Subscribe to our Newsletter:
Healthy Diet Plans >>  Herbs and Natural Cures >>  Senna

Senna Information & Facts

Senna, a shrub native to Asia and the tropics, is renowned for its purgative and laxative properties, especially with respect to cleansing the lower alimentary canal. A dose of senna medication can break a cycle of severe constipation. It is also administered when soft stool needs to be passed if the person is in a postoperative phase.

  • The small shrub with a pale green stem and splayed branches can grow anywhere between two and six feet.
  • The shrub made its presence known across the globe from its home in the Middle East regions. Today, senna or its derivatives are available as over the counter laxatives.
  • The extract of the plant is also a component of certain herbal teas, which are effective for proper elimination of fecal matter.
  • Senna is a medicinal herb that needs to be used with extreme caution; else, the benefits derived from its use would be overshadowed by the side effects.

Senna health benefits mainly stem from its purgative mechanism, which sees wide use as a laxative for treating mild to severe constipation. When taken quite late into the evening, senna commences its bowel cleansing effects and the bowels are emptied early in the morning.

The components in senna that are responsible for the laxative effect are called sennosoids. Owing to the colon cleanse that takes place, the pressure on the lining of the rectum is also alleviated. This eases the discomfort caused due to haemorrhoids and aids in their faster healing.

The natural enzymes in senna also help restore gastric juices and hence, are beneficial in promoting digestive health. The compound resveratrol present in senna possesses anti-inflammatory properties and thus, eases any discomfort associated with gastrointestinal issues. Senna is also used as a counteractive medication for obesity. The rapid bowel cleansing mechanism of the herb ensures that minimal calories are absorbed from food into the body. Nevertheless, it is extremely important to use this herb only under strict medical supervision.

Senna herbal supplement is available as an over-the-counter medication for relieving constipation. Extreme care should be taken to purchase the supplement from known, organic sources so as to decrease the chance of any adulteration of the product. The instructions on the label should also be closely adhered to and a medical practitioner's advice should be sought regarding the duration of the course.

Senna And Health

Senna is widely used today as one of the effective and natural means of weight loss. Senna tea is a popular drink aimed at curbing weight issues in individuals. How to use senna tea for weight loss?

  • Brew a teabag of senna in one to one and a half cups of boiling water for five minutes. Lemon may be used to flavor the tea.
  • Senna tea may be drunk once in the morning and then in the evening.
  • A light, non greasy diet with lots of greens, fruits, whole grains and ample water should be consumed throughout the day.
  • In addition to drinking senna tea, you should also engage in some form of aerobic activity so as to heighten the benefits of the weight loss exercise.

The leaves of a variety of this herb Cassia italica can also be used in a similar manner to that of the red-colored henna leaves. 'Neutral henna,' as it is referred to, adds glossiness and volume to the hair and nourishes the scalp. The presence of anthraquinones and crysophanic acid in senna leaves account for the healthy luster that it adds to your hair. Unlike natural henna, which gives a reddish orange hue to the hair, senna lends a yellowish hue to the hair giving it a blonde look.

Senna has also been associated with the soft, acne free skin. A mixture of castor oil and wild senna is used to flush out the toxins from the body. This cleansing mechanism gets rid of all toxins and leaves the skin clean and clear. This is believed to treat acne quite effectively, resulting in blemish-free skin. A surplus dose of senna in the human body can be detrimental, though, and may lead to depression and related disorders.

Senna And Stomach Problem

Senna is a natural herb that is believed to be effective in correcting various disorders of the digestive system. Its primary and renowned use is that of a laxative. A dose of senna had late in the evening can ensure a total bowel cleanse in the early hours of the morning next day. The purgative action of this herb finds use in the field of medicine as well. Senna is administered whenever a soft stool is required and without causing much strain to the patient.

The sennosides present in senna stimulate the muscles of the alimentary canal, thus enhancing the movement of digested food into the intestines. Senna leaves are also considered effective in colon cleansing action. The purgative action of the leaves triggers a slight irritation of the colon cells and stimulates the elimination of faecal matter. Persons who suffer from severe constipation also need to put up with a distended abdomen and bloating. The use of senna as a laxative clears the path for the expulsion of any trapped gas and relieves the symptoms of bloating.

Irritable bowel syndrome is characterized by unexpected and alternate bouts of diarrhoea and constipation. In a mild dose, senna acts as an herbal laxative to relieve constipation. However, the prolonged use of the herb can result in loss of important electrolytes like potassium and ultimately, aggravate the condition of the irritable bowel syndrome.

Senna For Women

Women usually experience difficulty in passing bowel movements smoothly, while they are pregnant. The uterine wall enlarges and presses onto the bladder and rectum, and this accounts for the constipated feeling during pregnancy. Hence, it seems easy to reach out for senna as an over-the-counter laxative. However, during pregnancy, any medication that needs to be administered should be with the consent of the gynecologist. The vigorous manner of elimination of faecal matter can be slightly tiresome during pregnancy. Hence senna, especially on a long course, is best avoided during pregnancy, even if the side effects are minimal.

While senna is used as a purgative, it is converted to rhein that passes through the breast milk. While no side effects have been reported so far, while breastfeeding, it is considered best to keep away from any sort of medication. It is important to consult a doctor before consuming any form of medication or herb supplement during pregnancy and when breastfeeding.

Senna And Kids

In infants, delay or difficulty in passing stools is a common phenomenon. Before stating it as constipation and commencing treatment for the same, it helps to be reminded that breastfed infants can go for a couple of days or more without passing stools. In formula fed infants, constipation can be avoided by giving the infant a few spoons of pure water after a feed. Constipation in toddlers occurs as a result of their varying diet patterns and the introduction of new foods. Introducing fruits into a toddler's diet menu can help allay constipation without having to resort to any medication. Children, on the other hand, are always active and hence lose a great deal of water through their skin in the form of sweat. The lack of sufficient water in the diet is a factor for constipation in children. The situation can be corrected by helping the child to stay well hydrated and including more fruits and fiber in his diet. Hence, senna is ideally not required for kids, unless advised by a doctor.

Senna Side Effects

Senna is a strong herbal laxative and relieves any form of constipation by irritating the lining of the colon, so that the faecal matter is eliminated smoothly. However, prolonged use of senna can have detrimental effects on health. The common side effects of senna include:

  • Allergic reactions like hives, labored breathing, or swollen arms or legs.
  • Stomach pain accompanied with watery stools.
  • Aggravated constipation on stopping the medication.
  • Lowered potassium levels, characterized by mental confusion, rapid heart rate, excessive urination, and a fatigued feeling in the limbs.
  • Stomach cramps, joint aches, colored urine, jaundice or even, depression.

Senna Dosage

Although senna is sold over-the-counter as a laxative, without any medical prescription, it is always better to consult a medical practitioner before commencing a course. The recommended dosage for children above 12 years of age is 15 mg of sennosides once a day. Children below 12 years of age can have roughly 8 mg of sennosides once in a day. Infants and young children need to take this herb only on prescription by a certified physician. Furthermore, in children, the dose is regulated as per their body weight as well. Surgical preparations may include a larger dose of sennosides on the day prior to the procedure. As mentioned earlier, senna has many side effects as well, and hence, it is best to speak with a doctor regarding both the dosage and duration of the course.

Submitted on January 16, 2014