Senna is one of the most popular herbs used for medicinal purposes. It has been used in Ayurveda (traditional Indian medicine) since ancient times. There are many different types of senna plants found all over the world including India, China, Africa, Europe and USA. The various kinds of senna include:
1. Wild Senna
Wild senna is the best type of senna because it grows naturally in nature. You can get wild senna at any time of year. The plants are not cultivated and they do not have to be watered or fertilized. They need very little attention so they will continue to produce until their life span ends.
These plants grow up to 10 feet tall and can reach 50 feet in length!
2. Cultivated Senna
Cultivated senna is grown commercially. It needs watering and fertilizer but other than that it does not require much care. The plants are usually kept in large greenhouses with artificial lighting. They do need to be watered occasionally but these plants do not need to be fertilized either.
The commercial cultivars of cultivated senna are often sold under names like “Sennia” or “Kali”. Some of them are even poisonous! It is important to choose the right kind of senna when you decide to grow it.
3. Senna Leaves
Senna leaves are the leaves of the senna plant. They can be eaten or used in herbal medicine preparations. The leaves are harmless unless you eat a lot of them. They have a very bitter taste and are used as laxatives.
The leaves can be dried, ground up, or steeped like tea.
In nature, Senna can be found in deserts and other dry places. Not all species of Senna are found in the wild though. Some have been brought to other parts of the world and are now grown as crops. It is important to choose the correct kind when deciding how to grow senna.
Senna is a large genus with around 127 different species. They are all related to the Fabaceae or legume family. The leaves of these plants are often used for medicinal purposes. Senna leaves have been used to induce bowel movements for many centuries.
This is due in part to their high content of anthraquinones, a compound that has a laxative effect when ingested. They are also high in the natural laxative substance hydroxyl apatite. The leaves can either be dried and consumed or they can be steeped like tea.
Senna contains chemicals called anthraquinones which stimulate contractions of the large intestine. This leads to a bowel movement within a few hours. Senna has been used medicinally for hundreds of years due to its laxative effects. While it can be effective, it is not recommended to use senna for longer than 7 consecutive days.
These chemicals can damage the lining of the large intestine after long term use.
Due to its laxative properties, senna is also used as a treatment for irregular bowel movements. It can be used to treat constipation and diarrhea. Senna is also used to clear intestinal debris that has accumulated in cases of chronic constipation. It can also help with hemorrhoids by relieving the pressure and pain that they cause.
Senna has also been used to clear a clogged pilonidal cyst. Senna is often combined with other herbs to treat various stomach problems including heartburn and peptic ulcers.
Senna leaves can be found online and in some specialty markets. They are available in both dried and prepared forms. Teabags, tablets, and powder are most common. These products are very inexpensive and easy to find.
While senna is not considered dangerous, it should not be used by everyone. It is especially not for women who are pregnant or people who suffer from inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. People with allergies to members of the Fabaceae family should also avoid senna.
The most common side effect of senna use is diarrhea. This can become severe in some cases and cause dehydration. This is especially true for people who suffer from digestive problems like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. If you have either of these conditions, you should not take senna at all.
Senna should also not be used in high dosages or for extended periods (7 days or more) unless recommended by a doctor.
People who have anemia (low blood cell count) should use senna with caution. Senna can cause the body to lose more red blood cells. If you have a low blood cell count, speak with your doctor before using senna.
Senna is not recommended for anyone who is pregnant or breastfeeding. It could possibly cause contractions of the uterus and should not be taken.
Senna is not considered to be addictive, but people who suffer from chronic constipation may become dependent on it for regular bowel movements.
When taking senna, you may notice a dark or tar-like stool. This is a normal side effect and not a cause for concern.
Senna is not usually taken on a daily basis. It is recommended that you take no more than 7 consecutive days. It is best to discuss a senna regimen with a doctor before consuming it.
Senna can interact with certain prescription drugs. Before taking senna, tell your doctor if you are taking any prescription drugs. These drugs include:
Drugs for diabetes
Drugs for fungal infections
As always, be sure to consult your physician before taking any herbal medications. Different people will react to natural and herbal therapies differently.
A Word of Caution About Senna
Senna, also known as cassia, has been used medicinally for centuries. It is found in many over-the-counter and prescription laxatives that are used to treat and relieve constipation. It is considered safe when used in small dosages or for short periods of time. In some cases, people have taken senna for extended periods of time, but the long-term effects of this are not known.
When taken as a laxative, senna is usually safe for most people. Long-term or high dosage usage may have some unwanted side effects. When taking any laxative it is important to stay hydrated and to avoid using other medications that may cause constipation. It is also recommended to speak with a doctor before taking any herbal medication.
While senna can help clear out your digestive system, it should not be used excessively. Overuse or extended use can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. If you are taking senna on a regular basis, it is recommended to increase your fluid intake. This will help prevent dehydration.
It is also recommended to avoid prolonged usage of senna. People who suffer from bowel disease or who have an underlying illness should not take senna without consulting a doctor first. Pregnant women and women who are nursing should not take senna at all.
In some rare cases, people have experienced gastro-intestinal bleeding when taking senna. If you have any of the following symptoms, stop using senna and seek immediate medical attention:
Black or “tarry” stools
Bleeding from the rectum
Blood in the urine or inability to urinate
Unexplained abdominal pain
These symptoms are a medical emergency and warrant immediate treatment.
Sources & references used in this article:
Reproductive biology of northern wild senna (Senna hebecarpa): Flowering phenology, fruit set, and a test for inbreeding depression1 by EJ Berry, J Wheeler, C Darnowski – The Journal of the Torrey Botanical …, 2013 – BioOne
DURATION OF THE FLOWERLESS CONDITION OF SOME by WW Garner – Journal of Agricultural Research, 1931 – books.google.com
Control of sicklepod, showy crotalaria, and coffee senna with a fungal pathogen by HL Walker – US Patent 4,390,360, 1983 – Google Patents
Prevalence and seasonality of insect pests in medicinally important plant Senna alata L. under tropical climate in the Coromandel Coast of India by S Veeraragavan, R Duraisamy… – Geology, Ecology, and …, 2018 – Taylor & Francis
Effect of wild plant extracts on germination and seedling growth of wheat. by SM Alam – Rachis, 1990 – cabdirect.org
Effect of spacing, nitrogen and phosphorus on certain growth parameters of senna (Cassia angustifolia Vahl.). by R Ilangovan, R Subbiah, S Naiarajan – South Indian Horticulture, 1990 – cabdirect.org
Cultivation of senna Cassia angustifolia in the southern districts of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu for export purposes. by KP Sastry, VK Mehta, KR Krishnan… – Cultivation of senna …, 2000 – cabdirect.org