Buckthorn Bark

Buckthorn bark is made from the European buckthorn shrub and rhamnus frangula tree, which is native to Europe1, the western part of Asia and the Middle East. It has been used for medicinal purposes since at the 1600s, mainly as a laxative to treat constipation and other issues that may arise as a result of this condition, such as hemorrhoids and irritation.

Traditional Health Benefits of Buckthorn Bark

Buckthorn bark powder is available as an alternative health supplement and may be used in the form of tablets, dried extract powder capsules or tea. The bark tastes sweet and slightly bitter. Buckthorn bark is also commonly referred to as Alder Buckthorn, Frangula, Alder, Dogwood, Arrow Wood, Bourdaine, Rhamnus Frangula, Glossy Buckthorn, Nerprun Bourdaine and Nerprun Noir

What is Buckthorn Bark Used For?

Buckthorn Bark may have numerous benefits to the body, including the following: Cleanses the Colon, Acts as a Natural Laxative, Eases Pain of Bowel Movements and Acts as Preparatory to Surgical Procedures Involving the Colon

Benefits of Buckthorn Bark

Buckthorn bark is typically used as a laxative to alleviate constipation and any sub-issues that arise from this condition. The compounds in the bark, called anthraquinones2, work by increasing the colon’s ability to contract and reducing water absorption by the intestines, allowing more liquid to be left in the colon. As a result, larger, softer stools are produced, which then eases constipation. Issues that may arise as a result of constipation, such as hemorrhoids and anal fissures, may also be treated with buckthorn bark powder. Since the supplement serves as an effective stool softener, it can make bowel movements less painful and more comfortable for those with these issues. Buckthorn bark may also be used as a colon cleanser to prepare for surgical procedures.

How to Use and Supplementing with Buckthorn Bark

Buckthorn bark powder can be taken as a tablet, capsule or tea. Buckthorn bark powder can be an effective natural alternative to traditional laxatives sold as pharmaceutical products. It can serve as a natural stool softener and alleviate the issues that often accompany bowel issues. As always, be sure to consult with a physician prior to taking buckthorn bark powder in order to rule out any potentially harmful interactions.

Recommended Daily Allowance of Buckthorn Bark

The typical dose of buckthorn is between 0.5g to 2.5g of the dried bark. Take only the amount of bark needed to produce a soft stool. It may also be taken as a tablet at the onset of bowel issues, which is the most convenient way to take the supplement. It may also be taken as a tea by steeping 2g of the herb in 150mL of boiling water for about 10 minutes, though the taste may be too bitter for some. Alternatively, between 2mL to 5mL of liquid extract drops may be taken three times a day for no more than a week. Buckthorn bark powder is not for long-term use. Ideally, it should be taken for no more than 8-10 days. If the supplement is taken for extended periods of time, it may cause low potassium levels, stomach issues, muscle weakness and even heart problems. If you experience very loose stools while using buckthorn bark powder, stop taking it.

Considerations When Taking Buckthorn Bark

Buckthorn bark powder is never used fresh, but is rather dried and seasoned before it's ready for consumption after the bark has aged to at least a year. If not, consumption of the bark could lead to uncomfortable and painful abdominal issues and may irritate the mucosal lining of the stomach and cause gastrointestinal irritation, vomiting, diarrhea and muscle spasms. Those who are currently suffering from diarrhea, abdominal pain, or intestinal disorders should not use buckthorn bark powder. Further, pregnant or nursing women or children under the age of 12 years should not take the supplement. Anyone taking certain medications should not take buckthorn bark powder unless they have specific permission from their physician. Since buckthorn is a laxative, it could reduce how much medicine the body is able to absorb. A reduction in how much medicine the body absorbs could weaken its effect. Always consult with a health care provider before using buckthorn bark powder or any other herbal products.

Citations and Sources

1. Michigan Medicine U of M. Alder Buckthorn. Michigan Medicine. https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hn-3650004. 2. US National Library of Medicine NC for BI. Anthraquinone. US National Library of Medicine. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/anthraquinone.

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