MoonDragon's Health & Wellness
Sacred Bark, California Buckthorn
(Rhamnus Purshiana, Rhamni Purshianae, Frangula Purshiana)
"For Informational Use Only"
For more detailed information contact your health care provider
about options that may be available for your specific situation.
CASCARA SAGRADA HERBAL DESCRIPTION
Cascara Sagrada (Rhamnus purshiana, Rhamnus purshianus, Rhamni Purshianae, Frangula Purshiana) is also known as Cascara, Bearberry, Cascara Buckthorn, Chittem, Chitticum, Chittembark, Chittem Bark, Sacred Bark, Bitter Bark, Buckthorn, California Buckthorn, Dogwood Bark, Purshiana Bark, Cortex, Sagrada Bark, Yellow Bark.
For hundreds of years, Native American groups in the Pacific Northwest used Cascara Sagrada as a herbal laxative. Northern California Indians introduced this herb, Cascara Sagrada, which translates as "sacred bark", to 16th century Spanish explorers, and then later was used by European and U.S. colonizers. However, it was not introduced into formal medical practice in the United States until 1877 and has been listed in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia since 1890. Parke-Davis is the pharmaceutical company that first used Cascara Sagrada commercially. The explosion of the Cascara industry caused great damage to the native Cascara populations during the 1900s, as a result of over harvesting. In 1999, Cascara made up more than 20% of the national laxative market in the U.S., with an estimated value of $400 million. The bark itself was worth approximately $100 million. Cascara was found in more drug preparations than any other natural product in North America, and is believed to be the most widely used cathartic in the world.
The chemicals primarily responsible for the laxative action are the hydroxyanthracene glycosides (particularly cascarosides A, B, C and D), and emodin. These act as stimulant laxatives, with the hydroanthracene glycosides stimulating peristalsis, and emodin exciting smooth muscle cells in the large intestine. They trigger peristalsis by inhibiting the absorption of water and electrolytes in the large intestine, which increases the volume of the bowel's contents, leading to increased pressure.
The hydroxyanthracene glycosides are not readily absorbed in the small intestine but are hydrolyzed by intestinal flora to a form that is partly absorbed in the colon. Hydrolysis of the cascarosides results in the formation of aloins such as barbaloin and chrysaloin. Some of the chemical constituents present in the bark may be excreted by the kidney following medicinal use, resulting in a harmless change in the color of the urine.
Studies have shown that the extract from cascara bark also contains a substance called emodin, which may have anti-cancer effects. Emodin is also responsible for some of the laxative effect, due to its excitation of smooth muscle cells in the large intestine.
A species of Buckthorn, Cascara Sagrada is the dried, aged bark of a deciduous shrub or tree that grows 20 to 30 feet and is native to the American Pacific Northwest, ranging from northern California to the Alaska panhandle in moist forests below 5,000 feet. It is also found in the Rockies of th panhandle of Idaho and Montana. It is often found along streamsides in the mixed deciduous-coniferous forests of valleys, and in moist montane forests. Cascara is common in the understory of bigleaf maple forest, alongside red osier dogwood and red alder.
The outer bark is brownish to silver-grey with light splotching (often, in part, from lichens) and the inner surface of the bark is smooth and yellowish (turning dark brown with age and/or exposure to sunlight. The herb is harvested in the form of quills and pieces of bark, allowed to age at least a year before use in laxative preparations. Cascara sagrada is never to be used fresh and must be aged for at least a year to break down its anthrone chemicals. (The Cascara offered by Mountain Rose Herbs is aged) If the bark is not aged it is a purgative and will cause intense intestinal spasms and vomiting. The herb can be artificially aged by heating but some useful constituents may be lost. Cascara Sagrada has an intensely bitter flavor that will remain in the mouth for hours, overpowering the taste buds.
The leaves are simple, deciduous, alternate, clustered near the ends of twigs. They are oval, 2 to 6 inches long and about 1 to 2 inches broad with a 0.6 to 2 cm petiole, shiny and green on top, and a dull, paler green below. They have tiny teeth on the margins, and parallel veins.
The flowers are tiny, 4 to 5 mm diameter, with five greenish yellow petals, forming a cup shape. The flowers bloom in umbel-shaped clusters, on the ends of distinctive penduncles that are attached to the leaf axils. The flowering season is brief, from early to mid-spring, disappearing by early summer. The resulting fruit is a drupe 6 to 10 mm diameter, bright red at first, quickly maturing to a deep purple or black, and containing a yellow pulp with two or three hard, smooth, olive-green or black seeds. The berries are poisonous and should not be eaten.
