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Senna: what is it, uses and side effects

Senna is a medicinal plant, also known as Chamecrista and Cassia, which is widely used to treat intestinal problems due to its strong laxative and purgative properties.

The scientific name of this plant is Senna Alexandrina and can be found in natural products stores and in some pharmacies. Senna Alexandrina is a modern name that encompasses two ancient names of Sene, Cassia Senna and Cassia angustifolia.

Senna: what is it, uses and side effects


Senna has laxative, purgative, depurative and vermifuge properties and is therefore widely used to treat gastrointestinal problems, especially constipation. However, since it leaves the stools softer, it can also be used to alleviate the discomfort due to defecation in people with anal fissure and hemorrhoids.

Despite its benefits, senna should be used with caution and under medical guidance, as its constant use can cause changes in your intestinal microbiota, very strong cramps and even predispose you to rectal cancer.

How to make Senna tea

To make this tea you should give preference to the green leaves of senna, since they have a more active effect in the organism, especially when compared to its dry version. In addition, the greener the leaf, the stronger the effect.


  • 1 to 2 g tablespoons of senna;
  • 250 ml of boiling water.

Preparation method

Put the herb in a pot or cup, add the water and let it rest for 5 minutes. Wait until it cools a little, 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 found in the form of capsules, which can be sold in health food stores and some pharmacies, and are usually ingested in the amount of 1 capsule from 100 to 300 mg a day.

Ideally, senna should only be used if your physician, herbalist or naturopath recommends it and up to a maximum period of 7 to 10 consecutive days. If after that period, constipation persists, it is important you go see a general practitioner or gastroenterologist.

Can senna tea help you lose weight?

Senna tea is often used, especially during weight loss diets. However, this plant does not have any property that helps in the burning of fats, and its effect on weight reduction is only related to the increase in the frequency of evacuations, besides the inhibition of water absorption, which avoids the retention of liquids.

The best way to lose weight is definitely through healthy eating and regular exercise.

Possible side effects

The use of excess senna can lead to several side effects, such as severe cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, increased menstrual flow, hypocalcemia, hypokalemia, intestinal mal absorption and a decrease in hemoglobin count.

Who should not use this plant

Senna is not indicated in cases of hypersensitivity to senna, during pregnancy, lactation, in children younger than 12 years of age, as well as intestinal occlusion, enteritis, acute appendicitis and stomach pain of unknown cause.

In addition, senna should not be consumed by people taking heart medication, laxatives, cortisone, or diuretics, and their use should not be longer than 10 consecutive days as it may cause various side effects and increase your predisposition to develop colorectal cancer. Therefore, before using senna, it is important to seek guidance from a physician to avoid possible complications.


  • GRUNWALD, JORG; JANICKE, CHRISTOF. A farmácia verde. Espanha: Editora Everest, 2009. 346-347.
  • FILHO, Carlos Isaia et al.. Avaliação comparativa de eficácia clínica e tolerabilidade para a combinação de Cassia fistula e Senna alexandrina Miller em pacientes com constipação intestinal funcional crônica. Rev Soc Bras Clin Med. Vol.1. 15-21, 2014
  • FLORIEN. Sene. 2013. Link: <florien.com.br>. Access in 21 May 2019
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