The sennas are scrubby desert plants of North Africa. Senna has been used around the world for thousands of years as a laxative.
Senna encourages bowel movement by inhibiting the smooth muscles that retain stool and stimulating the smooth muscles that push stool through the intestine. The herb doesn't work unless the sennosides in the herb are transformed into rheinanthrones by beneficial bacteria in the colon. The leaf of senna is fairly powerful and for a more mild effect, it is recommended that you use the pods.
Constituents of note: 1-3% hydroxyanthracene glycosides, mainly sennosides A and B, which are rhein-dianthrones, and smaller amounts of sennosides C and D, which are rhein-aloe-emodin-heterodianthrones; naphthalene glycosides; flavonoids (derivatives of kaempferol and isorhamnetin); 10-12% mineral matter; 7-10% mucilage (galactose, arabinose, rhamnose, and galacturonic acid); about 8% polyol (pinitol); sugars (glucose, fructose, and sucrose); and resins.
Precaution: Do not use product if you have abdominal pain or diarrhea. Consult a healthcare provider prior to use if you are pregnant or nursing a baby. Discontinue use in the event of diarrhea or watery stools. Do not exceed recommended dose. Not for long-term use.