Biological Name: Cassia acutiplia, Cassia angustifolia, Cassia senna
Other Names: Senna, Rajavriksha, Fan xia ye, American senna, locust plant, wild senna, Fan xie ye
Parts Used: leaves, pods (milder)
In the leaf; sennosides A and B based on the aglycones sennidin A & B, senosides C & D which are glycosides of heterodianthrones of aloe-emodin and rhein. Others include palmidin A, rhein anthrone & aloe-emodin glycosides, some free anthraquinones and some potent, novel compounds of as yet undetermined structure. C. Senna usually contains more of the sennosides.
In the fruit; sennosides A and B and a closely related glycoside sennoside A1.
Naphthalene glycosides; tinnevellin glycoside & 6-hydroxymusizin glycoside
Miscellaneous; mucilage, flavonoids, volatile oil, sugars, resins etc.
Purgative, anthchiiintic, antipyretic, alterative, cathartic, laxative, vermifuge, diuretic
Senna is a powerful cathartic used in the treatment of constipation, working through a stimulation of intestinal peristalsis. It is vital to recognize, however, that the constipation is a result of something else and not the initial cause and that this has to be sought and dealt with.
Indications: constipation, inflammatory skin conditions, hypertension, obesity
Senna is a strong purgative that should be taken with care and in proper dosage. It has an irritant effect upon the intestinal membrane, and may cause griping, pain or nausea, along with liquid stools or diarrhea. It can be corrected by adding 1/4 amount of stomachic herbs, like ginger or fennel seeds, with its dosage.
Senna is mainly for severe constipation, the constipation following a fever or for clearing Pitta from the small intestines. However, it cannot be used where there is inflammation in the G.I. Tract itself because of irritation. Rhubarb is considered to be the herb of choice in this situation as it has fewer side effects.
Combinations : It is best to combine Senna with aromatic, carminative herbs to increase palatability and reduce griping, for instance by using Cardamon, Ginger or Fennel.
Cassia senna is native to tropical Africa and cultivated in Egypt and the Sudan and elsewhere; Cassia angustifolia is native to India and cultivated mainly in India and Pakistan.
Infusion (hot or cold)
Powder (1 to 2 gms) as purgative
Infusion: the dried pods or leaves should be steeped in warm water for 6-12 hours. If they are Alexandrian Senna Pods use 3-6 in a cup of water; if they are Tinnevelly Senna, use 4-12 pods. These names are given to two different species when sold commercially.
Tincture: take 2-4 ml of the tincture taken before bedtime.
Caution: hemorrhoids, inflammatory conditions of the gastro intestinal tract, diarrhea, pregnancy
Repeated use of strong purgatives such as Senna may aggravate constipation and weaken the tone of the colon. Chronic constipation may be dealt with better by moistening therapy and by laxative oils.
Senna leaf should not be overused by pregnant, menstruating, or postpartum women.