Habitat: Hedgerows, old fields, woodland edges; prefers well-drained soils.
Range: Native to Eurasia and North Africa, alder buckthorn is naturalized in North America from Nova Scotia to Quebec south to New Jersey and west to Illinois.
Identification: A deciduous shrub or small tree, growing up to 20 feet tall. It has glossy oval green leaves, 1-3 inches long, that are alternate and toothless. The bark is green when young, becoming gray and marked with whitish transverse ridges when older. Small greenish-white flowers (May- July) grow in small clusters at the leaf joints or at the tips of branches. Pea-size berries turn from green to red to black when mature (September).
Uses: Herbalists recommend a tea made from the bark as a laxative. In Europe, the bark is a common ingredient in commercial laxatives.
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Anonymous - June 7, 2006, 15:19
We used Buckthorn for dogs 50 yrs. ago. Can it be used for dogs now, for general health?
ZooScape Moderator - June 14, 2006, 13:48
Yes! Buckthorn is an excellent laxative and purgative still found in many herbal cleansing formulas for pets. Often times buckthorn, in liquid form, was mixed with castor oil as an intestinal tonic for dogs. Herbs like buckthorn, or its close relative cascara sagrada, can induce peristalsis in the colon of both animals and humans, while castor oil can be used as a muscle relaxant to alleviate spasms of the colon.
Take 1 capsule, 3 times daily, with meals.
Avoid Buckthorn if you have an intestinal obstruction, an acute inflammatory intestinal disorder such as Crohn's Disease, ulcerative colitis, appendicitis, or any abdominal pain of unknown origin.
Not for use by children under 12.
Buckthorn can cause abdominal pain or discomfort. If it does, reduce the dosage.
Do not take Buckthorn for more than 1 to 2 weeks without consulting a doctor. Long-term use can lead to potassium deficiency, intestinal dysfunction, heart problems, kidney disease, swelling, and bone problems.
Avoid combining Buckthorn with other medications that flush water and potassium from the body, including diuretics such as Diuril and Lasix, steroid drugs such as prednisone, and licorice root.
Potassium plays an important role in regulating the heart, so depleting it through long-term use of laxatives can affect the action of certain heart medications. There could be an increase in the effect of drugs such as digitalis and digoxin (Lanoxin). Medications taken to steady the heartbeat could also be affected.
Consult with your doctor before using Buckthorn while pregnant or breastfeeding.
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