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Green Medicine > Medicinal Plants > Cascara Sagrada

Cascara Sagrada

Photo of Cascara Sagrada
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(Frangula purshiana)

Cascara sagrada, the bark of a particular type of buckthorn tree, is a strong laxative. It has a long history of use, and was given its name, meaning sacred bark, because of its medicinal virtues.

Today, cascara is marketed in everything from "miracle weight-loss" formulas to general "cleansing" formulas. Although many professional herbalists and herb users find cascara to be very useful in a limited set of circumstances, most will agree that such a level of over-marketing does not represent wise use of natural resources. Although careful, sustainable harvesting of this bark (or virtually any other bark) is not difficult, improper methods of harvesting can kill a tree while taking only a small amount of the bark, leaving the rest to go to waste and destroying a tree which was years in the growing.

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Last Updated: 4/4/02