Senna alata: Health Benefits, Side Effects, Uses, Dose & Precautions
What is the origin of the Senna alata plant?
Senna alata usage benefits and its side effects can not be known without a note on its origin. The origin tells you more about plant structure, leaves, flowers and stem description.
The Senna alata plant is popularly known across the world because of the benefits derived from its leaves. Tea prepared from the leaves is a herbal remedy for constipation, weight loss and detoxification. The leaves of Senna alata can be grounded into a paste for the treatment of various skin diseases.
Senna alata is a flashy shrub that grows up to about 8 to 13 feet high. The leaves are dark green and brighter if it’s fresh. It reproduces yellow flowers which stand tall like a candlestick. The fruit is up to 25 centimetres long and looks like a straight pod. Animals or water distribute its seeds.
The seed pods are about 15 centimetres (5.9 inches) long and 15 millimetres (0.59 inches) wide, almost straight, and dark brown or nearly black. A wing that runs the length of the pod can be found on both sides of the pod. 50 to 60 triangular, flattened seeds are present in the pods. (√1)
It is native to South America. The Senna alata plant is usually grown as medicinal herbs but elsewhere as ornamental. Senna alata is seen in the n tropical regions like Africa, North and South America, Asia, and Australia. (√2)
It has been a part of local medicine in parts of Africa like Ghana and Nigeria. In Ghana, it is seen in most homes and around waterlogged areas. In Ghanaian traditional medicine, Senna alata is used mainly in Ghana because of its laxative and antifungal properties.
What are other names of Senna alata?
Some people refer to it as Candlestick Senna, Candle bush, Christmas candle, empress candle plant, ringworm shrub, candle tree and others. It is called akapulko in the Philippines. In Sri Lanka, it is called Ath-thora. Also, in Malaysia, it is called Gelenggang. In Ghana m, many people call it asenti (√3)
What are the traditional and medicinal aspects of Senna alata leaf?
Senna alata has many benefits ranging from its laxative property to its effects on the skin. Below are the health benefits of Senna alata and how to use it effectively.
- Anti-fungal and anti-microbial
Senna leaf tea possesses Anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties. The anti-fungal property helps in fighting fungal infections like candida in women. Its antimicrobial property has effects on the treatment of diseases like ringworm. Senna leaf tea is used to treat almost all forms of skin diseases.
- Anti Inflammatory and Antioxidant properties:
Senna alata is one of the medicinal herbs that grow in the tropics with such properties. The application of distaste on the infected area helps bring down inflammation. Some research shows that drinking Senna tea every morning while using leaves to treat inflammation is effective.
- Laxative Property:
Senna leaf tea can move the bowels, aiding digestion and preventing constipation. In Africa, it is usually recommended for people with constipation. Many people have Senna plants in their homes because of this particular property it possesses.
- Nematode Treatment in Animals:
Senna alata leaf tea is also used in the animal production field. Just as it has laxative properties, it had other properties that fight worm infection in animals. It is used locally by owners of sheep or goat farms. The tea helps deworm farm animals to prevent further infections.
- Deworming Properties:
In traditional areas where orthodox medicine is scarce, Senna leaf tea serves as deworming alternative. It has been used over the years and is still in use in Africa. Despite the advancement in the health sector, some groups of people prefer Senna tea for deworming.
- Treatment of Skin Infection:
Senna alata leaf has contributed so much to skin therapy. To date, many Africans pluck Senna alata leaves and turn them into a paste for skin treatment. When it comes to skin infection treatment, it works perfectly on any skin tone.
It is recommended that while using the paste on the outer skin, you should drink its tea as well. This increase the healing rate of the condition.
- Malaria Fever Treatment:
Senna leaf tea has indicated its ability in battling malaria fever in the past years. It contains strong antipyretic properties which fight fever.
- Diabetes Treatment or Management:
Senna alata can lower blood sugar. It is believed that this action prevents carbohydrate digestion. Because slowing down carbohydrate digestion results in a slower release of sugar, diabetic patients benefit greatly.
- Toxin-Removing Properties:
Just like Moringa leaf, taking Senna leaf tea removes toxic substances from your body. This keeps you healthy to undertake your Jamal activities. It can be taken once a month for this purpose. Helps stabilise body temperature and help the body function properly.
How do you prepare Senna leaf tea?
Senna alata usage benefits and its side effects can not be looked at if you can not prepare tea. Most of its usage comes from tea made from leaves. Making tea from Senna leaf is very simple by following the steps explained.
- Get an adequate amount of Senna leaf. The amount of leaf depends on the quantity of tea you want to prepare. Also, the tea concentration should be considered when plucking leaves.
- After getting the leaves, wash them first with salt solution and rinse the salt particles. This type of washing is done to kill germs and small organisms which settle on leaves.
- Get a pot (clay pot recommended) with an adequate amount of clean water. The volume of water is determined by the expected tea volume and concentration level. Make sure the leaves are in the pot before adding water.
