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Fan Xie Ye

English Name: senna leaves

Literal Translation: “barbarian purgative leaves”

Pharmaceutical Name: Folium Sennae

Medica Category: Downward Draining Herbs– Purgatives

Properties: Fan Xie Ye enters the Large Intestine channel; it is sweet and bitter in nature and cold in temperature.

What is Fan Xie Ye?:

The Chinese Herb Fan Xie Ye is the dried leaves of the Alexandrian senna plant (two species of which are standard for medicinal use: Cassia angustifolia Vahl and Cassia acutifolia Del.). Senna is native to the upper Nile region of Egypt/Africa and has long been naturalized across Central Asia, through India and beyond. It was formally introduced into the Chinese medica in 1935 and is cultivated in Guangdong, Hainan, and Yunnan provinces in China. Its leaves are harvested in the fall and dried for use as medicine (usually taken as tea).

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Therapeutic Actions of Fan Xie Ye:

Fan Xie Ye purges accumulation and clears heat and acts as a mild laxative when steeped in hot water and made into tea (5-10g for no longer than 15 minutes). Clinical applications include relieving acute or chronic constipation and cleansing the bowels before x-ray or surgery.

–safety/clinical notes:

Use with caution for persons who are weak or debilitated.

Use with caution for pregnant, menstruating, or lactating women.

Overdose of Fan Xie Ye is associated with abdominal pain, numbness of the lips, swelling in the extremities, and dizziness. Severe overdose may result in labored breathing, tonic-clonic contractions (stiffening and or jerking and twisting of the muscles in the extremities), locked jaw, foaming of the mouth, and unconsciousness.

Overuse of Fan Xie Ye can aggravate potassium loss associated with diuretic drugs such as chlorothiazide, hydrochlorothiazide, furosemide (Lasix), bumetanide (Bumex), and torsemide (Demadex).

Excessive loss of potassium increases toxicity of cardiac glycosides such as digoxin (Lanoxin).

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