Lethal coronavirus has overtaken the world. Science hubs all over the world are trying their best to come up with a cure, but a vaccine cannot be created over time, especially since the virus is very challenging. Time is what they need, and what the world doesn’t have, as thousands to people succumb to the virus every day.
The lack of treatment and the subsequent dearth of substantial progress, despite over 6 months into the outbreak, has forced people to think outside the medical realm. Even the World Health Organization, WHO has welcomed alternative medicine and similar treatments for COVID-19; anything that can give some semblance of a response to the virus.
Hence, as people scrambled to find solutions, one Pakistani based in England proposed the use of Senna Makki leaves for the treatment of the virus. Dr. Nazir Ahmad claimed to heal almost 150 patients using senna leaves. This piqued the interest of the people and thus ensued the use of Senna Makki leaves for the treatment of coronavirus.
What is Senna Makki?
An ancient herb, Senna Makki initially came from Egypt, but now is being planted all over the world, especially in the Subcontinent and Somalia. The leaves are best sought for their laxative properties. It is also an OTC (over the counter) approved treatment for constipation.
What are the conventional uses of Senna Makki?
It essentially aids the bowel movements; the sennosides in the leaves are responsible for causing intestinal movement. It also is used in colon cleanse and thus is greatly consumed prior to colonoscopies.
Moreover, it also serves to relieve the complications resulting from bowel issues like constipation. Senna Makki is consumed to get a reprieve from hemorrhoids, a condition marked by distended veins of the rectum that may cause bleeding, itching and pain during defecation.
It also is used by patients suffering from anal fissures. Likewise, people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome use it as well. Many people also have used it for weight loss too on account of it being a laxative.
How is Senna Makki related to COVID-19 then?
The aforementioned conventional uses are bound to confuse a person when considering within the context of COVID-19. Conventionally, senna leaves have been used with regards to digestive health only.
However, the gastrointestinal tract plays an important part in immunity. The gut is the biggest source of immunity in the body, and anything that goes haywire in it is surely going to impact the performance of the body as well.
Thus, constipation is a sign of compromised immunity; it prevents the absorption of nutrients in the body and disturbs the balance of good bacteria that helps the body ward off pathogens, etc. As senna leaves remedy this condition, they strengthen the main source of immunity. This helps the body fight coronavirus better.
Furthermore, senna leaves also help in inflammation reduction. This is vital to fight off cold, cough, flu, and fever. In viral infections, the body can go into overdrive and produce a greater immune response than necessary, which too causes complications. Hence, this maintenance of the balance of inflammation is extremely vital to have the correct intensity of immune response.
Thus, in the case of coronavirus as well, Senna Makki leaves’ anti-inflammatory properties are very useful.
Does it cure COVID-19?
Whilst senna leaves certainly help the body have a better immune response and thus defense, however, to call it a cure to COVID-19 is a little premature. They do not directly attack the virus and thus are not akin to a proper anti-viral drug.
Moreover, there is no substantial scientific evidence to corroborate the efficacy of senna leaves. Doctors are willing to only concede the immunity boost it gives, but nothing more. Unless proper clinical trials are held, it cannot be legitimized as the cure to the viral disease. Others have a more aggressive stance towards it, calling it misleading information.
However, it does increase immunity, which whilst does not treat the disease, however, improves the body’s response to it.
So, should senna leaves be consumed?
The potency of the leaves is somewhat lost on the people, who are consuming the tea of senna leaves in great quantity. Even though it is an herb, it is still very dangerous if not consumed as per the instructions.
There have been instances of people suffering from liver or nerve damage, and even coma when they abused the quantity of the herbs. Senna leaves can also lead to dependence on them for having a bowel movement.
Moreover, the leaves are not safe for consumption by everyone. Only people over the age of 12 should take them. It is not safe for pregnant women to drink the tea, whereas nursing mothers can take it, only in minute quantities. The tea should not be taken for more than 7 days straight.
It can also react with a certain type of medications like blood thinners or diuretics, steroids and heart medicines. So, anyone taking these should find other ways to boost immunity.
Furthermore, senna leaves can also relatively milder side effects like vomiting, nausea, diarrhea which can lead to problems associated with dehydration as well.
Word of caution
It may be the immunity boost or the placebo effect that has caused many people to swear by senna leaves as a cure for coronavirus, however, there is no conclusive evidence to suggest this. Thus, if you feel like your digestive health might hold you back in the fight against the virus, take the tea, but after consultation with a nutritionist in Karachi, Lahore or Islamabad.