CASCARA SAGRADA, HEALTH BENEFITS & SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE
The bark is aged for a year (a year minimum) so the active principles become milder. Freshly dried bark produces too strong a laxative to use safely.
The honey made from the flowers has a slight laxative effect. Cascara Sagrada also contains a compound that induces vomiting. This herb is related to alder buckthorn and buckthorn but Cascara Sagrada’s laxative effects are milder.
Dried and aged Cascara Sagrada bark is recommended by Germany’s Commission E as a mild and effective treatment for chronic constipation and is especially useful as a mild laxative for elderly people or for those with fragile health.
Cascara Sagrada bark is used for constipation where a stimulant laxative is required. It is also used for colitis, digestive complaints, hemorrhoids, liver problems and jaundice.
The bark contains anthraquinones (cascarosides A and B), which are transformed by intestinal bacteria into substances that increase peristalsis in the large intestine and help restore its tone. The bark is rich in hormone like oils that promote peristaltic action (contractions) in the intestinal canal and is considered excellent for cleaning and detoxifying programs. It is also used as a colon cleanser and for eliminating parasitic infestation.
There is preliminary research that shows that Cascara Sagrada might be useful as an antiviral that could be effective against herpes simplex virus II and vaccinia virus.
In recent times, Cascara has been used as an ingredient in sun screen products, as well as a flavoring agent in foods such as liquors, soft drinks, candy, frozen dairy desserts and ice cream, and baked goods. Cascara honey is tasty, but slightly laxative. The wood is used by local people for posts, firewood, and turnery. It is also planted as an ornamental, to provide food and habitat for wildlife, or to preven soil erosion. Due to its bitter taste, Cascara can be used to stop nail-biting by applying it to the fingernails.
RITUAL MAGICK & FOLK LORE USES
American folk lore tells us that good luck in legal matters can be brought about if one wears a mojo bag filled with Cascara Sagrada and chews on a root of Galangal (a member of the ginger family), spitting the juice on the court room floor. Common logic however, would dictate that spitting on a court room floor is probably not very wise and could actually add to your legal problems.
CASCARA SAGRADA DOSAGE INFORMATION
Cascara Sagrada comes in various forms and is a key ingredient in many commercial laxatives. It is important to used products that contain dried aged bark.
The bark is collected in the spring or early summer, when it easily peels from the tree. Once stripped from the tree, the bark must be aged for at least one year before using, because the fresh cut, dried bark causes vomiting and violent diarrhea. This drying is generally done in the shade to preserve its characteristic yellow color. This process can be quickened by simply baking the bark at a low temperature for several hours.
Constituents: 1,8-dihydroxy-anthracene derivatives (in the aged bark), aloe-emodin, frangulin-emodin, flavonoids, and tannins.
Parts Used: Properly aged bark (generally 1 year)
Typical Preparations: Tablets and extracts. Teas are hard to drink but have a gentler laxative action.
The suggested dosage is 10 to 30 grains, dissolved in water, or 0.6 to 2 ml for a fluid extract.
For using a tincture, take 1 to 5 ml per day and drink eight 6 ounce glasses of water throughout the day as well.
An effective dosage of approximately 1 to 3 grams dried bark, or 1 to 2.5 grams powdered bark has also been suggested.
Cascara Sagrada should be taken for a maximum of eight to ten days.
For other formulations, read and follow product label directions.
CASCARA SAGRADA SAFETY, CAUTIONS & INTERACTIONS INFORMATION
Read and follow directions carefully. For occasional use only as it is a bulk forming laxative and should be taken with adequate fluids. Laxatives should only be used on a short-term basis, no longer than 7 days.
Use only the dried bark that been stored for at least a year as the fresh bark is violently purgative. Do not eat the berries for they are poisonous. If you have chronic constipation, consult with your health care provider to avoid becoming laxative dependent. Extended use can also weaken the colon. It should not be used to treat constipation resulting from excessive tension of the colon wall. Do not use if you have an intestinal obstruction or injury. You should not use Cascara Sagrada or any other laxative if you have appendicitis, Crohn's disease, or ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, hemorroids, or kidney problems. Do not use if you have or develop diarrhea, loose stools, or abdominal pain because Cascara Sagrada Bark may worsen these conditions and be harmful to your health. Exceeding the recommended doses, or the duration of use can cause a loss of electrolytes, especially potassium, which can lead to serious and even deadly consequences. Recent reports indicate that Cascara can decrease the absorption of certain drugs. Ask your health care practitioner or pharmacist for more info concerning the drugs you use. Not recommended for children under 12. Cascara Sagrada is not known to be safe for pregnant women and nursing mothers. If you are pregnant or nursing, do not use this herb without the supervision of your health care provider or midwife. Cathartics, such as Cascara, can induce labor. The active compounds can be transferred to the infant in breastfeeding mothers using Cascara.
