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Senna Tea for Constipation

By Maria Evans

According to the National Institutes of Health, constipation is one of the most common gastrointestinal complaints, affecting over four million Americans. Constipation has many causes including eating a low fiber diet, dehydration, ingestion of certain medications, and lack of exercise. Constipation is generally not a serious condition, however; it can be frustrating, painful and embarrassing. More Americans are turning to natural means of treating their health ailments. Senna tea is an effective short-term herbal treatment for this condition. Consult a doctor for more information.


Senna tea has been used as a treatment for constipation for centuries. Arabian physicians first used it to treat constipation in the ninth century, AD. Senna was initially brought from Mecca to Egypt and was eventually introduced to western Europe by Arabian physicians. From there, senna leaf spread around the world.

How it Works

Constipation is the inability to have regular bowel movements. It can be characterized by partial bowel movements, hard dry stools that are tough to eliminate, and having a bowel movement less than three times per week. Active ingredients in senna tea are sennosides, mucilage, volatile oil and flavonoids. The smooth muscles in your digestive system naturally contract. This action is called peristalsis, which helps move food down the esophagus as well as through your intestines. Senna tea works by stimulating these contractions in your intestines. Upon ingestion of senna tea, expect to produce a bowel movement within a day.

Side Effects

Senna leaf is a strong stimulant and can cause severe intestinal cramping. If you plan to ingest this herb, take it when you have a day or two off because you may develop cramps and need to make multiple trips to the bathroom. Smooth muscle contractions initiated by senna tea may be dangerous for pregnant women because the uterine wall is made up of smooth muscle. Pregnant and nursing women should consult a physician before drinking this herbal tea. A physician should also be consulted before giving senna tea to a child.


Senna tea is classified as a stimulant laxative. Repeated use can cause your intestines to become dependent on this herb. Abuse of this tea can disable natural peristalsis in the intestines. Package instructions recommend that people should ingest no more than two cups of this tea per day. Additionally, senna tea should not be ingested for more than a week. If you still find yourself constipated after this time, consult a physician. Your constipation may stem from a more serious condition.

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