The buckthorn is a medicinal plant known for its laxative properties, released from the bark or second layer.

After being air-dried, the bark of the buckthorn becomes consumable, excellent for releasing substances that stimulate bowel movements.

Frangula bark: properties and benefits

This part of the plant, therefore, has very useful laxative properties in case of constipation, both chronic and occasional.

The compounds that give the frangula bark these properties are the hydroxyanthracenic derivatives (from anthracene): anthraquinones and frangulins, which are also available in the herbal tea of ​​the bark.

The way in which the frangula bark acts is to introduce these substances, which will be little absorbed initially in the stomach. They are activated and metabolized by the bacterial flora only in a certain stretch: to stimulate the movement of the large intestine and, consequently, promote faster intestinal transit.

The herbal tea of ​​buckthorn bark can also reduce the absorption of water and salt in the cells that line the colon (lower part of the intestine), and stimulate their secretion. As an effect, they increase the concentrations of liquid and salt in that part of the intestine, softening the stool.

In the treatment of constipation, the buckthorn bark has a well-established use historically. It is part of the laxatives containing substances that show a positive effect on constipation, and in contrasting intestinal inertia.

The important thing is to avoid its use for more than 8 days, as it can decrease the level of potassium and cause problems in various organs, and worsen some situations of constipation.

In addition, the anthracene compounds of the bark promote the production of mucus. This feature is also excellent for improving digestion, tonic for the stomach and diuretic. It also helps against inflammation of hemorrhoids and for the elimination of intestinal parasites.

The bark has a purgative action, therefore, also able to purify and detoxify the body, favoring the removal of toxins.

In addition, a herbal treatment with frangula bark also improves the functioning of the liver and gallbladder.

Its consumption, in the past, was even indicated for the treatment of gallstones and other liver disorders, because it facilitates the secretion and outflow of bile through the gallbladder.

Historically, herbal tea cut bark was also known to treat abdominal bloating and flatulence, mild sore throat conditions and gum irritation.

Origins and History of cultivation

This shrub is native to Europe, West Asia and North Africa. The frangula in the eighteenth century was introduced in North America, where it is often cultivated as an ornamental plant.

The name derives from the Latin word frangere which means to break, and perhaps it is a reference to the fragile nature of its branches.

Its bark has been used medically as a mild laxative, at least since the Renaissance. Due to its purgative properties, it has also been used for the treatment of other diseases such as those of the liver, gallbladder and spleen, dropsy and scabies.

Preparations of buckthorn bark are obtained by drying and crushing the bark. The dried bark can also be put in a solvent (such as ethanol), to dissolve the compounds and form an extract.

Plant and flowers

Frangula is the common name of the bark of the Rhamnus frangula L. plant (Frangula alnus Miller), belonging to the Ramnaceae family.

It is a shrub or small tree that grows between 2 and 6 meters in height. It grows best in full sun, on very humid soils, and for this reason it is found near rivers, ditches or flooded land, on the banks of lakes and in wet groves.

In Italy, where it was called rhubarb of the peasants, it is found mainly in the northern area at an altitude that does not exceed 1,000 meters in height.

It has a life media between 30 and 50 years, and its wood is used to create decorative objects, while the bark is used for herbal medicine. The bark is narrow, with quills, of paper consistency. On the outside it is grayish or blackish-brown in color, with small whitish warts. The internal surface is smooth, streaked with yellowish brown.

The bark should be harvested in late spring and early summer, and stored for a period of one year before being consumed.

Nutritional values ​​of Frangula

Buckthorn contains in its bark substances called glycosides derived from anthracene, anthraquinones and franguline (Frangulin A and B).

These are chemical compounds that stimulate the muscles of the large intestine.

How to use the Frangula in bark in the herbal tea

The frangula infusion is obtained from the bark, to be placed in a cup (250 ml): about 3-5 grams with water at 100 ° C.

Leave to infuse for 8 to 10 minutes, before drinking the laxative herbal tea.

Add honey or sugar if desired.

Frangula bark: side effects and contraindications

Do not use the frangula during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and do not administer to small children.

If taken in excessive doses, the cortex can cause abdominal pain, nausea and diarrhea, especially in patients with irritable bowel.

Herbal teas based on Frangula bark should not be taken by patients with bowel obstructions, atony (loss of muscle strength), inflammation of the appendix, inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.

In addition, too frequent use can make constipation worse.

Long-term use can also lead to a water and salt imbalance in the intestine, and can cause albuminuria (protein in the urine) or hematuria (blood in the urine). < / p>

During treatment a yellow or red-brown discoloration of the urine may occur, but it derives from degradation products and is not harmful.


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