What is Senna?
Senna is a laxative treatment made from the leaves and fruit of the senna plant. It is used to treat difficulty passing stools, a condition more commonly known as constipation.
What is Senna used for?
The treatment is used to treat both temporary and chronic constipation in children and adults.
How does Senna work?
When Senna is broken down in the digestive tract, the byproducts it leaves irritate the colonic wall. This stimulates the bowel and helps stools move through the digestive tract more easily.
How long does Senna take to work?
The treatment takes around eight hours to work, but may be longer depending on how severe your constipation is.
How should I take Senna?
Because it takes eight hours for the treatment to work, Senna is best taken at night. Adults and children aged 12 and above should take one to two tablets at bedtime. Children aged six to 11 should take one tablet before bed.
It’s important to drink lots of water during the day while taking senna. You should aim to drink six to eight glasses a day, or your constipation may get worse.
Do not take Senna for longer than two weeks. Using the treatment for long periods of time can stop your bowel working properly on its own.
Who can’t take Senna?
Senna isn’t suitable for everyone. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consult their GP before using Senna because the effects may pass on to the baby. In most cases, doctors will prescribe laxatives that don’t get absorbed by the gut for pregnant women.
There are also some medicines that may interact badly with Senna. You must consult your GP before using Senna if you’re taking:
- Heart medications such as digoxin or quinidine
- A diuretic
- Steroid tablets
- Liquorice root preparations
What are the side effects of Senna?
Side effects are common with Senna, but these are usually very mild. They include:
- Stomach cramps
- Red-brown urine (this is normal and will go away when your treatment ends)
In very rare cases, Senna can sometimes cause a severe rash to form on any part or all of your body. If this happens, you should stop taking Senna and seek immediate medical help.
How should I store Senna?
Senna should be stored in a dry, cool environment that does not exceed 25°C.
Always read the patient information leaflet before commencing treatment.