Cascara Sagrada Daily
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Marge
Posted on: July 28, 1998

Can you give me any information about Cascara Sagrada? What are the known effects of taking this herb daily?

Cascara sagrada or cascara buckthorn (Rhamnus purshiana) is a deciduous tree found in the mountains from British Columbia to Montana and northern California. The bark is a bitter tonic and purgative. It is one of the best and commonest prescribed laxatives according to John Lust in his book "The Herb Book" (available from Richters). It works by irritating the bowels but because it also has a tonic effect on the bowels it is an excellent treatment for chronic constipation.

It contains anthracenes, glycosides such as emodins, barbaloin, and others. Emodin can cause dermatitis if the skin comes in contact too much; but this is not a serious problem when take according to directions and care is taken to avoid unnecessary contact with the skin.

Daily use over a long time may cause chronic diarrhea and with it an excessive loss of potassium. What is a long time? It is not the same for every individual, but, generally, if you are using laxatives for more than a week or two, you shoudl see your health care provider for advice.

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