Description: Cascara Sagrada is a powerful herb used historically as a colon cleanser, a purgative, and a remedy for constipation. It commonly produces noticeable effects overnight, hence its popularity. Cascara Sagrada has been nicknamed “the world’s favorite laxative,” although its uses for the gall bladder and liver should not be overlooked.
Cascara Sagrada is also used in holistic health practice for liver and gall bladder conditions (stimulating healthy levels of bile and gastric juices), to promote good digestion, to help tone the walls of the intestine, and is helpful for colon disorders of many types, including parasitic infestations (parasites).
The primary traditional uses of the herb cascara sagrada include:
— Constipation (including atonic constipation)
— Chronic constipation
— Irritable bowel syndrome
— Intestinal cleansing
— Liver problems
— Gallbladder ailments
— Other fungi, protozoa, bacteria, and viruses in the intestinal tract
According to most legends, several Native American tribes of the Pacific Northwest (from California to British Colombia) first harnessed the power of this remarkable herb for medicinal use. Native American tribes shared their herbal knowledge of this plant with early Spanish priests in Northern California (in Mendocino, California) where its nicknames “sacred bark” and “holy bark” emerged. Spanish priests, impressed with the rapid action of cascara sagrada, soon spread this knowledge to others. By the 1890’s Cascara Sagrada was listed in the “U.S. Pharmacopoeia” and commonly purchased from pharmacies across the nation for one of America’s most common ailments (constipation).
Cascara Sagrada is also known as:
– Sacred Bark
– California Buckthorn
– Buckthorn bark
– Rhamnus Purshiana
– Persian Bark
– Purshiana Bark
While cascara sagrada is native to the Western coastal region of North America, cousins of Cascara Sagrada grow natively throughout North America, North Africa, Central Asia, and Europe, and its use in some of these regions has been going on for thousands of years. Most of these cousin plants are not as cathartic as cascara sagrada, and some are quite mild. Some of these cousin plants with very similar uses include:
– European Alder Buckthorn
– Frangula Bark
– Black Alder
– Glossy Buckthorn
– Black Dogwood
– European Alder
– Common Buckthorn.
Like its cousins, Cascara Sagrada grows as a deciduous, evergreen tree that very often reaches forty feet in height. It is ornamental and quite beautiful, bearing oblong, green glossy leaves, yellow-green flowers in the summer, and small berry-like fruits that start out as red and darken to black by the time they are ripe. Cascara Sagrada grows wild in many parts of North America, although native to the Pacific Coast, and can be found in fields, pastures, forests, and mountains. Cascara Sagrada is a member of the buckthorn family Rhamnaceae, which gets its name from the fact that in most members of this family there is a woody, sharp spine on the end of each twig.
Since the nineteenth century Cascara Sagrada bark has been used throughout many cultures as a folk remedy for constipation and other related ailments, and for helping support the body’s defense against liver and gallbladder ailments such as jaundice and hepatitis.
The bark of the Cascara Sagrada tree is harvested from trees grown in Canada and other parts of North America. It is peeled from the tree, gathered in baskets, and dried in the shade. After the harvested bark is dried, it is then carefully aged for one to three years (fresh bark being much too strong a purgative). The herbal infusion of the bark of the cascara sagrada tree (or herbal Cascara Sagrada tea) is quite bitter and therefore this herb is most conveniently taken in pill and other forms. However, the tea is very efficient and can be used when sweetened with honey, sugar, or combined with other milder-tasting herbs.
The herb Cascara Sagrada contains the naturally occurring phytochemicals called anthraquinones, which are responsible for Cascara Sagrada’s strong bowel cleansing actions (often called laxative) and purgative actions. The anthraquinones combine with other phytochemicals and nutrients also present in Cascara Sagrada to help tone the walls of the intestine and encourage strong and healthy muscle tone throughout the intestinal tract.
Importantly, these phytochemicals help encourage the muscles along the walls of the intestinal tract to contract. When these muscles contract, fecal matter is quickly pushed along and excreted. When fecal matter passes quickly through the digestive tract, there is less time for the blood vessels to absorb the water in the feces. This encourages softer and more easily passed feces.
In addition to its powerful purgative and laxative actions, Cascara Sagrada is also used historically to encourage the healthy functioning of the gallbladder and liver. The same anthraquinones that cleanse the intestines have a similar effect on these organs. The phytochemicals anthraquinones target and cleanse the gallbladder and liver as well as the intestines.
The actions of Cascara Sagrada bark are powerful and caution should be used. Do not take cascara sagrada over long periods of time, as the body can become dependent on it.
The maximum recommended daily dose of Cascara Sagrada bark is no more than 3 grams per day, traditionally taken in one dose daily at bedtime. Cascara Sagrada bark can be safely taken daily for up to one week (as needed), followed by a resting period of two weeks, before a course can be resumed again. Follow this course unless otherwise directed by your physician.
When used as directed cascara sagrada can be a safe tonic for the intestinal tract, for the liver, and for the kidneys.
Some have used cascara sagrada for weight loss, but this is not recommended. Its use as a weight loss aid is questionable in its long-term effectiveness, as well as its possible negative effects upon the digestive tract when used for weight loss purposes. Other herbal weight loss aides perform more effectively and safely.
Phytochemical and Nutritional Makeup
There are numerous beneficial phytochemicals* found in cascara sagrada. These include:
– beta carotene
– chrysophanic acid
– malic acid
– myristic acid
Cascara sagrada is also very rich in nutrients.* These include:
– linoleic acid
– vitamin B1
– vitamin B2
– vitamin B3
– vitamin C
*as noted in Prescription for Nutritional Healing/ Third Edition by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC, and James F. Balch, M.D. Avery Books, Penguin Putnam Inc., NY, 2000, www.penguinputnam.com
Ingredients: Cascara Sagrada Bark.
Ailments traditionally used for: Colitis, Hemorrhoids, IBS, Irratible Bowel Syndrome, Liver , Mucus Colitis, Piles, Spastic Colon, Worms
Directions: As a dietary supplement adults & children over 12 years old take 1-2 capsules once a day at bedtime with 12 oz of water. Children under 12 years old consult with a health care professional.
Store in a cool, dry place.
Warning: Do not use this product when abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting are present. Rectal bleeding or failure to have a bowel movement after use of laxative may indicate a serious problem. Discontinue use and consult with your health care professional.