Indian senna is a small bushy plant with 5 to 8 pairs of leaflets, with awl shaped, spreading or reflexed basal appendages. The plant has flower in racemes, that is, inflorescence on which flowers are borne, and broadly oblong and slightly curved pods.
Botanical Name: Cassia angustifolia
Indian Name: Bhumiari
Below are some of the medicinal properties of Indian senna:
- The leaves of senna are effective purgative, even for children, weak and elderly persons. They may cause nausea and griping unless taken with aromatics like ginger, cloves, coriander, dill, fennel, orange peel or liquorices. Senna pods too can be used as a purgative but are milder and slower in action than the leaves.
- Senna can be used as an anthelmentic for expelling intestinal worms.
- A paste of the dried leaves made with vinegar as a base can be used for acne, eczema and pimples.
- Leaves of the plant are also effective in biliousness, gout and rheumatism, if administered in the same manner as for constipation.
Senna leaves can be given as an infusion, decoction, powder or confection. One of the best preparations is made by infusing 60 grams of the leaves and 4 grams of ginger in about 15 to 30 grams of this infusion should be taken with hot milk and sugar. Another method of taking the leaves is to infuse a dozen leaves in 60 ml of water overnight. The strained liquid should be taken in the morning on an empty stomach.
In case of pods, an infusion made of 4 to 12 pods in 240 ml of water can be used for adults. For children and the aged, the infusion should be made from 3 to 6 pods.
The sennosides in senna are cathartic. Like all anthraquinones they irritate the bowel wall, stimulating evacuation. Constant use of this herb is not advised since the system can easily become dependent on it. The remedy should not be used in cases of spastic or spasmodic constipation. Similarly, it should not be given in inflammatory conditions of the alimentary canal, fever, piles and in case of excessive blood loss during menstruation.