Senna – Health Benefits, Side Effects, And Risks

A versatile and power-packed herb that relieves constipation and manages the symptoms of IBS!

Medically reviewed by Lucas Aoun, ND
Written by Ravi Teja Tadimalla, Professional Certificate In Food, Nutrition & Health
Edited by Arshiya Syeda
Fact-checked by Aparna Mallampalli, BEd (Biological Sciences), MSc (Microbiology), Diploma In Nutrition  • 

Senna is a plant that offers fruit and leaves which have rich medicinal values. Its herb has laxative properties. So, what are the health benefits of senna? Some studies suggest that senna may help ease constipation if taken in the right amounts (1).

This herb has traditionally been used in herbal medicine to improve gastrointestinal health. However, there is little evidence to back this claim, and the studies are ongoing. In this article, we discuss what senna is, its benefits, potential side effects, and the dosage. Keep reading!

protip_icon Know Your Ingredient: Senna

What Is It?
Yellow color pod or leaf of the plant Senna alexandrina.

What Are Its Benefits?
Senna helps relieve constipation, treat IBS, and improve gastrointestinal health

Who Can Consume It?
Anyone finding it difficult to pass stools

How Often?
15-30 mg, twice daily for less than a week.

People with diarrhea, and stomach pain and inflammation must avoid the consumption of senna.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Senna?

1. May Help Relieve Constipation

Woman with constipation pain
Image: Shutterstock

Senna is used as a stimulant laxative in traditional medicine. It can be found in various herbal remedies like Black draught, Diasenna, Daffy’s Elixir, and herbal teas. Its active ingredients, i.e., anthraquinone glycosides, are believed to be responsible for this property (2).

However, the fresh bark of the senna plant may cause nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Though senna has widely been used in the treatment of constipation, there is no research supporting its use in the management of chronic constipation (2).

Senna is also recommended to be used only occasionally. The long-term safety of its use is unclear (2).

Another report suggests that senna could be dangerous. Its leaves stimulate the nerves in the walls of the large intestines. This can cause intestinal contractions and electrolyte disturbances. One may also develop tolerance, which means higher doses are required to achieve similar effects (3).

The use of senna is not well-supported by clinical trials. Also, you may become dependent on senna if you take it for an extended period. Hence, please consult your doctor before you use senna to treat constipation.

2. May Treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Woman with IBS problem
Image: Shutterstock

Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Disease (IBS or IBD) is characterized by chronic stomach ache. It is accompanied by abnormal bowel habits (diarrhea, constipation, or both). The pain often begins after eating and subsides after a bowel movement. The symptoms of IBS are bloating, the passage of mucus, and a feeling of incomplete emptying (4).

Due to its laxative property, senna might help manage the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) (5). How senna achieves this is yet to be studied, but some experts speculate that since the herb helps in digestion and induces colon contractions, which may help in colon cleansing by forcing the stool to move out.

However, senna is a stimulant laxative and may harm your bowel if taken for longer periods (6). Hence, please consult your doctor before taking senna.

Apart from the above-mentioned benefits, senna leaf extract may help in blood sugar control as it stimulates glucose uptake (7).

protip_icon Trivia
One type of senna is referred to as natural henna. It has a yellow pigment used to dye hair and temporarily tattoo the skin without affecting skin health.

The possible benefits of senna are yet to be extensively studied by the medical community. Most concerns of senna have to do with its dosage and long-term use. In the following section, we will see the side effects the overuse of senna may cause.

What Are The Side Effects Of Senna?

Woman feeling dizzy due to senna side effect
Image: Shutterstock

Chronic use of senna leaves can lead to acute conditions including  abdominal cramps and electrolyte disturbances. However, long-term use of stimulant laxatives like senna can lead to (8), (9):

  • Cramps
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Dizziness
  • Reduced liver health
  • Liver injury/damage
  • Hypokalemia (deficiency of potassium)
  • Pigmentation of the colonic mucosa and urine

Loss of potassium or its deficiency has a major ripple effect. It can cause muscle weakness and arrhythmia (dangerous changes in heart rhythm).