Although chronic use of anthranoid-containing laxatives has been hypothesized to play a role in colorectal cancer, no causal relationship has been demonstrated. No specific data on carcinogenicity or mutagenicity are available for Cortex Rhamni Purshianae or the cascarosides.
Consult your health care provider if you have frequent diarrhea or if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.
CASCARA SAGRADA HERBAL & RELATED PRODUCTS
QUALITY PRODUCTS & SUPPLEMENTS
CASCARA SAGRADA HERBAL PRODUCTS
Cascara Sagrada bark (Rhamnus purshiana), whose name translates to "sacred bark", has a long history of use as a natural laxative. Cascara Sagrada was first introduced to Spanish explorers during the 16th century by North American Indians. Cascara Sagrada is aged for one to two years for optimum potency and safety to relieve griping. For occasional use only as an effective stimulant laxative and avoid using this product for more than seven consecutive. Cascara Sagrada generally produces bowel movements in six to eight hours. Follow dosage guidelines and precautions carefully. Not recommended for use during pregancy, lactation or by children under 12 years of age unless recommended by a health care practitioner. You should not use Cascara Sagrada or any other laxative if you have appendicitis, Crohn's disease, or ulcerative colitis. Do not use if you have symptoms of intestinal ulceration, stenosis, disabling adhesions, nausa, vomiting, abdominal bloating or cramping.
MOUNTAIN ROSE HERBS PRODUCTS
Mountain Rose Herbs: Cascara Sagrada Bark (Rhamnus Purshiana), Wild Harvested, Bulk Organic Herbs & Spices
Mountain Rose Herbs: Cascara Sagrada Bark Powder (Rhamnus Purshiana), Wild Harvested, Bulk Organic Herbs & Spices
STARWEST BOTANICALS PRODUCTS
Starwest Botanicals: Cascara Sagrada Bark (Rhamnus Purshiana), Cut & Sifted, Wildcrafted, 4 oz.
Starwest Botanicals: Cascara Sagrada Bark Powder (Rhamnus Purshiana), Wildcrafted, 4 oz.
Starwest Botanicals: Cascara Sagrada Bark, Cut & Sifted, Wildcrafted, 1 lb.
Starwest Botanicals: Cascara Sagrada Bark Powder, Wildcrafted, 1 lb.
Starwest Botanicals: Cascara Sagrada Bark Capsules, Wildcrafted, 400 mg, 100 Caps
Starwest Botanicals: Cascara Sagrada Bark Capsules, Wildcrafted, 400 mg, 500 Caps
HerbsPro: Cascara Sagrada Extract, Eclectic Institute, 1 fl. oz. (31861)
HerbsPro: Cascara Sagrada Extract, Herb Pharm, 1 fl. oz. (32370)
HerbsPro: Cascara Sagrada Extract, Eclectic Institute, 2 fl. oz. (76273)
HerbsPro: Cascara Sagrada Extract, Natures Answer, 3 fl. oz. (17113)
HerbsPro: Cascara Sagrada Extract, Herb Pharm, 4 fl. oz. (32371)
HerbsPro: Cascara Sagrada Bark, Natures Answer, 425 mg, 90 Caps (35198)
HerbsPro: Cascara Sagrada Bark, Natures Herbs, 425 mg, 100 Caps (17410)
HerbsPro: Cascara Sagrada Bark, Natures Way, 425 mg, 100 Caps (17770)
HerbsPro: Cascara Sagrada Bark, Natures Way, 425 mg, 180 Caps (17771)
HerbsPro: Cascara Sagrada Bark, Thompson, 450 mg, 60 Caps (35553)
HerbsPro: Cascara Sagrada Bark, Single Herb, Dr. Christophers Formulas, 450 mg, 100 VCaps (39702)
HerbsPro: Cascara Sagrada Bark, Now Foods, 450 mg, 100 Caps (67909)
HerbsPro: Cascara Sagrada Bark, Now Foods, 450 mg, 250 Caps (67910)
TakeHerb: Cascara Sagrada Extract, Health Herbs, 2 fl. oz.
