Scientific Name: Rhamnus purshiana
Other Common Names: Sacred bark, Purshiana bark, Persian bark, Chittum bark, California buckthorn.
Origin: This herb is native to Canada, Washington and it is commonly cultivated in Kenya and parts of North America.
Plant Description: This tree grows to approximately 20 feet tall with reddish brown bark and has thin, finely serrated leaves. The fruit is a berry, bright red at first, quickly maturing to a deep purple or black, containing three seeds.
Part Used: Bark. Before the bark is used for medical purposes it should be aged for at least 1 year, but 3-year old bark is preferred because it give this a milder purgative effect.
Cascara sagrada is an herb commonly used for its laxative effects. Aside from its use as a laxative, cascara sagrada helps to cleanse the bowel when used as part of a cleansing program. Used in conjunction with psyllium husks or other high fiber agent, it helps to rid the colon of built-up waste, and expel toxins from the digestive system. When used with aloe vera juice it helps to soothe the lining of the stomach and digestive tract.
Chemical Constituent: The main chemical constituent, anthraquinones, helps to stimulate the bowel and increase fluid in the intestines.
Available Form: Capsule, tincture and herbal tea.
Dosage: For occasional constipation, one to two capsules should be taken before bedtime, and following large meals if needed. It should produce a bowel movement in eight to twelve hours.
Note: Fresh bark may also be dried in an oven by baking at 250 degrees for several hours. the fresh herb contains chemicals that can cause severe intestinal cramps, vomiting and violent diarrhea.
Side Effects: Rare side effects of taking cascara sagrada are electrolyte imbalance and urine discoloration. Swelling in fingertips and liver problems such as liver toxicity has also been detected as side effects of cascara sagrada.
- Cascara sagrada should not be used long term – such as longer than a week – as it may result in the colon becoming lazy and worsening bowel function.
- Children under 10 years old, pregnant and nursing women should avoid cascara sagrada and other laxatives.
- Person with bowel obstructions or appendicitis should not take cascara sagrada and any other laxatives without consulting a physician.