Cascara sagrada (Rhamnus purshiana)


Cascara sagrada Overview:

Cascara sagrada is a commonly used herb for constipation. It's extremely bitter, and iritates the intestinal mucosa to stimulate bowel movement. Careful use of this herb is needed to avoid adverse reactions, however, it's one of the best lower bowel tonic herbs for constipation. Compared to other laxative herbs, cascara sagrada is one of the most gentle, and can even be used on children and the elderly (expert usage only for these individuals).

+ Indications

  • Constipation (Acute and chronic)
  • Flatulence
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal fullness
  • Postprandial bloating
  • Dyspepsia
  • Weak gastric secretion
  • Anorexia
  • Itching skin
  • Headache (Due to constipation or intestinal weakness)
  • Haemorrhoids
  • Itching skin

+ Contraindications

  • Pregnancy or lactation
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Intestinal inflammations (Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, appendicitis)
  • Children under the age of 12
  • Not appropriate for long term use

Main Actions:

  • Stimulating laxative
  • Cholagogue
  • Bitter digestive stimulant
  • Antiparasitic
  • Mild Laxative
  • Stomachic

Main Uses:

Cascara sagrada is mainly used as a lower bowel tonic for treating constipation.


Daily Dosage

Liquid Extract

Ratio: 1:2

3-8 mL

Weekly Dosage

Liquid Extract

Ratio: 1:2

20-55 mL


Part Used

Aged Bark

Family Name



North America

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Constituents of Interest

  • Anthrone glycosides
  • Anthraquinones
  • Aloins
  • Tannins

Common Names

  • Cascara sagrada
  • Buckthorn
  • Sacred bark
  • Californian buckthorn

Botanical Info:

The Rhamnaceae (buckthorn) family of plants contains 55 genera, and 950 different species. This family has a wide distribution, especially throughout the tropics.


Research Overview:

Still compiling research.

Level Of Research:


Clinical Applications Of Cascara Sagrada:

Cascara sagrada is mainly used for constipation and as a tonic for poor bowel motility.



Caution adviced with this herb. Contraindicated with intestinal blockages and pregnancy.


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