Senna alexandrina benefits, medicinal uses and side effects

Senna alexandrina, this deciduous shrub is an ornamental plant that grows to 3 feet in height. It prefers moderately fertile sandy loam with full sun. The pale green stem is erect and branched. Each of the long spreading branches has 5-6 pairs of leaves. The feathery and complex leaves form mutual pairs.

Senna alexandrina benefits, medicinal uses and side effects

The leaflets themselves are fully edged and exist as 4-6 pairs. They have a sharp top. It has equally divided midribs at the leaflet base. The flowers occur as interior raceme blossoms. They are big and of yellow colour that tend to become brown.

The fruits are broadly oblong and horned. They are flat and compressed and contain about six seeds.

The entire plant finds use in medicine in the dried and stripped form.

Common name

The common name is Egyptian Senna. People also refer to it as Tinnevelly senna and East Indian Senna.

Botanical Name or Family

The botanical name of this plant is Senna alexandrina. It belongs to the Fabaceae family.

Geological area where Senna alexandrina trees grows

It is native to Upper Egypt region. You can find it in other places such as India and Somalia. It grows in valley bottoms, grasslands, and semi-desert scrubland.

senna leaf
Senna leaf

Medicinal Uses of Senna alexandrina in different disease

This plant is used extensively in herbalism in North Africa. Though grown in India, it does not have much commercial significance. The legume fruits and the large flowers are consumed for their health benefits, as has been the practice for thousands of years.

You see many active ingredients in Senna alexandrina that form a variety of effects on the human body. You see organic compounds such as Cathartic acid and Chrysophanic acid and many other rare compounds.

Though used since ancient times, the range of use is much limited. It has a purgative use.

You can use the Senna brewed as a tea. Alternately, you can infuse it with water and drink it. Instead of the senna leaf, one may also use parts of the plant for making the decoction.

senna flowers
  • Laxative properties: This is easily the most famous use of the Senna and much renowned for thousands of years for this. It helps stimulate excretion by loosening up the stools. So, the people suffering from extreme constipation will find immediate relief from having Senna Alexandrina. Constipation can prove very dangerous to the gastrointestinal system. So, the medical practitioners use the extract from the plant to cure it fast.
  • Anti-inflammatory property: It shows a significant curative effect on inflammations. This made the people use it for treating hemorrhoids. The bowel movements become bearable because the Senna helps to soften the stools. Pain during bowel movement occurs when you have anal fissures.
  • Good for hair care: Senna alexandrina has compounds that bind to the hair and give it strength. This action helps protect the hair from the harmful rays of the sun. It supplements the keratin in the hair and makes it healthy and strong even as you grow old.
  • Purgative action: This happens due to the immediate effect the Senna has on the stomach. It has a foul taste and therefore induces vomiting. When someone has something toxic and needs to clean their stomach without delay, they use the Senna. This quick but fierce action of the plant produces the needed detoxifying effect and helps clean the stomach. The powerful laxative action cleans out the colon. In this way, the Senna gives your entire body a cleansing action. For this reason, the doctors prefer to use this before a colonoscopy in the place of drugs they normally use. If you want to use Senna for other medicinal purposes, you must first counter the nauseating effect by adding strong herbs or spices such as cinnamon powder and cloves. An infusion of the pods is drunk as a purgative for pregnant women.

    Senna alexandrina fruits
  • Helps with weight loss: One of the ways Senna alexandrina is used to prevent people from becoming fat. It does this by preventing the absorption of calories and speeding up the movement of the food through the colon. This helps people drop weight within days. However, the long-time effect is not viable due to the laxative action of the plant.
  • Parasite cleaning action: In many of the places in the world, parasites still pose a threat to public health. The anthelmintic property of the Senna helps to remove worms in the intestines. By removing the parasites in the gut, the plant helps you acquire good health.
  • Boost the immune system: You can alleviate a wide range of skin conditions including pimples, eczema, acne, and psoriasis. Make a paste out of the leaves of the plant and apply it uniformly to the skin. The anti-bacterial action of the Senna will help you overcome every infection. Further, it helps boost the immune action of the body.
  • Cure breathing difficulties: Having a drink of the decoction prepared from the extract of the Senna alexandrina plant will help those who have breathing difficulties breathe better.
  • Other uses: People drink an infusion made from the leaves of Senna to get relief for flatulence. It shows antipyretic action, and so people use it to cure their fevers. You can stop convulsions by having the juice of the Senna plant.
  • Protection against bacterium: Bacillus cereus found in food and soil causes a variety of conditions including diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. This bacterium multiplies in the food in just 20 minutes at room temperatures. You can use Senna to get relief from food-borne illnesses. Another bacterium Staphylococcus aureus found on the skin, the respiratory tract, and the nose causes skin infections and food poisoning. The illness due to food poisoning can be cured by having an infusion of the plant with water.

Side effects

One must not use Senna often as it has powerful action. If you use it for a long time, it will cause electrolyte imbalance. If this happens, it will threaten other systems in the body. So, always monitor the use of the Senna alexandrina. Better still, talk to a medical practitioner about the use of this plant. Prolonged use can lead to chronic ulcerative colitis. Children under 12 years of age and pregnant or lactating women should avoid the use of this plant.


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Anoop Sharma

About Anoop Sharma

Anoop Sharma is an IT professional, freelance health writer and creator of He is passionate about helping others learn about health issues and their natural remedies, yoga and healthy food.

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