Senna is an herb that has been used since time immemorial to make medicine. In fact, many over-the-counter laxatives have it among their components.
In addition to constipation, senna is often used to cleanse the intestines before carrying out a colonoscopy, to treat anal fissures and also against irritable bowel syndrome.
If you’re wondering if this herb is totally safe, what its health benefits are, and how to prepare it, read on. We tell you everything about senna infusion.
The senna of Alexandria, whose scientific name is Cassia Angustifolia and is also known as Senna alexandrina, is a shrub of the Fabaceae family, capable of reaching a height of one and a half meters. Its light green leaves and its fruits are used in alternative medicine to make laxatives.
Branches with between four and five pairs of leaves emerge from its erect stem. In spring, it blooms with large yellow flowers, with brown accents. From each of them is born, then, a fruit in the form of oblong horns, full of seeds.
To prepare senna infusion, both the fruits and the leaves are used, which are usually exported from India, although there are more producing countries such as China, Pakistan and Egypt, among others. Later we will see which of the two options is more recommended.
Senna infusion against constipation
This infusion has been used historically (some data indicates that since Egyptian times) for its phytotherapeutic properties; however, its use against constipation spread widely during the Renaissance period.
Now, what is its laxative function due to? The sennosides present in senna are irritating substances that act on the lining of the intestine. This, being attacked, is emptied; this is what is known as intestinal peristalsis. Hence, its famous laxative effect.
This infusion also has purifying properties, by breaking down the waste that remains in the intestine and, in the long term, generates an obstruction. For this reason, its consumption is usually recommended before performing some medical tests of the intestine, such as colonoscopy. Thus, the intestine is clean for examination.
An investigation found that senna contains flavonoids, phenolic compounds with an antioxidant function. It is worth remembering that antioxidants protect the body by fighting free radicals, preventing premature aging and some chronic diseases.
On the other hand, flavonoids have anti-inflammatory power and hepatoprotective properties. Thus, the infusion of senna can improve the symptoms of inflammatory processes such as headaches, muscle discomfort, shock, etc., as well as improve the symptoms of indigestion.
The same study collects the results of other clinical trials and suggests that this plant also has antimicrobial activity, specifically against Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus mutans.
How to prepare senna infusion
Making this infusion is extremely easy. The only thing you need to know is that you can infuse both the leaves and the fruits of senna. In particular, we opted for the use of the fruits. This is because the senna fruits produce a more moderate and mild effect than the leaves.
- 1 teaspoon of senna fruits.
- 1 cup of water.
- 1 teaspoon of honey.
- Bring the water to a boil.
- Incorporate the fruits and make a decoction for 4 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and let stand for 5 minutes.
- Strain, sweeten with honey and serve.
Note: Due to its marked bitter taste, we advise you to consume it with honey. Another option, if you prefer to avoid sugar, is to combine senna fruits with mint , coriander, fennel or mallow.
The classified senna as an over-the-counter drug; however, we recommend medical consultation before starting regular consumption.
It is recommended to avoid the consumption of senna infusion in case of diarrhea or abdominal pain. In the case of pregnant and lactating women, its intake is subject to medical advice. Do not drink this infusion without consulting a professional, especially that made with senna leaves as it could have counterproductive effects.
On the other hand, if you regularly drink senna infusion, you need to keep in mind that its consumption should not be done long-term. Although studies on the continued use of senna have not obtained conclusive results, there are now suspicions that it could affect normal intestinal function.
In conclusion, senna infusion can be a good option to combat occasional constipation. However, if you intend to consume it regularly, it is recommended that you consult your doctor beforehand. Also remember that natural remedies can also have interactions with antibiotics and other medications.