Wild Senna (Cassia marilandica)
A perennial herb, growing from 4 to 6 feet high, with round, smooth, or slightly hairy stems. The leaves are alternate, on long petioles, at the base of which is a large, ovate, shining green gland, terminating in
a dark point at top, which is sometimes double; each petiole contains from 8 to 10 pairs of leaflets, which are oblong, smooth, entire, somewhat hairy at the edges, 1 or 2 inches long. The flowers are bright yellow, in axillary racemes, extending to the top of the stem; sepals 5; petals 5. The fruit is a legume, from 2 to 4 inches long, with many seeds. NOTE: Gather when the plant is in bloom.
Family: Leguminosae (Pea Family)
Other Names: American Senna, Locust Plant
Flowers: June – September
Parts Used: Leaves & seedpods
Habitat: Dry thickets. Pennsylvania to Florida; Kansas to Iowa.
Constituents: Albumen, mucilage, starch, volatile oil, resin, salts of potassium and calcium, and a principle resembling cathartin.
Properties: Laxative, Vermifuge, Cathartic.
Main Uses: Powdered leaves or tea are given as a strong laxative, also for fevers. One teaspoon ground Coriander seeds can be added to leaf tea to prevent griping (cramps). You may also use Ginger, Anise, Caraway, or Fennel. A tea of the pods is milder and slower acting.
Commercial companies are making laxatives from Alexandrian Senna (Cassia senna), which comes from Africa, and Indian Senna (Cassia augustifolia), which comes from India. You will find these laxatives in every pharmacy.
Caution Caution! It should not be taken for a prolonged period and it should not be taken by pregnant women.
Preparation and Dosages:
Tincture: 1/2 to 1 teaspoon.
Infusion: Use 1 teaspoon leaves with 1 cup boiling water; steep for 1/2 hour. Take hot or cold, a mouthful three times a day or 1/2 cup before going to bed. Take no more than 2 cups total.