pl flaga PL rus flaga  RU

Alder buckthorn (Frangula alnus)

kruszynanspThe alder buckthorn is a shrub with the most important element, because of the beneficial therapeutic properties, being the bark.

What does the alder buckthorn look like and where can it be found?

The alder buckthorn (also known as glossy buckthorn or black dogwood) is a shrub species typical of the Polish lowlands and low mountan heights. It also populates other areas of Europe and Western Asia.

Being a shrub, the plant can reach a considerable size, even five metres in height. The alder buckthorn has thin twigs. The cortex is brownish in colour. The leaves are elliptical and have no trichomes. Their distinctive feature is the dull edges. An eye-catching part of the alder buckthorn is its fruits. They grow green at first, then turn red and finally become black. Interestingly enough, each fruit matures on its own so multicoloured fruits can be found on a single shrub.

Be aware that their tasty appearance hides their toxic effects. Consumption of a considerable quantity results in typical effects of poisoning, namely vomiting and diarrhoea.

Active ingredient contents in the alder buckthorn

The pharmaceutical material (used in medicine) is the bark of the buckthorn. Not every harvest produces the bark with adequate concentrations of active substances, which are anthraquinones and anthranols. Hence the pharmaceutical industry sources only the bark collected from young trunks and branches which still do not have leaves. The anthranoid compounds in the buckthorn bark have a mild laxative effect that is comparable to the laxative action of the Rheum genus of plants. The action of the anthranoids consists in limiting the discharge of water and sodium ions from the intestines to the blood stream. This makes the faeces more fluid and definitely easier to move towards the rectum. The anthranoid compounds also increase peristaltic movement (the alternating contraction and relaxation) of the intestines, which favours quicker movement of faecal matter.

The alder buckthorn contains flavonoids, saponins and low concentrations of peptide alkaloids, and the effect of the latter is outweighed by the primary laxative properties of the plant material.

Therapeutic indications for the alder buckthorn bark

The extract of buckthorn bark is intended for use in the treatment of constipation. Constipation is an effect of physiological changes due to improperly composed diet, as well as a result of pathological conditions occurring in the body. If constipation occurs frequently, other causes to be considered include a predominantly sitting lifestyle and no physical exercise. Constipation (a.k.a obstruction) is diagnosed when the stool is discharged at intervals exceeding two days and with pain.

Note that treatment of constipation should be short-term and involve laxative preparations; if a long-term treatment is elected, it requires changing dietary habits and more physical exercise.

As said before, the buckthorn bark is a mild laxative. Its potency can be enhanced by combining with an aloe extract (in the medicine Alax), which has a similar, albeit stronger, effect on intestinal peristalsis. A drug composed of the Frangula bark extract and aloe leaf extract has a quicker laxative action due to the medicinal synergism (cooperation) of both herbs.

Products containing Alder buckthorn

Tips - Alder buckthorn

Constipation, a bothersome daily problem

Constipation is not only a matter of difficult defecation, but it is also pain, the need for frequent and unsuccessful visits to the bathroom and continuous contemplation of how to...

Read more