Cascara Sagrada
16 June 2024

Cascara Sagrada for Laxative, Clearing & Purging: An Ancient Detox

I'm a huge proponent of Cascara Sagrada as a detox herb. It's not just a laxative, it is a clearing out herb, it does so much more than just end constipation. I've never suffered from constipation but I have used Cascara Sagrada multiple times. In my opinion it's one of the best and most effective Herbs there is. That's why we've always had it at Ancient Purity. Cascara Sagrada was previously sold as an over-the-counter herbal laxative. However, due to insufficient supporting research it was withdrawn of by the FDA in 2002, I know, shocking right. In the USA it is now available as a dietary supplement rather than a drug. Here we can still sell it as a Herbal Tea. Let me say this before I carry on as it is important, we and everyone agrees on advising to use it for no more than a week and with caution. It is a powerful ancient herb and dare I write the phrase Plant Medicine, so it must be respected.

So unlike with many situations where I begrudgingly have to caution you on a natural product, with Cascara Sagrada I really do. It's seriously powerful don't underestimate its effects on the human body. Long-term use of (beyond one or two weeks) is considered unsafe due to potential serious side effects such as dehydration, muscle weakness, heart problems, and low electrolyte levels in the blood. Cascara Sagrada is not recommended for children, who are more susceptible to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Individuals with gastrointestinal disorders such as intestinal blockage, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, appendicitis, stomach ulcers, or unexplained stomach pain should avoid using Cascara. Cascara Sagrada is known to interact with medications including stimulant laxatives, blood thinners, diuretics, corticosteroids, digoxin (Lanoxin), and any oral drugs. It should also not be taken with horsetail, licorice, herbs containing cardiac glycosides, or herbs and supplements containing chromium. Avoid it completely if you're pregnant or nursing! Now you are aware of all this, let's sail into this ancient world of clearing.

Laxative Clearing

Let's cover the simple laxative effects first. It is thought constipation affects as much as 15% of world's population at some point. That's not really shocking given the lousy diet of many people and the insane consumption worldwide of processed food. After not visiting Thailand for over a decade, I returned and was surprised to find that the consumption of instant noodles, filled with chemicals and processed junk, had become a daily habit. In my opinion, this shift in food choices is disappointing considering Thailand's reputation for having some of the most exquisite cuisine on earth. Many medications bind people up too. Anyway I'm sure being a regular visitor of our Ancient Purity website you probably do eat well, and avoid processed foods and most probably medications. But many other factors in life, stress and certain tendencies could cause constipation or a feeling of not clearing out enough. In this case I highly recommend Cascara Sagrada.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it is this laxative effect that is Cascara Sagrada's benefit and acknowledged use. Quoting from them here...
"Cascara is generally safe and well tolerated, but can cause adverse events including clinically apparent liver injury when used in high doses for longer than recommended periods … Liver injury from long term Cascara use is rare and most cases have been self-limited and rapidly reversible upon stopping the laxative. However, severe cases with acute liver failure and development of ascites and portal hypertension have been described".

This is exactly why Cascara Sagrada consumption is only considered safe for a one week maximum. This program should not be exceeded, I mean we sell a fairly big bag at Ancient Purity but you can revisit Cascara Sagrada as I have multiple times. Also think of Cascara Sagrada as something for the medicine cabinet, one for the whole family to utilise. It is classified as a botanical stimulant laxative, working by increasing peristalsis (muscle contractions) in the intestines, which aids in moving stool through the bowels to facilitate a bowel movement. Its laxative effects are attributed to the presence of anthraquinone glycosides. The bark of Cascara Sagrada also contains resins, tannins, and lipids.

Multiple Effects of Cascara Sagrada

Multiple Effects of Cascara Sagrada

I will go back over some of the laxative affects later as they are a factor in its detox ability. Cascara Sagrada is often cited for potential uses in treating gallstones and liver disease, although clinical studies supporting these uses are as you guessed it... currently limited. A 2010 animal study found that emodin, a compound in Cascara, appeared to help with liver damage. Rats with liver damage induced by acetaminophen showed some liver protection after receiving emodin therapy in a dose-dependent manner. Specifically, doses of 30 mg/kg and 40 mg/kg of emodin effectively mitigated toxic liver effects caused by acetaminophen. It was also believed to help detoxify the liver and stimulate bile production, aiding in the digestion and absorption of fats. In traditional medicine, some practitioners use cascara sagrada along with garlic or castile enemas, olive oil, and lemon juice as part of a gallbladder flush to aid in the passage of gallstones. It was occasionally used to treat jaundice, a condition caused by liver dysfunction that leads to yellowing of the skin and eyes.

Now we haven't really got a clear idea of everything it was used on by the Native Americans who first utilised it but enough information is around. It's clear Some Native American tribes used it as a general tonic for digestive health, believing it helped cleanse the digestive tract and improve overall digestive function. This is another thing that makes me rate this so well as a Detox Tea. Then there is use on inflammatory conditions. The bark contains compounds like emodin, which me mentioned earlier, emodin has demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects in laboratory studies. For the anti-microbial factor, the bark was sometimes used topically to treat minor infections or wounds, leveraging its antimicrobial properties.

An Ancient Detox

An Ancient Detox

This is really what I want to talk about. So beyond its use for specific ailments of course mainly constipation, Cascara Sagrada was sometimes taken as a general health tonic. It was believed to help purify the blood and remove toxins from the body. Now the following is something personal. I had an intuitive experience with Cascara Sagrada. I knew that I had mild food poisoning or had ingested something harmful, as I was feeling unwell despite following all the right steps. I felt the need for something to quickly cleanse my system, something unconventional. I cannot explain why I had this specific request, but it was a feeling I had. I found Cascara Sagrada and made a huge cup of it. I did not add a sweetener and it was way too strong, but one cup and I was purging. Day 2 laxative effect kicks in. Day 3 was actually my final dose and the message was, don't eat, you've fixed it, take a break. I felt fantastic and clear, that's why I refer to Cascara Sagrada as a plant medicine, because that's what it did for me. It was a healing experience. Then I read more and learned I'd taken something pretty powerful, it most certainly is a cathartic herb.

The primary active compounds responsible for the laxative effect are anthraquinone glycosides. These compounds stimulate peristalsis and increase the water content in the intestines, facilitating bowel movements. But I found it made me actually throw up too. I haven't read it anywhere but what I mentioned above of the Native Americans of it purifying the blood and removing toxins. It really did for me, I felt clear after. The tribes, valued it for its broad range of health benefits. At least modern research primarily supports its use as a laxative, it has been cast back into the shadows a bit because of the FDA. Maybe some new studies will continue to explore its other potential health benefits. But my own research on me yielded great results. Cascara Sagrada, scientifically known as Rhamnus purshiana, is a species of buckthorn native to the Pacific Northwest of North America. The name "Cascara Sagrada" translates to "sacred bark" in Spanish, reflecting its revered status among various cultures. By the way I'll just add in here, that there is also information on its use and the Big C, but I won't be mentioning that at all. Anyway the Native American tribes, particularly those in the Pacific Northwest, used Cascara Sagrada for centuries. The bark was traditionally harvested, dried, and aged before being used to make tea. Guess what, that's exactly the "Sacred Bark" we have, true Cascara Sagrada, harvested correctly and sourced from the USA. It's almost as if we are called Ancient Purity for a reason. I hope you enjoyed this article as I have. Please share and do give this forgotten herb a try, like I said before, it is in my opinion plant medicine. Check out Cascara Sagrada Bark here.