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The common buckthorn plant’s effects on the intestine have been known from the 11th century onwards, and it is also used in veterinary medicine to purge animals.

common buckthorn berries on branch

Healing Properties

The fruit of common buckthorn is rich in anthraquinone glycosides, to which it owes its energetic purgative properties (cathartic), which according to the botanist Font Quer “never fails.” Nobody can eat the fruit of common buckthorn and not defecate. These fruits also have mild diuretic properties. They are administered as a complement in anthelmintic treatment to promote the expelling of worms.


It must be carefully used, in low doses, since high amounts can produce intense cramps, vomiting, and even intestinal bleeding.

Common Buckthorn Scientific Facts

  1. Scientific Name – Rhamnus Cathartica L.
  2. Other Names – Buckthorn, waythorn, purging buckthorn.
  3. French – Nerprun.
  4. Spanish – Espino cerval.
  5. Environment – Native to northern Asia, now spread all over forests and mountainous areas of Europe and America.
  6. Description – Thorny shrub of the Rhamnaceae family, growing from 3 to 5 m high, with small, greenish flowers with four petals each. Its fruit is fleshy blackberries with 3 or 4 seeds each.
  7. Parts of the plant used medicinally – The fruit.

How to use Common Buckthorn

  1. Juice prepared by mashing a handful of ripe fruit. The resulting juice, which can be sweetened with some sugar, is taken in a dose of two or three spoonfuls in the morning.
  2. Syrup – Add to the juice mentioned above its same weight in sugar, then boil in low heat until it becomes thick. Take from three to six spoonfuls daily.


George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. vols. 2 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 525. Print.

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