Botanical Name: Cassia angustifolia, C. senna, C. acutifolia | Family: Leguminosae
Common name(s): Senna
- Subtropical shrub native to India and Africa | 6 1/2 feet tall | Big yellow flowers followed by legume-like pods
- Full sun | Alkaline soil (ph 7-8.5) with good drainage
Harvest leaves before or while plant is in flower. Harvest pods in autumn. Leaves are stronger medicine than pods and aren’t used as often.
PREPARATION / DOSAGE
Infusion: Steep the dried pods* in warm water for 6-12 hours. Take in the evening before bedtime.
Tincture: 2-7 ml, 3x/day
* Two types of pods are sold commercially. If using Alexandrian Senna, use 3-6 pods per cup of water. If using Tinnevelly Senna, use 4-13 pods.
Constituents: Anthraquinones, essential oil, flavones, mucin, salts, tartaric acid, traces of tannin and resin
Actions: Cathartic, laxative, purgative
Uses: Acute constipation
Combinations: combine with a smaller amount of ginger to help prevent griping pains in the intestines
Cautions: constipation is a symptom of a larger problem that needs to be dealt with. Too frequent usage can create a laxative dependency. Do not use during pregnancy.
- Bitter, sweet, cold
- The Way of Herbs, Michael Tierra
- Holistic Herbal, David Hoffman
- Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, Andrew Chevallier
- photo credit: Senna alexandrina Mill./Cassia angustifolia L. (Senna Plant) by Lalithamba via Flickr (license)
Apparently senna is one of the most well-known herbs because it is used widely for constipation. It was not on my radar, so glad to know more about it, outside of prepared pills.