Buckthorn American, or Cascara

Parts used: bark (after storage for a year).

Pharmacy name: American buckthorn bark – Rhamni purshiani cortex (formerly: Cortex Rhamni purshiani).

Botanical description. American buckthorn grows as a shrub or tree 6-8 m tall. The branches, felt-pubescent in youth, bear broadly ovate leaves with small teeth along the edge and numerous small flowers in axillary clusters. The fruits are black-purple when mature and shaped like a top. This plant is native to the Pacific coast of North America. Pharmaceutical raw materials are obtained partly from wild plants, but also from cultivated plantations.

Collection and preparation. The bark can be stripped from April to August. Dry it mainly in the air. The bark of branches is more valuable than that of trunks.

Active ingredients: derivatives of hydroxyanthracene (approximately 8-10%) and bitterness.

Healing action and application.Both folk and scientific medicine use cascara as a laxative. The German National Health Service recommends its use for constipation and those conditions in which a mild, soft stool, bowel movement is desirable, such as anal fissures, hemorrhoids, and conditions following rectal surgery. When twisting the intestines and pregnancy, American buckthorn bark should not be used. Also, do not do this while breastfeeding, since treatment with this remedy can cause diarrhea in the baby. Beware of long-term use of this remedy, as the body is likely to be depleted of important minerals (especially potassium). o Buckthorn bark tea: 2 bark-topped teaspoons in 1/4 liter of boiling water and steep for 10 minutes.

Side effects. With moderate use (the indicated dosage) there is no reason to fear any side effects. When eating unripe berries, also when using very fresh (aged less than one year) bark, there may be diarrhea with colic and / or spasms of the stomach and intestines; severe vomiting may also occur. Similar phenomena are caused by anthrones, which decompose during long storage or heating in air.

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