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Preparation and dosage: blend 1 or 2 teaspoonful of the herb into 1 cup boiling water. Steep 10 minutes. Drink 3 x daily. Tincture: take 30 drops, 3 x daily.
Cascara Sagrada (Rhamnus cathartica (Common Buckthorn), R. frangula (Alder Buckthorn), R. purshiana) Cut and Sifted Bulk
Rhamnaceae (Buckthorn Family)
The genus name Rhamnus derives from the Greek rhamnos, "branch" or "spiny shrub." The species name, purshiana, was bestowed in honor of botanist Frederick Pursh, who first described this plant in his 1814 Flora America Septentrionalis. The name cascara sagrada is Spanish for "sacred bark"; the name was given by Spanish-Americans who observed the plant's use by the Native Americans.
Range of Appearance
Casacara sagrada is a small (seldom over 30 feet in height) deciduous tree. Native to the North American Pacific Coast, the tree grows in moist, low, coniferous forest habitats. The dark green leaves are alternate, finely toothed, slightly pubescent underneath, and roundish at the base. The ends can be sharp or blunt. Clusters of hermaphroditic whitish green flowers bloom in the spring. The cascara fruits are small black globes, each containing two or three seeds. In recent times overharvesting has reduced the number of these trees; try to be sure any cascara sagrada you use has been harvested responsibly.
Bark (dried and aged)
Alterative, astringent, bitter tonic, cathartic, cholagogue, digestive, emetic, hepatic, laxative, nervine, purgative, stomachic, tonic
Casacara sagrada promotes bowel action, moves stagnation, clears heat, cleanses the liver and gallbladder, and stimulates bile flow. It stimulates peristalsis and increases the secretions of the colon, liver, pancreas, and stomach. It is the most widely used laxative in the world, and it was included in the United States Pharmacopoeia in 1890. Small doses are restorative, medium doses are laxative, and large doses are cathartic. In addition to its use as a laxative to relieve constipation, cascara sagrada is used to treat anal fissures, arthritis, cirrhosis, colitis, dyspepsia, flatulence, gallstones, gout, hemorrhoids, indigestion, jaundice, and worms. To prevent gripe it is best to combine this herb with a carminative herb such as fennel, anise, ginger, or peppermint. The best time to use cascara sagrada as a laxative is before bed so that its effects can take place the next morning. Topically, cascara sagrada can be used as a wash to heal herpes lesions.
The bark is not generally considered edible except as a tea; its flavor is nauseatingly bitter. The thin fruits can be eaten as emergency ration, though they are slightly toxic if eaten in quantity.
The bitter tea or tincture of the bark can be applied to the fingernails to discourage one from biting them. A green dye is made from the bark. The light, soft wood is used to make tool handles and fence posts.
Calcium, iron, sulfur, anthraquinones (emodin, cascarosides, frangulin, isomodin, chrysophanol), tannin, glycosides, resins, lipids
Never use fresh cascara sagrada bark. The bark must be aged at least one year to reduce its griping effect. Some age it for as long as six years. Long-term use can deplete the body of electrolytes, including potassium, and weaken intestinal muscles. Excess use can cause nausea, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea. Avoid during pregnancy, while nursing, in children under twelve, and in cases of abdominal pain of unknown cause, ulcer, intestinal obstruction, irritable bowel, Crohn's disease, appendicitis, or acute hemorrhoids. Should the plant cause excess gripe, the antidote is charcoal capsules. Cascara sagrada is not considered habit forming, but it still is best used on occasion rather than daily; if used over an extended period the bark's effect on the body lessens, requiring that more be used, increasing the possibility of negative effects.
Plant details were provided by iPlant by Brigitte Mars.
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