Medication and Food Supplements

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Cascara Sagrada (Rhamnus Purshiani Cortex)

Cascara Sagrada is a mild laxative and a colon cleanser. A number of studies have shown that cascara sagrada is effective in easing chronic constipation in elderly people. It is also an excellent source of a variety of nutrients, including essential oils, calcium, and potassium.

Cascara Sagrada (Rhamnus purshiani cortex) is a small tree indigenous to the United States and provinces of the Pacific coast including British Columbia, Oregon, Washington, and Northern California. The plant was introduced by Northern California Indians to sixteenth-century Spanish explorers. In Spanish, the name Cascara sagrada means “sacred bark”. It is an age-old remedy for alleviating constipation. The Indians ground the bark of the tree into a fine powder and used it to brew a rich beverage.

Cascara sagrada is an excellent source of a variety of nutrients including essential oils, calcium, potassium, manganese, and the vitamins A, B2, and B5. The herb has also been known to aid digestion and have antiseptic properties. Cascara sagrada was commercially introduced in the late 19th century by a pharmaceutical company which marketed a fluid extract of the bark to relieve chronic constipation.

Hydroxyanthraquinone glycosides called cascarosides are the active constituents in Cascara sagrada bark. Cascarosides are cathartic (inducing catharsis, or “cleansing”) agents which stimulate an increase in peristaltic activity. Peristalsis is the rhythmic, wavelike motion of the alimentary canal (passage of the body through which food passes and is digested).

Increased muscular contraction in this region results in bowel movement. Cascarosides also increase bile secretion. Bile is a yellow- greenish fluid released from the liver and discharged into the duodenum (first part of the small intestine) to aid the digestive process.

Because of Cascara Sagrada’s peristaltic and liver function activities, it has also been beneficial in treating an enlarged liver, intestinal parasites, jaundice, and colitis. Cascara sagrada effectively supports and strengthens the colon and gallbladder. Though other laxatives in the same plant family are considered too harsh, Cascara sagrada is extremely gentle and is useful for treating everyone from children to the elderly.

Those who suffer from chronic constipation or poor digestion will find Cascara sagrada to be the effective, gentle laxative they’ve been looking for.

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