Long-term use of senna can lead to an imbalance of electrolytes in the bloodstream, in turn causing heart problems, muscle weakness and liver damage.
Included on the Library of Medicine webpage is a list of conditions which should rule out use of senna, including Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, potassium deficiency, intestinal blockage and anal prolapse. Many gastrointestinal conditions are made worse by use of senna, the page says.
Weil prefers the over-the-counter products containing psyllium powder or triphala capsules. He also recommends a diet and lifestyle that wards off constipation in the first place with plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, water and physical activity.
In addition, probiotic products are worth considering, now that they come in so many forms and have joined the health mainstream. A doctor can recommend a product that zeroes in on constipation.
"Senna." Medline Plus, National Library of Medicine. Web. 25 April 2012. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/652.html
"The Top Power Foods for You." Health.com. Web. 25 April 2012. http://www.health.com/health/article/0,,20465624,00.html
"Conquering Constipation – Naturally?" Q & A Library, DrWeil.com. Web. 25 April 2012. http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/id/QAA176926
Reviewed April 26, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith