Senna (in the form of sennosides) is an over-the-counter medication approved for the treatment of constipation. It can also be used for preparing the bowels for a colonoscopy or other diagnostic or screening procedures (as part of "bowel prep").
The botanical product contains sennosides, which are compounds that act as a stimulant laxative. It is thought that senna works by irritating the lining of the digestive tract, which causes fluid secretion and helps stimulate movement through the colon. It has also been suggested that senna may work by affecting prostaglandins or serotonin in the digestive tract.
Before you start using senna, you should discuss the product's safety with your healthcare provider. Short-term senna use is probably safe for most people. Some people may be more likely to experience problems, however, so be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before using this product if you have:
- An electrolyte imbalance
- An intestinal blockage
- Ulcerative colitis
- Crohn's disease
- Heart disease
- Unexplained abdominal pain
- Any allergies, including allergies to foods, dyes, or preservatives.
(Click Senna for more information on senna, including more details about its benefits, potential side effects, dosing guidelines, and warnings.)