Cascara sagrada is also called as- Rhamnus purshiana, bearberry, California buckthorn, sacred bark, and yellow bark.


Cascara Sagrada is indigenous to southern British Columbia1, western North America, northwestern Montana, and south to central California. This plant is usually seen near streamsides in the diverse moist montane forests and deciduous-coniferous forests of valleys.

Taxonomic information:

Order: Rosales

Family: Rhamnaceae

Genus: Rhamnus

Subgenus: Frangula



Cascara Sagrada is a miniature tree large shrub 4.5 to 10 meters tall, has a trunk of 20 to 50 cm in diameter. The outside bark has a brownish to silver-grey color with light splotching. The inner side of the bark is yellowish and smooth. Cascara bark has a solid bitterness. The leaves are oval-shaped and straightforward, have clustered near the edges of twigs. The flowers are small and have only 4 to 5 mm in width, and have five greenish-yellow petals, growing like a cup. It has 6 to 10 mm diameter drupe fruits. The fruit has bright red color at first but turned into deep purple or black during maturity. The fruit contains yellow pulp and has a few even and solid black or olive-green seeds.

Parts used

The dried barks are used for preparing medicines.

Chemical constituents

The primary chemical compound is anthraquinones. It also carries chemical compounds like- anthraquinone glycosides, aloin, rhein, hydroxy anthracene derivatives, malic acid, and tannic acid.


Traditional Uses and benefits

  1. In traditional medicines2, the cascara is generally administered by mouth as a laxative for treating constipation. The dried bark can be powdered, boiled, and distilled for the manufacturing of herbal products.


  1. The cascara sagrada is sold in the United States as a food supplement.


  1. Within 8 to 12 hours of consuming a dose, it will cause a strong bowel movement.


  1. A chemical compound named ‘Aloe-emodin’ in this plant has been recorded to have antiviral action in vitro.


  1. Research indicates that the cascara sagrada may enhance the repair rate of human cell DNA damage.


  1. The cascara sagrada is also utilized in the manufacturing of sunscreens.


  1. In the food and beverage industry, the extract of cascara sagrada is used as a seasoning agent.


Dosage and Precautions

There is no exact confirmed dosage. The effects may vary based on a patient’s age, sex, weight, and health conditions. Always consult the physician before administering a cascara sagrada containing a drug.


Cascara sagrada is meant for short-term use3 only. A longtime application may result in abdominal cramping and pain. It can further create a condition called melanosis coli if consumed rapidly.

Cascara sagrada may induce critical dehydration and the functional loss of electrolytes if taken for few weeks.

Longtime association of Cascara sagrada has some severe possible side effects like- irregular heartbeat, loss of energy, Severe nausea, Headaches, Muscle weakness, cramps, Depression, etc.



Cascara sagrada should not be used for weight loss because of its capability of drug interaction and high risk of side effects. Those who have kidney disease, diverticular disease, congestive heart failure, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, severe hemorrhoids, etc., should not use it. The cascara sagrada drugs should not be administered during pregnancy and breastfeeding without a medical practitioner’s advice.



The content and information on newerapost are for information and educational purposes only.  A guide to self-diagnosis and self-treatment is not intended and should not be used as a medical manual. Before beginning the use of any prescription medication and pursuing any self-treatment, all readers are urged to consult a physician. The information given in this article is intended to help you make informed decisions for your health. You must consult with your doctor before pursuing any natural remedies if you are under care for any health condition. Do not take any vitamins, minerals, herbs, or other supplements without consulting your doctor if you are taking any medication. The website does not make a representation, express or implied, regarding the accuracy of the information and does not accept any single responsibility for any errors or misuse.



  1. Southern British Columbia: Retrieved from the website.

  1. Traditional medicines: Retrieved from the website.

  1. Short-term use: Retrieved from the website.