Sona Patti / Sonamukhi Plant Ayurvedic Benefits & Side Effects

Sona Patti, literally translating to “Gold leaves”, is a rare medicinal flowering shrub, sometimes with a religious significance. Surely, everyone in India has definitely seen it or even held it in their hands without even realizing that they’re in the presence of Sona Patti. Well, what makes it so popular? 

The very fact that it is the cousin of Bauhinia racemose, commonly known as the beedi leaf tree, whose leaves are heavily used in India for the manufacturing of “beedis”, the Indian version of cigarettes. It might also be noteworthy that the beedi plant is called Sona Patti at times. But then why is it being discussed here if it is so evil? Sona Patti has been painted evil by that one product when in fact it is a really powerful medicine and holy shrub.


Sonapatti / Sonamukhi / Indian Senna

It is a small crooked and wriggly tree which can reach a maximum height of 3 to 5 feet. It is native to tropical Southeast Asia and is a very well-known celebrity of India. It is botanically known as Cassia angustifolia. Besides the misleading tag on it, it is a very versatile and mysterious plant.  Although native to India, it can also be found in Arab and some African countries. 

Speaking earlier about the versatility, Sona Patti is used in Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Siddha, Unani, Folk, Chinese and Modern medicine! It has a use for almost every single medicinal science. It is used and processed in herb form.


The shrub grows up to 2-3 feet in height normally. It has spear shaped and pointed leaves and portray a very pale yellowish-green colour. The pods, leaves and seeds are used in medicines. The pods are commonly known as Senna pods, since the plant is known as Senna in English. The plant leaves are called Sonamukhi leaves or Sona Patti. The powder is also known as Sonamukhi. Lastly, the entire plant when used is known as Nilavarai.


Sona Patti is primarily utilized in leaf and pod form. Major remedies revolve around joint pain and bowel syndromes. Not restricted to just these, it is also used to get rid of parasites in a completely safe and non-intrusive way. Its uses also extend to treating gout and wounds. The plant is highly versatile such that every single part of it can be used. There are numerous ways of treating various illnesses using Sona Patti. It is essential to note that every treatment must be approved by a licensed practitioner, including the dosage. Some remedies are as follows:


Sona Patti is known for its laxative and purgative qualities. The plant is in herb form here. The leaves contain compounds like sennosides, which help stimulate the intestines. This further helps push the stool through the bowel and help relieve constipation. Sennosides also help in increasing the water content in the colon, making the stool easier to pass. Use Senna leaves daily in ingested form for a maximum of 10 days.


Senna leaves contain a natural anti-inflammatory compound called resveratrol (the same compound that gives red wine its anti-inflammatory effects). Because of this, Senna leaves may help reduce widespread, chronic inflammation in the body. Use Senna leaves for inflammation reduction but only as a short-term relief. Chronic care is not advised.


It helps regulate bowel movement by stimulating the liver for proper secretion of enzymes and increasing peristaltic movement of intestines. Consume Sonamukhi in powdered or brewed form for instant relief.


It is very effective to treat joint ailments as well, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout. Use Sona Patti oil to massage the affected areas. Regular but minimal use it the best option.


Sona Patti is also known for its blood purifying abilities. It also helps heal wounds and is often used as a wound dresser, most prominently seen in Eastern India. Use Senna paste to cover the wounds and help with speedy recovery.


It is a very powerful dermatological treatment option and helps treat acne, pimples, eczema, etc. It is used topically and in normally in paste or oil form. Sonamukhi leaves are crushed or ground into a paste and applied over acne, pimples, eczema spots, etc.


A lesser known property of Sona Patti is that it is anthelmintic in nature, i.e. it helps remove parasites from the host without causing any harm to the host. Most applications involving anthelmintic Senna are for intestinal and digestive tract parasites. Since it is anthelmintic in nature, it is used to get rid of parasites effectively.


Senna pods are incredibly effective in treating bronchitis, fever, hemorrhoids, jaundice, malaria, dermatitis, anemia, etc.


Sona Patti is used in a very traditional sense and is mainly used in 3 different forms with other variations created depending on the requirements. Some methods are as follows:


Can be made out of seeds, roots or leaves or a combination of all to be used topically or as an ingestion. This paste is very useful for skin conditions.


The oil is made mainly for usage in therapy and massage treatments and is mostly made from leaves and seeds. The oil is almost always used topically.


This dry form of crushed leaves is mostly used as tonic powder or as a base material for the paste and other variations. This is a common form for daily doses.


This mainly pertains to boiling the leaves and using it as an alternative to a decoction or tea. Very useful for bowel syndromes and intestinal issues.


Sona Patti is known to be relatively safe with a few but severe side effects. The major side effect is found from the consumption of leaves. Prolonged use of the leaves has shown reduced levels of potassium in a person’s body, leading to bone and muscle weakness. It is also not at all suitable for a chronic, or prolonged, usage and is normally only advised for short-term remedies. It is also very easy to overdose on Sonamukhi. Hence, it is used only in tiny amounts. 

If you have an intestinal obstruction, ulcerative colitis, appendicitis, Crohn’s disease or any other inflammatory bowel disease, you should not take Senna. It should not be used along with blood thinner as it interferes with vitamin K in our body, especially during illnesses like diarrhoea and can cause uncontrolled bleeding. It also reduced the effectiveness of contraceptives. 

The most common but manageable side-effects of Sona Patti include abdominal pain, cramps, fluid loss and under some cases, Senna-dependent bowel movements when consumed for a prolonged period. Keeping this aside, the reaction to Sonamukhi may vary from person to person based on their body’s tolerance capability. Even then, it is recommended that a doctor or a certified Ayurvedic practitioner be consulted before consumption or usage. It is highly dangerous to self-medicate without any supervision. A full analysis is suggested with a proper diagnosis of symptoms, medical history and interaction with drugs for those that choose to use Sona Patti or its derivatives.



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