Indian Senna: Cassia angustifolia Uses, Dose, Research, Side Effects

Markandika: Cassia angustifolia is an Ayurvedic herb more popularly known as Senna. It is mainly used as a blood purifier, laxative- for relieving constipation and to treat skin diseases. It is also known as Swarnapatri in Sanskrit. 


Botanical Name- Cassia angustifolia Vahl.
Family- Caesalpiniaceae

Names in different languages:
English- Indian Senna
Hindi- Senai
Kannada- Nelavarike
Tamil- Nilavirai
Telugu- Nelatagedu
Malayalam- Nilavilakku
dried senna pods

The plant Senna is a native to Sudan country but Senna is an Arabian name. The plant was brought into use by Arabian physicians for removing capillary congestion. It is a small herb growing to a height of 2-3 feet. The leaves are collected and dried before usage. It is cultivated in Tamil Nadu and certain parts of dry regions of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
Cassia acutifolia Delile is also equated with Senna but the leaves of this plant is comparatively smaller than Cassia angustifolia

Senna – medicinal Properties
Rasa (Taste) – Katu – Pungent, Tikta- Bitter, Madhura- Sweet
Veerya (Potency) – Ushna – Hot
Guna (Qualities) – Laghu – light to digest, Rooksha – Dry in nature, Teekshna- Pungent
Vipaka- Katu – After digestion it undergoes into pungent taste
Prabhava (Special effects) – Sukha Virechaka- Acts like a mild purgative
Effect on Tridosha- The herb is Pitta shodhaka (removes excessive Pitta from body) and Vata anulomaka (Removes Vata through the anal route)

Part used-
Dried leaves which are golden brown in color after drying.
The pod and root of the plant Cassia angustifolia is also used.
Senna flowers

Chemical Composition:
Most of the Senna species contain rhein, aloe-emodin, kaempferol, isormamnetin, both free and as gluscosides, together with mycricl alcohol. The purgative principles are largely attributed to anthraquinone derivatives and their glucosides present in the leaves. The sennosides present in the plant senna acts on the motility of the colon by inhibiting stationary and stimulating propulsive contractions. Apart from these, senna plant also contains mannitol, chrysophenol, salicylic acid, calcium oxalate and volatile oils.

Dosage:
500 mg to 2 g of the powder of leaf or pod.
Senna pod - Cassia angustifolia

Uses of Indian Senna:
• The dried leaf of Indian Senna is used as a purgative. The powder of the leaf is taken in a dosage of 1-2 g with hot water in conditions of constipation, abdominal distention.
• In skin diseases, the paste of the leaf of Cassia angustifolia is applied along with vinegar to the affected part of the body.
• In disease of abdominal worm infestation, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, the powder of Senna leaf is given in a dosage of 1-2 g to induce purgation.
• Ayurveda has advised Virechana (purgation therapy) in the conditions of Hepatomegaly, Splenomegaly and Jaundice to relive excessive Pitta from the body using the dried leaf or pod of Senna plant.
• Senna leaf or pod, in dried form is stimulates the liver for production of Pitta.
• The leaf of Senna is a blood purifier. It is given daily in a dosage of 500 mg.
Precaution:
• In case a lactating woman takes Senna leaf, it will induce mild purgation in the breast feeding infant.
• The usage of Senna is contraindicated in people suffering from inflammatory colon diseases, severe dysentery.
• Increased dosage of Senna will lead to severe purgation, abdominal cramps and features of dehydration.
• People may suffer from nausea, excessive salivation, increased thirst and dehydration related features after the use of Senna. It is advised to use Senna along with sugar candy, ginger powder, rock salt to minimize the above said conditions.

Senna uses

Traditional indications: 
Urdhva Adha Kaya Shodhini – detoxifies and purifies both through oral and rectal routes, useful both in Vamana and Virechana.

Indications:
Visha – Toxic conditions,
Durgandha kasa – cough
Gulma – Tumors of the abdomen
Udara – ascites, enlargement of the abdomen

Root –
Sara – induces mobility, causes diarrhea, purgation, relieves constipation
Raktapitta –Bleeding disorders such as nasal bleeding, heavy periods, etc
Trushna – excessive thirst
Moha – delusion
Shukrakshaya – depleted semen, sperm count
Swadu Vipaka (taste conversion after digestion) – sweet taste
Balances Vata Dosha
Guru – heavy to digest

Important formulations containing Senna:
Sarivadyasava- It is an ayurvedic liquid medicine used to treat skin diseases, gout, and diabetes.
Ayulax- It is an ayurvedic proprietary medicine used to treat constipation, distention of abdomen.
Kultab tablet- It is a medicine used to treat piles and hemorrhoids.
Pylend tablet- It is a tablet used to treat piles, constipation.
Raktansoo syrup- An ayurvedic proprietary medicine used as blood purifier.

Research articles related to Cassia angustifolia:
The extracts of Cassia angustifolia showed anti-microbial activity.
A study was undertaken to evaluate antimicrobial activities of different extracts (ethanol, methanol, petroleum ether and aqueous solutions) of Cassia angustifolia plant. Antimicrobial efficacy of various extracts was assessed by disc diffusion method against Gram positive bacteria- Staphylococcus aureus (MTCC 3160), Gram negative-Escherichia coli (MTCC 1652) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (MTCC 647) and fungi- Aspergillus niger (MTCC282), Aspergillus flavus (MTCC 2456), Fusarium oxisporum(MTCC349) and Rhizopus stolonifer (MTCC 2591). The ethanol extract exhibited highest zone of inhibition against P. aeruginosa (22.4±0.86mm) with low MIC value (14.8 mg/ml). Phytochemical screening of the extract showed the presence of alkaloids, flavonoids, carbohydrates, proteins, tannins and triterpenoids in cassia angustifolia.

Anthraquinone, the main active constituent of Senna, is responsible for its laxative property.

Senna plant act as anti-fungal agent and act against D.N.A of E.Coli bacteria.
Senna contains sennosides, which are active components that affect the intestinal tract and induce diarrhea. Research has shown that senna produces DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) lesions in Escherichia coli cultures and can act as an antifungal agent. Natural drugs can alter the labeling of blood constituents with technetium-99m (99mTc) and can affect the biodistribution of radiopharmaceuticals. In this work, they have evaluated the influence of a senna extract on the radiolabeling of blood constituents and on the biodistribution of the radiopharmaceutical sodium pertechnetate (Na99mTcO4) in Wistar rats. The senna extract did not modify the radiolabeling of the blood constituents. A biodistributional assay was performed by administering Na99mTcO4 and determining its activity in different organs and in blood. The senna extract altered the biodistribution of Na99mTcO4 in the thyroid, liver, pancreas, lungs and blood. These results are associated with properties of the chemical substances present in the aqueous senna extract. Although these assays were performed in animals, our findings suggest that caution should be exercised when nuclear medicine examinations using Na99mTcO4 are conducted in patients who are using senna extract.

Classical categorization:
The ancient ayurvedic texts have not mentioned the plant markandika (Cassia angustifolia).
Bhavaprakasha- Guduchyadi varga
Kaiyyadeva Nighantu- Oushadhi varga

Sanskrit Synonyms-
Suvarna patri- Leaves are of golden color after drying
Rechani- Cause virechana (purgation)
Bhupetirika, Bhumivalli,

Author:
Dr.B.K.Prashanth M.D (Ayu), Ph.D E mail: drprashanthbk@gmail.com
and Dr Hebbar


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Comments

  1. Sir, It’s Bengali name is ‘Sonamukhi’.

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