Cascara sagrada used to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an over-the-counter (OTC) drug for constipation. However, over the years, concerns were raised about cascara sagrada's safety and effectiveness. The FDA gave manufacturers the chance to submit safety and effectiveness information to answer these concerns. But the companies decided the cost of conducting safety and effectiveness studies would likely be more than the profit they could expect from sales of cascara sagrada. So they didn't comply with the request. As a result, the FDA notified manufacturers to remove or reformulate all OTC laxative products containing cascara sagrada from the U.S. market by November 5, 2002. Today, you can buy cascara sagrada as a "dietary supplement", but not as a drug. "Dietary supplements" don't have to meet the standards that the FDA applies to OTC or prescription drugs.
Cascara sagrada is commonly used by mouth as a laxative for constipation.
In foods and beverages, a bitterless extract of cascara sagrada is sometimes used as a flavoring agent.
In manufacturing, cascara sagrada is used in the processing of some sunscreens.
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