Cascara Sagrada is a species of buckthorn native to western North America from southern British Columbia south to central California, and eastward to northwestern Montana. The dried bark of cascara has been used for centuries as an herbal laxative, acting on the large intestine and is generally astringent and tonifying to the gastrointestinal tract. The herb is useful for softening the stools in the case of anal fissure, haemorrhoids or postoperative situations. Effects are not usually apparent until at least 6 hours from the first dosage.
As a laxative for constipation, a typical dose is 1 cup of tea, which is made by steeping 2 grams of finely chopped bark in 150 ml of boiling water for 5-10 minutes, and then straining.
Combine 1 part of the strong decoction with 2 parts of honey. Take 2 tablespoons (30 ml) before bed. Best to begin with low dosage and adjust on future occasions according to the degree of response.
The cascara liquid extract is taken in a dose of 2-5 ml three times daily. The appropriate amount of cascara is the smallest dose that is needed to maintain soft stools.
Cascara sagrada trees are usually grown from grafting, because the process of growing from a seed takes so long, in areas with soil that does not drain well, or near a pond or stream.
The bark is sliced and peeled from the wood in spring, dried and aged for at least 1 year before use.