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Emptying Bowels - Cover

The Native American Remedy for Fully Emptying Your Bowels

Have you ever had that feeling of wanting to relieve yourself but cannot seem to get anything out? Or maybe you are straining too hard every time you try to do number two?

Constipation is harsh but it happens at times and is caused by numerous factors. It is characterized by passing hard and lumpy stools, straining when pooping and feeling that not all stools are passed. We all have different bathroom habits but fewer than three stools a week may indicate chronic constipation.

Ancient medicine believed that bowel irregularity is dangerous as the decomposing materials in the intestine can poison the body. Autointoxication, or self-poisoning from one’s retained wastes, is said to cause 90% of diseases and shorten a person’s life. Due to this, bran cereals and yogurt were introduced along with dietary changes and herbal remedies to better manage constipation.

What Causes Constipation?

The main culprit in constipation among healthy individuals is food and low fluid intake. The digestive system needs adequate water and soluble dietary fiber to break down food. A lack of these two can dry out the GI tract. The water gets absorbed producing dry stools that are hard to pass.

Constipation can happen to people of all ages but is more prevalent in children and seniors. These can be caused by:

  • Emptying Bowels - BowelsPoor diet
  • Dehydration
  • Lack of exercise
  • Delaying bowel movement
  • Emotional stress
  • Travelling and changes in bowel routine
  • Consuming too much cheese or milk
  • Taking certain medications like antacids, antidepressants, diuretics, anticonvulsants and iron or calcium supplements

Native American Remedy for Constipation

Constipation is a common problem that dates back to many centuries ago. Today, we can easily get our hands on laxatives, enemas and suppositories for immediate relief.

Back in the day, physicians would recommend eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Eating these healthy foods is still necessary advice that modern doctors recommend to their patients for constipation.

Some herbs were also explored for their laxative properties. Among the ancient herbal remedies for constipation are senna and rhubarb. But, the most effective among them is the bark of the American buckthorn called cascara sagrada.

Equally important to address is your intestinal tract health. Once you’ve solved constipation and you know how uncomfortable it is, you don’t want to go through it again. That’s why even I am using a Balanced Gut Tincture, to make sure my gut and microbiome are thriving.

Cascara Sagrada for Constipation

Cascara sagrada (Frangula purshiana) is purported as the most effective folk remedy for constipation. It was the American Indian who first used it and its name translates to “sacred bark.” It had been listed in the US Pharmacopeia as a standard supplement and laxative since the 1890s.

But before we go over, cascara sagrada should not be confused with cascara. Cascara is the dried skin of coffee cherries while cascara sagrada is the bark of a buckthorn shrub.

Here’s what Cascara Sagrada can do:

Bulk Up Stool

Cascara sagrada contains the powerful compound anthraquinones making it a strong natural laxative. Anthraquinones work by slowing down the absorption of water in the intestines. The stool absorbs the excess water, so it increases in volume to urge defecation.

Cleanse the Colon

By soothing the mucus membrane of the colon, cascara sagrada can accumulate more water and electrolytes. It increases in volume and puts pressure on the intestine and colon to make smooth bowel movements and promptly cleanse the colon.

Increase the Digestive Juices

Cascara sagrada may help stimulate the production of digestive juices like bile. These juices contain enzymes that break down food and speed up the passage of stool along the colon.

Stimulate Colon Contraction

Unlike bulk-forming laxatives like psyllium husk, cascara sagrada is a stimulant laxative that acts on the muscles of the colon. Bulk-forming laxatives hold water in the stool to soften it but it may take at least half a day to take effect.

Stimulant laxatives, or contact laxatives, like cascara increase water and electrolytes in the internal mucosa for the stool to absorb. As the stool increases in volume, it puts pressure on the intestine and stimulates the contraction of the muscles to eliminate the bowel fast.

Support the Digestive Health

Cascara sagrada is sometimes used as a bitter tonic. Bitters are herbs that promote appetite and kick start digestion. It supports the overall function of the digestive system and affects the gut-brain connection to relieve stress-related constipation.

Other Traditional Remedy for Constipation

Cascara sagrada was an ingredient in some OTC laxative formulations until a regulation dispute in 2002. Today, you can buy it as a food supplement but not as a drug and the regulation varies in every region.

Aside from cascara sagrada, some traditional American remedies for constipation include:


Senna leaves (Cassia senna) are a prophetic herbal medicine used for habitual constipation. It contains anthraquinones that stimulate the bowel movement and empty the colon. These compounds facilitate the fast expulsion of waste and allow its smooth passage into the intestine.


Rhubarb (Rheum palmatum) is an ancient herb for treating constipation, hemorrhoids and other digestive complaints. It does not only rid the body of fecal waste but also eliminates metabolic waste from the body with its detoxicant properties.


Prunes, or dried plums (Prunus domestica), have been widely used for treating constipation in children since the mid-1800s. It is often given to constipated babies as early as 4 months old to ease the straining and difficulty in evacuating. Prune is a rich source of soluble fiber that aids in digestion and regular bowel movement.

Cascara Sagrada Constipation Relief Tea

For occasional constipation, brewing cascara sagrada tea can be a great help. You can find it in some online stores either in its dried bark or powdered form.

Cascara sagrada is not only good for constipation and colon cleansing, but also has a restorative effect that may restore the digestive system and treat its disorders.

This constipation relief tea is not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women. People with existing gastrointestinal conditions or those taking medications should not take Cascara sagrada tea and supplements without consulting the doctor.

Here’s how to prepare the infusion:

Emptying Bowels - Cascara SagradaIngredients
  • 1 tsp cascara sagrada powder (or 3-5 grams dried bark)
  • 3 cups water


  1. Bring the water to a boil.
  2. Add the cascara sagrada. Emptying Bowels - Step 1
  3. Turn off the heat and steep for 10-15 minutes. If using dried bark, simmer it over low heat for at least 10 minutes. Emptying Bowels - Step 2
  4. Pour or strain into cups. Emptying Bowels - Step 3

To use: Start by drinking half a cup of cascara sagrada tea before bedtime. If you find that this amount isn’t sufficient after waiting for a while, you can gradually increase the dosage, but do not exceed 2 cups.

Cascara sagrada has been a proven effective laxative since the early days. However, it is important to note that this tea is not intended for long-term use. Therefore, stop taking the tea as soon as you achieve successful evacuation. Moreover, do not use it for more than 7 consecutive days.

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Can I just get the bark from the actual Buckthorn tree and make it into a powder?

How do you think they make it?

Hello Maggi,

Yes, it is possible to make it yourself, however you need to take in consideration it might not be quite easy for everybody. You need to correctly identify the species, and then the raw bark needs to be aged for at least a year of prcessed properly before use to reduce its potency and minimize potential side effects due to it’s strength. Products on the market have undergone procedures to ensure they meet certain health standards.

You can make it yourself, however you can opt for the powder you can find in the market for it’s reliability and comfort.

Many Blessings and Good Health!

Thank you so much for your considerate reply!

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