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Home :: Cascara Sagrada

Cascara Sagrada Herb -Benefits, Uses And Side Effects

Scientific name: Rhamnus purshiana

Actions: Alterative, anti-bilious, antidiabetic, bitter tonic, cathartic, emetic, febrifuge, hepatic, laxative, nervine, peristaltic strengthener, purgative, stomachic


Cascara sagrada, Spanish for "sacred bark," comes from the American buckthorn tree native to the western coast of North America, from California to British Columbia, and as far inland as Montana. The Spanish priests of California may have learned about it from the Indians.


Cascara sagrada is a 20-foot tree with reddish brown bark and thin serrated leaves. Umbels of small flowers appear in late spring, followed by poisonous black berries.

Typical Dosage

Only the dried form of cascara should be used. Capsules providing 20-30 mg of cascarosides per day can be used. However, the smallest amount necessary to maintain soft stool should be used. As a tincture, 1/4-1 teaspoon (1-5 ml) per day is generally taken. It is important to drink eight 6-ounce (180 ml) glasses of water throughout the day while using cascara. Cascara should be taken consecutively for no longer than eight to ten days.

Uses and benefits of Cascara Sagrada

  • A great herb in low dosages to strengthen the GI tract.
  • Helps tone and strengthen the intestines.
  • Increases and strengthens peristalsis.
  • Increases secretions of the liver, pancreas, stomach and intestines.
  • Strengthens the autonomic nervous system of the alimentary canal.
  • Use for constipation, but better used in a cleaning and rebuilding formula for the GI tract.
  • Helps clean and strengthen the liver.
  • Promotes bile secretion.
  • Improves digestion in small dosages.
  • Use in cases of gallstones, piles and hemorrhoids.
  • Can be used for intestinal worms.

Are there any side effects or interactions?

  • Because long-term use of any laxative can make your body lose critical fluids and salts (especially potassium) and lead to chronic diarrhea or weakness, limit your use of cascara sagrada to one or two weeks. Habitual use of cascara sagrada can cause dependence on laxatives.
  • Some people develop crampy gastrointestinal discomforts with cascara sagrada; lower your dose if this happens and stop taking it altogether if the uncomfortable sensation persists.

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