Cultivated in South India. Homeland – Africa. Senna is a woody or shrubby plant. The leaves are compound, paired, with 5-7 pairs of leaflets. Leaflets quadrangular, broadly lanceolate, unequal-sided, short-petiolate. The flowers are quite large, golden yellow, rarely white or pink, with 5 sepals and 5 petals, many stamens. The fruit is a reticulated bean, wide and short, very flat and membranous, multi-seeded (pod).
Both species differ in the shape of the leaves and the size of the beans. The first species has leaflets longer and narrower, 2.5–6 cm long and 1–2 cm wide, the leaves of the other species are 2–3 cm long and 1 cm wide. In the first species, the beans are somewhat larger.
It grows in the states located on the shores of the Red Sea and in East Africa.
Medicinal raw materials are leaves, known under the name of the Alexandrian leaf, and less often beans; Alexandrian leaves are sold in pharmacies.
Leaves and fruits contain a mixture of hydroxy-methylanthraquinone derivatives and their glycosides, totaling 0.8-1.2%. There is kaempferol and some other flavonoids, also resins. Resins have undesirable side effects and cause painful spasms in the intestines, so the product “de-resined leaves” is prepared. There are no resins in the fruits.
In scientific medicine, products from the plant are used as a laxative. The laxative effect of senna is due to anthraglycosides, which, under the influence of digestive enzymes and the bacterial flora of the small intestine, break down with the formation of emer-fon and chrysophanoic acid. The latter somewhat irritate the mucous membrane of the large intestine and, without increasing secretion, increase its motor activity. The action begins (depending on the concentration of the infusion or tincture) after about 6-12 hours.
In medical practice, the Alexandrian leaf is of great importance as a laxative, analgesic for gastrointestinal diseases, for regulating bowel function (chronic atonic constipation, constipation during pregnancy, also for softening stools with anal fissures) and is very convenient in cases where it will be necessary painlessly cleanse the intestines.
With long-term use of products of the Alexandrian leaf, addiction to them develops, which weakens their therapeutic effect. Therefore, it is advisable to alternate senna products with other laxatives.
The Alexandrian leaf is prescribed in the form of an infusion of leaves (1:10), Viennese drink. Alexandria leaf is part of the complex licorice powder prescribed for patients with hemorrhoids. Its composition: Alexandrian leaf – 2 parts, licorice root – 2 parts, dill seeds (in powder) – 1 part, purified sulfur – 1 part and granulated sugar (preferably crushed in the form of flour) – 4 parts. Greenish-yellow powder. Use as a laxative diluted with water: for adults, a teaspoon, and for children, a quarter of a teaspoon in the morning on an empty stomach.
Laxative tea No. 2 is sold in pharmacies. It contains 3 parts of an Alexandrian leaf, 2 parts of buckthorn bark, 2 parts of joster fruit, 1 part of anise seeds and 1 part of licorice root. 1 st. a spoonful of this tea is brewed in one glass of boiling water, insisted for 30 minutes and taken at night in one step.
Chinese doctors prescribe senna products in small doses in the form of decoctions and infusions as a means of improving appetite and digestion, with edema, oligomenorrhea, and glaucoma. Outwardly – with conjunctivitis and some skin diseases.
Infusion: 10 g per 150 ml, brew for 6 hours. Sometimes rhubarb root syrup is added to the infusion – 30 g (2 tablespoons). Take an infusion or mixture of 1 tbsp. spoon in the morning and at night.
Tincture: 30%, 1 tbsp. spoon.
Decoction: 1 tbsp. spoon per glass, brew like tea, leave for 30 minutes, strain. Take at night for 1/2 – 1 glass (laxative).