Cascara Sagrada: Sacred Bark

Cascara Sagrada: Sacred Bark

The cascara sagrada is basically a natural laxative that is derived from the brownish-red bark of a tree known as Rhamnus purshiana that is indigenous to the Pacific Northwest. Historically, it is applied by different Native American tribes who interestingly passed their cascara sagrada or ìsacred barkî on to the Spanish explorers.

Cascara sagrada is a traditional remedy for some illnesses. And with the passing of time, many other European settlers were also rapidly adopted the cascara sagrada as a traditional remedy for constipation and other complaints. However, this traditional remedy was not formally applied in western medicine until the year 1877, when a certain pharmaceutical producer in the name of Eli Lilly and Company applied and introduced their ìElixir Purgansî, which is a well-known product that contains cascara sagrada along with other laxative herbs.

Due to the continuing popularity of the cascara sagrada since that time, it is no doubt that several laxatives highlights cascara sagrada as a major ingredient nowadays. Since the cascara sagrada is a mild laxative, most of the medicinal preparations combined it witjh the other herb that has stronger laxatives such as the aloe vera latex.

In the process of preparation, many of the professionals thought that in order to function properly as a medicinal herb, the bark of the cascara sagrada must be carefully prepared, that it is cured for at least one year or heated and dried to speed up the aging process of formulation. It is highly considered that aging is very significant in this sense for the reason that the fresh bark of the herb is very irritating to the gastrointestinal system, which greatly leads to vomiting as well as intestinal paroxysms.

With its uses and functions, the Food and Drug Administration considered the cascara sagrada as safe and effective. As such, the herb commonly appears in the national formularies of most countries and it has been in the United States Pharmacopoeia since the year 1890.

In general, the value of the cascara sagrada is clear for easing constipation, especially when it is taken properly and at a safe dosage. In relation to that, there are some reports that this herb can safely be applied by the elderly as well as for the mild constipation that can surface after anal or rectal surgery. Such case is greatly possible since the cascara sagrada bark has an anthraquinone derivatives that stimulate peristalsis, which the vigorous wavelike constrictions of the large intestine that keep food moving through the digestive system.

Image courtesy of born1945

Aside from that, the cascara sagrada is also valuable for treating hemorrhoids and anal fissures for the main reason that it softens the stool and it drives the speeding up of bowel movements.

Today, with the continuing popularity of the cascara sagrada, some of the health food stores and other outlets provide the herb in the form of tablet, powder, liquid, dried herb or tea, and even capsule. And as a proper way of taking it, one should first know that cascara sagrada is quite bitter to the taste and if it applied in a liquid form, it will usually need a sweetener. This is probably the reason that most of the people preferred applying the herb in tablet or capsule form.

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