Senna, also known as Cassia angustifolia or Cassia senna, is a two foot high shrub native to North Africa and Arabia. Used for centuries as a laxative, cathartic and purgative, senna's leaves and seeds are medicinal, but should be used modestly and under supervision. Like cinnamon, senna comes from the cassia plant family. It can be taken in tea form, or in capsules or tablets. According to Herbs 2000, it is best to take senna with aromatic herbs such as cardamom, peppermint, fennel and ginger, which help to diminish flatulence that can ensue due to the herb's strong purgative actions.
Senna leaf acts on the intestinal walls, causing contractions that lead to bowel movements. In this regard, it can be used to effectively relieve even the most severe cases of constipation. Because of its glycoside content, which helps transport electrolytes, it helps to cleanse the colon creating a bowel movement that usually occurs within six to 12 hours after it is taken. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, senna leaf, also called Fan Xie Ye, helps to clear away heat accumulated in the large intestine, helping rid the body of stagnant food that has accumulated in the organs. Considered sweet, bitter, and cold in nature, it is not to be used during pregnancy or menstruation or by nursing mothers.
SOOTHING ANAL FISSURES AND HEMORRHOIDS
Anal fissures occur when the rectum has split close to the sphincter, causing pain during bowel movements. Because senna leaf helps to soften the stool, it makes defecation less painful when lacerations or other painful obstructions are involved, such as hemorrhoids. Because senna leaf is an anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory, it also helps to reduce swelling due to irritation, thus helping to soothe the area back to health.
ALLEVIATING SKIN CONDITIONS
Senna leaf contains essential oils, resin and tannin. Its acetone and ethanol content help to fight against microorganisms that can cause skin irritations such as acne. In Ayruvedic medicine, an ancient and time-tested natural healing protocol, senna leaf is made into a paste and used as a compress to help heal ringworm, Pityriasis versicolo, and other similar types of skin conditions. Though senna leaf is a well-known laxative, cleansing agent and anti-inflammatory, it is essential that you consult your health-care provider before using it for any condition. Using senna leaf for more than two weeks consecutively can lead to lazy bowel syndrome, where elimination cannot be performed without outside stimulation. Senna can potentially create other complications as well, such as chronic diarrhea.