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Senna (Cassia angustifolia)

Senna (Cassia angustifolia)

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease

About

Senna is an herb. The leaves and the fruit of the plant are used to make medicine.

Senna is an FDA-approved nonprescription laxative. It is used to treat constipation and also to clear the bowel before diagnostic tests such as colonoscopy.

Senna is also used for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), hemorrhoids, and weight loss.

Senna fruit seems to be gentler than senna leaf. This has led the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) to warn against long-term use of senna leaf, but not senna fruit. The AHPA recommends that senna leaf products be labeled, "Do not use this product if you have abdominal pain or diarrhea. Consult a healthcare provider prior to use if you are pregnant or nursing. Discontinue use in the event of diarrhea or watery stools. Do not exceed recommended dose. Not for long-term use.”

How does it work?

Senna contains many chemicals called sennosides. Sennosides irritate the lining of the bowel, which causes a laxative effect.

Traditionally used for

Constipation.
Bowel preparation before colonoscopy.
Hemorrhoids.
Irritable bowel disease.
Losing weight.

Dosage

By Mouth:

Senna is an FDA-approved nonprescription drug.

For constipation in adults and children age 12 and over: the usual dose is 17.2 mg daily. Don't take more than 34.4 mg per day.

For constipation in children: 8.5 mg daily increased just enough to cause one bowel movement daily has been used.
For constipation in elderly people: 17 mg daily has been used.

For constipation following pregnancy: 28 mg in 2 divided doses has been used.

Possible Side Effects

Senna is SAFE for most adults and children over age 2 when taken by mouth, short-term. Senna is an FDA-approved nonprescription medicine. Senna can cause some side effects including stomach discomfort, cramps, and diarrhea.

Senna is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth long-term or in high doses. Don't use senna for more than two weeks. Longer use can cause the bowels to stop functioning normally and might cause dependence on laxatives. Long-term use can also change the amount or balance of some chemicals in the blood (electrolytes) that can cause heart function disorders, muscle weakness, liver damage, and other harmful effects.

Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Senna is SAFE during pregnancy and breast-feeding when taken by mouth, short-term. It is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth long-term or in high doses. Long-term, frequent use, or use of high doses has been linked to serious side effects including laxative dependence and liver damage.

Although small amounts of senna cross into breast milk, it doesn't seem to be a problem for nursing babies. As long as the mother uses senna in recommended amounts, senna does not cause changes in the frequency or consistency of babies' stools.

Electrolyte disturbances, potassium deficiency: Overuse of senna can make these conditions worse.

Dehydration, diarrhea or loose stools: Senna should not be used in people with dehydration, diarrhea, or loose stools. It can make these conditions worse.

Gastrointestinal (GI) conditions: Senna should not be used by people with abdominal pain (either diagnosed or undiagnosed), intestinal blockage, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, appendicitis, stomach inflammation, anal prolapse, or hemorrhoids.

Heart disease: Senna can cause electrolyte disturbances and might make heart disease worse.

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