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Cascara Sagrada (Rhamnus purshiani cortex)
Also called "chitting bark," this herb is said to be the most common laxative in both herbal medicine and orthodox pharmacy. Used during the California Gold Rush, cascara sagrada induces contraction of smooth muscle in the intestines, thereby effectively expelling waste from the body.
Cascara was a popular treatment in Europe for Constipation.
Part of the plant used: BARK.
Use the smallest amount necessary of dried cascara (1).
Use for a maximum of 8-10 days (2).
Heavy doses of cascara sagrada produce Cramping and Diarrhoea. Anthraquinones, a chemical component of the herb, can pass into the mother?s milk with laxative effects on the baby. Children under 12 and pregnant or nursing women should not use cascara sagrada without first consulting a physician.
People with intestinal obstruction, Crohn?s disease, appendicitis, or abdominal Pain should avoid using cascara sagrada (3).
Long-term use of cascara sagrada may lead to loss of electrolytes, especially Potassium, and weakened colon.
Do not use with digitalis, for cascara sagrada increases the toxicity of digitalis. Concurrent loss of potassium while using digitalis may be fatal.
Loss of potassium can potentiate the cardiac glycosides and antiarrhythmic agents.
Cascara sagrada may interfere with anticoagulant therapy.
1. Bradley PR, ed. British Herbal Compendium, vol 1. Bournemouth, Dorset, UK: British Herbal Medicine Association, 1992, 52-54.