Senna alexandrina (previously Cassia angustifolia)
Senna is a shrub that grows to one metre and bears pretty yellow flowers. Once divided into two genuses, all species of senna are now grouped as Senna alexandrina. Knowledge of this herb’s laxative properties is recorded as far back as the ninth century when, legend has it, the great caliph of Baghdad suffered with such blocked bowels that his physicians searched high and low for a cure that didn’t cause their leader severe abdominal pain. Enter the famous pharmacist and medical practitioner Mesue the Elder, who introduced senna, which he administered in small doses, and the caliph’s problems were cured. Today senna is still widely used as an effective laxative.
The dried leaves or pods are used to make medicine.
The main active ingredients in senna are chemicals called sennosides, which stimulate and irritate the bowel lining, creating a laxative effect.
Senna is an FDA- and German Commission E-approved nonprescription laxative that is used to treat constipation and, on occasion, to clear the bowel prior to diagnostic tests such as colonoscopy. Senna is sometimes used for irritable bowel syndrome, haemorrhoids and to lose weight, leading to warnings against long-term use.
Senna is prescribed to:
- Encourage natural bowel action.
- Improve lazy bowel syndrome.
- Ensure a soft stool after anal-rectal surgery.
Flora Force Products containing Senna
Domestic & culinary uses
Senna is not used as a culinary ingredient.
Indigenous to the Middle East and north-eastern Africa and cultivated in India, senna is a perennial plant that flourishes in rich soils.