Substances & Homeopatic Remedies

Senna

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In very old times this plant was already known because of the medical properties of its leaves.

Senna belongs to the Cassia genus. It was introduced in systemic science by “Linneo” who used the Greek word “kasia”, deriving itself from Hebrew “qetsiah”, term referring to the bark of a  different species. : the “Laurus cassia” belonging to the “Lauraceae “ family, the so-called “China Cinnamon” or “Aromatic Cassia”. The use of “Senna”, also known as “senha, sinha, sana” was first introduced in European pharmacopoeia by the Arabs, because the leaf was fit to heal and give health, according to the very same advice of the Prophet Muhammad, i.e. : “Go and get Senna, which will be the remedy to all troubles, except death”.  Chinese considered Senna the plant of life. A  legend  tells that this “tree belonging to the celestial world” grows from time immemorial at incredible heights in Heaven, in a garden situated on the Tibetan mountain where the Yellow River starts flowing. Whomsoever, gets in Heaven, and eats the fruits of this plant, will gain an endless  and happy life!

The first accounts we have concerning the use of Senna date back to Serapion the Old, who lived in the IX century, and to Isaac the Jewish,  a doctor who lived in Egypt : both of them often used Senna in their medical practice. Several were the medical properties attributed to this plant; however at that time its laxative quality, which is widely known  nowadays, was not  apparently acknowledged.

It was considered a tonic for nerves and brain and a substance improving eyesight and hearing.  It was a good remedy for long term diseases and was considered  to be of benefit in the  forms of nervous breakdown, in headaches and  was recommended for children and pregnant women.

Just at the time of Paracelso and Mattioli (1564) this plant was also used for intestines (bowel) aches. With an exception  in the year 1000, when  the pharmacologist Mesué  conferred to the plant good  laxative qualities.

Mattioli declares : “ it purges ill-anger, melancholy and phlegm.  It modifies brain, liver , spleen, lungs , it  is good for stomach and it strengthens all senses.  Furthermore it is beneficial to ulcers, it prolongs youth and delays old age, cheering up the mood.

The use of Senna as laxative had such a large fame that, at the beginning of the XVI century, when laxatives and blood-letting were considered  the universal panacea (remedy for all troubles), Boileau deplored that “ every dead person is bloodless but full of senna …”.

People in northern Africa and southwestern Asia have used senna as a laxative for centuries. It was considered a “cleansing” herb because of its cathartic effect. In addition, the leaves were sometimes made into a paste and applied to various skin diseases. Ringworm and acne were both treated in this way.