The most notable properties of the remedies made from the alder buckthorn lies in their effective laxative and cathartic actions, for this reason, the herbal treatment of chronic constipation is often carried out be giving the patient a remedy made from the alder buckthorn tree. The effects of the herbal remedies made from dried and stored alder is different to that made from fresh plants, and the action of such preserved alder buckthorn remedies is decidedly milder than the senna or the common buckthorn remedies, this is not necessarily a bad thing, as it makes it possible for the alder buckthorn to be utilized safely and continuously over a very long period to treat cases of constipation and to encourage the return of regular bowel movements. Due to its mild action, the remedy made from the alder buckthorn is especially much more beneficial for the treatment of individuals in whom weakened muscles in the colon is a problem and also when there a poor bile flow is contributing to the problem. At the same time, remedies made from the alder buckthorn are not to be used in the treatment of cases of constipation that arise due to the presence of excessive tension in the walls of the colon.
Large parts of the northeastern United States and parts of Europe have significant areas in which the alder buckthorn grows. Marshy woodlands are the habitats that the alder buckthorn prefers and grows best in. Late spring to early summer is the usual time during which the bark of the alder buckthorn trees is collected - such trees are at least 3-4 years old, the collected bark is dried and then placed in storage for at least another year before it is utilized in different herbal remedies.
Chemically the bark of the alder buckthorn contains 3-7% of the compounds known as anthraquinones - these include frangulin and emodin, and the compounds known as anthrones and anthranols, the bark of the alder buckthorn is also rich in the alkaloid-armepavine, it also contains large amounts of the pigments - tannins, and the plant based organic compounds called flavonoids. In patients, vomiting is induced by the emetic compounds anthrones and anthranols; however, storage over a period of time will lessens the severity and strength of their emetic action. The alder buckthorn and closely related plant species all contain the compound known as anthraquinones - this chemical is found to act on the muscular walls of the colon, and it results in the stimulation of the bowel movements about 8-12 hours after the remedy is ingested by the individual.