Thursday, March 31, 2016

Senna Benefits and Information

Senna (Senna Alexandrina)

Senna Benefits
Senna is a herb that is generally used for its laxative properties. Senna formerly, plants in Cassia (genus)is also known as wild senna, cassia marilandica, or locust plant. It works by interacting with the bacteria in the digestive track, resulting in intestinal contractions. These contractions are caused by the anthraquinone that is contained in senna. These dimeric glycosides anthraquinone derivatives are known as Senna glycosides or sennosides. They are named after their abundant occurrence in these plants of the genus Senna. The main forms of these glycosides are often referred to by: A, B, C & D. Both leaves and pods of the senna plant are used for their laxative effects. The pods are less potent than the leaves.

 Senna is found in many tropical countries. The plant has been used in India for thousands of years as a laxative. It can be found in capsule and tablet form, tea bags and loose tea, as well as liquid extracts. The undiluted dried root can be found in health food stores.

How Does Senna Work?

Senna contains glycosides, which are a group of organic compounds that are commonly found in plants. These compounds work as a laxative by smoothing the muscles as digested food moves through the intestines. This helps to enhance the stool volume and move it out of the colon. The process is caused by the chain of fatty acids that promote digestion, fermentation, and successfully converting the glycosides into a purgative agent.

How to Use Senna  Image result for senna leaf

Senna is generally used by people suffering from constipation. For relief, a person should take ½ teaspoon of the liquid, or one 50 or 100 mg capsule or tablet. After taking the Senna, a bowel movement should occur within six to 12 hours. There is also a tea available, but since Senna has an unpleasant taste naturally, it is good to mix the tea with another flavor of tea.
Senna is the ingredient in the commercial laxative suppository called Senokot. The suppositories are inserted into the rectum for constipation relief.

Senna Tea

Many people like to take herbal preparations in the form of a tea. Senna tea comes in teabags and can be found in health food stores, but some people like to use the loose leaves of Senna and brew the tea themselves. Steep the leaves in a pot of boiling water for approximately ten minutes. The leaves can also be put in cold water and steeped for 10 to 12 hours. Using cold water to steep the leaves will leave less resin in the tea, so the chances of abdominal cramping will be reduced. Regardless of the method used, once the tea is ready, strain and drink. When relieving constipation with Senna tea, it will take up to 12 hours to get relief. It is recommended to take before bedtime, so that relief can occur in the morning.
A common preparation is to boil 100 grams of the tea leaves in distilled water with 5 grams of fresh ginger that has been sliced. Cover and steep for 15 minutes, strain, and drink while hot. Make only the amount to drink, as the Senna tea gets stronger if it sits, and can lead to abdominal cramping. Other carminative herbs that mix well with Senna are peppermint and fennel. When sensitive stomachs are an issue, making the tea from the Senna pod rather than the leaves produces a milder tea as the pods are less potent than the leaves.

Senna Herb Notes / Side Effects

When using Senna tea, never drink it for more than seven consecutive days. Also, it should not be used by pregnant women or if the women are nursing. Do not give Senna tea to children under 12 years of age.
Senna is a relatively strong laxative, and should be taken in moderation only for the period when a cure is needed. It has been known to be habit forming, so it should not be used daily. If constipation is extreme, medical attention should be sought. Do not continue to use Senna as a way to prevent constipation from occurring.
There are times when Senna should not be taken. People suffering from intestinal blockage, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, hemorrhoids, or ulcers should not take Senna. Anyone on heart medication of any kind should consult their physician before taking Senna, as is can interfere with the medications and cause irregularities in the heart. Senna should not be taken if taking a diuretic because it can result in an excessive depletion of potassium from the body.
Sometimes diarrhea can occur when taking Senna. Always start with a lesser dose until the body’s response to the effects of Senna is known.


Fenugreek: What Is It and What Is It Good For?

I first heard of Fenugreek over 20 years ago when I had my third child.  I was a nursing mom. and I believed strongly (still do ) in the use of herbal remedies. I was told Fenugreek would bring my breast milk in fuller and richer.  It was also good to drink when  a baby got sick as it gets rid of mucous off a sick child's chest.  It was my go too and really worked.  Worked so much that my milk was  It really did help my baby with colds and fever.  I recommended it to anyone having issues with milk production and who had a sick baby.

Fast forward to the present.  Fenugreek has many more uses.  It is rich in minerals, used for glycemic control in diabetics, inhibits the growth of some cancer cells and much more.   The following article gives more detailed information about the benefits of Fenugreek.

What Is Fenugreek Good For?Fenugreek  Nutrition Facts


Fenugreek  Nutrition Facts
Botanical name: Trigonella foenum-graecum

Fenugreek is one of the oldest cultivated medicinal plants native to southern Europe and Asia. The name itself has an exotic ring, and it should, as widely traveled as it is. A very popular plant grown throughout Mediterranean regions, Argentina, North Africa, France, India, and the U.S., fenugreek is mentioned in detail in Egyptian papyrus writings circa 1500 B.C. Because it’s been used in so many cultures, this is one herb with a lot of different monikers: bird’s foot, Greek hay, and bockshornsame are a few.

An annual plant about two feet tall, this herb is also considered a legume. It produces light green leaves similar to clover, small white flowers, and long pods each containing 10 to 20 small, hard, golden-brown seeds. The seeds have a pungent aroma and fairly bitter taste, described as similar to burnt celery.

While it’s also known for dying textiles, fenugreek’s many food uses – not to mention curative aspects – indicate how versatile this plant and its derivatives can be. The tender leaves and shoots can be added to salad greens, and the extract is used for marinades as well as imitation vanilla, butterscotch, rum, and maple syrup flavoring.

