My Government Says I Can't Tell You This

They were the brightest yellow flowers I’d ever seen, almost neon. That’s why people call it “candle bush” – because the stalks of flowers look like fiery candles.

Dr Sears in Africa

The flowers grew straight up, making the plant look like a candelabra.

I haven’t seen them up close since the last big hurricane ripped through Palm Beach County. I had one growing in my yard, but the rain flooded the lake nearby and drowned the roots out.

I saw a whole bunch of different varieties of this plant in East Africa. But the neon candle bush I was looking at now is one of the most important. Its real name is “senna.”

The locals use senna to fight fever, and it’s very effective for that. But I want you to know about it because senna can help stimulate your digestion, cure constipation and fight infection.

Senna is just one of the medicinal plants I saw at the Entebbe Botanic Gardens, on the edge of Uganda’s Lake Victoria. A good friend introduced me to the curator of the Gardens, and I was getting a private, behind the scenes tour.

I was surprised to see there were signs posted everywhere telling you what the plants can do for you. The sign in front of the senna had something on it that Ugandans have known for years: “It Cures Malaria.”

But my government would never let me put up a sign like that. Because the FDA is really working for the drug companies, and there’s big money in that for them. They’re funded by clinical trials for pharmaceuticals, and it’s in their best financial interest to stay on “Big Pharma’s” good side. But they don’t make a dime from herbal medicine, and so they don’t make it easy for me to talk about it.

That’s why it’s always refreshing for me to speak openly with traditional healers around the world. Their experiences with herbs are untouched by political agendas.

Even the little kids that I met in Africa know that senna is a cleansing herb. Sometimes they use the leaves to make a paste to treat skin rashes and irritations. To them, it has a cathartic effect.

In Uganda, herbal knowledge is prized – and shared freely. No one censors what they can say about herbs.

The adults make anti-malaria decoctions with it. A decoction is a way to extract the active parts of a plant. I watched them take the leaves and roots and boil them down, along with other local plants like Ajuga remota and Fagaropsis angolensis.

After it cools, they drink the tonic that’s left. It helps bring the fever down and fight off the parasite that causes malaria.

In most of the tropical places where senna grows, people also use it as a laxative.

My friends in Africa showed me how they use it to stimulate the digestive tract and flush out infections that way. Compounds in the leaves make what are called anthrones in the body, and those go to work in your digestive system.

So how can you use senna to help digestion and protect you from infections?

First, look for it under its scientific name, Senna didymobotrya, or simply “senna.”

You can get it as a supplement, and that’s a good way to take senna. You’ll get the standardized extract of the plant’s leaves, roots, and bulbs to give you its benefits.

But don’t take senna extract continually. Just use it to help you if you’re having digestive problems, and it will work for you.

I’m going to show you exactly how I saw my herbalist friends use it in Uganda. It’s the same recipe I used myself after I came back home from my trip:

  1. Pick the leaves and dry them in the shade.
  2. Shift them around from time to time to help them get fully dry.
  3. Grind them up into a fine powder.
  4. Add the powder to a small pan of water. Because senna is very powerful, start with a very small amount until you know how it affects you.
  5. Boil slowly.
  6. Cool and strain before drinking.

I saw them do something else with senna leaves too: They use them to ripen bananas. Just wrap the leaves around the bunch and the bananas go from green to yellow in no time.