Senna grows wild in great abundance on the Mediterranean coast of Africa, in the vicinity of Tripoli. It is known commercially as “Tripoli senna,” receiving the name Tripoli from the place of export.
Senna was first used as a medicine by the Arabians. It was noticed in their writings as early as the 9th century, and the name itself is Arabic.
The odor is faint and sickly; the taste is slightly bitter, sweetish, and nauseous.
Water and alcohol extract its active principle. The ROOTS, LEAVES, and PODS are a prompt, stimulating cathartic, action being brought about in from 2 to 5 hours. While it does not produce the watery evacuations produced by epsom salts, it thoroughly influences peristaltic action. The addition of a little ginger, cloves, coriander seeds, or peppermint will prevent griping in the bowels. Small doses may be continued for some time without tiring the system. It is a prompt, efficient, and safe purgative, especially for fevers and febrile complaints and other cases in which a decided but not violent impression is desired.
An excellent anti-bilious physic is prepared as follows: all in powder, senna 2 oz., jalap 4 oz., ginger 1/4 oz. Mix. May be taken in a little water, either with or without sugar, or in capsule form or in a little jam. If a speedy action is desired, take a fairly large dose and rest. Good alvine action will result in from 2 to 3 hrs., relieving engorgement of the liver and gall ducts. Small doses taken every 3 hrs. will influence the liver more than the alvine canal.
It stimulates and cleanses the alvine mucous membrane. It is useful in jaundice where the overflow is not from gallstones.
Eruptive diseases will follow a less virulent course and a more favorable termination if the bowels are thoroughly cleansed at the beginning.
In chronic or acute constipation, first take a dose sufficient to procure a complete evacuation, then take smaller doses, gradually decreasing the frequency and quantity. In the meantime, strive for habitual regularity. Can be given in suitable doses to infants.
The anti-bilious physic has been used in the treatment of remittents and intermittents with much success. It will also anticipate and prevent a chill and will frequently do it more permanently than quinine. Senna will prevent the necessity of taking so much quinine as would otherwise be required.
It is excellent to use after an anthelmintic.
For hemorrhoids, the compound should be taken in small doses every 3 hours.
The following can be used if a simple infusion is not strong enough; all in powder, equal parts of senna, mandrake, and cloves. Mix and take 1 or 2 dr. in honey, syrup, or jam, or it may be taken in capsules.
For the Abb
The senna PODS are an old-time remedy. Place 8 or 10 pods in a glass of lukewarm water and allow to soak about 12 hrs. Drink the whole liquid at night before retiring. A little ginger could be added.
A good preparation for children is made as follows: equal parts of senna, pennyroyal, and raspberry leaves.
Infuse and give as strong and as frequently as required. The following has been used with most satisfactory results for many years in cases of biliousness and constipation: about 25 rubbed senna leaves (1 t.), powdered ginger 1/4 t., sugar 1 t., a slice of lemon. Pour on 1 C. boiling water. Cover and drink the whole while warm, leaving the powder, of course. This makes a very pleasant drink and can be given to children as ginger wine. When combined with tonics, the effects of senna will be more powerful.
A good infusion is made of 2 oz. senna leaves, 1 dr. ginger in 1 pt. boiling water. Let stand 1 hr. Strain through muslin and take in wine-glassful doses.
The American senna is the Cassia Marilandica. It is often substituted for the European senna, but is less active, 1/3 larger dose must be used to obtain the same results.