Senna is a natural laxative found in many over the counter medicines, including branded and generic products. The active ingredient in senna is found in rhubarb, but most senna is sourced from the plant of the same name. This plant can be ground down into powder and formed into pills, it can be extracted into strong OTC medicines and it can also be consumed as a tea, which is the subject of this article.
There are some serious concerns regarding the consumption of this tea, but despite those concerns it is currently being added to countless tea blends and being consumed in large quantities by customers who don’t fully understand just what the risks are with senna tea.
What is Senna Tea?
Senna tea is simply a tea made from senna, one often containing other ingredients to offset the pungent flavor of the senna and to add a little fragrance and sweetness to the drink. It is a laxative and should only be used as a laxative, but it is often bundled in with other herbs to make herbal teas, about which many preposterous and false claims are made.
Generally speaking, there are very few side effects associated with occasional senna use, especially when it is being used for the purpose it was intended for. It is one of the healthiest laxative products you can find in your local pharmacy and while there are some rare side effects, including allergic reactions, stomach cramps and diarrhea, it is generally well tolerated.
How Much Senna Tea to Take?
Most senna tea comes in tea form and customers should limit themselves to one teabag, brewed in the manner described on the back of the pack. As there are different strengths of senna and as some teas contain many other ingredients while others contain just senna, it’s hard to provide a generalized dose. An overdose can be very unpleasant though, even if you take just a little more than the required dose, so make sure you read the literature and brew as instructed.
How Quickly Does Senna Tea Work?
Senna tea should begin to work within a few hours but you likely won’t notice the effects for between 6 and 12 hours. It’s slow acting when compared to many other laxatives but it’s considered to be less aggressive, less intrusive and more natural. If you want something equally natural but a little more fast-acting, try drinking prune juice instead of senna tea. You can also add some hot prune juice to your senna tea, both sweetening it and making it a more potent medicine.
Senna Tea vs Tablets
Everything you drink as a tea is available in tablet or powdered form and it’s probably a lot easier to take it in this form. The reason we drink tea is because the act of consuming a hot and steamy liquid is soothing and if we’re consuming something for its calming effects, then drinking it in a tea could increase those effects.
If it’s a laxative like senna, however, then it’s a different story and you may be better off taking senna tablets in the form of natural senna or in the form of an extract like Sennakot. Drinking the tea may help to hasten the onset slightly, but this is a drug that needs up to 8 hours to take effect and a tea will likely only shorten that duration by an hour at the most. The tea is also somewhat of an acquired taste and you may need to sweeten it or add other ingredients just to get it down without gagging, which is another reason why the tablets might be the better option.
Of course, you could also simply drink the tea with a little honey, which itself has been shown to have lubricating and laxative effects. There are pros and cons for both options and it’s really down to your preference which one you opt for.
Senna Tea for Weight-Loss
This tea is often marketed as a weight-loss product and/or a detox product. The latter is acceptable as the results produced by senna could be considered detoxifying, especially in relation to the modern use of the word. But this is not a weight-loss product, it should not be taken for this purpose and it definitely should not be marketed for it.
As described above, senna is a laxative first and foremost. It doesn’t have any magical weight-loss properties. It won’t melt away your fat and it won’t increase your metabolism. It will, however, hasten the movement of waste through your bowels and it will also help you to alleviate constipation. In the sense that it will help you to dump some weight in the form of waste (sorry for the imagery, but it had to be said) then it can be considered a weight-loss product, but let’s be honest, that’s not what the marketers are suggesting when they slap this promises on the label and it’s certainly not what the customer expects.
Why Senna Tea is Marketed as a Weight-Loss Product
The reason it is marketed as a weight-loss product is because it tricks customers into thinking that it’s working to reduce belly fat. A significant number of customers looking for weight loss products and/or detox products will have some form of mild constipation, usually because they are obese and eating a poor diet, because they are inactive, or because they have been abusing other weight loss drugs. When they drink senna tea they feel relief in just a day or two. The size of their abdomen reduces, they feel better and lighter (as we all do after a large bowel movement) and they attribute this to the senna tea.
The manufacturers are vindicated for their dangerous marketing claims, the customer are happy and everyone gets something out of it. Or at least that would be the case if those customers didn’t continue using the drink, thinking that regular consumption of a weight-loss product is required in order to feel its full benefits. And when they consume senna on a regular basis they are basically abusing laxatives and suffering all of the consequences that go along with it.
Consequences of Consuming Senna Tea Everyday
We all have a good idea of what laxative abuse can lead to. It slows down the digestive system, reduces bowel motility and generally results in you needing laxatives just to have a normal bowel movement. Excessive consumption of these drugs can also lead to a loss of essential vitamins and nutrients and because it hastens the transit of food though the body you may be missing out on important nutrients from that food.
In other words, while senna tea is okay as an occasional drink to rid you of constipation, it’s not a weight-loss product and should not be taken for this purpose. Try a little green tea, Pu’erh tea or even some Greek mountain tea instead. It won’t have a huge impact, but studies do suggest there are some weight loss benefits.