herbals buckthorn



Scientific:Rhamnus frangula
Other:Alder Buckthorn


• acute constipation


• laxative (stimulating)
• cathartic


• Anthraquinone (e.g. emodin)


• Tincture (1:5 in 45% EtOH): 1-5 ml tid
• Fluid extract (1:1 in 25% EtOH): 0.6-2 ml tid
• Decoction (dried bark at least one year old): 0.5-2.5 g

Note: will stimulate a bowel movement in roughly 8-10 hr. Usually recommended to take before sleep.


Contraindications: Use > 10 consecutive days, bulimia, intestinal obstruction, spastic constipation, acute intestinal inflammation, abdominal pain of unknown origin, children <12 years old, pregnancy, lactation.

Side-effects: Red urine (benign), hypokalemia, colic; common with anthraquinones due to increased parastalsis and smooth muscle spasms. Carminatives decrease side-effects.

Warning: Discontinue use after 7-10 days.

Long-term use: Hypokalemia, dependency, intestinal paralysis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), pancreatitis, renal failure, melanosis coli.


• Hypokalemic agents - caution taken it concomitantly with drugs and herbs that depleted potassium: antiarrhythmic drugs (e.g. quinine), cardiac glycoside (e.g. digitallis), diuretics, corticosteroids and licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra).


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Barnes J, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines, 3rd ed. London: Pharmaceutical Press, 2007.

Bone K. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2000.

Bone K. A Clinical Guide to Blending Liquid Herbs: Herbal Formulations for the Individual Patient. St Louis, MO: Churchill Livingstone, 2003.

Brinker F. The Toxicology of Botanical Medicines, 3rd ed. Sandy, Oregon: Eclectic Medical Publications, 2000.

Felter HW, Lloyd JU. King's American Dispensatory. 1898. http://www.ibiblio.org/herbmed/eclectic/kings/main.html. Accessed: August 19, 2006.

Hoffman D. Medical Herbalism. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press, 2003.

Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Beaconsfield, England: Beaconsfield Publishers Ltd, 1988.

Williamson EM, ed. Major Herbs of Ayurveda. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2002

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