Cascara sagrada or cascara buckthorn is a shrub native to North America. Indigenous peoples used its bark as a laxative, and European settlers quickly followed suit. Cascara sagrada is Spanish for "sacred bark".
Glycasides and emodin in cascara stimulate peristalsis, helping to prevent constipation and bringing better tone and condition to the digestive system. It is favoured as a constipation remedy for elderly people, since repeated use is typically not necessary.
Today, cascara is believed to be the most widely used cathartic in the world, and is particularly common in laxative products in the US.
In addition to its benefits for the digestive system, cascara sagrada has other uses too. Its bitter tasting extract is often painted onto nails to discourage nail biting, while cascara is also believed to cleanse the scalp as an effective shampoo and dandruff treatment. Some people belief it has beneficial effects on the skin, and it is also reported to help ease insomnia.
Cascara sagrada is available in many forms, so you can choose between powder, tablets, capsules or liquid form.