- Boil under moderate heat for about 10 to 15 minutes. Or use the colour of the water to determine if the tea is ready.
- Take off the fire after the said minutes and allow it to cool down a bit. It should not be taken when cold and too heated. An average temperature will do.
What is the correct dose for Senna leaf tea?
Over the centuries, Senna leaf has been used across tropic regions without any specific measurement. Despite this, herbalists use small cups or glasses to measure intake.
About 250ml to 300ml is given to adults and about 50ml to 100ml to children above 12 years of age. This is usually per day in the treatment of any health condition. There is no accurate dose for this herbal tea but the above range is normally used. This is done to prevent overdose which may lead to other reactions.
What is the right time to drink Senna leaf tea?
There is no such time as the right time for this herb, the timing for Senna leaf tea should be defined. Intake of tea, depending on what you are using to treat will tell you when to use it. For laxative and deworming properties, taking it after a meal at night will help you free your bowels.
Some may also take it at dawn. This is because the human system varies. In some individuals, it takes 8 hrs to start working while in others less.
If you are trying it for the first time it should be your off day. It is advisable to seek guidance from a herbalist before trying this alternative.
How do you preserve or store Senna leaf tea?
Many people ask this question anytime I recommend it to them as an alternative. Normally, Senna leaf tea should not be stored more than for 24 hours when prepared. If the dose is morning and evening then the volume to be prepared should serve that purpose. If the treatment is more than a day then it asks you to cook it every morning.
Also, you can cook it in a clay pot and reheat it anytime you want to drink it for about 5 days.
Remember not to refrigerate Senna leaf tea. Do not leave it open after cooking as well.
What are the side effects of Senna leaf tea?
Though Senna leaf tea is very beneficial to us, it can also cause you a little trouble if overused or used wrongly. Below are some side effects of Senna leaf tea.
In some individuals, feeling nausea is characterised by drinking Senna leaf tea. Nausea is a discomfort in the digestive system which is accompanied by a strong desire to vomit.
This is a gastrointestinal disorder which is characterised by frequent watery bowel movements. The laxative property can cause this side effect if Senna tea overdoses.
Some people may vomit oftentimes when they take in Senna alata tea. This occurrence is not often experienced like that of diarrhoea.
What are the precautions againstt the use of Senna leaf tea?
- Pregnant and Lactating Mothers:
Pregnant and lactating mothers should not take laxatives unless prescribed by a medical doctor.
- Children Below 12 years of age:
Children below 12 years of age should not be given Senna alata leaf tea without the concern of a professional doctor.
- People Under Critical Health Condition:
People with chronic health conditions should take Senna leaf tea under the supervision of their doctor.
How do you prepare Senna leaf powder?
- Pluck Senna leaves from its plants. The process involves drying which may shrink leaves. So getting as many leaves as you can get is required.
- Dry leaves in the early morning sun for about 2 or 3 days. Leaves should be washed before drying to get rid of microorganisms and dirt.
- Mash dry leaves with a grinding machine or blender. Mash to the finest texture it can get.
- Store powder in glass jars with a cover. It can be kept for close to 3 months if the leaves dried well.
How do you use Senna leaf powder?
The powder of Senna leaf can be used for many purposes. It can be used as a spice in just a small amount for soup or stew. It should be about half a teaspoon if it’s for soup or stew. The measurement should be less if the soup volume is less.
Also, some people use it for tea too. After making hot water, a small amount of Senna leaf powder is dropped into it. Stir to mix well and you have a Senna alata tea using its powder.
How do you prepare Senna leaf paste?
The preparation of paste from Senna leaf is very simple as grade one Mathematics. All you need to do is add a bit of water to Senna leaf powder and stir. This gives you a paste which has many uses and benefits.
How do you use Senna leaf paste?
The paste of Senna leaf is applied on the face or affected skin 10 minutes before the bath.
What are the benefits of Senna lead paste?
Senna leaf paste is used in treating different kinds of skin diseases.
Is there research to support the use of Senna alata as a herbal supplement?
This question has been asked frequently by many traditional medicine lovers. There is no straight answer to this question. Some may say yes and others may say no.
Yes because in some parts of the world, it has been approved and used on daily basis. And No because other countries are yet to approve it used as a supplement. Despite this, it is generally accepted by the masses and used even in places it has not been approved.
Many people use it because of the history behind its benefits.
Does Senna alata have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities?
Yes! Much research conducted on the plant verifies it. These properties make the Senna plant fight against free radicals.
How do you grow the Senna alata plant at home?
The Senna alata plant is grown from its seeds. It is usually dispersed by wind and animals but it can be planted too. Just like any other plant that is grown from its seeds, you can also grow Senna alata.
In your backyard or garden, you can spread seeds for them to germinate. You can then uproot and leave the ones you want to grow.