Yew

 

TAXUS BACCATA

COMMON NAME : Yew

FAMILY :        Taxaceae  (Yew family)


PARTS USED :  leaves, bark


TRADITIONAL & MODERN USE:

Yew is steeped in Celtic folklore. It is a symbol of the dark side of the goddess, the source of knowledge. It is emblematic of the human soul, representing death and resurrection. It was once used to make long bows.

The berries may be edible when ripe but all other parts of the yew tree contain poisonous alkaloids.

The wood is said to resist the action of water and is very hard. It was greatly valued before the use of iron

became general. It was a sacred tree of the Druids who built their temples near yew trees.


Powdered leaves once used as a treatment for epilepsy, for cardiac arrhythmias and as an antidote to adder bites. Listed as expectorant and purgative but its use is not recommended without medical supervision. It also

increases blood pressure.


CONSTITUENTS:

·        Alkaloids including taxine


Taxine swiftly causes cardiac arrest and irreversible necrosis.


Taxol is used in the US as a treatment for drug-resistant ovarian cancer. It slows down the tumour but does not

cure the condition. It is made from taxaines, compounds found in a Californian Yew – Taxus brevifolia