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Biological Name: Rhamnus purshianaCascara

Family: Rhamnaceae

Other Names: Cascara, Cascara sagrada, California buchthorn, sacred bark, bearberry, Purshiana bark, chittem bark, persian bark

Elements Applied: Bark is commonly applied in herbal medicine.

Active Components: Plant’s bark is rich in cascarosides, or hydroxyanthraquinone glycosides. Additionally plant’s bark contains lipids, tannins, and resins. Cascarosides produces a laxative effect, which is linked with intestine muscle increased activity the plant promotes. This results in bowel muscle contraction.

Cascara purgative capacity depends on the abundance of anthraquinones variety, both sugar derivates and free components (aloe-emodin). The latter ones are responsible for bowel stimulation by their ability to irritate bowel tissue. The former ones penetrate from the bowel and get into blood flow, which reaches the brain, and the brain in its turn triggers bowel contraction, inducing purgative activity.

There is no chemical alternative to the herb, as its effect is immediate and mild. The herb is produced in form of liquid extracts, powders, and pills by a bulk of pharmacological businesses.

History: Indians from the northern areas of California which used the herb in the religious tradition, revealed this herb’s effect to Spanish discoverers of the XVI century. Acting softly on the digestive system, this plant largely replaced strong buckthorn, used as a purgative remedy in European countries. The plant has been widely applied in the USA since the end of the XIX century. The bark tastes unpleasantly for the majority of patients. It should be used just after food intake or before going to bed.

Used for: The remedy is widely applied to stimulate bowel movement in constipation. Due to its bitter taste the herb stimulates digestive activity.

Cascara has been safely used for treating recurrent constipation for centuries. It has proven to develop no addiction. It stimulates bowel movement. The remedy boosts bile secretion and movement, helps in treating gallbladder stones. Additionally applied for liver conditions, particularly for enlarged liver.

Cascara water extracts are stated to be beneficial in treating vaccinia virus and herpes simplex virus in laboratory cell tissues.

Additional Info: Cascara is indigenous to the areas of the Pacific coast, notably Northern California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. To use the bark you should first cut it from the tree, divide into pieces, and store in dried form for a year prior to applying it in medical purposes.

Fresh bark has a capacity to induce vomiting, due to which reason it’s not applied internally.

Preparation and Intake: Cascara is only applied in dried form. The normal dose of dried cascara extract is two capsules twice a day. In form of tincture the common dose is 1-5 ml. It’s essential to supplement the remedy with additional water (8 glasses) drunk during the day. Cascara is not applicable for prolonged periods, and the ultimate period of its use is 10 days.

To make a home remedy, take one teaspoon of dried bark, fill it up with one and a half pints of water, boil up, and simmer for half an hour under the cover. The liquid should be then brought to cold naturally. Consumed cold, 1 tablespoon a time, or 1-2 cups a day.

Safety: Pregnant or breastfeeding women are not recommended to use cascara unless they have a prescription from a health-care provider.

In case of bowel blockage the herb should not be applied as well.

Prolonged application or overdose may result in bowel dysfunction and lack of electrolytes (particularly mineral potassium).

Lack of potassium can increase the potency of medicines used for heart abnormalities, and even cause lethal outcome.

Fresh bark is not applicable. The bark should be dried for a year before application.