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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 4, 2021.

What are other common names?

  • Frangula purshiana
  • Rhamnus purshiana
  • Rhamnus pushiana
  • Bitter Bark
  • Bitterbark
  • Buckthorn
  • California Buckthorn
  • Cascara Sagrada
  • Cascararinde
  • Chittem Bark
  • Cortex Rhamni Purshianae
  • Dogwood Bark
  • Pastel Bourd
  • Purshiana Bark
  • Rhamnus
  • Sacred Bark
  • Sagrada Bark
  • Yellow Bark

What is this product used for?

Cascara is used by some people as a laxative. This product is not considered to be safe for use by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

What are the precautions when taking this product?

  • Always check with your doctor before you use a natural product. Some products may not mix well with other drugs or natural products.

  • Do not give this product to children.

  • Do not use this product if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant soon. Use birth control you can trust while taking this product.

  • Do not use this product if you are breastfeeding.

  • Do not use this product for more than 1 week.

  • Take extra care if you are taking drugs for inflammation. Some of these drugs decrease the potassium in your blood. These are drugs like dexamethasone (Decadron), hydrocortisone (Cortef), or prednisone (Deltasone).

  • Take extra care if you are taking drugs called “water pills.” These drugs can decrease the potassium in your blood. These are drugs like furosemide (Lasix), hydrochlorothiazide (Microzide, HydroDiuril), or chlorothiazide (Diuril).

  • Take extra care and check with your doctor if you have:

    • Heart problems

    • Blood pressure problems

    • Gallbladder problems

    • Crohn's disease or other bowel problems

    • Stomach ulcers

    • Low potassium levels

What should I watch for?

  • Upset stomach

  • Stomach cramps

When do I need to call the doctor?

  • Signs of a very bad reaction. These include wheezing; chest tightness; fever; itching; bad cough; blue skin color; seizures; or swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat. Go to the ER right away.

  • Signs of fluid loss. These include dark-colored urine or no urine for more than 8 hours, dry mouth, cracked lips, dry skin, sunken eyes, lack of energy, feeling faint, or passing out.

  • Signs of low potassium. These include feeling tired, weak, numbness, or tingling; muscle cramps; hard stools; throwing up; or fast heartbeat.

  • Very bad throwing up

  • Very bad belly pain

  • Very bad loose stools

Last Reviewed Date


Consumer information use

This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your healthcare provider. Only your healthcare provider has the knowledge and training to provide advice that is right for you. You should not rely on this information in deciding whether or not to use, or accept your healthcare provider’s advice regarding use of, any natural products or similar treatments, therapies, or life-style choices. This information does not endorse any natural products or similar treatments, therapies, or life-style choices as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information. It does NOT include all information about natural products, possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to you. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about your health and treatment options.


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