Other Names of Buckthorn: Buckthorn is known by different names depending on its locality. This herb grows all over the world and is referred to differently everywhere.

  • Purging buckthorn
  • Rhamnus frangula L.
  • Rhamnus cathartica L.
  • Alder buckthorn
  • Dyer’s buckthorn
  • Italian buckthorn
  • Sanguinho
  • Hollyleaf buckthorn
  • European black alder
  • European buckthorn
  • Persian berries
  • Common buckthorn
  • Waythorn

Useful Parts of the Plant: Berries Bark

Buckthorn, known most commonly as purging buckthorn, is from Rhamnaceae family of plants and is usually classified as a deciduous tree. This family of plants consists of at least 100 varieties of shrubs and small trees. It is often mixed up with sea buckthorn.

These shrubs are found in temperate regions in the Northern and Southern hemisphere. The small trees can grow up to a height of 10 meters with leaves that can be up to 15 centimeters long. The leaves are usually shiny and dark green. The berries of this plant are dark blue in color. The characteristic name of this herb comes from a telltale woody spine that is found in the plant. The plant flowers in May and June.

The berries are also used to make dyes. These berries, when picked unripe and dried, are called Sappo berries. Different stages of ripeness can give you different colors including yellow, black and purple.

Nutritional information and Properties: The plant contains anthraquinone glycosides, acids like ascorbic acid, pectins, flavonoids, tannins, and anthocyanins. The seeds contain Glucofrangulin and frangulin, Emodin and emodinanthrone.

Health Benefits and Therapeutic Uses of Buckthorn

  • The plant helps clean toxins from the body.
  • It can be strongly purgative and it is therefore used in the treatment of constipation. In some cases, where a patient has had rectal surgery, this herb is given so that the patient has soft stools that do not aggravate the surgery area. Due to its bitter taste and strength, it is often used as the last resort treatment.
  • Its diuretic properties help cleanse the blood.
  • This herb is used for liver, gall bladder problems and intestinal problems in people.
  • Home treatments for colic, obesity, dropsy and hemorrhoids, all use buckthorn.
  • The herb can also be used in small quantities, in the treatment of certain skin problems like that of warts as also in relieving itching.
  • The berries infusion or syrup, when had hot, can induce perspiration and help in reducing fever.
  • This mixture can also treat lead poisoning, gout, rheumatism, and expel parasites.

The dosage can vary 1 teaspoon of bark with ½ cup cold water is usually recommended for a decoction. You can also make a cold extract using the same proportions. A tincture can be made with 5 to 20 drops of this mixture depending on how much is needed. To use the berries, you need to make a syrup with about 2-10 ounces of berries boiled with water and sugar.

Warnings and Exceptions

  • This herb is usually recommended for short and small doses.
  • This herb has contraindications for pregnant or breast feeding women.
  • This herb is also not advised for children.
  • This herb also has not external use and is rarely used in aromatherapy applications too.
  • This herb is also better avoided if you have aggravated forms of intestinal diseases like appendicitis or Crohn’s disease.
  • The fresh berries and bark are known to cause poisoning. The best bark that can be used is bark that is 3 to 4 years old. It is important to age the bark for a year at least. Once you have the bark, keep it in storage for a year. You can even dry the bark in the oven and then store it.