Many “slimming teas” are made of senna leaf as it can treat constipation and cause (temporary) weight loss. However, the use of senna leaves in dieters teas can actually be quite dangerous, particularly if not used correctly. Senna “teas” should only be used for a short time and with extreme caution.
Experts believe that senna leaf can cause serious liver damage, if used too often. Senna can also cause an increase in toxins in the body via its unusual effects on the functioning of the liver and gastrointestinal tract. Those suffering from bulimia and other eating disorders are especially at risk as they tend to abuse senna leaf.
Is Senna Addictive?
While “addictive” is a strong word, the US FDA does require a label on all senna products noting that it is “habit-forming.” This means that those who begin taking senna infusions for constipation may find themselves requiring it on a daily basis for bowel movements. And that the intestines will actually lose their function over time, becoming more dependent on senna to expel wastes, eventually needing more and more to produce the same effect.
Can Senna Cause Low Potassium?
If you have low potassium levels, senna is believed to lower your potassium levels yet further, so extra care should be taken. Even if you do not have low potassium, you can still become very ill by ingesting too much at one time.
When senna is taken with horsetail, an herb used by people with kidney stones and fluid retention problems, they can cause dangerously low potassium. If you start to feel muscle weakness or paralysis, stop taking the herb and consult your doctor immediately.
Can Senna Tea Hurt or Kill You?
Senna plants have been known, in extreme cases, to cause liver failure according to Dr. Bénédicte Vanderperren. A woman at the age of 52 ingested a liter of senna “tea” every day for three days and suffered from complete liver failure. Although that amount of senna leaf seems extremely high, it is not uncommon for people with eating disorders to take a large quantities of laxatives (including senna). That can be very dangerous, especially when continued over a long time, as it can cause severe liver and gastrointestinal damage.
More recently, Australian teenagers consuming “cleanse” or “detox tea”, though really just a potent senna leaf infusion, found themselves in extreme pain suffering stomach cramps–one even ended up in the hospital. (Read the story.)
Is Senna Safe?
While senna is considered safe for occasional moderate usage, it can be a very dangerous herbal supplement when taken too often for its laxative or weight loss effects. If you do decide to consume senna tea and notice any of the following symptoms, muscle weakness, paralysis, or stomach cramps, stop drinking senna immediately and call your doctor.
That’s why–with its dangers and addictive qualities–I absolutely refuse to have any senna in Belight Tea. And why I ran passionately in the opposite direction when it was suggested I include senna in this blend. Just say,
Belight is better than that. Belight does not contain senna. And we want you to be able to drink it comfortably day-in and day-out without risk, harmful side effects, or having it become habit-forming.
To your health!
I’d strongly suggest staying away from senna, except for the very occasional and minimal use. If you’re looking for a better option to help you make the necessary changes to lose weight once and for all, to help curb cravings and reduce snacking, ease digestion for a flatter stomach, and guide you through the transition to a healthier lifestyle, I highly recommend Belight Tea.