SENNA, Cassia senna

Before the Gulf War, the name Baghdad had little meaning. Although one of the oldest cities in the world and the capitol of what is now Iraq, we have only heard the name in songs and stories.

However, in the beginning of the 9th century, the Caliph Harun Rashid was the ruler of this great city. Being on the trade route from Asia, Baghdad was a center of trade and commerce. In spite of the great culture and learning, their fine arts and great wealth, the Caliph or someone in his family was constipated. The court physicians were called in. After little success with their regular laxatives, they used harsh purgatives.

The story goes that because their remedies caused griping, pain and suffering, they paid with their heads, and the caliph sent for new doctors. One who came was known as Mesue, the Elder from Africa. He brought with him many herbs and potions. One of the many herbs he brought with him was senna leaves and pods. He put together a potion of herbs that included senna leaves and pods and other herbs which had a bitter taste. He added cloves, coriander and ginger to tone down the potion and to make it more palatable. He and his senna potion must have pleased the Caliph because he became a prominent person in Baghdad.

This very old story tells us two things; namely, that there was constipation way back then, and that it was a serious matter even then, as it is today. It becomes serious when we realize that the bowel is like a septic tank that we carry around with us. If it is not emptied two or three times a day, poisons and toxins can develop into the blood stream and can poison the body. Many diseases are the result of a toxic bowel. The toxins break down the immune system so it is less effective in trying to protect us from disease and sickness. Most animals have a bowel movement each time they eat. A small baby, before it learns bad habits, has three or more bowel movement a day. Eating proper foods, drinking a lot of water and exercising can also help to keep the bowel clean.

The generic name for senna is cassia. This genus includes many species from all over the world. The most common is Cassia acutifolia or Alexandrian senna. It grows in Northeast Africa. It is a shrub about two feet high with leaflets that grow in opposite pairs. The leaflet is pale green, brittle and pointed on both ends. The flower is yellow. The seed pod is thin and broadly oblong. It is two to four inches long and holds four or five flat, ash-colored seeds. The senna marilandica that grows in the Eastern United States in milder in action. It has a seed pod that is longer and narrower.

The senna leaves are cathartic and can cause griping and discomfort. This is why they are used in conjunction with other, milder herbs. The senna pods are milder and cause a stimulation of the peristaltic muscles of the bowel. This helps the bowel to work naturally and without irritation. Senna pods are used in Grandma’s herbal Super-Lax formula.

Senna works on the peristaltic muscles of the bowel. This is why it is great for constipation. However, it has other values also. It has been used to overcome a fever. When cleaning the bowel, the fever that can be present from a toxic bowel will often leave. Senna has been used for obesity to help lose weight. It has been used to get rid of pimples and skin disease, to help get rid of parasites and worms, to help overcome bad breath, relieve the pains of colic, settle upset stomach and biliousness, and even to help with gallstones, gout and jaundice. Most of these problems have to do with a toxic bowel, so we can see how senna would help to overcome almost all of these maladies.
Remember, you are no healthier than your bowel.

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