A Haitian Treasure: Senna

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Senna is a large genus of flowering plants native to the tropics. Senna is a low-branching shrub with oval-shaped dark green leaves and lovely yellow flowers which bloom in the spring and summer. The Senna domingensis species is specifically found in Haiti, where it unfortunately is a threatened species. Sennna has many names in Haitian Creole and French, including Bentamaré, Café bâtard, Casse-puante, & Dartrier. Senna serves as a beautiful ornamental plant, but it also is used as a thickening agent, as neutral henna (yes as in the ever popular natural hair treatment), and of course for traditional medicine.  The power is in the pods and the fruits of the senna plant, which have similar effects to that of aloe (also found in Haiti).
In Haiti, it is really common to take senna tea as an effective laxative. It is superb at relieving constipation. Senna is also known in Haiti for its excellent ability to expel stomach worms, a medical consequence of poverty and poor public health conditions. Lastly, senna tea is often given to women right after childbirth as a way to relieve them of stress and tension.  Senna is commonly found in liquid, powder, and tea forms.

Again, Senna is a threatened species in Haiti, but that doesn't mean that we can't reverse the damage and protect the species.  Senna is incredibly valuable in the modern health market today. What people may not know is that Senna is the main ingredient in many common laxatives sold all over the world, especially in all of those "dieter's teas".  It acts as a stimulant to reduce the dieter's appetite and its laxative properties cause food to move through the system quicker than the food from the calories can be absorbed. So, if we Haitians could somehow save the Senna species in Haiti, there could definitely be a place for it in the natural health market.

Image Source: Verboga
Key Constituents:

  • Anthroquinones
  • Sennasides
  • rhenins
  • anti-fungal, anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory
  • decreases fever
  • natural purgative
  • natural laxative
  • natural cathartic=makes you relaxed

  • a scientifically-proven intestinal cleanser (especially effective before surgery)
  • proven treatment for urinary infections, hemorrhoids
  • commonly used to treat anemia, bronchitis, constipation, and numerous skin problems
  • *drink as a tea to calm you down
  • *drink as a mild yet effective intestinal cleanser
  • *if the above treatment makes you nauseated, you can add cloves, ginger or cinnamon to decrease the nauseous effects
  • *use as a "neutral henna" hair treatment to provide deep conditioning, extra protein, and strength to your hair
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The "Haitian Treasures" series explores the magnificent benefits and uses of Haiti's natural resources, which I call "Haitian Treasures" because they are truly national gems.  Naïka in Balance is the premiere source for information on healing herbs used by Haitians. In this series, I explore the tie between Haiti's natural resources and natural, traditional, and holistic healing.

Learn about other Haitian Treasures explored on this blog here!

The two most popular Haitian Treasures on this blog are:

Castor oil/l'huile palma christi
Wonder of the world plant/fey lougawou

Naika, the writer of this blog, has a doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine and a Masters of Science in Acupuncture as of June 2017. Please do not take the information presented on this blog, as medical advice, without consulting your certified health care practitioner. Knowledge is power and your health is your wealth!