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What is Cassia angustifolia (Senna) and what is its role in Ayurveda?

What is Cassia angustifolia (Senna) and what is its role in Ayurveda?
Какво представлява Cassia angustifolia (Сенна) и каква роля има в Аюрведа?

For several millennia of its existence the ancient Indian system of health and longevity Ayurveda has discovered natural remedies, including many plants, for treatment of all diseases. Ayurveda approaches herbs from an energy point of view. Unlike complex chemical analysis, in which you can get lost in the maze of numerous details, this simple energy system clarifies the basic qualities of plants.

It is constructed in such a way that with its help it is possible to easily determine and understand the effect of plants, so that they can be used in connection with the individual constitution and the specific conditions.

Even before the New Age, more than 50,000 prescriptions were used in the preparation of Ayurvedic medicines with formulas for a combination of herbs in certain proportions depending on the disease. One of the hundreds of medicinal plants used in Ayurveda is Cassia angustifolia.

It has been known to mankind for millennia and its action can help many people solve some health problems. It is therefore important to know what Cassia angustifolia is and what role it plays in Ayurveda.

What is Cassia angustifolia (Senna) and what is its role in Ayurveda?

What is Cassia angustifolia?

This herb is known by many names. In addition to Cassia angustifolia, it has another Latin name in botanical publications – Senna alexandrina, and herbalists and pharmacists call it by another Latin name – Cassia lanceolata.

It can also be found as cassia, senna or senna, and in folk medicine it is known as mother leaf. This plant brings many benefits to the human body, using its leaves and flowers, because they are concentrated in them bioactive substances.

What is Cassia angustifolia (Senna) and what is its role in Ayurveda?

Many ancient civilizations, including the Aztecs, knew of some varieties of the plant and its laxative properties. The first written evidence of the use of the herb dates back to the 9th century BC and was left by Arab physicians. It is also known that the Cherokees bandaged wounds with crushed hay root soaked in water.

The herb received the name cleansing Casia in Europe in the Middle Ages, when it was used as a cleansing in an Italian medical school. Cassia is a small shrub up to 1 meter tall. The flowers of the plant are yellow, slightly gathered in racemes.

What is Cassia angustifolia (Senna) and what is its role in Ayurveda?

The fruit is flat and slightly curved like a bean pod. It is 3-5 cm long and about 2.5 cm wide. The herb blooms from July to October.

It contains anthraquinone glucosides called senosides. Fruits have fewer glucosides than leaves. They have been found to have a great influence on the lining of the intestinal tract and on beneficial bacteria in the gut. The ability of senna to affect the intestinal tract and flora is at the heart of its health benefits.

The composition of the plant also includes:

  • tartaric acid salts
  • the sugar alcohol pinite
  • bitter substances
  • resinous substances
  • about 10% mucous substances

Laxative and cleansing action is the most common application of the herb. The glycosides in its composition irritate the lining of the intestinal tract and activate peristalsis, especially in the area of ​​the colon. Thus, after taking senna, bowel emptying can be easily achieved.

This is the reason why it is used with great success in acute constipation, irregular bowel movements and other problems with the digestive system. The medicinal plant also helps to fight intestinal parasites.

By removing toxins and other products that remain in the intestinal tract, Cassia angustifolia also has a positive effect on the immune system. It can also be applied externally for faster wound healing and skin inflammation.

The herb reduces the flow of glucose in the blood due to the acceleration of the passage of food through the intestines. In this way balances blood sugar levels. The other effect is that it speeds up fat melting.

be aware, however, that it should not be used for a long time as a means of weight loss, because prolonged use can cause side effects. Prolonged use of the herb can result in loss of minerals and disturbances in the body’s electrolyte balance.

Another benefit of the plant is related to hair. It is believed that some of the bioactive substances in it bind to keratin in the hair and protect against harmful ultraviolet rays and other external influences.


What role does Cassia angustifolia play in Ayurveda?

The properties of plants in Ayurveda are considered systematically, taking into account their inherent elements, tastes, their warming or cooling effect, the effect on the body after digestion and other specific qualities that they may possess. Understanding the principles of energy is very important in the healing process. Therefore, Cassia angustifolia should also be considered in this aspect. Its used parts are leaves and pods, which have a soft action.

What is Cassia angustifolia (Senna) and what is its role in Ayurveda?

Ayurveda claims that the taste of each herb is not accidental, but reflects its properties. Different tastes have different effects. We do not usually associate the taste of a plant with its therapeutic properties. We are used to perceiving the taste of food only as a source of pleasure.

In the western system of herbal medicine the taste of the herb is used for its correct recognition rather than to understand its effect. Although it is known, for example, that hot herbs have a warming and stimulating effect, and bitter ones reduce fever, this has not become the basis for making a classification by taste.

Ayurveda identifies six main tastes:

  • cute
  • sour
  • salty
  • angry
  • bitter
  • astringent


They come from the five elements and each taste is formed by two of them.

  • the sweet taste consists of the elements earth and water
  • sour – from earth and fire
  • salty – from water and fire
  • the fierce – from fire and air
  • the bitter – from air and ether
  • the astringent – from earth and air

The taste of Cassia angustifolia is defined as bitter and spicy. The herb affects plasma, blood and fat, and the systems it affects are excretory, digestive and circulatory.

According to Ayurveda, the action of the herb is laxative, anthelmintic (antiparasitic) and antifebrile. The effect is also expressed in improving metabolism.

The indications for which the medicinal plant is used are:

  • constipation
  • inflammation of the skin
  • hypertension
  • obesity

Cassia angustifolia is a strong laxative that should be taken with caution in the correct dosage. It has a laxative effect, stimulating muscle contractions of the intestine. Increases the secretion of fluid in the intestines and thus softens the content in them and increases its volume. Then comes reflex muscle contraction, which stimulates peristalsis.

The action of Cassia angustifolia occurs without pain and tension and usually occurs ten hours after ingestion. The medicinal plant is one of the seven ingredients of the Ayurvedic formula Laxafit. The effect of Cassia angustifolia is complemented and balanced by the other 6 herbs, achieving a beneficial effect on the entire digestive tract.

Senna can irritate the intestinal mucosa and cause colic, pain or nausea, as well as sparse stools or diarrhea. This can be corrected by adding stomach herbs such as ginger or fennel, which make up 1/4 of the total.

The medicinal plant is used mainly for severe constipation, for example, one that occurs against the background of fever. It is also used for cleansing of the small intestine during laxative therapy.

The medicine should not be taken:

  • in inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract due to the irritating effect
  • in hemorrhoids
  • diarrhea
  • pregnancy

It should also be borne in mind that prolonged use of strong laxatives, even of plant origin, can worsen constipation and weaken the tone of the colon. According to Ayurveda, chronic constipation can be treated very well with moisturizing therapy or laxative oils.

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