Buckthorn, Buckthorn Berry, Espino Cerval Europeo, Hartshorn, Highwaythorn, Kreuzdornbeeren, Nerprun, Nerprun Cathartique, Nerprun Commun, Nerprun Purgatif, Ramsthorn, Rhamni Cathartica Fructus, Rhamnus cathartica, Waythorn.


Overview Information

European buckthorn is an herb. The berries are used to make medicine.

People take European buckthorn for constipation.

How does it work?

European buckthorn contains chemicals that stimulate the gut to relieve constipation.


Uses & Effectiveness?

Possibly Effective for

  • Constipation. European buckthorn can help with relieving constipation.

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Other conditions. More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of European buckthorn for these uses.
Side Effects

Side Effects & Safety

When taken by mouth: European buckthorn is POSSIBLY SAFE when standardized preparations are used for up to 8-10 days. Standardized preparations of European buckthorn have a measured and consistent amount of active ingredients. It is POSSIBLY UNSAFE to use these preparations for more than 10 days. The use of non-standardized preparations is LIKELY UNSAFE.

European buckthorn can cause some side effects such as stomach cramps, watery diarrhea, discolored urine, muscle weakness, heart problems, and blood in the urine.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Children: European buckthorn is UNSAFE in children younger than 12 years old. Do not give it to them.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: European buckthorn is UNSAFE if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Avoid use.

Stomach pain or intestinal problems such as obstruction, appendicitis, Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or ulcerative colitis: Don't use European buckthorn if you have any of these conditions.



Major Interaction

Do not take this combination

  • Digoxin (Lanoxin) interacts with EUROPEAN BUCKTHORN

    European buckthorn is high in fiber. Fiber can decrease the absorption and decrease the effectiveness of digoxin (Lanoxin). As a general rule, any medications taken by mouth should be taken one hour before or four hours after European buckthorn to prevent this interaction.

  • Medications taken by mouth (Oral drugs) interacts with EUROPEAN BUCKTHORN

    European 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.

Moderate Interaction

Be cautious with this combination

  • Warfarin (Coumadin) interacts with EUROPEAN BUCKTHORN

    European buckthorn can work as a laxative. In some people European 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 European buckthorn.

  • Water pills (Diuretic drugs) interacts with EUROPEAN BUCKTHORN

    European buckthorn is a laxative. Some laxatives can decrease potassium in the body. "Water pills" can also decrease potassium in the body. Taking European 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: Traditionally, one cup of the tea is taken in the evening and, if needed, in the morning and afternoon. The tea is prepared by steeping 2-4 grams of the European buckthorn fruit in 150 mL boiling water for 10-15 minutes and then straining. The smallest amount needed to create a soft stool should be used. Stop using European buckthorn if diarrhea or watery stools occur. Don't use European buckthorn for more than 8 to 10 days. Resort to using European buckthorn only after changing your diet or taking a bulk-forming laxative fails to relieve constipation.

View References


  • Nusko G, Schneider B, Schneider I, et al. Anthranoid laxative use is not a risk factor for colorectal neoplasia: results of a prospective case control study. Gut 2000;46:651-5. View abstract.
  • Rhamnus cathartica L. U.S. National Plant Germplasm System. Accessed April 30, 2020.
  • Young DS. Effects of Drugs on Clinical Laboratory Tests 4th ed. Washington: AACC Press, 1995.

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CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version.
© Therapeutic Research Faculty 2018.