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-Leguminosae (Simbi kula)
Caesalpiniodae (Putikaranja upakula)

dried senna pods

Vernacular names

Names in different languages:
English- Indian Senna, Indian Senna, Alexandrian Senna, Senna alexandrina
Hindi- Senai
Kannada- Nelavarike
Tamil- Nilavirai
Telugu- Nelatagedu
Malayalam- Nilavilakku

Properties, part used, dosage

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)

Senna flowers

Part used-
Dried leaves (which are golden brown upon drying)
The pod and root of the plant Cassia angustifolia is also used.

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 the 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 relieve excessive Pitta from the body using the dried leaf or pod of Senna plant.
•Senna leaf or pod, in dried form, 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.
• 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 home remedies

Flatulence, constipation

1. Senna powder and cumin seeds for flatulence, distention of abdomen, regurgitation, constipation etc:
Both the drug senna and cumin seeds are taken in 4:1 ratio and fine powder is made. This is taken in the dose of 1 gram twice daily. This relieves flatulence, distention of abdomen, regurgitation, constipation etc.
In case of nausea and tastelessness a small amount of rock salt can be added.

Heart burn, abdominal bloating

2. Decoction of Senna and raisins(dry grapes) in heartburn and bloating of abdomen:
The drugs Senna and raisins are taken in 1:10 ratio and decoction or hot infusion is made. This is taken whenever needed. This helps to reduce chest burning and bloating of the abdomen.
General method of preparation of decoction (kashaya) – 1 tablespoon of powder is added with 2 cups of water, boiled and reduced to 1 cup, filtered.

Chronic skin diseases

3. Aragwadha (Cassia fistula)-Daruharidra (Berberis aristata) and Senna in chronic skin diseases:
The drugs Aragwadha, Daruharidra and Senna are taken in 4:2:1 ratio and decoction is made. This is taken in an empty stomach in chronic skin complaints for 14-21 days. This purifies the blood and relieves itching, scaling, oozing  and irritation of the skin.

Chest congestion, cough

4. Hot infusion of Senna with honey in chest congestion(phlegm) and chronic cough:
1-2 pinch of senna is added to half cup of hot water and kept for a while .Later 1 spoon of honey is added to this and mixed well. This is sipped repeatedly in the conditions of chest congestion and chronic cough. It acts effectively.

Senna, a well- known single laxative herb and hence most of the Pharmaceutical preparations possess this as a master ingredient in their anti flatulent or laxative formulations. But care should be taken while administering to the kids, pregnant and old aged people as it may cause mild colic pain in a few individuals. Also its single drug administration is not well recommended in such sufferers.Proper adjuvant like sugar candy, Indian liquorices, lemon juice etc help to reduce the severity of the drug Senna.
Click to consult Dr MS Krishnamurthy MD (Ayu), PhD (Ayu)

Sanskrit verse

Senna uses


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

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

Side effects:
Some experts claim that long term use of senna can be habit forming.

Ayurvedic formulations

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 a blood purifier.

Interaction with medicines, supplements

Can this be used while taking Homeopathic medicine?
Yes. This product does not react with homeopathic medicine.

Can this medicine be continued while taking supplements like multivitamin tablets, Omega 3 fatty acids etc?
Yes. Generally, this product goes well with most dietary supplements. However, if you are taking more than one product per day, please consult your doctor for an opinion.

With western medicines
Seek your doctor’s advice if you are taking this product along with other western (allopathic / modern) medicines. Some Ayurvedic herbs can interact with modern medicine.
If both Ayurvedic and allopathic medicines are advised together, then it is best to take Allopathic medicine first, wait for 30 minutes and then take the Ayurvedic medicine.


Research articles related to Cassia angustifolia:
The extracts of Cassia angustifolia showed antimicrobial 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 the 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.

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

Senna plants act as antifungal 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.

Habitat, Cultivation

The plant Senna is a native to Sudan 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

Chemical composition

Most of the Senna species contain rhein, aloe-emodin, kaempferol, Isorhamnetin, both free and as glucosides, 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 act 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.

Dr.B.K.Prashanth M.D (Ayu), Ph.D E mail:
and Dr Hebbar

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
Swarnamukhi, Hemapatri
Kalyani – Always does good


Shrub or undershrub
Compound leaves
Inflorescence – Many flowered axillary raceme
Flowers – Yellow
Fruits – Legume
Seeds – Obovate, compressed

Cassia obovata
Cassia auriculata

Sthanika Karma (Systemic Action)

External – Application of leaf paste is indicated in skin disorders, It has a scraping action on dhatus.

Digestive System – Facilitating the movement of doshas in normal direction, Strong purgative herb, Stimulate liver to produce enzymes, Indicated in abdominal distension, constipation, Ascites, Rheumatic arthritis, Amavata (Rheumatic joint pain, Helminthiasis, diseases of pitta origin.

Circulatory system – Purifies blood, indicated in raktaja rogas.

9 comments on “Indian Senna: Cassia angustifolia Uses, Dose, Research, Side Effects

  • Ansh

    17/06/2016 - 8:05 pm

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

    Reply to comment
  • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

    06/06/2017 - 10:11 am

    Hi, it is safe to continue it for a period of 2 – 3 months time.

    Reply to comment
  • Siddharth

    22/06/2017 - 10:53 am


    I’ve been prescribed Anuloma tablet (which contains senna) for one month for chronic constipation. Is it safe or will it create dependency? Please advise.

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      22/06/2017 - 8:35 pm

      It is safe to take. Please go ahead with your doctor’s advice.

      Reply to comment
  • Pedang

    12/07/2017 - 8:28 pm

    Hi there,

    Currently I am one of senna distributor in my country. I have done depth research about senna.

    What I can say, there are two opinions about senna,

    1. Some journals stated senna totally safe and can consume for long term as it possess great benefit
    2. Most doctor are against senna for long term

    What do you think about it?

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      13/07/2017 - 7:43 pm

      Hi, like you have researched, there is difference of opinions.
      It is best to use it for 2 months, give a month gap, use other laxative for a month, then switch back to this for further 2 months.

      Reply to comment
  • Prashant Mali

    11/09/2017 - 11:44 pm

    Is it safe in CRF (chronic renal failure) pts…s.creat….2.10

    Reply to comment

    22/03/2018 - 5:04 am


    Reply to comment
  • Charity

    23/05/2018 - 11:22 am

    Pls is it good for weight loss? Thank you.

    Reply to comment

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