- Other Names For Cascara Sagrada
- Benefits Of Cascara Sagrada
- How To Use Cascara Sagrada
- Supplementing With Cascara Sagrada
Cascara sagrada is a shrub from the buckthorn tree family that grows in the United States and some parts of South America. Its dried bark has been used for medicinal purposes, particularly as a laxative to alleviate constipation.†
Cascara sagrada has long been used for centuries by Native Americans to treat a number of ailments, such as:
- Digestive issues
- Muscle and joint pain
Other Names For Cascara Sagrada:
The botanical name of cascara sagrada is rhamnus purshiana. It may also be known as bitter bark, chittem bark, dogwood bark, sacred bark, sagrada bark or yellow bark.
Benefits of Cascara Sagrada:
Cascara sagrada has been used to treat the following ailments with some degree of success.
Cascara Sagrada and Constipation
The predominant use of cascara sagrada is to treat constipation. Cascara sagrada has certain chemicals called anthraquinones that stimulate the bowel and cause muscle contractions in the intestines (also known as peristalsis). In turn, these contractions help push stool through the bowels.†
Cascara Sagrada for Gallstones and Liver Disease
It has been suggested that cascara sagrada may be able to help treat gallstones and liver disease; though, there is currently a very limited supply of clinical research to support these claims. That said, one animal study found that cascara sagrada emodin may have been able to help with liver damage.†
Further, some holistic health care practitioners believe that natural enemas made with cascara sagrada and other substances may be used as a gallbladder flush to help with the passage of gallstones.†
How To Use Cascara Sagrada:
Cascara sagrada is available in capsule, liquid extract or powder form. If using the powder or liquid extract form, users can mix it into beverages or add it to different recipes.
Currently, there isn't enough scientific data available to determine the appropriate daily dose for cascara sagrada. Users are encouraged to follow manufacturer labels and consult with a doctor before using it.
Further, it's important to take various factors into consideration before taking a certain amount of the supplement, including the person's age, health and whether other medications are currently being taken.
It's important to drink plenty of liquids with cascara sagrada — or any other type of laxative — to ensure that you stay hydrated and to keep your stool soft.
It’s also important to take these stimulant laxatives for no longer than one to two weeks. Furthermore, it should only be resorted to after other measures have been exhausted, such as changing the diet and adding exercise.
Read More: What Causes Constipation
Supplementing With Cascara Sagrada:
Cascara sagrada was once approved as an over-the-counter medication by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat constipation. However, concerns have been raised over the years about its safety and effectiveness. As such, the FDA required manufacturers to submit data regarding the efficacy of cascara sagrada, but no such information was provided because of the cost associated with providing it.
In turn, the FDA removed cascara sagrada from its list of approved drugs and instead allowed it to be distributed as a dietary supplement.
When taken for a short period of time, cascara sagrada is safe to use. However some side effects may occur, including:
- Stomach discomfort
- Abdominal cramps
If used for more than two weeks, more serious side effects can occur, including:
- Electrolytes disturbance
- Heart problems
- Muscle weakness
Not everyone is suitable for taking cascara sagrada, including:
- Women who are pregnant or nursing
- Children under 12 years of age
- Those with gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, such as Crohn’s disease, stomach ulcers, ulcerative colitis,
- appendicitis, and intestinal blockages
- Those with kidney disease
Anyone taking certain medications may also want to be cautious of taking cascara sagrada because of possible interactions. These medications may include:
- Stimulant laxatives
Cascara sagrada may be an effective stimulant laxative supplement to help stimulate the bowels and promote bowel movement when constipation is present.
However, it's important not to use cascara sagrada over the long-term, as the risk of serious side effects may increase. Certain individuals may be at greater risk of side effects from cascara sagrada, and as such, it's crucial to first consult with a physician before taking this supplement for constipation issues.