Ground to a fine powder, fenugreek seeds are a favorite ingredient in Indian curries, but can add tasty pizzazz to any bland dish. Fenugreek seeds also make it onto the ingredient list in everything. They’re even roasted and ground to make coffee.

After purchasing, fenugreek can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to six months.

Health Benefits of Fenugreek

Fenugreek seeds are rich in minerals such as iron, potassium, calcium, selenium, copper, zinc, manganese and magnesium. In the vitamin department, it contains thiamin, folic acid, riboflavin, pyridoxine (vitamin B6), niacin, and vitamins A and C. There are also polysaccharides: saponins, hemicellulose, mucilage, tannin, and pectin, which help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels by discouraging bile salts from absorbing into the colon, while at the same time binding to toxins so they can be escorted from the body. The amino acid 4-hydroxy isoleucine in the seeds helps lower rate of glucose absorption in the intestines, which lowers blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes.

It’s notable that 100 grams of fenugreek seeds contain about 323 calories, and that the fiber content is quite high, which may have something to do with one traditional use for this product in the Middle East – to gain weight. Areas of the Middle East and North Africa are noted for grinding the seeds into a paste to be taken with sugar and olive oil. The seeds also add to digestive bulk, which helps prevent constipation. The paste is also applied topically to fight infection and inflammation in wounds, and the herb portion is used to treat diarrhea and stomach ulcers.

Fenugreek contains choline, which studies show may not only help slow mental aging, but also calm PMS and symptoms of menopause. Fenugreek is also considered an aphrodisiac, and plenty of studies tout its ability to increase libido in men.

There are also those who attribute to fenugreek the ability to promote breast growth in women, although no studies prove it decisively. But another key compound, diosgenin, has been shown to increase milk flow, which makes this herb very popular among breastfeeding mothers. However, fenugreek can cause uterine contractions, so it’s advised that pregnant women avoid fenugreek in any form.

Research also indicates that the diosgenin in fenugreek may play an important part in inhibiting several types of cancer.

Fenugreek Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: One oz. of fenugreek (28 grams)
Amt. Per Serving
Calories  ............................................................................................................71
Carbohydrates ..................................................................................................18 g
Fiber ...................................................................................................................7 g
Protein ...............................................................................................................3 g
Fat .....................................................................................................................1 g

Studies Done on Fenugreek

A double blind placebo controlled study was conducted on 25 newly diagnosed patients with type 2 diabetes to determine the effects of fenugreek seeds on glycemic control and insulin resistance in mild to moderate type 2 diabetes mellitus. After two months, blood glucose levels as well as insulin were significantly lower.

The conclusion: the use of fenugreek seeds improves glycemic control and decreases insulin resistance in mild type 2 diabetic patients, with a favorable effect on hypertriglyceridemia (associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events and acute pancreatitis) as well.1

In another study, scientists demonstrated that fenugreek seed extract (FE) are cytotoxic in vitro to certain cancers, but not normal cells. Treatment with 10-15 ug/mL of FE for 72 hours inhibited the growth of breast, pancreatic and prostate cancer cell lines, at least in part due to induction of cell death. Researchers noted that fenugreek is one of many “dietary components” with therapeutic potential.2

Fenugreek Healthy Recipes: Red Lentils with Fenugreek or Methi Dal
                                                                    Fenugreek  Healthy Recipes

Fenugreek  Healthy Recipes

     1 Tbsp. coconut oil or ghee (clarified butter)
     ½ tsp. cumin seeds 
     1 Thai chili or jalapeno, slit 
     1 small onion, diced 
     1 Tbsp. minced ginger 
     1 Tbsp. minced garlic 
     1 cup red lentils 
     3/4 tsp. ground turmeric 
     1 cup fresh fenugreek leaves (or substitute 2 Tbsp. dried fenugreek)
     1 Tbsp. lemon juice 


Heat oil in a medium saucepan. Add cumin and chili into oil. When the cumin sizzles, add onion and sauté on medium heat until onion is soft. Add ginger and garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.
Add lentils and turmeric to saucepan and stir. Pour in 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until lentils are cooked - about 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, wash fenugreek leaves and tender stems, discarding the rest. Measure 1 cup of fenugreek greens to stir into the dal for 2 minutes toward the end of cooking. Stir in lemon juice, and salt. Use as a topping over seasoned basmati rice or rice noodles. 

Fenugreek Fun Facts

Being one of the spices used by ancient Egyptians in their embalming ceremonies, prolonged ingestion of fenugreek is widely noted for its ability to change the odor of perspiration and urine to smell like maple syrup.


An ancient herb from Asia and Southern Europe, fenugreek leaves and seeds are loaded with vitamins and minerals. These are valuable for their use not only in foods, but also in traditional and modern medicine around the world.

One of fenugreek’s basic herbal uses is to stimulate milk production in breastfeeding women, as well as inducing childbirth, containing phytoestrogens or plant chemicals similar to the female sex hormone estrogen. Other uses include relieving digestive problems and menopausal symptoms, but lately it’s had a resurgence in interest as an aphrodisiac. Fenugreek is also used as a remedy applied to the skin to treat infections and inflammation.

Roasting and grinding of fenugreek seeds are advised before food use. Studies show it not only has the ability to lower blood sugar levels but fight cancer. Try grinding a few tablespoons into your next stir fry or soup. You might discover a new secret ingredient.

Other sources:


1, Effect of Trigonella foenum-graecum (fenugreek) seeds on glycaemic control and insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes mellitus: a double blind placebo controlled study, Jan. 2013
2, Fenugreek: a naturally occurring edible spice as an anticancer agent, Jan. 2013