Alder Buckthorn

Other Name(s):

Alder Dogwood, Arraclán, Arrow Wood, Aulne Noir, Black Dogwood, Bois Noir, Bois à Poudre, Bourdaine, Bourgène, Buckthorn, Buckthorn Bark, Coudrier Noir, Dog Wood, Frángula, Frangula, Frangula Alnus, Frangula Bark, Frangulae Cortex, Frangule, Glossy Buckthorn, Nerprun Bourdaine, Nerprun Noir, Rhamnus Frangula, Rhubarbe des Paysans.


Alder buckthorn is a plant. The aged or heated bark of the plant is used to make medicine. Don't confuse alder buckthorn with European buckthorn.

Alder buckthorn is used as a laxative, as a tonic, and as an ingredient in the Hoxsey cancer formula.

How does it work?

Alder buckthorn bark contains chemicals that work as a laxative by stimulating the intestines.


Super Tips to Boost Digestive Health: Bloating, Constipation, and More See Slideshow

Uses & Effectiveness

Possibly Effective for...

  • Constipation. Alder buckthorn is known to contain certain chemicals that work as laxatives. Alder buckthorn seems to work about as well as cascara for relieving constipation.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Cancer.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of alder buckthorn for this use.

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

Alder buckthorn is POSSIBLY SAFE for most adults when taken by mouth for less than 8-10 days. Taking alder buckthorn by mouth for more than 8-10 days is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. It might cause low potassium; heart problems; stomach problems; muscle weakness; and blood problems, including blood in the urine. Some people get uncomfortable cramps from alder buckthorn. If you experience diarrhea or watery stools while using alder buckthorn, stop taking it.

The fresh bark can cause severe vomiting. Make sure you are using a bark product that is at least one year old or has been heat processed.


Pancreatitis is inflammation of an organ in the abdomen called the pancreas. See Answer

Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It is LIKELY UNSAFE to take alder buckthorn by mouth during pregnancy or breast-feeding. Avoid using it.

Children: Alder buckthorn is LIKELY UNSAFE when taken by mouth by children younger than 12 years of age.

Diarrhea: Don't use alder buckthorn if you have diarrhea. Its laxative effects may worsen this condition.

Intestinal disorders, including intestinal blockage, appendicitis, Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or ulcerative colitis: Don't take alder buckthorn if you have a bowel obstruction; appendicitis; unexplained stomach pain; or inflammatory conditions of the intestines including Crohn's disease, colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).


Digoxin (Lanoxin)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Alder buckthorn is a type of laxative called a stimulant laxative. Stimulant laxatives can decrease potassium levels in the body. Low potassium levels can increase the risk of side effects of digoxin (Lanoxin).

Medications for inflammation (Corticosteroids)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Some medications for inflammation can decrease potassium in the body. Alder buckthorn is a type of laxative that might also decrease potassium in the body. Taking alder buckthorn along with some medications for inflammation might decrease potassium in the body too much.

Some medications for inflammation include dexamethasone (Decadron), hydrocortisone (Cortef), methylprednisolone (Medrol), prednisone (Deltasone), and others.

Medications taken by mouth (Oral drugs)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Alder buckthorn is a laxative. Laxatives can decrease how much medicine your body absorbs. Decreasing how much medicine your body absorbs can decrease the effectiveness of your medication.

Stimulant laxativesInteraction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Alder buckthorn is a type of laxative called a stimulant laxative. Stimulant laxatives speed up the bowels. Taking alder buckthorn along with other stimulant laxatives could speed up the bowels too much and cause dehydration and low minerals in the body.

Some stimulant laxatives include bisacodyl (Correctol, Dulcolax), cascara, castor oil (Purge), senna (Senokot) and others.

Warfarin (Coumadin)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Alder buckthorn can work as a laxative. In some people alder buckthorn can cause diarrhea. Diarrhea can increase the effects of warfarin and increase the risk of bleeding. If you take warfarin do not to take excessive amounts of alder buckthorn.

Water pills (Diuretic drugs)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Alder buckthorn is a laxative. Some laxatives can decrease potassium in the body. "Water pills" can also decrease potassium in the body. Taking alder buckthorn along with "water pills" might decrease potassium in the body too much.

Some "water pills" that can decrease potassium include chlorothiazide (Diuril), chlorthalidone (Thalitone), furosemide (Lasix), hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ, HydroDiuril, Microzide), and others.


The following doses have been studied in scientific research:


  • For constipation: the typical dose of alder buckthorn is 0.5-2.5 grams of the dried bark. Take only the amount of bark needed to produce a soft stool. Alder buckthorn is also taken as a tea. The tea is prepared by steeping 2 grams of the herb in 150 mL of boiling water for 5-10 minutes and then straining. Alder buckthorn is also available as a liquid extract. The common dose of the liquid extract: (1:1 in 25% alcohol) is 2-5 mL three times daily. This preparation should be used only if diet change and bulk-forming laxatives don't work. Don't use the extract for more than seven to ten days.

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