Botanical: Sennae folium
Family: Leguminosae (legume)
Other common names: Cassia Senna, Senna Leaf, Alexandrian Senna, Egyptian Senna,
Ringworm Bush, East Indian Senna, Nubian Senna, Rajavriksha
Senna is a stimulating and powerful purgative that promotes the vigorous evacuation of the bowels. It helps to cleanse the colon and provide relief for severe constipation or when an easily-passed stool is recommended after rectal surgery or prior to a colonoscopy.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Senna is a smallish, stubby shrub with an erect, smooth, pale green stem and long, spreading branches, bearing lanceolate leaflets and small yellow flowers; and depending upon the geographic location, the plant may grow anywhere from two to six feet. It is a native of Africa, the Middle East (particularly Egypt and Sudan) and India, and it was first brought into medicinal use by the ninth-century Arabian physicians, Serapion and Sesue, who gave it its Arabic name and employed it as a purgative. The Cassia acutifolia plant (also called Senna alexandrina orCassia senna) was exported from Egypt, via Cairo and the Red Sea, and Cassia angustifolia from India, via Madras; and by 1640, Senna was cultivated and being utilized in England for its cathartic properties. The herb was officially listed in both the British Pharmacopœia and the United States Pharmacopoeia, and the herb is one of the few herbal medicines approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for over-the-counter use and may be one of the most widely used herbal medicines in the United States. In the United States, Senna leaf, fruit and extract are used in over-the-counter laxatives (e.g., Correctol®, ExLax®, Senokot®, Smooth Move®). In Germany, Senna leaf, Alexandrian Senna pod and Tinnevelly Senna pod are licensed as standard medicinal teas available only in a pharmacy, official in the German Pharmacopœia and approved in the Commission E monographs. They are used alone and in more than 110 prepared drugs, mostly laxatives and biliary remedies. The plant is well distributed throughout the world as an annual or perennial, depending upon its geographic location, and the herb encompasses many species within the genus, Cassia. All are virtually used interchangeably in herbal medicine. Some of the constituents in Senna leaves include anthraquinone compounds, including dianthrone glycosides, sennosides (aloe-emodin derivatives), flavonoids, naphthalene glycosides, mucilage, tannin, resin and beta-sitosterol.
Senna is an effective and potent purgative with its action being chiefly on the lower bowel. The anthraquinones stimulate the bowel and increase the peristaltic movements of the colon by its local action upon the intestinal wall, leading to evacuation in approximately ten hours. The herb has been recommended as a stool softener for people who require a soft, easily-passed stool, especially when following rectal surgery or preparing for a colonoscopy. This active purgative principle (a glycoside) was discovered in 1866.
As a vermifuge, Senna has been used to destroy and expel worms and parasites from the intestinal tract, possibly due to the herb's powerful herbal laxative action.
As a colon cleanser, Senna may have positive results in improving skin afflictions (pimples, acne, etc.) and may also be potentially helpful for weight management.
Great care should be taken with the use of Senna Herbal Supplement. Pregnant, nursing or menstruating women should not use Senna, and it is not appropriate for children under twelve years of age. People with intestinal blockage, inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal ulcers, undiagnosed stomach pain or appendicitis symptoms must avoid Senna. Senna can cause cramping, nausea and diarrhea, and the urine may take on a reddish hue (which is harmless). Long-term use is not recommended (more than one week at a time), since it may cause dependence and a weakened colon, aggravate constipation and result in a loss of potassium and other vital minerals, which is particularly dangerous to people with heart rhythm irregularities. Chronic constipation is usually indicative of another condition and should always be discussed with a physician.