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Herb Information
Name: Common Buckthorn
Biological Name: Rhamnus cathartica

Rhamnaceae

Other Names: Common buckthorn, purging buckthorn, waythorn
Parts Used: Fruit
Active Compounds: anthraquinones
History:

Buckthorn is a potent laxative. It is so powerful that it is to be taken only as a last resort. Buckthorn became popular for herbal healing in England around the 13th century. Buckthorn was found to produce quick, reliable, dramatic results when used as a laxative. Herbalists, through the ages, have also recommended buckthorn for jaundice, hemorrhoids, gout, arthritis, and menstruation promotion. It was also used for cancer treatment; although this application is controversial.

Remedies For

Diuretic, purgative.

The dried, ripe berries of the common buckthorn have been used as a purgative since the 9th century. The dried berries can be eaten or an infusion made from them for a purgative effect. Fresh berries can be made into a syrup.

Description:

Common buckthorn is a deciduous shrub found in Europe, Asia, and the eastern U.S., often as a hedge plant. In the wild, it may grow 12 feet high or more, in thickets, among hedges, and along the edges of woods. Its branchlets are usually tipped with sharp spines; and its ovate or elliptic, crenate- serrate leaves grow in opposite pairs on the stems and branches. During May and June, small, greenish or yellowish flowers appear in 2- to 5-flowered axillary clusters. The fruit is a black, fleshy berry-like drupe.

Dosage:

Berries: Adults take 1/10 to 2/10 oz. dried berries; children take half as much.

Syrup: Boil fresh berry juice with sugar to get a syrupy consistency.
Adults take 1 to 2 tbsp., children 1/2 tsp. at a time.

Safety:

CAUTION: Excessive doses of the berries can produce poisoning. Use only as a last resort. Take under the supervision of a physician. Do not take if you are pregnant.

Do not use buckthorn more than 2 weeks at a time. Prolonged use may result in lazy bowl syndrome - an inability to move stool without chemical stimulation.

Make sure the buckthorn is dried thoroughly. Otherwise it may cause vomiting, severe abdominal pain, and violent diarrhea. Many herbalists recommend drying the berries 1 to 2 years before using.

If violent diarrhea occurs or if intestinal cramps develop, stop using the herb immediately and see a doctor immediately.

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