Senna Benefits and Side Effects
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Senna [Cassia senna, cassia acutifolia, cassia marilandica, cassia augustifolia]
Senna, the sennas, is a genus of about 250 species of flowering plants in the family Fabaceae,
subfamily Caesalpinioideae. Senna species are pretty and they have been used for landscape
gardening. Cassia gum, a thickening agent commonly used in suspensions, lotions, is actually from
Chinese Senna (S. obtusifolia) seeds. In Thai cuisine, the leaves and flowers of Siamese Senna are
used in cooking. [Wikipedia]
The leaves and pods of the senna plant contain compounds called hydroxyanthracene glycosides or
Senna Sennoside, which are bioactive. These glycosides stimulate the peristalsis of the colon and alter
colonic absorption and secretion resulting in fluid accumulation and expulsion. Thus, senna is used as
laxative for constipation. Cassia angustifolia is known to cause liver intoxication as a side effect. There
is a report of a 52 year old woman who drank senna tea daily for over three years. She, then,
developed acute liver failure and kidney impairment. 
Soyuncu S, Cete Y and Nokay AE from Akdeniz University, Turkey, further reported that a 42-year-old
woman was admitted to their emergency room with a five-day history of epigastric pain, anorexia,
episodic vomiting and intermittent fever. Later, they found that she drank a "soup of dried senna
leaves". She was diagnosed with portal vein thrombosis.  Other side effects are not pleasant.
Chronic use of anthraquinone laxatives has been blamed for the induction of habituation and the
development of colonic cancer.  Large doses of senna extracts may also cause diarrhea and
 Soyuncu S, Cete Y, Nokay AE., Portal vein thrombosis related to Cassia angustifolia. Clin Toxicol
(Phila). 2008 Mar 27:1-4.  Vanderperren B, Rizzo M, Angenot L, Haufroid V, Jadoul M, Hantson P.
Acute liver failure with renal impairment related to the abuse of senna anthraquinone glycosides. Ann
Pharmacother. 2005 Jul-Aug;39(7-8):1353-7.  Borrelli F, Capasso R, Aviello G, Di Carlo G, Izzo AA,
Mascolo N, Capasso F. Senna and the formation of aberrant crypt foci and tumors in rats treated with
azoxymethane. 1: Phytomedicine. 2005 Jun;12(6-7):501-5; discussion 505.