Definition of cascara in US English:


(also cascara sagrada)


  • 1A purgative made from the dried bark of an American buckthorn.

    • ‘Herbal laxatives and diuretics - substances that promote defecation and urination - include herbs such as aloe, rhubarb root, cascara, senna, parsley, juniper, licorice and dandelion.’
    • ‘Traditional herbalists valued coriander, especially to counteract the stomach-upsetting properties of laxative herbs such as buckthorn, cascara, rhubarb and senna.’
    • ‘Laxatives such as senna, cascara sagrada, or aloe stimulate fluid secretion into the colon and encourage the muscles of the intestinal wall to contract.’
    • ‘Here are some guidelines: Herbs for acute problems, like willow bark for a tension headache, or cascara sagrada for occasional constipation, should work in minutes or hours.’
    • ‘Herbal laxatives such as buckthorn, cascara sagrada, and senna can cause potassium loss.’
    • ‘This type of constipation caused by deficiency, usually does not respond to harsh purgatives such as rhubarb root, cascara, senna and sodium sulphite which tend to eliminate excess.’
    • ‘The herbal-based products contain cayenne pepper, aloe vera and cascara, which are not harmful to the body,’ he added.’
    • ‘The topics include more commonly used products such as kava, ginkgo biloba and St. John's wort, and some older but mainstream products such as aloe and the laxatives senna and cascara sagrada.’
    • ‘Senna and other anthraquinone-containing herbs like cascara sagrada, aloe leaf, and Chinese rhubarb could increase the risk of uterine contractions.’
    • ‘Herbs like cascara sagrada, senna, chickweed, aloe vera, and rhubarb are excellent in assisting the body in the removal of toxins and waste.’
    • ‘Look for a tea that contains herbs like cascara sagrada, Oregon grape, and senna.’
    • ‘Quinones (also present in cascara sagrada and rhubarb root) are present throughout nature.’
    • ‘One is called a purgative and includes herbs such as senna, rhubarb, leptandra, buckthorne and cascara.’
    • ‘Dandelion appears to have diuretic activity and cascara acts as a laxative.’
    • ‘Chief among them, and best known, is cascara; it's extremely effective.’
    • ‘Some purgatives, such as cascara and senna, are described as stimulant purgatives and work in the gut, releasing substances which cause peristaltic movements and lead to a temporary diarrhoea.’
  • 2The tree from which cascara is obtained, native to the Pacific Northwest.

    Rhamnus purshiana, family Rhamnaceae

    • ‘A third, cascara, furnishes more than 5 million pounds of dried bark that's processed for laxatives.’


Late 19th century: from Spanish cáscara (sagrada), literally ‘(sacred) bark’.