Habitat & Cultivation : Originally hailing from tropical Africa, senna is presently cultivated across the entire continent. The cultivation process involves growing it from seeds in the spring or from cuttings in early summer, with a preference for abundant sunlight. Harvesting can be done by plucking the leaves before or during the flowering stage, while the pods are typically collected in the autumn when they reach ripeness
Related Species : The Cassia genus encompasses more than 400 species. Tinnevelly senna (C. angustifolia), cultivated in the Indian sub-continent, shares therapeutic properties with C. senna. In Ayurvedic medicine, it finds application for various conditions such as skin problems, jaundice, bronchitis, anaemia, and constipation. Jue ming zi (C. obtusifolia) is utilized in traditional Chinese medicine to address “liver fire” patterns, constipation, and atherosclerosis.
Traditional & Current Uses
- Historical Usage: The medicinal use of the herb dates back to the 9th century CE when Arabian physicians first employed it.
- Addressing Constipation: Senna has traditionally been employed specifically for the treatment of constipation. It proves particularly suitable when a gentle stool softening effect is desired, as seen in cases of anal fissure. While effective as a short-term laxative, it is recommended not to exceed a 10-day usage period to prevent the weakening of the large bowel muscles.
- Cathartic Properties: Functioning as a potent cathartic or very strong laxative, senna may lead to griping and colic. Therefore, it is commonly taken in conjunction with aromatic, carminative herbs to ease intestinal muscle tension.