Herbs have both formal terms and common terms. Cassia spp. is the formal name for the Senna plant.

What does Senna do? It is absorbed by the stomach and the small intestine and leaves behind a compound called rhein anthrone. The bacteria in the small intestine degrade the rhein anthrone into sennidin. This second compound, sennidin, stimulates peristalsis, or movement throughout the intestines. Because of the increased transit time or movement, the stool has less time to loose fluid and becomes easier to move through the intestines.

Another group of compounds found in Senna, are called the hydroxyanthracene glycosides, which are converted into aglycones – it is amazing how big these words are, isn’t it.  Anyways, these aglycones have a laxative effect on the colon.

So in summary, one group of compounds provokes movement in the intestines intestinesand another group of compounds provokes a laxative effect.

So what do you think Senna is used for?  Of course, constipation.

It also becomes a useful herb when one has hemorrhoids. By the way did you know that hemorrhoids is basically varicose veins in the butt?

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