The human digestive system is designed to empty out the waste by-products at least once every day. You can help your digestive system by drinking plenty of water (8 or more glasses each day) and eating a healthy balanced diet that includes fibre rich foods like fresh vegetables and whole grains to make it easier for things to pass through your system. Increasing your exercise also assists your body to empty itself naturally. Sometimes though, things just get a bit blocked up, especially if your diet has been a bit off track, you are dehydrated, under the weather or recovering from illness. Some medications and supplements, and a lack of vitamins and minerals, can also cause your system to slow down. In some women the changes in hormones each month can also interrupt the regularity of the body’s digestive system. Failure to easily and regularly empty the bowel is referred to as constipation. According to “Human Physiology: The Mechanisms of Body Function,” clinical constipation occurs if you have fewer than three bowel movements in a week and if they are dry and hard stools that are difficult to pass.
For centuries, man has been using all sorts of herbal and pharmaceutical remedies to assist with constipation. If you or someone in your family is struggling with this issue, then senna is something you can consider.
Senna is a yellow-flowered plant that typically grows in India and China. The leaves of the senna plant are used in non-prescription medicines and herbal supplements to assist with alleviating constipation. It can be found in capsule and tablet form, tea bags and loose tea, as well as liquid extracts.
Senna’s reputation as a powerful laxative has grown through the ages. Senna is also considered an important herb in traditional Chinese medicine, Indian Ayurvedic and Unani medicine and was used by Arabian physicians as far back as 9th century AD.
Senna contains naturally occurring chemicals called anthraquinone glycosides. These are strong natural constituents with laxatives properties that soften stools and increase the contractions of intestinal walls, which stimulates bowel movements to help the bowel empty.
To prevent or help alleviate constipation, most doctors recommend making dietary changes or trying milder bulk-forming laxatives such as psyllium or slippery elm before using senna.
It is also important you pay careful attention to the amount of senna you are taking as too much can have a powerful effect.
Always start with a small dose taken in the evening before bed, and increase the dose the next night if the desired outcome is not achieved (there should be a well formed, easy stool passed the following morning)! Once a daily routine is established again, and your system is running smoothly, it is important to stop taking the senna so your bowel doesn’t become lazy.
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