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Benefits of Cascara Segrada

Benefits of Cascara Segrada Benefits of Cascara Segrada

Overview

Cascara sagrada, or cascara, has been used in North American folk medicine for centuries and was also available in the U.S. as an over-the-counter laxative. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration became concerned about its safety and efficacy and eventually ordered removal of cascara-based laxative products from the market. Cascara is currently available in the U.S. as an herbal supplement. As there is limited available information about the effectiveness of cascara, first talk with your doctor before using cascara medicinally.

Identification and Dosing

Cascara sagrada is also referred to by other names such as cascara, chittem bark, cascararinde, purshiana bark, sacred bark, bitter bark and buckthorn. Cascara bark and extracts are used to make medicinal preparations. The usual reported doses of cascara are 1 g of bark and 325 mg of the dried extract. The typical dose range of the fluid extract is 2 to 6 ml.

Benefits

Cascara contains chemicals that invigorate bowel movements, thus it is often used as a laxative to relieve constipation. Other uses include treating gallstones, liver problems and cancer, says the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, or NMCD. Cascara is also used to help with digestion.

Effectiveness

According to the NMCD, cascara is rated as likely effective for use as a laxative. More scientific information is needed from human studies to determine the efficacy of cascara for other health problems.

Considerations

Cascara is considered to be possibly safe when taken for up to two weeks. Side effects from short use may include stomach upset and cramping. Using cascara for longer time periods can cause more significant problems, such as dehydration, prolonged diarrhea, heart troubles, muscle weakness, and low blood levels of essential electrolytes such as sodium and potassium. Some people also experience discoloration of their urine. Avoid using cascara if you have existing problems, such as appendicitis, obstruction in the intestines, stomach pain of unknown origin, inflammatory disease of the intestines or stomach ulcers.

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