Senna is a natural fibre or herb. The leaves, fruit or seed pods are all used as medication. Senna contains chemicals called sennosides which when consumed irritate the lining of the intestines, causing a laxative effect. For this reason it used as an alternative non-prescription laxative to treat constipation. The leaves have a higher laxative effect than the pods and fruit.
It is available as powders, tablets, syrups, granules and even chocolate squares. It can also be purchased in tea bags. Senna is sometimes paired with psyllium, especially in the elderly, to promote better bowel movement.
It is safe in children over six years, but do not use it long term without medical advice. It should not be used daily. Do not take senna if you are suffering from stomach pain or gut obstruction, nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea. The side effects are minimal but it may cause belly discomfort. It is very safe and widely used.