Cascara sagrada was recognized by the Spanish as a species of buckthorn, the powerful laxative herb used in Europe since ancient times. The Spanish explorers who first visited Northern California had a problem - constipation.
The local Indians had the solution; a tea made from a healing herb they held sacred. The herb worked and the Spanish named it “cascara sagrada” or “sacred bark”.
The chemical anthraquinones; contained in cascara sagrada stimulates the intestinal contractions we know as “the urge”. Drying changes this chemical and gives this herb milder action.
It is milder than the other anthraquinone laxatives; which include, aloe, buckthorn, rhubarb, and senna. Always use laxatives as a last resort. First increase the fiber in your diet, drink more fluids, and get more physical exercise.
Although the traditional use of cascara sagrada is a laxative; there is assertion that it also restores natural tone to the colon. To benefit from the laxative action in cascara sagrada; use as either a decoction or a tincture.
Anyone with ulcers, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, hemorrhoids or other gastrointestinal conditions should not use cascara sagrada.
As with all herbal nutrition supplements, cascara sagrada supplements should only be used in amounts typically recommended for medicinal purposes and you should aways consult with a health professional first, especially if you are pregnant, nursing or taking prescription medications.
CHEMICAL & NUTRIENT CONTENT:
Anthraquine, calcium, cascarosides, essential oils, inositol, manganese, PABA, potassium, vitamin B-complex, B2 and B6.
Cascara sagrada is not a garden herb. It is a twenty foot tree with reddish brown bark and has thin, finely serrated leaves. The fruit is a berry, bright red at first, quickly maturing to a deep purple or black, containing three seeds. It grows in the northwest in moist acidic soils on the shady side of clearings or near the edges of mixed deciduous forests.
The bark of cascara sagrada is harvested mostly from wild trees. The bark must be stored and dried for a least one year before use. Fresh bark may also be dried in an oven by baking at 250 degrees for several hours. The fresh herb contains chemicals that can cause severe intestinal cramps, vomiting and violent diarrhea.
Other herbs with laxative actions include aloe vera, basil, buckthorn, burdock, comfrey, dandelion, licorice, psyllium, purslane, rhubarb and senna.
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