Information about the Herb Senna

Cassia senna, also known as Alexandrian Senna is part of the Leguminosae plant family. Senna is a shrub native to Egypt, Sudan, Nigeria and Nubia in North Africa, as well as India and China.

Botanical Name: Cassia spp.,  Cassia senna, Cassia acutifola, Cassia angustifolia

Plant Family: Leguminosae

Common Names: Alexandrian Senna, Cassia lenitiva, Cassia lanceolata, Cassia officinalis, East Indian Senna, Nubian Senna, Tinnevelly Senna

History: Senna is an Arabian name and the herb was first brought into use by the Arabian physicians Serapion and Mesue

Tradition: Senna was

  • used in love sachets

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Plant Constituents of Senna


  • water
  • diluted myricyl alcohol extract
  • glucoside, Cathartic Acid
  • anthraquinone derivatives
  • rhein
  • aloe-emedin
  • kempferol
  • isormamnetin


  • cathartic [an agent producing evacuation of the bowels]
  • cholagogue [an agent for increasing the flow of bile into the intestines]
  • laxative [an agent promoting evacuation of the bowels; a mild purgative]
  • purgative (acting mainly on the lower bowel) [an agent that produces a vigorous emptying of the bowels, more drastic than a laxative or aperient]
  • vermifuge [an agent to expel parasitic worms, especially of the intestines]

Usage of Senna

Medicinal Parts Used: Dried leaflets, pods

Senna is used for:

Gastrointestinal Conditions

  • as a cleanser during a fast (best combined with Cinnamon, Fennel or Ginger) as a very effective laxative
  • constipation
  • eases nausea and biliousness
  • halitosis
  • increases peristaltic movements of the colon (by local action on the intestinal wall)

Senna works by irritating the lining of the upper intestines which provokes reflex muscular activity in the colon resulting in a bowel motion (due to the chemical anthraquinone)

Liver Conditions

  • eases biliousness

Parasitic Conditions

  • cleanses the system of worms

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Caution: It can cause nausea and griping pains when used alone but the effects of this can be counterbalanced by using Cardamon, Cinnamon, Cloves, Fennel, Ginger,  or any other aromatic herb with it. The pods have less griping effect than the leaflets.

Do not use in cases of:

  • chronic gastrointestinal conditions
  • colic
  • colitis
  • dehydration
  • hemorrhoids
  • inflammation of the alimentary canal
  • prolapsus
  • spastic colon
  • ulcers


  • during pregnancy and lactation
  • for prolonged periods to avoid the bowel becoming dependent

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Global Herbal Supplies has Senna available in the following forms: