Quest Vitamins LTD,
Senna (Cassia angustifolia)
Senna is a perennial plant that grows in rich soils in Southern Arabia, India and the United States. The herb is traditionally used for Constipation.
Senna leaf is stated to possess cathartic (laxative) properties), (the leaf has greater activity than the fruit) and is traditionally used for Constipation.
Part of the herb used: Leaves (or pods).
Sennosides A and B and their metabolites are reported to act on the large intestine, accelerating colonic transport. These compounds also encourage the secretion of water into the colon (1). Senna acts approximately 8-10 hours after being taken (2).
Nitric oxide synthetase may also be involved in senna-induced fluid secretion and Diarrhoea (3,4).
When compared to conventional treatments, senna has been shown to be more effective as a laxative (5,6).
Senna may cause mild abdominal discomfort (cramps).
Senna is not recommended for prolonged use as a laxative. (Long term use upsets water and electrolyte balance).
Senna should not be taken by those with intestinal obstruction (ileus) or undiagnosed abdominal symptoms.
It is recommended that the intake of sennosides should be no more than 15mg from a single dose (2).
Senna may cause a harmful reddening of the urine.
Pregnant and lactating women should consult with a qualified health professional before taking senna, due to a lack of safety data during this time.
NB The use of non-standardised senna preparations should be avoided, since their effect will be variable and unpredictable.
Individuals with IBS and IBD must exercise care when taking senna.
1. "Herbal Medicines", CA Newall, LA Anderson, JD Phillipson, The Pharmaceutical Press, 1996.