Reviewed on 6/11/2021
Other Name(s):

Blackthorn Berry, Blackthorn Flower, Blackthorn Fruit, Buisson Noir, Créquier, Endrino, Épine Noire, Épinette, Fourdinier, Mère-du-Bois, Pélosse, Pélossier, Prunellier, Pruni Spinosae Flos, Pruni Spinosae Fructus, Prunier Sauvage, Prunus spinosa, Sloe, Sloe Berry, Sloe Flower, Wild Plum Flower.


Blackthorn is a plant. The berry and dried flower are used as medicine.

Despite safety concerns, people take blackthorn flower to treat colds, breathing conditions, cough, fluid retention, general exhaustion, upset stomach, kidney and bladder problems, and constipation; and to treat and prevent stomach spasms. Some people use it to cause sweating. Blackthorn flower is also an ingredient in some “blood cleansing” teas.

Blackthorn berry is used as a mouth rinse (gargle) for mild sore throat and mouth. The syrup and wine of the blackthorn berry are used for emptying the bowels and increasing urine production to relieve fluid retention (as a diuretic). A marmalade made from the berry is used for upset stomach.

Some people apply blackthorn flower directly to the skin for rashes, “skin impurities,” and “blood purification.”

In foods, blackthorn flower is used in herbal teas as a coloring agent.

How does it work?

Blackthorn berries contain chemicals called tannins that might reduce swelling (inflammation).


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Uses & Effectiveness

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Emptying the bowels.
  • Fluid retention.
  • Sore mouth or throat.
  • Colds.
  • Coughs.
  • Breathing problems.
  • General exhaustion.
  • Upset stomach.
  • Constipation.
  • Kidney and bladder ailments.
  • Stomach spasms.
  • Promoting sweating.
  • “Blood cleansing.
  • Rashes, when applied to the skin.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of blackthorn for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Side Effects

Blackthorn might be UNSAFE when swallowed. It contains poisonous chemicals.


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Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It’s UNSAFE for anyone to take blackthorn by mouth because it contains poisonous chemicals. But it is especially important for pregnant women to avoid using blackthorn because it contains chemicals that can cause birth defects.


The appropriate dose of blackthorn depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for blackthorn. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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Gruenwald J, Brendler T, Jaenicke C. PDR for Herbal Medicines. 1st ed. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company, Inc., 1998.

McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A, eds. American Herbal Products Association's Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, LLC 1997.

Schulz V, Hansel R, Tyler VE. Rational Phytotherapy: A Physician's Guide to Herbal Medicine. Terry C. Telger, transl. 3rd ed. Berlin, GER: Springer, 1998.

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