Laxative Herbs: Cascara Sagrada and Senna
Cascara Sagrada is an herb used primarily as a natural laxative. It's been
used by Native Americans for centuries, and is known to some as "The Sacred
Bark", or californian buckthorn.
This herb is known to help increase bile production in the liver, as well as
secretions of the stomach, pancreas and lower bowel. It actually promotes
contractions of the bowel, or peristaltic action, which cause you have the
urge to have a bowel movement.
Some sources feel Cascara Sagrada is not a habit forming herb, and is safe for
use in pregnant women and children. Others say this is not the case however,
and part of the conflicts in opinion are related to lack of official
It actually appears as if a lot of listed side effects and precautions for
herbal remedies are based on the side effects and precautions listed for
synthetic versions of the same medications. More often than not however,
herbal remedies don't have the same types of side effects prescription
medications do, which is why many people choose to use them. Never the less,
always use caution when taking any new herb, because anyone can have an
adverse reaction to anything.
Cascara can be purchased at any health food or herbal store in pills,
capsules, liquid, powders and dried bark forms. Regardless of how you decide
to take the Cascara, be sure you're purchasing cured Cascara Sagrada, because
the fresh bark can cause bloody stools and other problems.
Cascara is considered to be a gentle herb for use in cleansing the bowel,
because it is not a purgative.
Senna is another strong herbal laxative, and it is a purgative. This herb is
often taken in tea form, and it also causes peristaltic contractions. Many
people swear by how well this herb works, but they also note that it can make
you feel very sick, and you that you shouldn't be away from the bathroom for a
couple of hours after taking it. If Senna makes you nauseous, adding a bit of
ginger or cinnamon can sometimes help.