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Alder Buckthorn

Also indexed as:Rhamnus frangula
Alder Buckthorn: Main Image© Martin Wall
Botanical names:
Rhamnus frangula

How It Works

Alder buckthorn is high in anthraquinone glycosides. Resins, tannins, and lipids make up the bulk of the bark’s other ingredients. Anthraquinone glycosides have a cathartic action, inducing the large intestine to increase its muscular contraction (peristalsis) and increasing water movement from the cells of the colon into the feces, resulting in strong, soft bowel movements.5 It takes six to ten hours for alder buckthorn to act after taking it by mouth.

How to Use It

Only the dried form of alder buckthorn should be used. Capsules providing 20 to 30 mg of anthraquinone glycosides (calculated as glucofrangulin A) per day can be used; however, the smallest amount necessary to maintain regular bowel movements should be used.6 As a tincture, 5 ml once at bedtime is generally taken. Alder buckthorn is usually taken at bedtime to induce a bowel movement by morning. It is important to drink eight six-ounce glasses of water throughout the day while taking alder buckthorn, and to consume plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Alder buckthorn should be taken for a maximum of eight to ten days consecutively or else it can lead to dependence on it to have a bowel movement.7 Some people take peppermint tea or capsules with alder buckthorn to prevent griping, an unpleasant sensation of strong contractions in the colon sometimes induced by the herb.

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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.

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