Cascara Sagrada is a powerful herbal laxative with an extensive history in Native American herbal medicine. Its name literally means ‘Sacred Bark’ – you might otherwise know it as California Buckthorn.
Cascara has met some controversy recently over its use in some ‘diet teas’. As a laxative, Cascara has a dehydrating effect on the body and should not be used for weight loss purposes.
Cascara Sagrada comes from a shrub growing in North America. In spring time the bark is peeled off, then left to dry for up to 3 years. This aging process helps the Cascara to become less of an irritant to the stomach. Cascara that is taken when it is too young can sometimes induce vomiting.
Cascara Sagrada is used primarily and a laxative. Indeed, it is probably the most popular herbal laxative on the market right now. Cascara contains a selection of chemical compounds named anthraquinones, which promote bowel movements.
Cascara (especially the aged kind) is quite mild and can be suitable for the elderly. However, it should not be given to children and is certainly not suitable for pregnant women.
Cascara is a popular, though controversial, addition to many drinks labeled ‘dieter’s tea’. Some find that its laxative effects can aid weight loss. However, as a laxative it can be very dehydrating and lead to vitamin or mineral deficiency, so this use is not recommended. Similarly, sufferers of constipation should not take Cascara for more than a few days in a row.
Cascara usually comes in capsule form and its effects take several hours. Most people take in it the evening and by the morning their constipation is relieved. Similarly to Senna, another herbal laxative, prolonged use should be avoided.