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Does Senna Leaf Help People Lose Weight?

author image Jake Wayne
Jake Wayne has written professionally for more than 12 years, including assignments in business writing, national magazines and book-length projects. He has a psychology degree from the University of Oregon and black belts in three martial arts.
Does Senna Leaf Help People Lose Weight?
A senna leaf is seen on a white background. Photo Credit peangdao/iStock/Getty Images

Senna leaf is a traditional folk remedy for stomach upset. With the new millennium's growing popularity of dietary supplements for weight loss, some distributors of senna leaf products have begun to market it as a weight loss product. While the claim that it can produce weight loss may be technically true, the way it does so is not your healthiest option for shedding a few pounds.

Senna Basics

Senna is a leafy shrub, with two species used in herbal remedies: cassia occidentalis and ditremexa occidentalis. Native to East Asia, it now grows in temparate and subtropical climates worldwide -- including the Southeast United States. Senna products come in pill, capsule, powder and tea form and are available from most herbal remedy and holistic medicine distributors.

About Losing Weight

Healthy, sustainable weight loss comes from burning more calories than you eat. When this happens, your body makes up the difference by accessing extra calories you ate earlier and stored as fat. You burn the fat, and lose weight. Other forms of weight loss that are less healthy include losing water weight, fasting to reduce food weight and "gimmick" diets that trick your body into a state of emergency that burns fat faster.

Herbal Laxative

Senna is a traditional gastrointestinal treatment because it is a powerful laxative. This means it will stimulate you to have bowel movements more often and in greater volume. One side effect of this is that you will lose water weight from the water in your stool, and shed a few pounds through excretion. It's possible that you will also pass some foods you eat before your body fully digests them and absorbs your calories.

Bottom Line

Senna can stimulate some weight loss but the mechanic for weight loss -- excretion rather than fat burning -- is not a healthy weight loss choice. Further, the weight loss is temporary. It doesn't actually reduce your body fat. The weight will go right back on as soon as you reestablish your normal bathroom patterns and restore a healthy level of hydration.

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