Botanical Name Cassia senna L.
Scientific Name (s) Cassia acutifolia Delile, syn. with Cassia senna L. Also includes references to C. angustifolia Vahl. Family: Fabaceae (beans).
Senna appears to have been used since the ninth or tenth century, its introduction into medicine being due to the Arabian physicians, who used both the leaves and the pods. It was formerly exported through Alexandria, from where the name of the Sudanese drug is derived.
The plant has a pale green stem with long spreading branches. The sweetish taste of the leaves distinguish Senna from the Argel leaves. It has small yellow flowers and oblong pods about 2 inches long and 7 to 8 inches broad.
It is also called Nubian Senna or Alexandrian Senna or even Khartoum Senna. It grows in parts of Sudan and in some Arabian countries. The best senna is distinguished by a bright yellowish-green color of the leaves with a faint odor resembling the smell of green tea and a bittersweet taste
Senna is usually found in wild, but they have been extensively cultivated recently. It grows in September after the autumn rains and in April.
Senna contains a family of hydroxyanthrancene glycosides, the most plentiful of which are sennosides A and B. There are also anthraquinone derivatives and their glucosides which are responsible for its purgative effects. There are also small amounts of aloe-emodin and rhein 8-glucosides, mucilage, flavonoids, and naphthalene precursors.
It is known for increasing the movement of the colon by increasing the functions of the intestinal wall. It is also a remedy for hemorrhoids, alimentary canal and prolapus. Similarly, both leaves and pods of the plant are used to cure breathing problems. An infusion of the pods is used as an effective way to suppress fever and to stop chronic nosebleeds. An infusion of the leaves is consumed to stop spasms or convulsions. The roots of the plant are consumed with milk to treat malaria.
- Uses supported by clinical data: Short-term use in occasional constipation.
- Uses described in pharmacopoeias and in traditional systems of medicine: None.
- Uses described in folk medicine, not supported by experimental or clinical data: As an expectorant, a wound dressing, an antidysentric, and a carminative agent; and for the treatment of gonorrhea, skin diseases, dyspepsia, fever and hemorrhoids
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