What is Senna?

Senna leaf is an herb used for colon cleansing, as a herbal slimming tea, and as a natural laxative. It grows in India, Pakistan and China. Tablets or capsules are the normal method of ingestion. If taken properly, it can provide helpful health benefits. It can provide relief and relieve constipation within 6 to 12 hours of ingestion. Even though it is a natural laxative and natural colon cleanser, there are some side effects associated with using senna leaf as a laxative. Some countries ban senna leaf because of its side effects. To use this product, the user should be aquainted with some of the senna  side effects.

Senna AlexindrinaCredit: Public domain

Other Health Uses

Senna leaf extracts use as a herbal supplement has a long history. In addition to being a natural laxative and purgative, it has other uses. Senna is often used in general-purpose tonics and herbal remedies. Senna leaf is the largest ingredient as a dietary supplement and weight loss tea.


The FDA approves senna laxative as an over the counter relief for occasional constipation. The World Health Organization has approved senna leaf for occasional use for short-term constipation.

Senna Side Effects

The negative senna side effects include causing a potassium deficiency, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps and reddish brown urine. Symptoms of low potassium are, confusion, low heart rate, increased urination, and muscle weakness. Consult a doctor if these symptoms appear for a prolonged period. Senna leaf is an anticoagulant, or blood thinner. If a person taking Senna leaf is going to have surgery, oral surgery or any procedure that involves blood should inform the physician before the procedure.


Several plants contain Anthraquinone  in varying concentrations. In addition to senna, rhubarb root, aloe, yellow dock, and buckthorn are some examples of plants that contain anthraquione. Anthraquinone glycosides works directly on the colon wall to work as a laxative. The colon doesn’t absorb and degrade anthraquinones to make metabolites. The metabolites soften the stool to produce the desired results.

Senna Leaf Restrictions

There are several times when it is advisable not to take Senna leaf. Do not use for longer than seven days in a row without consulting a doctor.  Taken over a long period will upset the bodies water and electrolite balance. The reduction of water and potassium salts could be fatal if the electrolite balance becomes too severe. If given to a child, it should only be with a doctor’s prescription. Don’t use if you are pregnant, have Crone’s disease, ulcerative colitis, severe hemorrhoids, liver or kidney disease, previous colon cancer, anemia, and recent colon surgery. Continued constant use produces pseudomelansosis coli, darkening of the colan wall, which some studies find could lead to colorectal cancer.