Senna is also known by the names Alexandrian Senna and Rajavriksha. Cassia senna is native to tropical Africa, and is cultivated in Egypt and the Sudan; Cassia angustifolia is native to India, and is cultivated mainly in India and Pakistan. Medicinally useful part of the plant are the leaves and the pods. Leaves are fairly powerful and can cause cramping and severe diarrhoea, if given in strong dose,whereas, the pods provide a gentle action & are often recommended to relieve constipation and promote soft easy stools. Leaves sometimes made into paste and used for various skin diseases like acne, ringworm etc. Senna is a powerful cathartic used primarily in the treatment of constipation, working through a stimulation of intestinal peristalsis.
The primary chemical constituents of Senna include anthraquinone glycosides (sennosides, aloe-emodin, rhein), beta-sitosterol, flavones, tartaric acid, mucin, essential oil, mucilage, tannin and resin. The sennosides are irritating to the large intestine lining, causing peristaltic action and bowel evacuation. It also helps to temporarily prevent fluid from being absorbed from the large intestine, thus contributing to softer stools. As it has nauseating taste and also cause sickness and griping pains. Hence, Senna is often combined with aromatic, carminative herbs such as cardamom,ginger root and fennel to increase its palatability. Other historical applications of this herb have included support for inflammatory skin conditions, hypertension and weight control.