Digestive System Home > Senna Side Effects

Abdominal pain and cramping, bloating, and diarrhea are the most common side effects that have been reported with senna. Common problems with this product are related to its effects as a stimulant laxative. While most side effects typically do not require medical attention, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately if you experience joint problems, muscle weakness, or an unexplained rash.

Does Senna Cause Side Effects?

Even though it is a natural product, senna may cause side effects. People often assume that natural products are always safe and free of side effects. Senna is a perfect example of how a natural product can be capable of causing significant and sometimes serious side effects.
(This article covers many, but not all, of the possible side effects with senna. Your healthcare provider can discuss a more complete list of senna side effects with you.)

Common Side Effects of Senna

The most common side effects with senna are related to its effects as a stimulant laxative and may include:
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Nausea.

Serious Side Effects

Senna can cause serious side effects, especially if used for an extended period of time. Some of the more serious side effects of senna (which should be reported to your healthcare provider) include:
  • Finger clubbing (wide, flattened, shiny fingertips)
  • Low electrolytes (such as low potassium levels)
  • Joint problems
  • Liver damage, including hepatitis
  • Coma
  • Asthma
  • Kidney dysfunction
  • Physical changes in the colon (it is not clear if these changes cause any problems)
  • Weakening and softening of the bones
  • Heart problems
  • Muscle weakness
  • Signs of an allergic reaction, such as:


    • An unexplained rash or hives
    • Itching
    • Swelling of the mouth or throat
    • Wheezing or difficulty breathing.


Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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