Laxatives are used for the treatment of constipation, and to ensure smooth and timely bowel movements. One such laxative, cascara sagrada, has been used by North Americans since time immemorial. The laxative, that comes from a herbal deciduous tree found extensively in the north-west Pacific region of North America, is also known by names such as Chittem Bark, Cascara, Sacred Bark, etc.
The cascara herb derives its medicinal properties from the bark of the cascara tree. The bark is stripped from the tree and then left for an aging process, which takes almost a year to complete. This prepared bark is used for medicinal purposes. The most important benefit reaped out of cascara sagrada is that it relieves the user from constipation, and improves digestion and bowel movements, if consumed in the prescribed quantities.
Composition of Cascara Sagrada
The chemical composition of cascara sagrada consists of about 105 anthraquinone glycosides, which, in turn, consist of cascarosides A, B, C, and D. These cascarosides constitute a major part of the composition. Other glycosides present in smaller quantities are chrysalin, barbaloin, and frangulin. Emodin, emodin oxanthrone, chrysophanol, aloe emodin, and dianthrones-based glycosides are also present in minute concentrations. Moreover, compounds such as free aglycones and heterodianthrones palmidin A, B, and C form a small part of the overall structure of cascara sagrada.
The benefits of this herb are quite simple to understand, and it has also proved effective for many people. However, there have been some cases in the past, wherein people have suffered from a few side effects. Some of those possible side effects are discussed below.
Cascara Sagrada Bark Side Effects
In primitive times, cascara sagrada was consumed by extracting the medicine out of the cascara bark. These days, it is consumed in the form of capsules. The following are a few of its common side effects.
This is one of the most common side effects of cascara sagrada. People who can't digest the capsules or take it without a proper prescription have high chances to suffer from bloody diarrhea.
In some people, general weakness was also observed. The loss of essential body fluids might be the probable reason behind it.
Another common side effect is abdominal pain. This may happen because of prolonged exposure to the medicine, or due to allergic reactions taking place in the body after consuming the capsules.
Nausea and Vomiting
Overdosage of the capsules have resulted in disorders such as nausea and bloating. In a few cases, vomiting was also observed.
Other rarely found side effects are electrolyte imbalance and urine discoloration. Swelling of the fingertips, and liver problems such as liver toxicity, have also been detected as side effects of cascara sagrada.
It is found that almost anyone consuming cascara sagrada for a long time and with an incorrect dosage can suffer from its side effects. However, people who suffer from ulcerative colitis, anemia, and Crohn's disease are more prone to it, and, therefore, it is not prescribed to such people. To stay away from the side effects of this laxative, it is advised to consult a doctor before using it.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.