Buckthorn has long been used to stimulate the digestive system, enhance heart and liver health, and treat skin disorders. Buckthorn bark assists in the body's natural detoxification process. The go-to natural herbal remedy for constipation and other digestive issues has anthraquinones which have natural laxative properties. On one hand, these compounds help shape stools into larger, softer volumes, effectively easing bowel movement. The wood of this shrub is used to make fuses and gunpowder and, at one time, to make the forms used by shoemakers. Buckthorn bark is harvested in summer and is then aged or heat-treated before it's ready for consumption. This process breaks down the anthrone chemicals in the bark and its action from strongly purgative to laxative. The bark is also used to produce dyes for wool and other textiles. These traditional uses of buckthorn bark give rise to additional alternative names, such as purging buckthorn and dyer’s buckthorn.
Buckthorn has a wide distribution in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. In North America, however, where it is now naturalized, it is considered an invasive species, especially in the eastern and central regions of the United States. In fact, the sale or import of the seedlings of this species is specifically prohibited in Minnesota and Illinois. Herbs are used for a variety of purposes. As medicines, herbs often do this job for common complaints in many ways. They can be used for making teas, bathing, body care products, flower essences, supplements, and even treated as a fragrance. Each herb possesses unique ways of helping you to stay healthy and support your body, mind, and spirit. This is why it is such a powerful product. Herbs have been used for over 5000 years and have grown in use over time. Certain herbs stabilize hormones and your metabolism and often have fewer side effects than prescriptions. Buckthorn was used by the ancient Greeks for protection from demons, poisons and witches.
Buckthorn bark has been used since at least the 1600s, when it was listed in a primary medical reference called the London Pharmacopeia. Although most herbs have had a wide variety of traditional uses, later refined to a single or a few proven benefits, buckthorn bark throughout its history has been consistently used to relieve one ailment: constipation and its by-products (hemorrhoids and anal irritation). In addition to its medicinal uses, the bark and leaves provide a bright yellow-red dye that has been used for centuries to color textiles.
(Please consult your doctor before using herbal medicine, this does not substitute for medical care.)