Thanks to its benefits of easy use, reliable effect, and low toxicity, senna leaf, also called Fan Xie Ye in Pinyin, is one of the most common laxatives today. Senna herb has been used as mild laxative for many centuries by people from North Africa and Southwest Asia. In addition, ancient India and ancient Greek medicine have discovered senna leaves’ efficacy and begun to apply them for medical purpose since the 9th century. Currently this herb is used more in diet for weight loss. As a matter of fact, tons of popular dieter’s teas out there can find the ingredient of senna. Being a natural herb, it often leads many people to falsely believe that it is 100% safe and free of dangers. However, that is so wrong and in recent years the senna leaf tea side effects were frequently reported in newspapers. So, are senna leaves good or bad? Is senna leaf good for you? To answer these questions, we are going to elaborate this Chinese herb from the point of view of Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as follows.

What is senna leaf?
Also known as Folium Sennae, it means the dried leaflets from Cassia angustifolia Vahl. or Cassia acutifolia Delile., plants in the family legume. The former is mainly produced in India, Egypt and Sudan, and that latter is mainly from Egypt and cultivated in some regions of China, such as Guangdong, Guangxi and Yunnan. It is usually harvested in September, dried and used raw.

Leaves of Cassia angustifolia Vahl. are ovate-oblong or ovate-lanceolate, 1.5 to 5cm long, 0.4 to 2cm wide, and with entire margin, abruptly pointed blade tip, and slightly asymmetrical leaf base. Up surface is yellow-green while lower surface is pale yellowish green, glabrous or nearly glabrous, and with slightly ridgy veins. It is leathery, slightly sticky, and with weak but peculiar odor and slightly bitter taste. Leaves of Cassia acutifolia Delile. are lanceolate or ovate, slightly curly, and with short-pointed or slightly convex blade tip, asymmetrical leaf base, and surface covered with short soft fuzz.


Senna leaf benefits
As one of the most important laxatives, the lapactic effect of senna leaf herb is pretty obvious, which is the main reason why nowadays this herb is widely used for colon cleansing and detox and a variety of conditions like constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), bloating, hemorrhoids, and so on. Actually a series of ready-made products, such as senna leaf tea, extract, powder, capsules, extract syrup, and concentrate, have been developed for easy consumption. However, it may violently stimulate the gastrointestinal tract. That’s being said, it gives health benefits, meanwhile, leaves side effects. And its pharmacology can reveal it all.



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