Senna is risky for pregnant woman
Image: Shutterstock

Pregnant, nursing, and menstruating women should not use senna as there is no information on its safety. Avoid giving senna to children under twelve years.

People with intestinal blockage, IBD, intestinal ulcers, undiagnosed stomach pain, or appendicitis should also avoid senna (8).

Senna may also interact with certain drugs. If you are on medications, it is important you exercise caution.

What Are The Drug Interactions Of Senna?

Senna belongs to the cassia species, and most herbs from that species may interact with certain classes of drugs. Don’t use blood thinners, anticoagulants, corticosteroids, and heart health medication when on senna. These drugs (like Warfarin and Digoxin) might enhance potassium loss (10).

Analgesic, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, and steroidal drugs (Paracetamol, Ketoprofen, Estradiol, etc.) may also interact with senna leaves. They increase or decrease the absorption of these drugs (10).

When, how, and how much of senna should you take to avoid such side effects?


The typical dose of senna is about 15-30 mg twice a day. It is recommended that you use it for less than one week (9). Senna may not be safe to take daily, although the information is mixed in this aspect. Your doctor can guide you better. You may take it in the morning or evening, but this depends on your doctor’s advice.

Senna is available in the form of tablets, tea, and leaves. We strongly recommend you consult a doctor before taking senna in any form (including supplements). They might set a suitable dose for you or advise against it.

Infographic: How To Prepare Senna Tea

Senna tea is known for its laxative properties. This popular herbal supplement is rich in antioxidants like flavonoids and is made from the leaves of the senna plant. It has a sweet, slightly bitter flavor and needs only two ingredients for its preparation. Click on the infographic below to learn how to prepare senna tea easily at home.

how to prepare senna tea (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Save the high-quality PDF version on your device now.

Download Infographic in PDF version Download Infographic
Download Infographic in PDF version
protip_icon Trivia
While we typically drink this herb as a tea, ancient artifacts reveal that senna was formerly consumed as powder, elixir, and syrup and stored and utilized as a medicated wine.

The senna plant has been known for its healing and therapeutic properties, especially for its effectiveness on gastrointestinal discomforts. The leaves and fruits of this plant act as laxatives and help ease constipation. Their medicinal properties help relieve nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain as well. Senna benefits, side effects, and long-term risks are still not well researched scientifically, so pregnant, nursing, and menstruating women should avoid using it.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is senna tea? How long does it take to show benefits?

Senna tea is made by boiling the senna leaves in water. The tea could be a short-term treatment for constipation. However, its long-term use is not supported by science yet. Also, there is no information on how long the tea would take to show the desired results.
Please consult your doctor before taking any product made of senna, including its tea.

Does senna help with weight loss?

There is no evidence that it can help with weight loss. If you want to lose weight, there are certain methods to achieve that.

Does senna remove toxins?

A study has found that senna can help in the phytoextraction of lead from soil, roots, stems, and leaves (11). However, there is no evidence to prove that it can help in detoxification in the human body.

Does senna get rid of worms?

The antimicrobial properties of senna may help get rid of worms. It has been found that senna has the potential to be an anthelmintic agent that helps get rid of parasitic worms (12).

How quickly does senna work?

Senna may take around 8 hours to work. Therefore, it is best to have it before going to bed so that it works overnight.

Does senna help with inflammation?

Yes, senna helps with inflammation. The anti-inflammatory properties of senna are one of the reasons why it has been used as an effective natural remedy against throat inflammation and constipation and to help boost the immune system (13).

Key Takeaways

  • Senna may help treat chronic constipation, stimulate bowel movements, and manage irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Chronic use of senna leaves may cause cramps, nausea, and diarrhea.
  • Pregnant and lactating women and children under 12 should avoid using senna.
  • Consuming 15 to 30 mg of senna twice a day is recommended. However, consult a doctor for proper dosage.

Discover the incredible benefits of Senna leaves! Learn about their natural laxative properties, digestive support, and potential health advantages in this informative video. Watch now to unlock their potential!


Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Check out our editorial policy for further details.
Was this article helpful?
The following two tabs change content below.

Latest Articles