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Alder buckthorn

kruszyna pospolita labofarm
Alder buckthorn

Frangula alnus, syn. Rhamnus frangula – Alder buckthorn, glossy buckthorn
Rhamnaceae – Buckthorn family

The raw material is the frangula bark – Frangulae cortex, harvested from young trunks and branches in early spring and stored for over than a year or dried within 2 hours in up to 100° C. The bark is only partially protected, so it is harvested only in designated areas.

Alder buckthorn – effects and use:

Alder buckthorn is found almost in the whole of Europe and West Asia; in Poland it is found in the lowlands, wet forests, on banks of rivers and lakes. The plant favors moist and acidic spots. It grows up to 5 m, rarely 7 m, the branches grow from the main shoot almost perpendicularly. The leaves are entire, elliptical or obovate, dark green at the top. The flowers are small, greenish, individual or in groups of 2-7 in the angles of the leaves. It blooms from May to October. The fruit is a drupe, initially green, later red and purple-black, black and pea-sized when fully ripe. The fruit do not ripen simultaneously, so during fruiting they vary in color. The plant is melliferous. The fruit are unpleasant in taste and poisonous; however, they are often enjoyed by birds.

Alder buckthorn – effects and use:

Alder buckthorn contains: 2-7% anthranoids derived from emodin, physcion and chrysophanol (most notably glucofrangulin A and B, frangulin A and B); flavonoids, saponins and peptide alkaloids. The fruit eaten in larger amounts cause vomiting and severe diarrhea in humans.

Due to its anthranoids, the frangula bark is used as a mild laxative which stimulates Auerbach's plexus in the large intestine. It enhances bowel peristalsis and inhibits the absorption of water by the intestine wall, which increases the volume of fecal matter. The laxative effect is slightly lower than that of aloe, as it sets on after 6-10 hours. The frangula bark also has a mild choleretic effect, and it is sometimes recommended in diseases of the liver and the gallbladder; it also counteracts intestinal parasites. The bitter taste of anthranoids stimulates the secretion of gastric juice. The fresh bark strongly irritates the stomach mucosa and can cause nausea and vomiting.

The frangula fruit – Frangulae fructus – due to its bitter taste, is not currently used in medicine.

Herbal preparations of the frangula bark are not recommended:

– During pregnancy (they cause lesser pelvis hyperemia) and lactation;
– After abdominal cavity surgeries (e.g. appendectomy);
– In kidney diseases, hemorrhoids and colitis.

In the past, the frangula bark was used to treat diseases of the liver, spleen and also externally for purulent skin inflammation, hemorrhoids and tooth decay. Currently, it is one of the most commonly used laxatives.

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