TakeHerb: Cascara Sagrada Aged Bark, Stimulant Laxative, Natures Way, 425 mg, 100 VCaps
TakeHerb: Cascara Sagrada Aged Bark, Stimulant Laxative, 425 mg, 180 Caps
TakeHerb: AloeMaxLax With Cascara Sagrada, Natures Way, 445 mg, 100 VCaps
Proprietary blend of Aloe Vera latex leaf, Buckthorn bark, Cascara Sagrada extract and Fennel seed.
Kalyx: Cascara Sagrada Bark Powder, Wildcrafted (Rhamnus purshiana), Starwest Botanicals, 4 oz: C
Kalyx: Cascara Sagrada Bark, Cut & Sifted, Wildcrafted (Rhamnus purshiana), Starwest Botanicals, 4 oz: C
Kalyx: Cascara Sagrada Bark Powder, Wildcrafted, Starwest Botanicals, 1 lb: C
Kalyx: Cascara Sagrada Bark Aged, Cut & Sifted, (Rhamnus purshiana), Frontier Bulk Herbs, 1 lb: K
Kalyx: Cascara Sagrada Powder, Kalyx, 1 kg (2.2 lbs): EB
Kalyx: Cascara Sagrada (Rhamus purshiana) Bark Powder, Kalyx, 1 kg (2.2 lbs): RF
Kalyx: Cascara Sagrada (Rhamus purshiana) Bark Powder Extract 4:1, Kalyx, 1 kg (2.2 lbs): RF
Kalyx: Cascara Sagrada Bark Powder (Rhamnus purshiana), Starwest Botanicals, 25 lb box: C
Kalyx: Cascara Sagrada Bark, Certified Organic, Starwest Botanicals, 400 mg, 100 VCaps: C
Kalyx: Cascara Sagrada Bark, Certified Organic, Starwest Botanicals, 400 mg, 500 VCaps: C
Kalyx: Cascara Sagrada Bark Aged (Rhamnus purshiana), Natures Way, 425 mg, 90 VCaps: K
Kalyx: Cascara Sagrada Bark, Natures Answer, 425 mg, 90 VCaps: HF
Kalyx: Cascara Sagrada Aged Bark, Natures Way, 425 mg, 100 VCaps: HF
Kalyx: AloeMaxLax with Cascara Sagrada, Natures Way, 445 mg, 100 VCaps: HF
Kalyx: Cascara Sagrada, Thompson Nutritional, 450 mg, 60 Caps: K
Cascara Sagrada aged bark is a mild stimulant laxative from nature for the relief of occasional constipation. It generally produces a gentle bowel movement in 6 to 12 hours. For relief of occasional constipation (irregularity).
Kalyx: Cascara Sagrada Bark Liquid Alcohol Extract, Wildcrafted, Starwest Botanicals, 1 fl oz: C
Kalyx: Cascara Sagrada Liquid Herbal Extract, Herb Pharm, 1 fl oz: HF
Kalyx: Cascara Sagrada Bark Extract (Rhamnus purshiana), Health & Herbs, 2 fl oz: HH
Kalyx: Cascara Sagrada Bark Extract, Natures Answer, 3 fl oz: HF
Kalyx: Cascara Sagrada Bark Liquid Alcohol Extract, Wildcrafted, Starwest Botanicals, 4 fl oz: C
Kalyx: Cascara Sagrada Bark Extract (Rhamnus purshiana), Health & Herbs, 8 fl oz: HH
Kalyx: Cascara Sagrada Bark Non-Alcoholic Extract (Rhamnus purshiana), Health & Herbs, 8 fl oz: HH
Kalyx: Cascara Sagrada Bark Extract (Rhamnus purshiana), Health & Herbs, 16 fl oz: HH
Kalyx: Cascara Sagrada Bark Non-Alcoholic Extract (Rhamnus purshiana), Health & Herbs, 16 fl oz: HH
Kalyx: Cascara Sagrada Bark Extract (Rhamnus purshiana), Health & Herbs, 32 fl oz: HH
Amazon: Cascara Sagrada Herbal Supplement Products
Amazon: Cascara Sagrada Herbal Grocery & Gourmet Food Products
Nutrition Basics: Cascara Sagrada Herbal Information
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