Senna Tea - Healthy Or Dangerous?
Senna tea has been promoted as a cleansing diet drink and also as a weight loss drink. The thought of sipping a cup of warm tea, and in the process incurring weight loss or cleansing benefits, is a comforting one. In truth, senna tea makes a rather good cleansing agent due to its laxative properties. Unfortunately, the use of the herb senna, and the drinking of senna tea, lemonade, or other senna-based drinks is accompanied by a fair amount of hype.
Most retailers of senna tea and senna-based diet drinks will note on the product packages some of the dangers involved. The main danger is, if taken steadily over a period of time, one can develop a dependency on senna. The other danger is that senna tea or senna diet drinks, if taken in excess, can cause significant health problems.
The senna herb grows primarily in tropical locations, and because of its colorful yellow flowers, is a favorite for decorations and landscaping. The herb also has been known for its medicinal value since the Middle Ages. Promotions of senna-based products often point this out, often with the hint that something that has been around that long must be good for you, and more of it must be better. Senna, especially senna tea does have its uses. It is excellent for the treatment of constipation, as it acts as a stool softener. When used in a cleansing diet regimen, senna can also be quite effective. If you are brewing senna tea for this purpose, don't make it too strong, as stomach cramps often will result.
A more controversial use of senna tea is as a weight loss solution. This is one area in which you need to be careful of all the hype surrounding senna tea. Senna is sometimes promoted as a drink that helps food move quickly through the intestines, before all the nutrients (and calories) have been absorbed in our body. The result is eventual weight loss, or so the claim. Starving will produce the same effect. In other words, moving food rapidly through our intestines is not a particularly healthy practice. For one thing, senna acts in the colon, not in the small intestine, where nutrients from food are absorbed by the body. By the time senna takes effect, the body is done with the food anyway. Senna can be harmful to people suffering from diverticular disease or Crone's disease, and should not be ingested if pregnant. Taken over extended periods, senna can cause liver damage.
As a cleansing agent senna is generally safe if taken in reasonable amounts, since a cleansing diet typically lasts between 24 and 48 hours. If colon cleansing is your goal, the best approach would be to consult your doctor or pharmacist to see if they agree that drinking senna tea makes sense. Both over the counter and prescription cleansers are used prior to colonoscopies, and contain laxatives as does sienna tea.
If senna tea, or any other herbal tea for that matter, is presented as a sure fire way to lose weight, you should tread carefully. Too often, cleansing diets are confused with, and sometimes promoted as, weight loss diets. Losing waste matter during a cleansing diet is not weight loss, losing healthy tissue is, and the best way to lose healthy tissue is to eat foods that increase the body's metabolic rate. While the Food and Drug Administration neither condones nor discourages the use of senna, aloe, and other herbal teas, as dieter's teas, it does advise the consumer to read the contents on the package, and follow directions carefully.
Senna tea, if taken in proper amounts by healthy people, should not cause dangerous side effects if the use of the product is for a short time only. It certainly has its place in a cleansing diet, but as far as weight loss is concerned, beware of the hype.