Senna leaf is used to make medicine. It is known to be a nonprescription laxative for the treatment of constipation and clearing the bowel before such a diagnostic test as colonoscopy. Senna leaf can also offer some health benefits in case of hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and weight loss. It is advised not to take senna leaf for a long period of time. Senna fruit is somewhat gentlier in its work.
It is important to study labels of senna leaf products before usage. Some of them may say, "Do not use if you have diarrhea or abdominal pain. Consult your doctor before using senna leaf if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Immediately stop using it if you have diarrhea, abdominal pain or watery stool.
Senna leaf works due to chemicals called sennosides it contains. These chemicals irritate the bowel lining resulting in a laxative effect. So it can be effectively used for constipation. It's not recommended for children under 15 years, though.
Senna leaf seems to be safe for most adults and children over 15 years of age. Sometimes it is used for younger children, but only under the doctor's supervision and for a short period of time. Senna leaf can lead to some side effects including cramps, stomach discomfort, and diarrhea. The product shouldn't be used longer than two weeks. If you use it longer you can face the problem of bad functioning of your bowels and therefore dependence on laxatives.
Besides, long-term use of senna leaf can change the balance or amount of some blood chemicals (electrolytes). This can result in muscle weakness, heart function disorders, liver damage, etc. Pregnant and breast-feeding ladies are allowed to use senna leaf for a short period of time. It can be unsafe if used for too long or in too high doses. A small amount of senna get into breast milk, but it is not a problem for nursing infants. If the mother uses senna leaf in recommended doses, it won't change consistency or frequency of babies' stools.