Senna Uses and Cautions

Senna is one of the most widely known and misused herbs on the market. Also known as Cassia, Senna alexandria is a very efficient and strong laxative used in many cultures for hundreds of years for occasional bouts of constipation. The seed pods are use medicinally as a tea for Irritable Bowel or applied externally to hemorrhoids (shrinks tissue) or other weeping skin eruptions. The leaves as far too strong and are not approved for use by the FDA and the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) warns against long-term use of senna leaf.

My concern with the over use of Senna lies in the rush to loose weight too quickly which pushes some people to misuse laxatives as a dieting tool. Laxatives should be taken for no more than 10 days (less is better) as they can seriously weaken the bowel muscles, and with frequent and high dose use can cause the bowels to stop functioning resulting in possible laxative dependency.

As a cathartic or stimulant laxative, Senna works by irritating the lining of the large intestine causing strong muscle contractions resulting in a bowel movement 10-12 hours later. The use of Senna also causes dehydration, electrolyte imbalances and decreased potassium levels in the body and should not be taken with certain medications like Digoxin (Lanoxin), Warfarin (Coumadin) and Water pills (Diuretic drugs) as it increases their side effects. Senna in high doses can cause liver damage and should not be taken by pregnant women or children.

If you are constipated and need a laxative, I do have a tea blend that contains some Senna and Cascara(another popular laxative herb) along with carminative and demulcent herbs for balance. Chances are you are looking for a colon cleanse tea which doesn’t cause the griping, cramping and colic like symptoms that Senna does. Colon cleansing is the first step in a total body cleanse (refer to my Blogs & Article on Total Body Cleanse 1-6 on that should be done over a period of time.

Stop by Ubiquitous Journey and see me there weekly Wednesday through Saturday, now through the holidays. I can answer your questions and you can try one of my tea blends. Herbal Consultations are also available by appointment. Email me at, for more information.

The following article is for educational purposes and not intended for diagnosis.  Always consult your health practitioner when needed.

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