Some of the most common gastrointestinal problems have been solved for many years by traditional medicine through the use of medicinal plants with very good results, this being the case of cascara sagrada.

In this article, we provide you with information about what cascara sagrada is and what its uses are for human health.

What is Cascara Sagrada?

Cascara sagrada, with the scientific name Rhamnus purshiana , is a tree with medicinal properties , belonging to the temperate zones of North America from the Midwest to California and is also cultivated in Central Africa. (1)

Note: The most interesting part of this tree is its bark named after the tree, which has been described as having a strong laxative effect that can cause intense spasms and cramps in the intestines.

However, food and drug control agencies in the United States and Europe (2) have approved its short-term use for the treatment of some disorders of the digestive system .

What is the sacred cascara used for?

The use of cascara sagrada is focused on the recovery of the functionality of the digestive system , from the following health conditions:

1. Constipation

Constipation is a condition where it is problematic for the patient to have regular and normal bowel movements .

In this sense, the phytochemical components of the cascara sagrada have a cathartic action , that is, they stimulate defecation by accelerating the transit of feces through the restoration of the motility of the large intestine , in addition to being considered as one of the plants stronger laxatives. (3)

Important: Data in the consulted literature describe that high doses of cascara sagrada can have side effects such as tiredness, cramps, diarrhea, lack of appetite, malabsorption of nutrients, nausea and vomiting , among others.

2. Appetite stimulation

Another facet of this medicinal tree represented in the shell of its bark is that its chemical compounds activate the substances that cause the feeling of hunger in the brain, so it is ideal to take a sip of cascara sagrada infusion before meals. Main meals.

3. Expulsion of retained bile

Cascara sagrada has a cholagogue effect , that is, it works by stimulating the expulsion of bile retained in the gallbladder.

To highlight: This effect of its chemicals is achieved by causing the relaxation of the sphincter of Oddi and/or stimulating the contraction of the gallbladder, facilitating the arrival of bile to the duodenum.

4. Reduced absorption of fats

In line with the previous point, the release of bile accumulated in the gallbladder thanks to the cholagogue effect of cascara sagrada favors a decrease in the absorption of fats through the intestine.

This property also favors the decrease in the presence of cholesterol in the blood and helps in the treatment and/or prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

What contraindications does Cascara sagrada have?

Due to the toxicity of its chemical components in high doses , the cascara sagrada plant is contraindicated in the following circumstances:

  • Sensitivity to any of the phytochemicals in cascara sagrada.
  • In patients with Crohn’s disease.
  • If you suffer from intestinal obstruction and stenosis.
  • If you suffer from atony, appendicitis , ulcerative colitis.
  • If the patient suffers severe states of dehydration.
  • In pregnant or lactating women.

How do you take cascara sagrada?

Cascara sagrada can be consumed according to its presentation , but this will depend on the pathology to be treated and the age of the patient. Here are two more common ways to take it:

1. Capsules or powder

The commercial ways to distribute cascara sagrada is through capsules or powder to prepare infusions. The recommended dose must be prescribed by a doctor and is generally taken no more than two to three consecutive days, depending on the results.

You should know: If a doctor is not present, the instructions on the package must be followed.

2. Cascara sagrada tea

A simple way to consume cascara sagrada is through the preparation of infusions . Here is a simple way to prepare this drink:


  • cascara shells
  • Hot water

Preparation and consumption

  • Put a container with water to boil.
  • Once the water is boiling, remove it from the heat, add the cascara sagrada shells and leave it for 10 minutes. 
  • The drink is strained and traditional medicine indicates one or two cups before bedtime.

Key takeaways

  • Cascara sagrada is the bark of the tree of the same name with therapeutic properties .
  • Cascara sagrada is used mainly in affections of the digestive tract .
  • Cascara sagrada is used to treat constipation , retained bile in the gallbladder and stimulate appetite.
  • Cascara sagrada is contraindicated in certain patients , so it must be prescribed by a doctor.

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