Health Guide


What is it?

Senna is an herbal medicine used to treat constipation (trouble having a bowel movement).

Other names for Senna include: Alexandrian, Timmevelly, Cassia, and Indian Senna.

Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you need more information about this medicine or if any information in this leaflet concerns you.

Before Using:

Tell your doctor if you

  • are taking medicine or are allergic to any medicine (prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) or dietary supplement)
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine
  • are breastfeeding
  • have any other health problems, such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease


Talk with your caregiver about how much Senna you should take. The amount depends on the strength of the medicine and the reason you are taking Senna. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the medicine bottle. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to.

To store this medicine:

Keep all medicine locked up and away from children. Store medicine away from heat and direct light. Do not store your medicine in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down and not work the way it should work. Throw away medicine that is out of date or that you do not need. Never share your medicine with others.

Drug and Food Interactions:

Do not take Senna without talking to your doctor first if you are taking:

  • Digoxin (Lanoxin(R))


  • Before taking Senna, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Do not use Senna preparations longer than 1 week (4)
  • Do not use Senna if you have a bowel obstruction (blockage) (4)
  • Do not use if you have nausea (upset stomach), vomiting (throwing up), or other symptoms of appendicitis (4)
  • Do not use if you have any stomach pain for which you have not seen a doctor (4)
  • Do not use if you have acute stomach irritation (Crohn's disease, appendicitis) (4)
  • Children less than 12 years should not use Senna (4)
  • Using too much Senna, or for too long, or not drinking enough water when using Senna, can cause problems with electrolyte (chemical) imbalance and may cause heart and other problems (4)
  • Using too much Senna, or for too long, can make your body become used to Senna. This may keep you from having a normal bowel movement unless you use Senna (laxative-dependency syndrome) (4,8).

Side Effects:

Stop taking your medicine right away and talk to your doctor if you have any of the following side effects. Your medicine may be causing these symptoms which may mean you are allergic to it.

  • Breathing problems or tightness in your throat or chest
  • Chest pain
  • Skin hives, rash, or itchy or swollen skin

Other Side Effects:

You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine.

  • Stomach pain, cramps, diarrhea (loose stools)
  • Itching and redness around anus (3)
  • Urine may be yellow-brown or a pink color (3)
  • Fingernail changes (7)


1. Wagner H: Pharmazeutische Biolgie 2. Gustav Fischer Verlag Stuttgart, New York, NY; 1993: 238-239.

2. Product Information: Senokot(R), standardized senna concentrate. Purdue Frederick, Norwalk, CT; 1993.

3. Anon: Drug Facts and Comparisons. Facts and Comparisons Inc, St Louis, MO; 1999.

4. Blumenthal, Busse, Goldberg et al: Senna. In: The Complete German Commission E monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. The American Botanical Council, Austin, TX; 1998.

5. Beubler E & Kollar G: Indometacin inhibits senna pod extract-induced water and electrolyte secretion and PGE2 release in the rat. VIth Meeting Eur Intest Transp Group 1984; 8: 862.

6. ABDA-Datenbank: X-Prep (R) monograph. WuV, Eschborn and Micromedex Inc, Denver, CO; 1998.

7. Reynolds JEF (ed): Martindale: The Extra Pharmacopoeia, (electronic version). Micromedex Inc, Denver, CO; 1991.

8. Anon: Senna. In: DerMarderosian A (ed): Facts and Comparisons: The review of natural products. Facts and Comparisons Inc, St Louis, MO; 1998.

Last Updated: 7/4/2018
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