms in the:

  • Lungs

  • Gallbladder

  • Kidneys

  • Liver

  • Reproductive organs

  • Intestinal tract

  • Urinary tract

  • And more

Pain and Tension Relief

If you’re experiencing pain or tension from passing gallstones, gallbladder flare-ups, urinary tract infections, etc., Silk Tassel herb could be helpful.

Because of its relaxing properties, it might be able to both take away the pain and help the body deal with it better.

How Can Silk Tassel Herb Be Used in Medicine?

Silk tassel herb may be:

Good Bitters Kalm Drops are handcrafted candies infused with natural ingredients from the Red Rock Desert of Sedona, Arizona. Kool Balm can be applied anywhere on the skin to help calm your nerves and cool your mind.

As always, and as an added precaution with any product it’s always a good idea to consult your physician before trying it.

Who Should Not Use the Silk Tassel Herb?

Silk Tassel herb is not recommended for use by pregnant or breastfeeding women because of its effects on the female reproductive system.

While this herb is generally safe for everyone else (although high doses may cause nausea), you should discontinue use if you become cold, clammy, or short of breath — or if you experience any other sort of discomfort from taking Silk Tassel herb. If you do feel any of these symptoms, we recommend you consult your doctor or call 911 immediately.

Why Is Good Bitters Working To Bring Silk Tassel Herb to the General Public?

While Native Americans have known about the benefits of Silk Tassel herb for hundreds of years, and botanists and herbalists are quite interested in it, most other people haven’t ever heard of the plant. In fact, many nutrition or herbal stores don’t even know much about it yet.

As a company that’s invested in bringing you sustainable, natural wellness products, we’re doing everything we can to get the word out about all the good things Silk Tassel herb may be able to do for you. Visit our online store to find products of interest.

A young woman kneeling in a meditative post on the beach.

Elevate Your Meditative Sessions and Experience the Benefits of Silk Tassel With Good Bitters

Good Bitters is your destination for better health. Our Kalm Drops combine the natural bitterness and relaxing effects of the Silk Tassel plant with the sweetness you expect from a candy. You may use them after a meal for relaxation or as a point of focus while meditating.

If you want to relax, recenter, and reconnect with yourself, give Kalm Drops a try. Or if you’d rather apply the product topically, Kool Balm may be a better fit for you.

Find out why Silk Tassel herb is not just your average ingredient. Try some for yourself today.

The content in this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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