Brief Remarks on the Bark of Rhamnus Frangula, or Black Alder Tree.
By H. C. BAILDON, Edinburgh.
Some time since a gentleman from Holland applied to me to prepare for him a decoction of the Rhamnus Frangula bark. The bark he brought with him, having previously found that he could not obtain it in this country. He spoke most enthusiastically of its good properties as a gentle cathartic, which had proved very beneficial to himself, and which was much used and esteemed by the medical profession in Holland. He kindly offered to procure for me a small quantity of the bark. To my surprise, I shortly afterwards received a bale containing nearly a quarter of a cwt., accompanied by the following letter. He writes, "I hope you will find it giving as much benefit generally as I have derived from it personally. The preparation of my Dutch physician was 3 or 4 drams of bark to a pint of water boiled down to half a pint. Two or three tablespoonfuls occasionally night and morning, as an aperient. Than this nothing can be more simple or less injurious, and it does not require increase of dose, but the contrary."
I am aware that this drug is not altogether unknown in this country, though I believe rarely or never used. In the 2d volume of the first series of the Pharmaceutical Journal, page 721, I find a letter signed George Mennie, Plymouth, speaking very favorably of it as a purgative and alterative, and again in the 9th volume, page 537, there is an analysis by M. Benswanger.
I have repeatedly taken the decoction myself, and find the taste not unpleasant, with a slight prussic acid flavor, of which the analysis shows traces. It operates gently as an aperient, without griping, in doses of 2 or 8 tablespoonfuls. It appears to me to possess properties which should in many cases render it a valuable substitute for senna, —which is often found drastic in its effects, and is nauseous to take,—and to be especially suitable for children.
In Holland it must be very plentiful, as it was charged me only at the rate of about 10d. per lb., including cost of carriage.—Pharm. Journ., Lond., Aug. 19, 1871.