Cascara Sagrada

Title: Cascara Sagrada
Additional Names: Sacred bark; Chittem bark; Chittim bark; Purshiana bark; Persian bark; bearberry bark; bearwood
Literature References: Dried bark of Rhamnus purshiana DC., Rhamnaceae, from which a naturally occurring cathartic is extracted. Habit. Northern Idaho, west to Northern California. The cathartic properties are primarily due to the presence of cascarosides, anthraglycosides which are related to glycosides found in aloe, q.v. and buckthorn. See A. Y. Leung, Drug Cosmet. Ind. 121, 42 (December, 1977). Other constituents are aloins (C-glycosides), O-glycosides, and free anthraquinones: Analyst 93, 749 (1968); ibid. 98, 830 (1973) (Joint Committee Reports). Isoln of anthraquinone aglycones and glycosides: S. C. Yung Su, N. M. Ferguson, J. Pharm. Sci. 63, 899 (1973). Structure of cascarosides A and B: J. W. Fairbairn et al., J. Pharm. Pharmacol. 15 (Suppl.) 292T, (1963); F. J. Evans et al., ibid. 27 (Suppl.), 91P (1975). Biological evaluation of cascara bark prepns: J. W. Fairbairn, G. E. D. H. Mahran, ibid. 5, 827 (1953).
NOTE: Commercial prepn, Cas-Evac.
Therap-Cat: Cathartic.
Therap-Cat-Vet: Laxative.
Cascarilla Cascarillin Casimiroedine Casimiroin Caspase-9

Rhamnus purshiana
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Rhamnaceae
Genus: Rhamnus
Subgenus: Frangula
Species: R. purshiana
Binomial name
Rhamnus purshiana
Natural range

Rhamnus purshiana (cascara buckthorn, cascara, bearberry, and in the Chinook Jargon, chittem and chitticum; syn. Frangula purshiana, Rhamnus purshianus) is a species of buckthorn native to western North America from southern British Columbia south to central California, and eastward to northwestern Montana.

The dried bark of cascara has been used for centuries as an herbal laxative – first by Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest, and then later by European/U.S. colonizers. The chemicals primarily responsible for the laxative action are the hydroxyanthracene glycosides (particularly cascarosides A, B, C and D), and emodin. These act as stimulant laxatives, with the hydroanthracene glycosides stimulating peristalsis, and emodin exciting smooth muscle cells in the large intestine.