Senna (Cassia angustifolia)


Senna Summary

Senna can be found all over the tropics. Although they are usually different species, the uses are almost always the same. The leaves and seed pods have powerful purgative and laxative actions, which have been used to treat constipation, infection, and in traditional Chinese medicine for conditions involving too much heat.

The uses of this herb are somewhat limited, and it is no longer used for purging the body as it was in the past. This action is uncomfortable and can be dangerous if misused.

Now Senna is almost exclusively used for treating constipation short term. Long term use is not recommended under any circumstance.


+ Indications

  • Constipation
  • Acute pancreatitis
  • Cholecystitis
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding

+ Contraindications

  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Abdominal pain of unknown origin
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Stomach inflammation due to griping
  • Appendicitis
  • Colitis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Crohns disease
  • Pregnancy and lactation
  • Haemorrhoids
  • Prolapsus
  • Chronic constipation (because it can lead to dependency issues)

Herbal Actions:

  • Laxitive
  • Purgative (Cathartic)
  • Antimicrobial
  • Styptic (topically)

What is Ssenna Used For?

Senna is primarily used to treat constipation.


Herb Details: Senna

Weekly Dose

Part Used

  • Leavess and seed pods

Family Name

  • Leguminoseae


  • Located throughout the tropics, some specific species can be found in more temperate climates.

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Constituents of Interest

  • Anthraquinone glycosides
  • Sennosides (A-D)
  • Naptheline glycosides
  • Tinevellin glycoside

Common Names

  • Senna
  • Alexandrian senna
  • Nubian senna
  • Cassia senna
  • Egyptian senna
  • Sene de la palthe
  • Kartoum senna
  • Tinnevelly senna
  • Indian senna


Avoid use while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Duration of Use

  • Avoid long-term use in therapeutic doses.

Botanical Information

Senna is a member of the Leguminosae family, which is the third largest family of flowering plants, containing roughly 19,000 species and 751 genera.

The Cassia genera contains between 250 and 350 different species (a lot of debate about the actual number).


Research Overview:


Clinical Applications Of Senna:

Senna is a reliable laxative. It is purgative in higher doses, however, this action is no longer used in modern herbal medicine. Topically, senna is useful for treating wounds and skin irritations.



Never take senna for more than 10 days at a time.

Be very careful about the list of contraindications with this herb (see above).

Senna may turn the urine red during use.



Justin Cooke, BHSc

Thee Sunlight Experiment

(Updated May 2019)


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For list of references, visit the full monograph.