08 July, 2011
Bekunis Tea Side Effects
Bekunis tea is sold as a natural laxative. The active ingredient in it is senna, which is a member of the pea family that is cultivated in the Middle East and Europe. It has substances in it called anthranoids, sometimes referred to as vegetable laxatives, because these substances stimulate contractions of the colon. It’s best to consult a doctor before using any laxative products.
Long-term use of Bekunis tea can lead to an atonic colon, meaning your colon will lack strength and muscle tone, and thus will develop impaired function according to the European Medicines Agency. This can lead to aggravation of your constipation and dependence on the tea, with need for increasing quantities to produce an effect. Stimulant laxatives like senna should not be used for more than one to two weeks. If you want to use them for a longer time frame, you must have medical supervision advises the EMA.
You may suffer an allergic reaction to senna according to Drugs.com. Get medical aid immediately if you have severe reactions, which can include itching, a rash, hives, chest tightness, difficulty breathing, or facial, mouth tongue or lip swelling.
Bekunis tea may cause cramping, vomiting, nausea, flatulence and diarrhea according to George T Grossberg and Barry Fox in “The Essential Herb-Drug-Vitamin Interaction Guide.” If you experience black, tarry stools or severe stomach pain you need to get immediate medical attention.
Worsening of Conditions
EMA advises that Bekunis tea can worsen your condition or be dangerous to use if you have intestinal obstructions, appendicitis, inflammatory colon disease like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, lack of muscle strength in your colon, abdominal pain of unknown origin, are dehydrated or have electrolyte depletion. Using senna with other products that can induce hypokalaemia, meaning potassium depletion, can also lead to or worsen an electrolyte imbalance. Such products include diuretics, licorice root, adrenocorticosteroids, horsetail, cascara sagrada, castor oil, black root and insulin. You should consult a doctor before taking the herb if you take medicines that can cause dehydration or electrolyte imbalance. This is especially important for people who are either young or elderly.
You may experience an irregular heartbeat when using Bekunis tea according to Grossberg and Fox. It can worsen heart ailments by leading to an electrolyte imbalance. Taking it with certain medicines, for example acebutolol, digitalis, ibutilide, insulin, propranolol and verapamil, can increase the risk of irregular heartbeat .
Your blood levels of estrogen may increase if you drink Bekunis tea and take birth control pills simultaneously according to Grossberg and Fox.
Possible Cancer and Melanosis Coli Link
Anthranoid laxatives like senna may be associated with colon cancer according to a study by Riccardo Nascimbeni et al in “Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.” However, the association between anthranoid laxative use and colon cancer is supported mostly via data collected through interviews, and results of studies are not consistent. Thus, definite conclusions cannot be drawn about the relationship between laxative use in and of itself as a possible colon cancer cause according to Nascimbeni. He notes anthranoids do show mutagenic and carcinogenic effects in lab and animal studies.
There’s also a possible link between senna and melanosis coli. According to the Medterms website, melanosis coli is usually a reversible condition that does not cause symptoms in which pigment in the mucous lining of the large intestine becomes discolored to brown or black.
- “The Essential Herb-Drug-Vitamin Interaction Guide;” George T Grossberg and Barry Fox; 2007
- PubMed.gov: “Hepato-gastroenterology;” The metabolism of anthranoid laxatives; P. de Witte and L. Lemli; 1990
- “Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention:” Constipation, Anthranoid Laxatives, Melanosis Coli, and Colon Cancer--A Risk Assessment Using Aberrant Crypt Foci; Riccardo Nascimbeni et al.; 2007
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