SanaySenna (Cassia angustifolia Vahl.)
1253540063image_Out.jpg Cassia angustifolia Vahl. Family - Caesalpiniaceae
Cassia angustifolia Vahl.
Family - Caesalpiniaceae



It is small perennial shrub of less than a metre in height ascending branches. The leaves are compound pinnate, petiolate about 10 cm long and bear 5-8 pairs of leaflets each on a small stalk.
English - Indian senna, Tinnervelly senna
Hindi - Sanay, Sana ka patt
Malayalam - Sunnamukki, Connamukki
Kannada - Nelavarike, Sonamukhi
Tamil - Nilavirai, Nelavakai
Telugu - Nela tangedu


The plant grows in certain coastal parts of Gujarat especially in the Bhuj region of India.


PART USED : Leaves and pods



The leaves are astingent bitter sweet acrid, thermogenic, cathartic, depurative, liver tonic, anthelmintic, cholagogue, expectorant and febrifuge and are useful in constipation, abdominal disorders, leprosy, skin diseases, leucoderma, splenomegaly, hepatopathy, jaundice, helminthiasis, dyspepsia, cough, bronchitis, typhoid fever, anaemia & tumours.

Senna is an ingredient in several commercial laxative products. It contains chemicals that belong to the class known as anthraquinones, which are further categorized as stimulant laxatives. They work by irritating the lining of the lower gastrointestinal tract. The resulting contractions of the bowel act to push out material in the lower intestinal tract. Anthraquinones may also keep more water in intestinal contents, thereby producing a softer stool that is usually easier to pass. Senna laxatives may take 8 to 12 hours to produce results.

In animal studies, senna has not shown negative effects on pregnant animals or their offspring. Although a very small amount of senna passes into human breast milk, the amounts are not enough to cause diarrhea in infants. Senna-containing laxatives are often given to relieve constipation for pregnant and breast-feeding women, the elderly, surgery patients, and individuals who are taking narcotic pain medications which frequently cause constipation as a side effect. Children under the age of 5 should not be given senna, however, due to the possibility that it may cause a skin rash.
•     Infusion made from Senna leaves, raisins, ginger and cloves used as purgative.      
•     Infusion of leaves taken daily from the fourth day after childbirth for a few days to                       regularize bowel movements.     
•     Powdered Senna leaves mixed with vinegar and made into a plaster applied locally in           certain skin diseases.      
•     Senna leaves with henna (Lawsonia inermis) used as a hair-dye to make the hair black.      
•     Fruits mixed with suitable drugs like violets used as laxative.      
•     Infusion of 6-12 pods for adults and 3-6 pods for children and elderly prepared in cold            water used as purgative.      

•   Useful in constipation, loss of appetite, indigestion, liver complaints, abdominal troubles,      splenic enlargements, dyspepsia, typhoid, jaundice, anaemia, malaria, skin diseases,          leprosy, poisoning symptoms foul breath, bronchitis and tumors.
Senna was first used as a medicine by the Arabians. It was noticed in their writings as early as the ninth century, and the name itself is Arabic. Like the other cathartics of the anthraquinone series, its action is chiefly upon the lower bowel, and is therefore especially suitable in habitual costiveness. It increases the peristaltic movements of the colon by its local action upon the intestinal wall. The tendency to gripe may be obviated by combining it with aromatics or with a saline laxative. The coloring matter of senna is absorbable, and twenty or thirty minutes after the ingestion of the drug it appears in the urine and may be recognized by a red color on the addition of ammonia. It is asserted also that the milk of nursing women acquires purgative properties after the administration of senna. Under the name of cathartin there is upon the market a mixture of the salts of cathartic acid which may be used in doses of from three to six grains (0.2-0.4 Gm.). Sennax is the name applied to the water-soluble glucoside of senna, and is marketed in tablets each one of which contains 0.075 Gm.



The crop can thrive on a variety of soils, but is largely grown on red loams and on alluvial loams. The texture of the soil, which account for the major hectarage under senna varies from sandy loam to loam, while the black cotton soils are heavier and more fertile. The average pH ranges from 7 to 8.5.It is very sensitive to water logging. Hence, it is grown only in well-drained soils. Senna requires sunlight for its proper growth. It can be grown in early summer (February - March) or in winter (October - November). North Indian states like Delhi and Gujarat where there is moderate rainfall is reported to be ideal for the luxuriant growth of the plant. Heavy rains and cloudy weather during growth are harmful to the crop. An average rainfall of 25-40 cm. distributed from June to October is sufficient to produce good crop.



The land is ploughed deep and the soil is exposed to sun for 110-115 days to dry out roots of perennial weeds followed by two cross ploughing harrowing and leveling. Farm-yard-manure (FYM) is incorporated into the soil at the time of final cross ploughing. Then the land is laid out into plots of convenient size with irrigation channels.


The seeds have hard and tough seed coat. Soaking seeds for 10-12 hours before sowing was reported to give 100 per cent germination. About 20 kg of seeds is required for one hectare of land. The seeds are broadcasted or preferably sown at 30 cm lines to 30 cm apart and 1.5 to 2.5 cm depth in a well-prepared land. Germination commences on the third day and completed within a fortnight. Before sowing the seeds, the field should be perfectly leveled otherwise it hampers the uniform seed germination.


The first weeding cum hoeing is done at 25-30 days after sowing and second at 75-80 days and third at 110 days to keep the crop free from weeds.



4-5 cart loads (5-10 tonnes) of well rotten FYM per hectare is required.



Senna could be economically grown under rainfed conditions. The crop needs no irrigations except under prolonged drought. However, when it is grown as a semi-irrigated crop then the yield increases considerably. About 5-8 light irrigations are enough to raise a good crop of Senna, however, heavy irrigations are injurious to the crop.


Senna produces foliage containing higher sennosides between 5-90 days, depending upon the total plant growth. Picking of leaves is done by hand so that most of the growing tops are removed during harvest. This also induces the plants to produce more branches which otherwise reduce foliage growth considerably. A second picking is taken at 90-100 days and the third picking between 130-150 days when the entire plants are removed so that the harvested material includes both leaves and pods together. The harvested crop should be spread over open field area in a thin layer to reduce its moisture. Further drying is done in well-ventilated drying sheds. It takes 10-12 days to dry completely in well-ventilated drying sheds. The dried leaves and pods should have light green to greenish yellow color. A rapid mechanical drying at 40° C could also be attempted. The harvested crop is baled under hydraulic pressure and wrapped in gunny bags, for export or domestic consumption.





New glycoside-aloeemodin dianthrone diglucoside from leaves, Anthracene glycoside of rhein and chrysophanic acid, sennosides A & B from pods, Chrysophanol, physcion, aloe-emodin rhein and rheum-emodin isolated from callus culture of cotyledons. Sennosides A, B, C and D, chrysophanol, emodinand physcion isolated. Calcium sennosides A and calcium sennosides B mixture produce dose dependent contraction of rat colon. Sennoside calcium salt was isolated from the senna leaves and seeds. A new isoquinoline derivative- siamin isolated. Anhydrobarakol and cassiachromone isolated from leaves and seeds.


Calcium sennosides A and calcium sennosides B produce dose dependent contraction of rat colon.


Senna gives 15 quintals of dry leaves and 7 quintals of pods per hectare under irrigated and well-managed conditions. The yield under rainfed conditions is about 10 quintals of leaves and 4 quintals of pods.
ECONOMICS (2003)      
Input cost per hectare     Rs. 8,750/-
Out put cost per hectare     Rs. 15,000/-
Net income per hectare     Rs. 6,250/-
(One years)