Cascara Sagrada: A Remedy against Constipation

Cascara Sagrada: A Remedy against Constipation

Today, we are going to talk about Cascara Sagrada, a natural plant with interesting properties. Above all, it is used due to its laxative effect to treat constipation.

What is Cascara Sagrada?

Rhamnus purshiana or Cascara Sagrada, is a natural plant native to the warm areas of North America, from the mid-west to California. It grows in coniferous forests and it is cultivated in Central Africa.

People tend to use the natural format or tablets in other to treat occasional constipation.

Constipation is a disorder related to the digestive system that could be described as the retention of the feces. The body is not capable of excreting solid waste or it becomes difficult to do so.

Almost everyone suffers constipation temporarily at some point in their life.


Sometimes, the constipation is related to other disorders that cause more discomfort, causing harmful effects on our health.

That is why it is interesting to know certain aspects about Cascara Sagrada, which is a natural, innocuous and effective option to treat this problem.

Rhamnus purshiana

The name “cascara sagrada” was coined by the Spanish people when they colonized the American continent. In fact, they believed that this was the tree that was used to build Noah’s Ark.

This tree grows from 6 to 12 meters in height. Its leaves can be between 4 and 8cm long and they are covered by fuzz. Then, they become bright green, elliptical, whole and barely dented.

The flowers of this plant are small and of a greenish white color. They group in umbels of five petals that produce a fruit with a black drupe of the size of a pea. Usually, the fruit contains two or three bright seeds.

Cascara Sagrada natural laxative

Like we mentioned previously, cascara sagrada is a natural laxative that comes from the bark of the Rhamnus purshiana tree. The plant is cut in small pieces and they are left to dry for a year approximately.

All in all, it is a natural product and the active ingredient of some laxative medicines.

In addition, this plant has a high hydroxyanthracene glycosides content, which are mainly made up of cascarosides. These components have a cleansing or cathartic effect on the gut, which is why it is so useful against constipation.

Above all, they stimulate the peristalsis and the secretion of water and electrolytes in the lumen, with the resulting laxative effect. Consequently, it is frequently used to treat occasional constipation.

What is Cascara Sagrada used for?

The cascara sagrada has:

  • Cathartic effects
  • Laxative properties
  • Appetite stimulant
  • Cholagogue effects

That is why it is mainly used to treat constipation in the short-term since it helps to restore the natural tone of the colon. In addition, it slightly increases and regulates the peristaltic movements of the gut.

After taking cascara sagrada, the large bowel releases a series of substances that are processed by the bacterial flora. This improves the release of aglycones, which stimulate the mucosa and trigger the excretion.

Small doses can help to stimulate the appetite, while higher doses have a mild laxative and cleansing effect.

Cat eating grass

In addition, it improves the excretion of retained bile in the bile vesicle. Consequently, it reduces the absorption of fat by the intestine.

There is more information in our blog about the tips and advice to keep the colon healthy. Read more....

What are the functions of Cascara Sagrada?

  • Improving the intestinal transit thanks to its laxative effect, without irritating the digestive system.
  • Helping to improve the digestion and cleansing the colon.
  • Lowering the cholesterol and triglycerides.
  • Stimulating the appetite as a bitter tonic plant.

The cascara sagrada extract is metabolized by the intestinal bacteria, which causes the production of substances that stimulate the intestinal peristalsis.

The effect caused by this plant is quite mild when compared to other natural laxatives such as aloe vera.

How to take?

The cascara sagrada and its extracts are used in short-term treatments against occasional constipation.

The recommended dose tends to be between 1 to 5ml a day. It is important to drink eight glasses of 200ml of water throughout the day while taking cascara sagrada bark.

In addition, you should not toke cascara sagrada bark for more than 8 or 10 days without medical supervision.

You can take cascara sagrada in capsules or powder and its dose will depend on your ages and individual factors. Above all, it is important to consult your doctor before using it.

In general, this natural plant is available in capsules. Therefore, we would have to take 1 capsules a day before sleeping with a glass of water. However, this dose may change according to individual needs.

As we mentioned already, you should use this product around 1 week, since it is only a solution for a temporary problem.

Cascara Sagrada Tea

It is also quite healthy to drink cascara sagrada tea. Another way of using this product is making infusions using the dry plant.

The ingredients would be:

  • 1 teaspoon of cascara sagrada.
  • 250ml of boiling water.

When it comes to the preparation, you just have to put the cascara sagrada in a cup and add the boiling water. Then, let it settle for 10 minutes, strain it and drink 1 or 2 cups at night before sleeping.


However, it is important to clarify that you should no take cascara sagrada if you think you are pregnant. Do not take it during lactation either because it could pass onto the breast milk and cause diarrhea to the newborn.

Moreover, it is not advised for children under the age of twelve.

In addition, you should not take this product if you use digoxin, corticosteroids, medicines against arrhythmia, diuretics and cardiotonic glycosides. Otherwise, it could trigger some kind of interaction with these medicines.

Also, it is contraindicated for those who suffer intestinal disorders such as appendicitis, stomach ulcers, intestinal obstruction, diverticular disease, ulcerous colitis, Crohn’s diseases, rectal bleeding, vomits or dehydration.

Next time you experience occasional constipation, now you know what to do.


  1. “Plantas medicinales aprobadas en Colombia” Ramiro Fonnegra G. y Silvia Luz Jiménez R.
  2. “Salud por las plantas medicinales” Dr. Jorge D. Pamplona Roger
  3. “Plantas y remedio medicinales” Libros IV-V. Manuela García Valdés
  4. “100 plantas medicinales escogidas” Alfredo Ara Roldán
  5. “Manual práctico de fitoterapia: descripción de las plantas medicinales y preparación de remedios naturales” Pedro Moreiro López

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About María José García
María José García
María José has been connected to sport throughout her whole life. She has competed in several sport disciplines such as skating, swimming or gymnastics since she was a little girl.
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