Is senna tea for constipation appropriate to drink when you have a problem with your guts? Senna is a plant that originates from the Arabian world and they call it Alexandrian senna. It is cultivated in south India.
The other type of herb is called tinnevelly senna, and it originates from North and North-East Africa. It is grown in the Nile River valley. The leaves of both species are herbal equivalent, but the Alexandrian plant pods are more effective and are used in smaller doses.
It is a well-known plant for the constipation issue. You can prepare a healing tea or add them to the tea mixture (laxative drink). They can also be found in pills or as one of the ingredients of Swedish bitter. Pods are also useful and are found in products in the form of pills and as a tea, in combination with leaves.
Is senna good for constipation?
Now let’s take a closer look at this plant. Arabs in the Middle Ages appreciated senna as a healing plant. It was brought to Europe in the 9th century. For many centuries it has been a valuable and expensive drug.
In the pharmacy, its preparations are intended for short-term use in cases of occasional constipation, which can occur due to a diet change, changes in the environment or prolonged inactivity due to injury, or disease and it can’t be eliminated by altered diet and fiber laxatives.
Good for treating hemorrhoids
It can also be used in problems with hemorrhoids, before the investigations and surgeries when an empty gut is required, as well as after the rectal and anal area operations.
The plant leaves contain 3% dianthrone glycosides, sennosides A, A1 and B to F, and a small proportion of anthraquinone glycosides (rein-8-glucoside, rein-8-syphoroside).
The leaves contain 2 to 3% mucilage, 0.05% essential oil, and flavonoids. Senna pods have a similar composition as leaves but differ in the content of anthracotic and anthracycline compounds.
The mechanism of senna’s laxative effect is based on the degradation of sennosides to senidines (aglycones) under the influence of bacterial β-glycosidases in the colon.
Because of their hydrophilicity, sennosides are not absorbed in the upper parts of the digestive tract, and digestive enzymes can’t be hydrolyzed, but bacterial enzymes in the colon degrade them to senidines.
How does it work?
Senidines are then metabolized to the active rein-9-anthrone. It accelerates the movement of the colon and reduces the passage time of the excretion. It also reduces the absorption of water and electrolytes into the epithelial cells, and increases the permeability of solid contacts, thus increasing the amount of fluid in the colon. The laxative effect occurs 8 – 12 hours after the consumption of its preparation.
How to use it and when?
To prepare a tea, take half to one teaspoon of senna leaves and pour them with a cup of hot water (150 ml), mix well, let it stand for 10-20 minutes and then strain it. Drink a cup of freshly prepared tea once a day, in the evening before going to bed.
The leaves can also be poured with a cup of cold water, but in this case, the drug must be soaked for 10 to 12 hours. Then we strain it and drink it once a night before sleeping. Some authors say that cold-prepared tea should have less effect, and should not cause cramping or abdominal pain.
Medicinal tea should not be used for a long time; usually, it is sufficient to use it 2-3 times a week. Also, it should not be consumed too much or drank too strong because it causes side effects such as abdominal pain, cramps, and severe diarrhea, leading to loss of water and electrolytes, especially potassium. The most appropriate dose is the smallest dose that causes the release of soft excretion.
People who are sensitive to the plant can’t use senna and should avoid it. It shouldn’t be used in the intestinal obstruction, in the inflammation of the gallbladder, inflammatory bowel diseases (Chron’s disease, ulcerative colitis), abdominal pain of unexplained origin or severe dehydration with loss of water and electrolytes.
The herb shouldn’t be used by patients whose excretion blockage is accompanied by unexplained acute or chronic indigestion (abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting), as this may be a sign of intestinal obstruction. If you have temporary indigestion, click here and find out which tea can help you.
In rare cases, senna could cause hypersensitivity reactions (itching, hives, rash). In such cases, we stop using it. Hives, abdominal pain, fluid excretion, and diarrhea may occur when taking its preparations, which may also occur because of overdose.
Severe diarrhea leads to loss of water and electrolytes, especially potassium, which disrupts electrolyte balance in the body. The consequence of potassium loss may be cardiac disorders and muscle weakness.
Due to the secretion of metabolites active substances with urine, you may get yellow or red-colored urine if you use the preparations, which is not harmful. After you will stop using them, the symptoms will disappear.
Interaction with other medicines
Prolonged use or abuse of senna preparations leads to hypokalemia, which may entail the action of medicines with cardiac glycosides and antiarrhythmics.
Concomitant use of the plant with other medicinal products that reduce blood potassium levels (for example, medicines that discharge water – diuretics, and medicines that affect inflammation – corticosteroids) may further aggravate electrolyte imbalance. It is not recommended to use it with these medicines at the same time.
Long-term use of laxatives should be avoided. Stop using senna as soon as your digestion is normal again. It should not be used for longer than 1-2 weeks without consulting your doctor.
In the case of chronic constipation, it is essential to consult a physician or pharmacist about the diet change and other measures to eliminate constipation. It is crucial to find the reason for it.
Long-term use or abuse of the herb may increase the laziness of the gut and cause addiction for higher doses. It can disrupt the electrolyte balance in the body, lead to the presence of proteins and blood in the urine, and coloration of the intestinal mucosa, which usually disappears after you stop taking the drug. In patients with renal disease, there is a greater likelihood of electrolyte imbalance. It is not suitable for weight loss.
If you have problems with your guts, don’t use senna tea for constipation yet. Try to eat foods that contain a lot of fiber (vegetables, black bread, bran), drink a lot of fluid and start regular physical activity.
You must avoid chocolate and other sweets; eat less starchy foods, especially those from flour, less meat, eggs, and egg dishes. You will be even more successful when you eat slowly, and when you chew your food well.