Senna comes from the family fabacea. The sennas form a vast genus of flowering plants. They are very useful as ornamental plants and are widely used in landscape gardening. Cassia gum, a thickening agent is obtained from senna. The leaves and flowers are used for cooking in pickled form in Thailand. Senna is also useful in hair treatment as some species exhibit properties similar to henna, without the pigmentation. Senna has several medicinal uses which are discussed below.
Senna is used as a purgative similar to rhubarb and aloe due to the anthraquinone content. It also contains glucosides, also known as senna glycosides or just sennosides.
Senna also contains a compound known as reservatrol which is useful in controlling inflammation. In this context it is particularly useful as an antidote for aconitine poisoning caused by the monkswood plant.
It is popularly used as an ingredient in “dieters’ tea” due to its properties as a stimulant which causes a reduction of appetite, combined with the laxative action which shortens the digestion cycle of the ingested food.
As it is a natural remedy with a low possibility of side effects, almost anyone can take senna. Children should not be given senna.
It can be used as a laxative by people who have allergic reactions or resistance to allopathic laxative drugs. As mentioned above, it can also be used to reduce the appetite for dieters.
Senna should not be given to nursing or pregnant women.
It should also not be given to children.
People having heart problems, hemorrhoids, severe anemia or any gastrointestinal problems should not take senna.
It is also advisable not to give senna to people with kidney or liver disease or who are recovering from colon surgery.
Senna may cause a discoloration in the urine.
It can cause cramps and gripes in the abdomen.
It may cause an imbalance in electrolytes, and subsequent loss of body fluids.
Some cases of nausea, rash and fingertips swelling have also been reported.
Dosage may vary from 10 to 15 ml twice a day for adults if taken in syrup form. In tablet form, 17 mg to 25 mg taken not more than twice a day should be sufficient. It is advisable to take the recommendation of a doctor before taking senna.
There can be several benefits from taking senna. The conclusions from this article however are not binding and are subject to further proof, due to continuing research regarding senna.