Herb Reference Guide

Cascara Sagrada

History

This tree is native to southwestern Canada and the Pacific northwest of the United States. It likes to grow near streams and in moist areas of hardwood forests. The translation of the common name is “Sacred Bark”, and Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest passed along information on its use and preparation to the Spanish and other settlers. It has been an official preparation in the United States Pharmacopeia first listed in 1890. Eclectic Physicians in the United States would have been familiar with this herb as the Eli Lilly and Company Pharmaceutical Company introduced a combination formula called “Elixir Purgans” containing cascara and other herbs in 1877.

Function

Cascara Sagrada is most well known for it’s laxative properties and the constituents called cascarosides and emodins have been well documented to have these properties.* The bark must be aged for at least a year in order to render these properties safely and effectively in herbal preparations.* The aged dried bark supports normal peristalsis moving digested food through the alimentary canal effectively and supports the body's natural elimination processes.*

Uses of Cascara Sagrada

Disclaimer

This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.

Active Constituents

Hydroxyanthraquinone glycosides (Cascarosides a,b,c,and d), emodin

Parts Used

  • Bark

Important precautions

Not for use during pregnancy. If you have a medical condition or take pharmaceutical drugs please consult your doctor prior to use.

Additional Resources

ESCOP monographs on the medicinal uses of plant drugs. Fascicule 5. Devon, European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy, 1997.

Blumenthal M et al., eds. The complete German Commission E monographs. Austin, TX, American Botanical Council, 1998.