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Senna is an organic herb that is utilized in modern medicine to treat a wide variety of conditions. Sennosides are derived from the plant's leaves and these sennosides can be used to irritate the bowel's lining which creates a powerful laxative response. As such, senna's primary use in medicine is for the treatment of constipation. Senna is also used prior to colonoscopy procedures as a means to clear the bowels. Additionally, senna is sometimes given for irritable bowel syndrome, for weight loss, and to treat hemorrhoids.


Senna is given in various forms such as tablets and liquids for oral delivery, patches, rectal suppositories, and more. Your doctor will decide your dosage based on your specific condition, age, and health status. If you are prescribed the liquid form, never measure your dosage with a teaspoon, etc. Senna dosages should only be measured with a proper dose-measuring spoon. If you do not have one, ask your doctor and he or she will provide you with further information as to where you may acquire one. Dosage of senna must be accurate for safety reasons, and to achieve best results. Consult with your compounding pharmacist if you have general questions about senna, its uses, and effectiveness.


Some patients using senna may experience unwanted side effects. Until you begin taking senna, there is no way to know what side effects, if any, you will experience. Consult with your doctor about all the potential side effects that could be experienced so you will be prepared and ready to act if you experience any. Always see your doctor if you experience any side effects that linger or worsen. Common side effects seen with senna are:

  • Joint Pain
  • Tingly Feeling
  • Numbness
  • Stomach Cramps
  • Gas or Bloating
  • Mild Diarrhea
  • Discolored Urine

Severe Side Effects Overview:

Some patients using senna may experience severe side effects. If you experience a severe side effect, or several, see your doctor at once or seek medical treatment immediately. Some of the possible severe side effects are listed below.

Severe Side Effects (Signs of Low Potassium)

  • Confusion
  • Uneven Heart Rate
  • Extreme Thirst
  • Increased Urination
  • Leg Discomfort
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Limp Feeling

Other Severe Side Effects:


  • Upper Stomach Pain
  • Itching
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Dark Urine
  • Clay-Colored Stools
  • Jaundice
  • Severe Stomach Pain
  • Severe Diarrhea
  • Watery Diarrhea
  • Weight Loss
  • Enlargement (fingers and toes)

NOTE: Senna usage may cause an increase in digoxin toxicity in some patients who are taking digoxin.

NOTE: Senna is not recommended for long-term use.


If you are considering the use of senna check with your doctor and ask if senna will be safe for your use. Only your doctor, who has an intimate knowledge of your medical history and drug usage, can decide if senna is safe for you.

Senna is contraindicated for the following:

  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Intestinal Obstruction
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Other Acute Intestinal Inflammation
  • Unexplained Abdominal Pain
  • Allergy to Anthraquinones
  • Hypersensitivity to Anthraquinones
  • Appendicitis
  • Diarrhea

WARNING: Senna usage may worsen heart disease in some patients. Ask your doctor for more information.

Pregnancy & Breastfeeding:

Use of senna may be inadvisable in some patients who are pregnant, planning a pregnancy, breastfeeding, or planning to begin breastfeeding. If any of the aforementioned applies to you, do not take senna in any form until you have been screened by your doctor and he or she has decided that senna is safe for your use.

NOTE: Overuse of senna may potentially cause many medical problems. Talk to your doctor about dosage and usage. Senna overuse is known to worsen electrolyte disturbances and potassium deficiency.

Senna may be contraindicated for other conditions, diseases, issues, and drug interactions so talk to your doctor about all the possible contraindications.

Drug Interactions: Senna may negatively interact with many drugs, supplements, or herbals. Talk to your doctor and inform him or her of any of the aforementioned that you are currently taking or have recently taken.

Exercise Extreme Caution and Consult with your Doctor if Using Any of the Following Drugs:

  • Contraceptives
  • Diuretics
  • Digoxin
  • Estrogens
  • Warfarin

Exercise Extreme Caution if Using Any of the Following Herbals or Supplements:

  • Licorice
  • Horsetail
  • Stimulant Laxative Herbs

NOTE: Discontinue use of senna if you are experiencing watery stools or diarrhea and contact your doctor at once.

  • "It is rare to find health professionals who are so willing to educate the patient on what they need to know."

    Clair C. | West Hollywood, CA