Cascara Sagrada Benefits
Laxative / Constipation
Cascara Sagrada is classed as a stimulant laxative – it is rich in phytochemicals known as anthraquinones which react with bacteria in the intestines to stimulate the bowels. It causes muscle contractions in the intestines which enables stools to move more smoothly through the bowels to trigger the onset of a bowel movement. This herb will usually stimulate a bowel movement within six to eight hours of consumption.
Anthraquinones also inhibit reabsorption of electrolytes and water from the colon, producing a softer, quicker bowel movement. It is important to drink lots of water to stay hydrated whilst using Cascara Sagrada. It is only recommended that this herb is used for 1 week at a time, otherwise it can cause side effects such as abdominal cramps and electrolyte imbalances.
Cascara Sagrada is classed as a “bitter herb” and a tonic for the digestive system. Herbal bitters cause the “bitter reflex” which begins a cascade of actions in the body to prepare the digestive system for food.
The taste of bitter on the tongue stimulates the brain to release the digestive hormone gastrin. This begins a chain of neural and endocrine actions including; appetite stimulation, the release of digestive enzymes from the pancreas, duodenum, and liver, stimulation of the smooth muscle of the stomach to increase the rate of gastric emptying and contraction of the oesophageal sphincter to prevent the movement of acidic stomach contents back upwards into the oesophagus, aiding the liver in detoxification and an increase in the flow of bile, regulation of secretion of pancreatic hormones that regulate blood sugar, insulin and glucagon, stimulating mechanisms to repair the gut wall.
Anti-parasitic / Anti-microbial
The bark of the Cascara tree is also rich in the compound, emodin, which is known to be anti-fungal and anti-microbial. This supports its traditional use for expelling parasites; however it has also been found to be effective against a range of bad bacteria including; Helicobacter pylori, E coli, and several strains of Staphylococcus aureus. It has also demonstrated anti-fungal action against Candida.
Because Cascara Sagrada helps to cleanse the colon of damaging toxins and waste products, it is commonly used as an ingredient in many detox and cleanse herbal formulas.
Cascara Sagrada together with Psyllium husks are two of the most widely used remedies in colon cleansing programs. Psyllium is categorised as a bulk laxative – its mucilaginous component acts as a bulking agent that cleanses the intestines. The active components of Cascara Sagrada stimulate the intestinal lining and relieve a sluggish colon. The combination of both Psyllium (as a bulking agent) and Cascara (as a stimulant laxative) is essential for an effective colon cleansing program.
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