Senna tea is an FDA-approved nonprescription laxative. Its top health benefits may include aiding weight loss, treating constipation, reducing inflammation, and detoxifying the body, among others. However, this powerful tea does come with possible side effects, and should only be consumed in a moderate amount to avoid weakened bowels, low electrolyte levels, liver damage, heart conditions and dependency on the herb for your gut to function properly.
What is Senna Tea?
Senna tea is derived from the leaves of Cassia plants, which comprise more than 250 different species. Senna has been traditionally used as a laxative as well as to clear the bowels before tests such as colonoscopy. The senna plants are small shrubs that bear yellow or green leaflets; these can be cultivated and dried to make senna tea. The two most popular senna leaf varieties are Cassia angustifolia and Cassia accutifolia, which are exported around the world due to their unique health effects. Senna tea has a sweet flavor but has a slightly bitter taste in the end.
The major health benefits of senna tea are as follows:
May Aid in Weight Loss
Senna tea can help to flush out excess toxins and residual waste matter out of the body, which may promote weight loss. However, much of the weight that is “lost” is water weight. So, consuming the tea should also be paired with dietary restrictions and exercise to have a full effect.
May Act As A Laxative
The sennosides that may be found in this tea may stimulate peristaltic motion and rapid detoxification through its possible laxative effect. This helps treat constipation. Senna is approved by the FDA as a nonprescription laxative.
May Treat Hemorrhoids
Senna may help in reducing swelling and quick healing of anal fissures and other hemorrhoids due to its laxative effects.
May Treat Indigestion
If you are struggling with constipation, bloating, cramping, or indigestion, senna tea can often help by promoting the normal flow of food and waste matter through your bowels.
May Act As a Diuretic
This specialty tea is also well-known as a possible diuretic, meaning it may stimulate urination. This can release excess salts, fats, toxins, and water from the body. Senna can often result in dehydration, so make sure you are staying well hydrated.
May Aid in Skin Care
Senna tea, due to the presence of tannin, resin, and essential oils, is used to treat wounds, burns, and ringworms. Its anti-bacterial properties are also useful in fighting acne, and other skin ailments.
May Help in Hair Care & Color
Applying senna to your hair will ensure stronger, thicker, and voluminous hair. It can also act as a natural hair highlighter which gives ash blonde to golden color.
Certain compounds that may be found in senna tea, such as sennosides, possibly possess an anti-parasitic effect. By eradicating intestinal worms and other gut parasites, this tea can help ensure that you get as many nutrients as possible from your meals.
May Have an Anticancer Potential
The literature on senna extracts suggests that it is a weak promoter of colon carcinogenesis but however when taken in large amounts, it can be a cause of cancer cell formation in the body. In this research, the test subjects were administered 10mg/kg for 13 to 28 weeks, which is a healthy dose to induce laxation. The dose was, however, increased to 100mg/kg over the next three months and results showed an increase in the appearance of tumors.
To gain more clarity, a study was conducted in 2005 and researchers found that when the rats were administered with a dose of 30 and 60mg/kg for 110 weeks, there was no tumor activity. On the other hand, when the rats were administered with the same amount of senna extracts, as well as tumor-initiating agent, the study showed that senna could actually help reduce the tumor.
A 2011 study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine suggests that there is no relation between the occurrence of colon cancer and consumption of senna.
With all the research out, consuming a moderate amount of senna tea is a great way for you to stay healthy and avoid any risks.
How To Make Senna Tea?
Senna tea can easily be made at home and requires only a small amount of senna leaves for its preparation. Despite being native to the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, the senna plant has also been cultivated in the US and other parts of the world. So you can also grow your own senna shrub, as it is much easier to access the leaflets to make this tea. Once the leaflets are harvested and dried, they can be used to their full effect.
Detoxifying Senna Tea Recipe
- 1/4 tsp dried senna leaves
- 2 cups water filtered
- 1/2 tsp honey or sugar
- Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat.
- Add the senna leaves, cover the pot, and allow them to steep for 8-10 minutes.
- Strain the mixture into a teacup, or larger pitcher if you're making a bigger batch. Add honey or sugar, if desired, and enjoy!
Side Effects of Senna Tea
Senna tea is very potent and should only be consumed for a purpose. It is best to consult a qualified health-care provider before you incorporate this tea into your diet. Possible side effects of excessive consumption of the tea include the following:
- Dependency: Long-term use of senna tea can actually cause the bowels to stop functioning normally because they have become dependent on the sennosides found in this tea. This type of dependence can be difficult to break and will cause constipation and stomach discomfort when you don’t use the tea. Using this tea consistently for more than two weeks is not recommended.
- Electrolyte Complications: Regular use of senna tea can cause changes to the chemical balance in the body, typically in the form of lower electrolyte levels, particularly potassium, which can be life-threatening at extremely low levels.
- Blood Thinner and Heart Health: Senna tea also has blood-thinning qualities, so if you are already taking anticoagulant medication, drinking this tea could cause complications.
- Pregnant and Nursing: Pregnant and lactating women are advised to avoid consuming senna tea as it directly affects the gut.
- Liver Toxicity: Prolonged consumption of senna tea may also cause liver toxicity.
The tea can also have milder side effects, which include:
- Abdominal cramps
- Muscle weakness
- Excess urination