Cascara sagrada

Generic Name: cascara sagrada (kass-KA-rah sah-GRAH-dah)
Brand Name: Generic only. No brands available.

Cascara sagrada is used for:

Relieving occasional constipation (irregularity).

Cascara sagrada is a stimulant laxative. Exactly how cascara sagrada works is unknown, but it may work by irritating the bowel tissue and drawing fluid into the intestines, resulting in a bowel movement.

Do NOT use cascara sagrada if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in cascara sagrada
  • you have appendicitis, rectal bleeding, or a history of stomach or intestinal problems (eg, blockage, inflammation, ulcers, Crohn disease, bleeding, severe constipation)
  • you have had recent abdominal surgery

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

Slideshow: View Frightful (But Dead Serious) Drug Side Effects

Before using cascara sagrada:

Some medical conditions may interact with cascara sagrada. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you have stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, or heart problems (eg, congestive heart failure)
  • if you have frequent diarrhea

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with cascara sagrada. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Digoxin because actions and side effects may be increased by cascara sagrada

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if cascara sagrada may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use cascara sagrada:

Use cascara sagrada as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Take cascara sagrada with a full glass (8 ounces/240 mL) of water.
  • Take cascara sagrada with a meal, if possible.
  • Cascara sagrada may be swallowed whole, opened and prepared as tea, or dissolved in liquid.
  • Drinking extra fluids (eight 6 oz/180 mL glasses of water daily) while you are taking cascara sagrada is recommended. Check with your doctor for instructions.
  • Do not take additional laxatives or stool softeners with cascara sagrada unless directed by your doctor.
  • If you miss a dose of cascara sagrada and you are taking it regularly, take it as soon as possible. If several hours have passed or if it is nearing time for the next dose, do not double the dose to catch up, unless advised by your health care provider. Do not take 2 doses at once.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use cascara sagrada.

Important safety information:

  • A bowel movement usually occurs within 6 to 12 hours after using cascara sagrada.
  • Contact your doctor if you do not have a bowel movement or if rectal bleeding occurs after using cascara sagrada. This could be a sign of a serious condition requiring medical attention.
  • Do not use cascara sagrada for longer than 1 week unless advised to do so by your doctor.
  • Do not exceed the recommended dose or use cascara sagrada for longer than prescribed without checking with your doctor. Overuse of laxatives may result in a loss of normal bowel function and dependence on laxatives to have a bowel movement. Severe overuse may damage the intestines or bowel.
  • If you have noticed a sudden change in bowel habits that lasts for more than 2 weeks, consult your health care provider before using cascara sagrada.
  • Do not use cascara sagrada if stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, or rectal bleeding are present unless directed to do so by your doctor.
  • Cascara sagrada may color your urine pink, red, violet, yellow, brown, or black.
  • Cascara sagrada is not recommended for use in CHILDREN younger than 18 years of age. Safety and effectiveness in this age group have not been confirmed.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: If you become pregnant while taking cascara sagrada, discuss with your doctor the benefits and risks of using cascara sagrada during pregnancy. Cascara sagrada is excreted in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while taking cascara sagrada.

Possible side effects of cascara sagrada:

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Stomach upset.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); diarrhea; failure to have a bowel movement; loose stools; rectal bleeding; stomach pain or cramps.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately. Symptoms may include diarrhea; stomach cramps.

Proper storage of cascara sagrada:

Store cascara sagrada at room temperature, between 59 and 86 degrees F (15 and 30 degrees C), in a tightly sealed container. Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep cascara sagrada out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about cascara sagrada, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Cascara sagrada is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take cascara sagrada or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about cascara sagrada. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to cascara sagrada. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using cascara sagrada.

Issue Date: July 2, 2014
Database Edition 14.3.1.001
Copyright © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

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