Cascara is produced from the bark of a plant named Cascara sagrada.
It stimulates the large intestine and has been shown to have a laxative effect.
Cascara also causes the removal of electrolytes like sodium and potassium along with fecal matter.
This helps with regulating bowel movement, but it can also cause very low potassium and sodium levels which can be dangerous if used for a long period of time.
It contains a chemical called aloe-emodin, which has been identified by scientists.
This chemical reduced the development of tumour cells in laboratory tests, but it is uncertain if the same effect would occur in the human body.
It has also been analyzed for its potential as a carcinogen. Cascara is a component of the Hoxsey herbal therapy, which is advocated as a cancer treatment.
There is, however, no proof that Hoxsey herbal therapy is beneficial in the treatment of cancer. More studies are needed to prove its efficacy.
The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) previously authorised it as an over-the-counter (OTC) drug for constipation.
However, doubts about it’s safety and efficacy have been raised over time.
To address these concerns, the FDA allowed manufacturers to submit safety and efficacy data.
However, the businesses determined that the expense of performing safety and efficacy studies would likely outweigh the potential profit from cascara sales.
As a result, they failed to comply with the request.
As a result, the FDA warned manufacturers that all OTC laxative products containing cascara must be removed or reformulated from the U.S. market by November 5, 2002.
Cascara is now sold as a “dietary supplement,” but not as a medicine.
Dietary supplements are excluded from the FDA’s regulations for over-the-counter and prescription medicines. It is a laxative used to cure constipation, as well as a therapy for gallstones, liver problems, and cancer.
It’s been referred to be a “bitter tonic” by others. A bitterless cascara extract is sometimes used as a flavoring ingredient in food and beverage industry. It is also used in cosmetic industry for preparing sunscreens.
Constipation is the most common condition for which Cascara sagrada is used.
The anthraquinones found in the bark prevent water and electrolyte absorption in the intestines.
As a result, as the stool absorbs the extra water, the volume of the stool grows, increasing the pressure within the gut.
This causes muscular spasms in the colon (peristalsis), which speeds up the bowel movement. Cascara sagrada, like other natural laxatives such as aloe vera and senna, is classified a stimulant laxative.
It’s impact is milder than the others, resulting in less loose or watery stools. It is still used by those who prefer “natural” laxatives to artificial ones, despite the fact that it is no longer an FDA-approved laxative.
Cancer : Aloe-emodin extracted from cascara has been shown in lab experiments to have anticancer properties.
However, laboratory results are not enough to prove efficacy towards human use, and clinical studies are needed to be done.
Although it is thought that cascara sagrada may prevent or treat gallstones, liver issues, haemorrhoids, fissures, and even cancer, there is little to no data to back up these claims.
Side effects :
Cascara sagrada is only meant to be used for a limited period of time.
It is typically safe and well-tolerated when taken to treat constipation for a short-term.
It may induce stomach discomfort and cramps in some people (most commonly when used to treat severe constipation).
Long-term cascara sagrada usage is a different issue and cause some adverse effects. Some evidence suggests that anthraquinones might be dangerous if consumed in excess.
Cascara sagrada can also induce a disease called melanosis coli, which is a darkening of the colon lining.
Cascara sagrada can induce severe dehydration and rapid loss of electrolytes including sodium, potassium, and chloride if consumed for more than a week or two.
Severe nausea, loss of energy, headaches, muscle weakness, cramps, irregular pulse, skipped heartbeats, rapid heartbeat, numbness of the hands or feet, reduced urine production, confusion, and depression are all possible adverse effects.
Cascara sagrada can cause laxative dependency if used repeatedly, since the intestines adapt to the anthraquinones and become less able to function on their own.