Alder buckthorn bark is used today primarily as a laxative. It is milder than other herbal laxatives, such as senna, and its effect is similar to rhubarb. In the vernacular, alder buckthorn is also called "gunpowder" wood because black powder used to be manufactured from alder buckthorn charcoal.
Plant Facts :
A large fruit bearing shrub, alder buckthorn can reach a height of 23 feet. It's a member of the buckthorn family and, unlike its name suggest, it has no thorns. The scentless bark has a very bitter and unpleasant taste.
alder buckthorn is native to almost all of Europe as well as to northwest Asia and north America. It grows in alder forests, in damp, deciduous woods with mixed growth, on creek banks, in hedges and on moors.
Parts used :
The bark, taken from the stronger branches while the plant is in blossom, is the only part used for medicinal purposes. Because the bark contains a poisonous enzyme. It must be dried first and stored for at least one to two years or aged artificially by heating; otherwise, it will induce vomiting.
The mature alder buckthorn bark contains anthraquinone glycosides, including frangulins and glucofrangulins. Only in the body do these get converted by means of enzymatic breakdown into anthrones, which have strong laxative effects. Additional components include tannins and amall quantities of alkaloids, bitters and saponins.
alder buckthorn bark is an effective laxative that does not irritate the intestines. The tea helps people with hemorroids, anal fissures or rectal tenderness defecate more easily.
Extra Tip : The dark violet fruits that ripen in the fall are easily mistaken for cherries by children. Avoid them, because like the fresh bark, these fruits are mildly poisonous and lead to intense cramping and diarrhea.
To treat constipation and liver illnesses
Methods of Administration
Pour 1 cup of hot water over 1 tsp. of dried bark; after 10-15 min.; drain. Dribnk 1 freshly prepared cup in the morning and/or in the evening.
Caution : Do not drink the tea for more than 5 days without consulting a medical professional.
Soak a clean cloth with cooled tea; then apply. Keep the compress on for several hours.
Let 2/3 - 1 oz. of alder buckthorn bark steep in 1 qt. of red wine for about 1 week; shake occasionally. Drink 4 oz. before dinner.
A tincture is available in health food stores. In the evening before bedtime, take 20-40 drops of the tincture with a little water or as advised on the label.
Caution : do not use alder buckthorn products if you have diarrhea or abdominal pain. Consult a doctor prior to use if you are pregnant or nursing, Never exceed the recommended dosage.