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  • Botanical: Rhamnus frangula
  • Family: Rhamnaceae
  • Hits: 2592


Rhamnus frangula



Known as

Buckthorn, Rhamnus frangula, Alder Dogwood, Arrow Wood, Black Dogwood, Purgierkreuzdorn, Echter Kreuzdorn, Amselbeere, Chelgerli, Färberbeere, Hexendorn, Hirschdorn, Kreuzbeere, Purgierdorn, Schyssbeeri, Wegdorn

Old Use


Collection Times

September to November

Parts Used

bark, fruit


abdominal pain, bowel cleansing, bladder disease, bladder stones, bladder weakness, bleeding, blood cleansing, circulation, constipation, cramps, cramps stomach, cystitis, digestion, eczema, flatulence, gallstones, gastritis, gastrointestinal, gingivitis, gum bleeding, laxative, liver weakness, indigestion, infections intestinal, jaundice, rheumatism, skin rashes, ulcers, stomach cramps

Infection & Inflammation

infections intestinal

Respiratory System


Stomach & Intestinal

abdominal pain, bowel cleansing, bladder disease, bladder stones, bladder weakness, bile weakness, constipation, cystitis, digestion, flatulence, gallstones, gastritis, gastrointestinal, gastric inflammation, laxative, liver weakness, indigestion, intestinal inflammation, stomach pain, stomach cramps, stomach complaints, stomach weakness, ulcers, emetic

Skin & Hair

dermatitis, itching, skin rashes


antispasmodic, cholagogue, diuretic, expectorant, stimulant, tonic, vermifuge


The main stem is erect, the bark smooth, of a blackish-brown colour, on the twigs ash-coloured. The smaller branches generally terminate in a stout thorn or spine, hence the ordinary name of Buckthorn, and the older names by which the shrub has been known: Highwaythorn and Waythorn. Gerard calls it Ram or Hart's Thorn. The leaves grow in small bunches on footstalks, mostly opposite towards the base of the young shoots, though more generally alternate towards the apex. They are eggshaped and toothed on the edges, the younger ones with a kind of soft down. In the axils of the more closely arranged leaves, developed from the wood of the preceding year, are dense branches of small greenish-yellow flowers, about one-fifth inch across, which are followed by globular berries about the size of a pea, black and shining when ripe, and each containing four hard, dark-brown seeds.

Properties & Uses

Alder buckthorn has been used medicinally as a gentle laxative since at least the Middle Ages. The bark contains 3 - 7% anthraquinones, these act on the wall of the colon stimulating a bowel movement approximately 8 - 12 hours after ingestion. It is so gentle and effective a treatment when prescribed in the correct dosages that it is completely safe to use for children and pregnant women. The bark also contains anthrones and anthranols, these induce vomiting but the severity of their effect is greatly reduced after the bark has been dried and stored for a long time. The bark is harvested in early summer from the young trunk and moderately sized branches, it must then be dried and stored for at least 12 months before being used The inner bark is cathartic, cholagogue, laxative (the fresh bark is violently purgative), tonic, vermifuge. It is taken internally as a laxative for chronic atonic constipation and is also used to treat abdominal bloating, hepatitis, cirrhosis, jaundice, and liver and gall bladder complaints. It should be used with caution since excess doses or using the bark before it is cured can cause violent purging. Externally, the bark is used to treat gum diseases and scalp infestations, or as a lotion for minor skin irritations. The fruit is occasionally used, it is aperient without being irritating. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Rhamnus frangula for constipation.

Other Uses

A yellow dye is obtained from the leaves and bark. It is much used in Russia and turns black when mixed with salts of iron. A green dye is obtained from the unripe fruit. A blue or grey dye is obtained from the ripe berries. Plants can be grown as an informal (untrimmed) hedge, though they are also amenable to trimming. The cultivar 'Tallhedge (syn 'Columnaris') is very suitable for this purpose. The wood is used to make wooden nails, shoe lasts, veneer etc. It is the source of a high quality charcoal that is used by artists.


The plant is poisonous unless stored for 12 months before use. This report is probably referring to the bark. Do not use in cases of intestinal obstruction, stenosis, atony, inflammatory colon disease, appendicitis, abdominal pain of unknown origin. Avoid long-term use. Two weeks recommended under medical supervision 


Europe, including Britain, from Scandanavia south and east to N. Africa, the Urals and Siberia.


Anthrachinon-Verbindungen, Glykoside, Flavonglykoside

For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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