Senega Snakeroot - Useful Herb for Constipation

Senega snakeroot

Polygala senega Polygalaceae Also called Rattlesnake root.

The herb is made up of several 20.30cm high stems, rising from a mol that widens into a knotty c rown. Senega snakeroot owes its name to a tribe of Native American Indianáthe Senecas, who used it to treat snake bitesáand other poisons. The erect stems bear lance-shaped leavesáand spikes of white flowers. The fruit is a papery capsule.

Parts used

  • Root
  • In autumn the plant is pulled out of the ground.
  • The root is separated from the plant, then dried before being used for decoctions, infusions, tinctures, liquid extracts and powders. It is also an ingredient in syrups.


The plant has an abundance of triterpenoid saponins, which are derivatives of presenegin. These are thought to be helpful in expelling phlegm. It also contains methyl salicylate, phenolic acids and lipids.

Medicinal uses

Because of the properties of its saponins, senega snakeroot is well of known as an expectorant. It is prescribed for coughs and bronchitis and is given as a syrup to children with wet, phlegmy coughs.

Senega snakeroot is also used to, treat mild constipation, and has a diuretic action. It also encourages perspiration. In 1996, Japanese scientists demonstrated that the roots lower blood sugar levels without altering insulin levels. In the same year another Japanese research group found that senega snakeroot lowered the levels of both cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood of normal, cholesterol.fed and hyperlipidemic mice.

This plant is also indicated in the treatment of ailments with an inflammatory component such as eczema, psoriasis, snakebites and sore throats.


Senega snakeroot can be grown from seeds. They should be planted in autumn, in moist, well-drained soil, in either a sunny or lightly shaded location.


For internal use

TO TREAT coughs, bronchitis DEcoalON Put 1 teaspoon of dried root into 750ml of water. Drink 2-3 cups a day.
INFUSION Put 10g of root into 1 litre of boiling water. Leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Drink 3-4 cups a day.
CAPSULES (40mg) Take 3-6 capsules a day.
TINCTURE Put 30-40 drops into a glass of water. Take three to six times a day.
LIQUID EXTRA a Take 20 drops two to four times a day.
TO TREAT mild constipation, wet, phlegmy coughs in children
SYRUP Administer 3.4 teaspoons a day.



  • Very occasionally, and only as a result of excessive or prolonged use, senega snakeroot may cause nausea.
  • Excessive use of the plant can also result in diarrhoea.
  • Senega snakeroot should not be taken by people with gastritis or a gastric ulcer.
  • The root can be used fresh, but it may irritate the mouth.


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