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Senna - Ibn Al-Qayyim

Senna by Ibn Al-Qayyim

Ibn Al-Qayyim described the plant senna as an excellent medicine in his work on Prophetic Medicine. Sennah is widely used in Chinese medicine too known in Chinese as Fan Xie Ye. He said that senna was beneficial for:


Treatment of angina and strengthening the heart

Cracking of the skin

Relaxing muscle tension

Helping hair growth

Treatment of lice, scabies and itching


Ibn Al-Qayyim suggested that it was preferable to boil and cook the senna leaves and drink their water, instead of taking it as a powdered form.

He said that when used as a laxative, senna should be mixed with honey and fat, as this was more beneficial than taking it on its own.

What is senna?

Senna botanical name Cassia angustifolia is a plant best known for its medicinal properties. It comprises of dianthrone glycosides (compounds consisting of sugar molecules bound to other molecules), as well as mucilage (a thick, gluey substance), tannins and flavonoids.

In addition to its use as a safe and effective laxative, senna also has many other health benefits. One of the glycosides present in senna, emodin has many therapeutic benefits including as an anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and the ability to inhibit or destroy viruses. These compounds have also shown to be effective in stimulating cellular regeneration, and detoxifying and cleansing.

Senna is the active ingredient in many commercial laxatives. However, these laxatives also contain artificial sweeteners and should therefore be avoided. More natural, undiluted forms of senna are available at some health-food stores and it is also available in supplements and liquid extract form.

However, senna should not be used for prolonged periods of time as studies indicate that this can cause toxicity and increase the risk of colon cancer. Other negative effects include laxative dependency, and inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Chronic or prolonged constipation should be treated by dietary changes such as increasing fiber in the diet.

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