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MoonDragon's Health & Wellness
Nutrition Basics

Common Buckthorn, European Buckthorn

(Rhamnus Catharticus, Rhamnus Frangula)

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  • Buckthorn Description
  • Buckthorn Uses, Health Benefits & Scientific Evidence
  • Buckthorn Dosage Information
  • Buckthorn Safety, Cautions & Interactions
  • Buckthorn Supplements & Products

  • buckthorn


    Buckthorn (Rhamnus catharticus) is also known as Common Buckthorn, European Buckthorn and Purging Buckthorn. Rhamnus frangula is known as Alder Dogwood, Arrow Wood, Black Dogwood, Buckthorn, Buckthorn Bark, Dog Wood, Frangula Alnus, Frangula Bark, Frangulae Cortex, Glossy Buckthorn, and Rhamnus Frangula.

    Buckthorn is a shrub or small tree that grows up to 25 feet tall. The branches have tipped with sharp spines. Clusters of greenish flowers (May to June) produce berry-like fruits that contain three or four seeds and turn black when ripe. The name cathartica suggests it has cathartic or laxative properties. The berries are the part that has those properties and have been used for constipation since the 13th century; however, by the 19th century, its purgative action was thought to be so severe the use of it was discarded. It was said that Buckthorn was a medicine more fit for animals than human beings. Today many veterinarians use it as a purgative for dogs.

    The Buckthorn shrub is native to Europe, Western Asia, and the Middle East. Buckthorn is never used fresh. It is collected in the summer, and then must be aged for at least a year to break down its anthrone chemicals. If the Buckthorn is not aged, it is not laxative, it is purgative, causing intense intestinal spasms and vomiting. The herb can be artificially aged by heating or aeration, but some useful constituents may be lost.

    buckthorn berries and leaves


    Today, Buckthorn is used the same way, and throughout history, it has been one of the few herbs to be used consistently for the same ailment: constipation and its by-products, hemorrhoids and anal irritation. Health care practitioners also recommend using Buckthorn to clear the intestinal tract before surgery.

    Historically, it has also been used as a dye for textiles.


    Constituents: 1,8-dihydroxy-anthracene derivatives (in the aged bark), flavonoids, and tannins.
    Parts Used: Properly aged bark. (1 year recommended).
    Typical Preparations: Best taken as a tablet, can be used as a tea but is hard to drink given its bitter taste. May also be prepared as an extract.

    Buckthorn comes in various forms and can be an ingredient in many products. To use an infusion, take 1 cup of boiling water to 2 teaspoonfuls of fruit. Drink in the morning or evening as it takes about 12 hours to be effective. You can also just chew about 10 seeds in the morning to produce the same results. As a tincture, take 1-2ml at night and in the morning. For other formulations, read and follow product label directions.


    Exceeding the recommended dose of Buckthorn can cause extreme diarrhea and vomiting.

    People who have an intestinal obstruction, Crohn’s disease, or colitis should not take Buckthorn. Those who are pregnant or breast-feeding and children under the age of 12 should not use Buckthorn without the advice of a health care practitioner.

    Buckthorn may also turn the urine dark yellow or red, but this is harmless.

    Using Buckthorn for more than 10 days consecutively may cause a loss of electrolytes, or can weaken the colon, and long-term use can cause kidney disease. Avoid long term use, and discontinue in the event of diarrhea or watery stools. Overuse can also cause a potassium deficiency that can affect heartbeat-regulating drugs.

    You should not use buckthorn or any other laxative if you have appendicitis, Crohn's disease, or ulcerative colitis.


  • Buckthorn Bark Herbal Products



    Aged buckthorn bark is an ingredient in laxative teas, extracts, and tablets in Europe. It is also added to sunscreens. The 1997 Commission E on Phytotherapy and Herbal Substances of the German Federal Institute for Drugs recommends Buckthorn bark for constipation. Buckthorn Bark is known as a mild, but effective, laxative that efficiently and thoroughly evacuates the intestines and bowel, relieving both chronic and atonic constipation. It also stimulates the production of bile secretions, which promote healthy gallbladder and liver functions, helping to relieve jaundice and hepatitis.


    Mountain Rose Herbs: Buckthorn Bark (Frangula Alnus), Certified Organic, Bulk Organic Herbs & Spices
    Mountain Rose Herbs: Buckthorn Bark Powder (Frangula Alnus), Certified Organic, Bulk Organic Herbs & Spices


    Starwest Botanicals: Buckthorn Bark (Rhamnus frangula), Cut & Sifted, Wildcrafted, 1 lb.
    Starwest Botanicals: Buckthorn Bark Powder, Wildcrafted, 1 lb.


    Kalyx: Buckthorn Bark, Cut & Sifted, Wildcrafted, Starwest Botanicals, 1 lb: C
    Kalyx: Buckthorn Bark, Cut & Sifted, Certified Organic, Starwest Botanicals, 1 lb: C
    Kalyx: Buckthorn Aged Bark, Cut & Sifted (Rhamnus frangula), Frontier Bulk Herbs, 1 lb: K
    Kalyx: Buckthorn Bark Powder, Wildcrafted, Starwest Botanicals, 1 lb: C
    Kalyx: Buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula) Bark Powder, Kalyx, 1 kg (2.2 lbs): RF
    Kalyx: Buckthorn Bark Powder, Kalyx, 1 kg (2.2 lbs): EB
    Kalyx: Buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula) Bark Powder Extract 4:1, Kalyx, 1 kg (2.2 lbs): RF
    Kalyx: Buckthorn Bark 4:1 Powdered Extract, Kalyx, 1 kg (2.2 lbs): EB
    Kalyx: Buckthorn Bark Extract (Rhamnus frangula), Health & Herbs,t 2 fl oz: HH
    Kalyx: Buckthorn Bark Non-Alcoholic Extract (Rhamnus frangula), Health & Herbs, 2 fl oz: HH
    Kalyx: Buckthorn Bark Extract (Rhamnus frangula), Health & Herbs, 8 fl oz: HH
    Kalyx: Buckthorn Bark Non-Alcoholic Extract (Rhamnus frangula), Health & Herbs, 8 fl oz: HH
    Kalyx: Buckthorn Bark Extract (Rhamnus frangula), Health & Herbs, 16 fl oz: HH
    Kalyx: Buckthorn Bark Non-Alcoholic Extract (Rhamnus frangula), Health & Herbs, 16 fl oz: HH -
    Kalyx: Buckthorn Bark Extract (Rhamnus frangula), Health & Herbs, 32 fl oz: HH


    Amazon: Buckthorn Bark Herbal Products

  • Nutrition Basics: Buckthorn Herbal Information

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