Categories: Medicinal plants

Senna leaf: what is it, what is it for and side effects

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The senna leaf, also known as senna or senna, is a medicinal plant that is widely used to treat gastrointestinal problems, mainly constipation because it has strong laxative and purgative properties.

This laxative effect is mainly due to its ability to irritate the intestinal mucosa, making bowel movements faster, favoring the elimination of feces, for this reason, its use should be with great caution. 

The scientific name for this plant is  Senna alexandrina and it can be purchased in health food stores and some handling pharmacies.

The name  Senna alexandrina is a modern name that encompasses two ancient names for senna, which were:  Cassia Senna and Cassia Angustifolia.

What is it for

Senna has laxative, purgative, purifying, and vermifuge properties, being for this reason widely used to treat gastrointestinal problems, especially constipation.


This plant softens the stool and can be used to relieve discomfort when evacuating people with anal fissures and hemorrhoids.

Despite its benefits, senna leaves should be used with caution and under medical guidance, since their constant use can cause alterations of the intestinal microbiota, very strong colic, and even predispose to rectal neck cancer.

How to make senna leaf tea

To prepare the tea, the green leaves of senna should be preferred, because they have a more active effect on the body, compared to its dry version. In addition to this, the greener the leaf, the stronger the effect.  


1 to 2 g of senna leaves;

250 ml of boiling water.


Preparation mode

Place the herb in a pot or cup, add the water and let it rest for 5 minutes. Wait until it is warm, strain, and drink 2 to 3 times a day without adding sugar. 


Although tea is a practical option to consume senna, this plant can also be purchased in the form of capsules, which can be sold in natural product stores and in some pharmacies, which are ingested 1 capsule of 100 to 300 mg per day. 

Ideally, this plant should be used under the guidance of a doctor and for a maximum period of 7 to 10 days. If after this period constipation persists, you should see a general practitioner or gastroenterologist. 

Does senna leaf tea help you lose weight?

Senna tea is widely used, popularly, during weight loss processes. However, this plant does not possess any properties that help burn fat.

Weight loss is related to an increase in the frequency of bowel movements, in addition to the inhibition of water absorption, preventing fluid retention. 

Possible side effects of senna leaf

The laxative effect of senna is mainly due to its ability to irritate the intestinal mucosa, for this reason, the use of this plan for more than 1 week could cause some side effects such as intense cramps, abdominal bloating, and increased amount of gas.

In addition to this, some people may also have vomiting, diarrhea, increased menstrual flow, hypocalcemia, hypokalemia, intestinal malabsorption, and decreased hemoglobin in the blood test.



Senna leaves are contraindicated in cases of hypersensitivity to senna, during pregnancy, breastfeeding, in children under 12 years of age, as well as in cases of intestinal obstruction, enteritis, acute appendicitis, and stomach pain of unknown cause.

In addition, senna should not be consumed by people taking heart medications, laxatives, cortisone, or diuretics, and its use should not be longer than 10 consecutive days, as it can cause various side effects and increase the predisposition for colorectal cancer.

For this reason, before using senna leaves it is important to ask a doctor for guidance to avoid possible complications.




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Tags: advantages benefits contraindications disadvantages health medicinal plant nutrition side effects uses virtues

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