Zhester laxative (Rhamnus cathartica L.)

Zhester laxative is a shrub plant representing the Krushinaceae family. Other names: laxative buckthorn, joster


A strongly branched shrub or small tree up to 3 m tall, often with prickly branches. The leaves are dense, dark green above, light below, ovoid or oval in shape, with 3 pairs of veins, arcuately converging towards the apex, crenate-serrate along the edge, narrowed towards the base into a rather long and strong petiole. On barren shoots, the leaves are arranged oppositely; on fruiting shortened branches, they are collected in bunches. The flowers are small, inconspicuous, greenish, collected in bunches in the axils of the leaves, unisexual; sepals, petals and stamens 4 each. Fruits are spherical, juicy, turn red during ripening, and completely mature – black, shiny, with 3-4 seeds. Zhester blooms in May-June, bears fruit in August. Zhester grows on dry slopes and elevated river banks, in thickets of shrubs, in clarified forests, is quite common throughout Belarus.

Description of raw materials:

In medicine, the fruits of the zhester are used – Fructus Rhamni catharticae. They are harvested mature in late autumn, dried in ovens or in well-ventilated areas. The raw material consists of rounded, wrinkled, shiny, almost black fruits 5-8 mm in diameter with a well-preserved stalk or depression at the place of separation. In the brown pulp there are 4, less often 2 or 3 dark brown bones, flat on the adjoining sides. The taste is sweetish-bitter, the smell is weak, unpleasant.

Contains active substances:

Zhester fruits contain anthraglycosides; cleaving reumemodin and other aglucones, flavonoids: rhamnocitrin, xanthoramnetin, rhamnetin, quercetin and others; pectin substances.

Medicinal use:

Zhester is used as a laxative for constipation. As an unacceptable impurity, the fruits of the fragile buckthorn – Frangula alnus Mill, which differ in that they are not shiny and contain 2 flat-convex bones (less often 1 or 3) with a cartilaginous coracoid outgrowth, can be found. Their taste is sweet. In folk medicine, a decoction of zhester branches is used for stomach ulcers inside and outwardly as a wound healing agent. Residents of Krasnaya Sloboda, Minsk region. even grow this plant. A decoction of the bark of the zhester is used for catarrh of the stomach, a decoction of the bark is drunk with a low acidity of the stomach, a decoction of the fruits with the addition of whey, oil and soda is used as a laxative, compresses are made from the decoction of the branches on wounds, the fruits are insisted on vodka and rubbed with rheumatism.

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