About 1350, a book entitled the Ri Yong Ben Cao (Home Guide to Useful Medicines) first advised Chinese physicians of the medicinal benefits of prickly ash, also known as Szechuan pepper.
Before prickly ash was used medicinally, however, it was applied in the Imperial Court as the sole anesthetic for the operation by which the Emperor acquired his court eunuchs. The Eclectic physicians valued prickly ash bark for its use as a digestive and nervous system tonic; they also continued traditional Native American use of Prickly Ash Bark to relieve upset stomach, muscle pain, and sore throats, as well as to support healthy skin and for herbal first aid. Its alterative activity supports healthy liver and blood, and while it offers a similar benefit to circulation as that of cayenne, traditional use suggests its effects are slower and may be longer lasting.*
Constituents of note: Volatile oil containing geraniol.
The chopped bark of prickly ash is better for making teas and tinctures than the powdered bark; the tea can also be used in a compress applied to the abdomen to treat abdominal pain.