Senna - any plant of the genus Sennia (formerly placed in Cassia), leguminous herbs, shrubs, and trees of the family Leguminosae (pulse family), most common in warm regions. Some species are cultivated for ornament, but sennas are best known as medicinal plants.
The young shoots of several wild species are used for food and the seeds for a coffee substitute. S. nictitans, a North American herb, is sometimes called wild sensitive plant because its leaves respond to touch as do those of the true sensitive plant, a mimosa. Senna is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Rosales, family Leguminosae.
Phytotherapeutic Actions: - The medicinal action of Senna can be attributed mainly to “the anthraquinone glycosides, especially sennoside A and B. The breakdown of the anthraquinone glycosides in the digestive tract can occur in two ways. One; The glycosides are not absorbed in the upper gut but are converted by the microflora of the large intestine into active aglycones, principally rhein anthrone, which exert a laxative effect on the colon. Alternatively, in the presence of bile and the sugar, the free aglycone can be absorbed into the blood stream and secreted later into the colon. The final result is stimulation of the Auerbach plexus resulting in increased intestinal muscle contraction. In addition, its mucilage content decreases absorption of fluid leading to an enhancement of the final laxative action”
Parts Utilized - Leaves, seeds, and flowers.
Contraindications - No problems with external use except for pregnant, nursing or menstruating women should not use Senna, and it is not appropriate for children under twelve years of age. People with intestinal blockage, inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal ulcers, undiagnosed stomach pain or appendicitis symptoms must avoid Senna. Senna can cause cramping, nausea and diarrhea, and the urine may take on a reddish hue (which is harmless). Long-term use is not recommended (more than one week at a time), since it may cause dependence and a weakened colon,
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