Senna is one of our favorite digestive herbs

Close up of a bright yellow senna flower

One of our favorite digestive herbs, Senna, supports healthy elimination. It is recommended for occasional use to alleviate constipation. It is best taken before bed, for morning bowel movements. If taken during the day, it’s best to take it easy and keep the bathroom handy. If you are in need, Senna can be a good herbal ally.

The herb is well known for its laxative properties. Native to Egypt and Northern Africa, Senna (Senna alexandrina) has been used for thousands of years and has traveled the world and become an integral herb in traditional herbal medicine. It is a small green shrub with vivid yellow flower and grows well in desert or arid conditions. Much of the world’s Senna is now grown in India and Sudan.

The active ingredient in Senna is called sennosides and their active metabolite, rhein anthrone. The laxative effect is caused by inhibition of water and electrolyte absorption from the large intestine, which increases the volume and pressure of the intestinal contents which stimulates elimination. Sennosides and are found in the leaves and seed pods of the plant.

We recommend steeping 1 tea bag of Senna in 8 oz of boiling water, covered, for 7 minutes. Alvita uses only pure Senna leaves in this tea, which are somewhat bitter. Recommended use is one cup daily, as needed, no more than one week at a time. You can add a tea bag of Alvita Ginger Root if you would like as the herbal actions are complimentary.

Senna is often used as part of cleansing protocol and taken for several days in a row along with a cleansing diet and supportive herbs and vitamins. Because it is a stimulative laxative, it is not recommended for daily use. For a gentle laxative that can be taken on a more regular basis, try Alvita Dandelion Root Tea.

Senna does have some contraindications. It is not recommended for use if there is an intestinal obstruction, abdominal pain of unknown origin, or any inflammatory bowel condition of the intestines (appendicitis, colitis, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel etc.); in hemorrhoids; and in children less than 12 years of age; not for long-term use in excess of 8-10 days. Pregnant and nursing women should not use senna.

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