By Summer Banks on Sep 19, 2017

Senna is a herb grown in Africa, India, and other areas of the world for centuries. [1] [2] The leaves and seeds are both used for herbal medicine. [3]

Its scientific names are cassia acutifolia and cassia senna. [4] It is also known as wild senna, Cassia marilandica, or locust plant. [5]

Senna is a flowering plant that belongs to the legume family Fabaceae. It has yellow, white, and pink flowers. It is thought to be a strong laxative because of the presence of compounds called anthraquinones. [6]

For hundreds of years, it has been used as a solution for constipation. It can be found in the United States in supplement form or as an ingredient in drugs that are approved by the FDA. [2]

senna pods health benefits

What is Senna Used For?

It has been found that Senna could help with constipation. [2] It has been permitted by the FDA as a nonprescription laxative. It has been used for constipation and to clear out the bowels before diagnostic test such as a colonoscopy. [7] [2]

It’s used most often as a laxative. [4]

It is as effective as castor oil and bisacodyl for cleansing the bowels when taken by mouth. [7]

It could work for constipation that is caused by pregnancy, surgery, or drug side effects. [2]

Arab physicians have been using the leaves of the senna plant for their laxative properties since as far back as the 19th Century. [8]

Some evidence has found that it is not successful in children younger than 12 years old. [2]

Senna could alleviate constipation by rousing the colon muscles to push fecal substance through quicker, and could also help the colon soak up water to relax stool. [9]

Senna and Weight Loss

Senna and Weight Loss

While Senna is mostly recognized as a common treatment for upset stomach and constipation, it is becoming a popular supplement for weight loss. [10]

Most likely weight loss from Senna will come from a loss of water weight due to a greater volume of bowel movements. [11]

Senna’s diuretic properties make it helpful cleansing extra water and other fluids out of the body, aiding in the loss of extra water weight and losing weight quick. [10]

Senna’s ability to cleanse the colon helps with losing fat and slimming because it reduces waste particles in the body, including the toxic ones that can be known to cause weight gain and cellulitis. [10]

The most common way of taking senna for constipation or weight loss is senna tea. [6]

Senna tea may help weight loss because it helps alleviate occasional constipation, it helps to increase fluid intake causing you to eat less, and the cleansing encourages proper absorption of nutrients and ideal metabolism, thus causing weight loss. [6]

Any weight-loss attained is probably water weight rather than fat. [12]

There are no significant studies that have been done on senna tea and its weight loss effects. Thus it is not recognized by the medical community as an active supplement for weight loss. [13]

Senna tea can certainly aid in the removal of waste, therefore promoting a healthy metabolism. [13]

Health Benefits of Senna

Health Benefits of Senna

Senna can be used for the treatment of some skin conditions; it has essential oils, resin, and tannins that can relieve skin inflammation[6]

A senna paste can be applied topically to help heal ringworm, acne, wounds, and burns. [6] [14]

Senna can aid in the treatment of dermatological skin conditions with its anti-bacterial properties. The paste made from senna leaves has been successful in treating skin conditions such as acne and eczema. [6]

Senna offers some advantages for hair health and management of hair problems.

It can be put on the hair to get strong, soft, and shiny hair.

Use as a conditioner to expose shine as well as thickening and strengthening the hair.

It is great for revealing natural highlights of lighter hues in the hair.

Makes scalp conditions better and treats dandruff.

As an exceptional conditioner, it can fight hair loss.

Attaches to keratin in the hair, thus defending it from ultraviolet radiation. [15]

We already know that Senna is permitted by the FDA for alleviating constipation and is also great for cleansing the colon.

Because of its natural anti-inflammatory property, it has also been found to be a successful treatment for anal cuts and hemorrhoids because it can help to decrease swelling and enables fast healing. [3] [6]

Senna leaves are helpful in getting rid of intestinal worms. [16] This is probably because of the laxative properties it contains.

Antibacterial properties can also be found in the essential oils and tannins of senna leaf. Such properties can hinder the growth and production of bacteria, fungi, and parasites. [17]

If chewed senna leaf can also heal mouth diseases and gingivitis. [6]

Senna has been found to be useful for the relief of bloating and indigestion. [18]

Senna Side Effects

Senna Side Effects

It is not recommended to take senna for more than ten days at a time. [2]

Consuming senna tea for weight loss could cause constipation, make one come to rely on laxatives, or cause dehydration. [12]

Using senna constantly could lead to lazy bowel syndrome, or prolonged diarrhea and dehydration. [17]

Senna could be hazardous if you have kidney or liver issues, heart disease, Crohn’s disease, colitis, stomach ulcers, intestinal issues, or stomach pain. [2]

Senna tea may cause pain in the stomach, diarrhea, and cramps. [19]

It is not recommended to consume amounts of senna tea that are higher than the dosage noted on the box as this could cause toxicity symptoms, leading to liver damage, nerve damage, and even coma. [19]

Senna is probably safe for adults and children over the age of two when taken by mouth for short periods of time. [7]

Using for long periods of time could alter the amount or balance of some chemicals that are in the blood causing heart disorders, weakness of muscles, and damage to the liver, or other damaging effects. [7]

Usual side effects of senna are vomiting, nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and discolored urine. [20]

Use of senna tea for longer than two weeks could cause your body to become dependent, and the bowels will not function properly. [19]

Rare side effects include blood stool, rectal bleeding, continual or severe pain in the stomach, dizziness, fatigue, or abrupt unwarranted tiredness. [20]

Senna is probably safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding if taken for a short amount of time by mouth, but is probably not safe if taken for a long period or in higher doses. [7]

However, if pregnant or breastfeeding you should always check with your doctor before taking any dietary supplement.

Consult with your physician before using senna or senna tea.

If there are medications that are taken consistently talk with your doctor before taking senna supplements. [2]

Before using senna for constipation be sure you are getting enough fiber and water daily. [9]

The use of senna tea with other laxatives or diuretics is not recommended, this can cause more urine to be produced and lead to dehydration. [19] [13]

The Bottom Line on Senna

As far as weight loss goes there is no scientific evidence that proves it to be effective as a weight loss supplement. While it has many other health benefits, senna’s main advantage is as a laxative to aid with constipation.

The weight loss that comes from Senna is more water weight than fat burning; therefore it is not the healthiest of weight loss choices. Additionally, it is only temporary weight loss and does not decrease body fat meaning once you get back to usual bathroom patterns and reestablish healthy hydration levels the weight will return. [11]

If you want to use senna or senna tea for weight loss, it would be best to add it to a weight loss exercise program that you are already using. [13]

Any preexisting medical conditions need to be considered before taking senna or using senna tea for the first time, as well as a consultation with your physician. [13]

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About the Author:

Summer Banks, Director of Content at Dietspotlight, has researched over 5000 weight-loss programs, pills, shakes and diet plans. Previously, she managed 15 supplement brands, worked with doctors specializing in weight loss and completed coursework in nutrition at Stanford University. full bio.