Natural Health Products

Non-traditional solutions to help boost your health and wellness.

Cascara Sagrada

General Information

Cascara sagrada means "sacred bark" in Spanish. It may help relieve constipation. It is also used in some sunscreens and as a flavoring agent. Cascara sagrada bark is aged for a year so the active ingredients become milder and to reduce the risk of liver damage.

Common Name(s)
cascara sagrada, cascara, bitter bark, chittem bark, sacred bark
Scientific Name(s)

Frangula purshiana

How is this product usually used?

The aged bark of the cascara sagrada plant is used medicinally. It is a herb that is taken orally (by mouth). In general, the doses for adults are:

  • preparations equivalent to 20 mg to 30 mg of hydroxyanthracene derivatives per day
  • 0.3 g to 1.0 g dried bark per day
  • infusion: 0.3 g to 2 g dried bark per day
  • tincture: 1.5 g to 3 g per day (1:2, 3 mL to 6 mL)

Your health care provider may have recommended using this product in other ways. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.

What is this product used for?

Cascara sagrada has been used for laxative purposes.

Some research suggests that cascara sagrada serves as a laxative and helps with short-term constipation; however, you should only use it for less than one week.

Your health care provider may have recommended this product for other conditions. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.

What else should I be aware of?

Common side effects from cascara sagrada may include mild stomach ache, pain in the bowels, and cramps. It may also cause your urine to turn a pink, red, purple, orange, or rust colour.

Long term use of cascara sagrada may lead to low levels of potassium, protein and blood in the urine, muscle weakness, and malnutrition.

Cascara sagrada can interact with some medications. It increases the risk of potassium loss caused by different medications including corticosteroids and some diuretics (e.g., hydrochlorothiazide, furosemide, chlorthalidone). Cascara sagrada also interacts with medications for heart failure (e.g., digoxin), laxatives, and warfarin.

Cascara sagrada interacts with natural health products including cardiac glycoside-containing herbs, licorice, and herbs with laxative properties (e.g., aloe, rhubarb, senna).

If you are taking any of these medications or natural health products, you should consult your health care provider before using cascara sagrada.

You should avoid using too much cascara sagrada. Do not take more than the recommended dose and do not use it for longer than 7 days. In addition, you should drink plenty of liquids to keep your body balanced.

If your symptoms persist or worsen after taking cascara sagrada, you should consult your health care provider. If you have a kidney disease or if you are taking medications for your heart, you should consult your health care provider before using cascara sagrada.

You should avoid using cascara sagrada if you have stomach ache, nausea, or vomiting, or if you have a stomach or intestinal (gastrointestinal) disease (e.g., Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, ulcers).

You should also avoid using cascara sagrada if you are allergic to cascara sagrada or plants of the Rhamnaceae family.

You should not use cascara sagrada if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Before taking any new medications, including natural health products, speak to your physician, pharmacist, or other health care provider. Tell your health care provider about any natural health products you may be taking.

  1. Health Canada. Drugs & Health Products. Monograph – Cascara Sagrada.
  2. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Cascara Sagrada.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2020. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.