The words “cascara sagrada” mean “sacred bark” in Spanish. For the Native Americans, this herb is more than just a medicinal plant. It is a part of their culture. Growing to a height of over 20 feet, this tree has thin, serrated leaves and a reddish-brown bark. Like most plants, it flowers in spring. These are followed by poisonous dark berries — you will want to stay away from those! The bark of the tree is mostly used in dry form for its medicinal value because fresh bark can make you very ill, causing nausea and vomiting. The taste of cascara sagrada bark is bitter and is used to paint the nails of young kids to help them kick their habit of nail biting.
Health benefits of cascara sagrada:
1. Relief of constipation
The plant is primarily used to cure constipation by thoroughly cleaning the colon. It is one of the best herbs for the entire digestive system and starts working within eight hours of consumption.*
2. Treatment of gastric disorders and gallstones
This herb has properties that improve digestion and gastrointestinal functions in the body thereby cleansing the system and keeping the organs in good shape. Gallstones can also be treated and prevented easily with cascara sagrada. The sacred bark also promotes production of digestive juices making digestion of food easier, which in turn prevents the buildup of stones. Herbal medicines made from its extracts are used to treat serious conditions like cirrhosis, enlarged liver and jaundice.*
3. Heals the skin
For teenagers or girls approaching puberty, acne is a very common skin problem. This can be reduced and prevented with the help of cascara sagrada tinctures. Patchy skin can also be treated with the regular application of cold tea made from cascara extracts.*
4. Hydrating properties
Various body products are made using this herb to take advantage of its hydrating properties. Cascara sagrada helps the skin stay hydrated and makes it look fresh and beautiful.*
5. Anti-aging properties
Cascara sagrada helps to get rid of wrinkles and blemishes that appear with age on our skin, thereby helping to make us look more youthful.*
6. Helps with hair problems
Cascara sagrada cleanses the body internally and prevents hair and scalp problems like dandruff, flaky scalp and lice. Hair products made from cascara sagrada are popular for their medicinal value. If you are having hair-loss problems, taking cascara sagrada oral supplement can also help prevent blockages of pores on the scalp that cause hair loss.*
7. Helps the fight against cancer
Cascara sagrada has anti-cancer properties and makes chemotherapy more effective. Its high level of anti-oxidants fights the free radicals in the human body, helping it to ward off cancer-causing cells.*
8. Weight-loss aid
Since it is high on the laxative scale, the sacred bark is used in diet and slimming teas, helping with weight loss.*
Apart from nutrients like vitamin B, calcium, potassium and manganese, cascara sagrada contains anthraquinone glycosides. Free anthraquinone and hydroxyanthracene derivatives (HAD) are responsible for cascara sagrada’s laxative properties.
Cascara sagrada is a mild herb but it does cause some side effects. So do remember that:
High doses and prolonged use of cascara sagrada can cause diarrhea and should be avoided.
Pregnant and lactating women are advised not to consume or apply the herb in any form.
Regular use of this herb can make you an addict of it.
Prolonged use may cause brownish-yellow urine indicating loss of potassium in high quantities from the body and is considered unhealthy.
Cascara sagrada certainly has what seem to be magical properties to maintain the body healthy — just Mother Nature at work! — but comes with the aforementioned cautionary notes. So, do use the sacred bark, but exercise caution and remember not to use it as a substitute for normal medication.