Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What are the Benefits of Red Bush Honeysuckle?

Red honeysuckle bushes, one of many varieties of honeysuckle plants, produces red berries that are mildly toxic to people and domestic animals. If you want to safely eat honeysuckle berries, choose plants that produce blue berries. The fruit of red bush honeysuckle – lonicera tatarika – provides no medicinal benefits, but the berries of blue bush honeysuckle – lonicera caurulea – contain vitamin A and antioxidants.

Red Honeysuckle Bushes

Two types of bush honeysuckles – amur and morrow – produce red berries and white flowers. They are an invasive plant, meaning they will spread and take over other plant life. Native to Asia, red honeysuckle bushes grow from 6 feet to 20 feet tall and typically flower in May and June. Wild birds feed on red honeysuckle berries and spread the plant’s seeds. Children who eat red honeysuckle berries may develop symptoms of mild toxicity. You should also keep your pets away from red honeysuckle berries. They may experience diarrhea, vomiting and lethargy if they eat the fruit.

Blue Honeysuckle Berries

Blue honeysuckle bushes, native to Japan and Russia, are also known as honeyberries, sweetberry honeysuckles and edible honeysuckles. The berries, which look like overgrown oval blueberries, grow to between 1 and 2 inches long. Some taste sweet and slightly sour, while some berries are bland or bitter. Blue honeysuckle bushes produce about 4 pounds to 5 pounds per plant. While red honeysuckle bushes have been cultivated in North America for more than 100 years, blue honeysuckle bushes are relative newcomers, introduced in the 1980s.


A study published in the December 2008 issue of the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry” found that blue honeysuckle berries contained the antioxidants anthocyanins, helpful in wound healing; rutin, which reduces inflammation; epicatechin, the antioxidant also found in green tea that may prevent against disease; quercetin, which helps protect against free radicals; ellagitannins, which fight bacterial and viral infections; genistic acid, which fights against free radicals from environmental toxins; and protocatechuic acid, which may reduce inflammation and fight viruses. The study was led by I. Palikova, a researcher at Palacky University in the Czech Republic.


The flowers, leaves and bark – but not berries – of honeysuckle bushes have been used in traditional Chinese medicine. Uses include treating coughs, inflammation from arthritis, stomach flu and kidney problems. If you take honeysuckle as a supplement, make certain the formula does not include red berries. Do not eat any kind of honeysuckle berries except blue. Do not use honeysuckle to treat any ailment without consulting a doctor.

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