Whole Senna Pods: An Overview
Senna pods are the fruit of the Mediterranean shrub known as Khartoum senna or Alexandrian senna. The fruit of the tree is a actually a legume, which looks like a dried snap pea, and it has many culinary and medicinal uses. The pods have a bitter, leafy taste and are primarily used in natural medicines and teas. In Thai cuisine, senna provides earthy notes to traditional dishes and curries.
Senna Pods: Common Uses
For thousands of years, senna pods have been used in traditional medicine. They’re most commonly used as a laxative. A tea brewed from senna produces a bitter tea that’s gentler on the stomach than the leaves, and it’s said to soothe and detoxify the entire intestinal tract. Generally, the tea is made by steaming whole pods for about 10 minutes in boiling water. And due to its effectiveness, it’s not recommended to drink more than 1 cup per day. The tea is commonly used by patients prior to intestinal surgeries.
The pods aren’t widely used in cooking, although some world cuisines do use them sparingly. In Thai cooking, the pods, as well as the leaves and the flowers of the Senna tree, are used in traditional dishes. Kaeng khilek is a Thai curry that features senna leaves and flowers.
Senna Pods Cultivation
There are many different varieties of Senna trees. Yet, one of the most common is Senna alexandria, which is more commonly known as Egyptian Senna. Today, the trees are grow throughout Egypt, Sudan and southern India.
The shrub grows tall up to 25 feet or more and has a narrow spread. The branches may spread just 5 feet or less. You might see the shrub growing in landscapes, as it’s a favorite privacy shrub. And it grows wild throughout Egypt.
Senna Pods History
The senna tree is an ancient species, which has been found on Earth for more than 50 million years. Senna pods have been found in the fossil record dating to the Eocene epoch. In traditional medicine, the pods have a long history. The plant was first described by Persian physicians in the 9th Century, yet nearly every ancient culture used the pods as a laxative.
There are records of Aztecs, Asians and Africans using the cassia species for this purpose. In North America, many of the early Native American tribes used senna pods and leaves as medicine. The Meskwaki, a tribe that lived near the Great Lakes used senna tea as a sore throat soother, and the Cherokee used the root of the tree to dress wounds.
The pods have numerous nicknames, many of which are inspired by its laxative properties. The Italians called senna “purging cassia,” during the Middle Ages. Today, India is one of the largest producers of senna pods, as well as China and countries in North Africa.
About Our Senna Pods
Senna grows wild in many of northern India, primarily in the north west state of Gujarat. Located just north of Mumbai, Gujarat’s coastal climate provides ideal growing conditions for the senna tree. The trees tend to take over vacant lots and can be found on alongside the road throughout the state. Our senna is wild foraged in Gujarat.