By Omer Bayazeid
Prof. Dr. Şebnem Harput
The dried leaflets of Cassia acutifolia known
as Alexandrian senna or C. angustifolia known
as Indian senna F. Leguminoseae .
Senna pods also contains the
same constituents as the
The plant is originated to tropical Africa.
It grows wild near the Nile river from
Aswan to Kordofan, and in the North-West
Arabian area, India and Somalia.
It is cultivated in India, Pakistan, and the
C. senna occur as grayish-green
or brownish-green, thin, fragile
leaflets, lanceolate, mucronate,
asymmetrical at the base,
usually 15-40 mm long and 5-15
mm wide .
The powder is light green or greenish-yellow.
Examine under a microscope using chloral hydrate
The powder shows the following diagnostic
A gutter-shaped group of similar ﬁbres on the
abaxial side containing prismatic crystals
of calcium oxalate.
Under the epidermal
cells a single row of
Paracytic stomata on both surfaces.
Epidermis with polygonal cells
On the adaxial surface
cluster crystals of calcium
oxalate distributed throughout
the lacunose tissue.
known as Sennosides A, B, C and D.
A & B are dianthrone of Rhein R=(COOH).
C & D are dianthrone of Rhein and Aloe emodin R= (CH2OH).
2. Free Anthraquinones ( aglycones): Rhein, Aloe emodin.
Act on the colon and stimulate its muscles (irritant
1. Small doses: laxativein case of acute constipation.
2. Large doses: Purgative.
3. In folk medicine, not supported by experimental or
clinical data. As an expectorant, a wound dressing, an
anti-dysenteric and for the treatment of gonorrhoea,
skin diseases, dyspepsia, fever, and haemorrhoids.
Borntrager’s Test For Anthraquinone glycosides
Chemical test Powdered Senna + KOH red color which
indicates that it contains free anthraquinone.
Modified Borntrager’s Test For Anthraquinone glycosides
In a Test Tube: Powder Senna + 4ml Alcholic KOH, Boil
for 2-3 min Dilute with 4ml water +2 Drops H2O2 Filter,
Acidify with 5ml HCl, Cool, Shake with Benzene Separate
the benzene layer & shake with 2 ml conc. NH3
Rose Red Color in NH3 Layer(lower layer).
• Intestinal obstruction or inflammation.
• Colitis, appendicitis.
• During pregnancy and lactation.
• Children under 12 years old.
• Chronic constipation.
• Even in normal doses it may cause nausea,
griping and cramp-like discomforts of
• With chronic or prolonged use, it may lead to
• Potassium deficiency can lead to disorders of
heart function and muscular weakness.
The major symptoms of overdose are griping
and severe diarrhoea with consequent losses
of ﬂuid and electrolytes.
Treatment should be supportive with generous
amounts of ﬂuid. Electrolytes, particularly
potassium, should be monitored, especially in
children and the elderly.
Overview of Clinical trials:
Well-designed clinical studies are available for
combination products for occasional constipation
and for high doses of senna preparations for bowel
cleansing and they clarify the pharmacodynamics.
Furthermore pharmacological studies in humans are
The results of the most recent studies are
inconsistent. However, a risk was also revealed for
constipation itself and underlying dietary habits.
The use in children under 12 years of age is
contraindicated and use during lactation is not
recommended. During pregnancy only a specified
extract (as described above) can be regarded as
safe, but with the advice that the use is to be
avoided during the first trimester. Senna leaves
should only be used intermittently and if other
actions like behavioural modification, dietary
changes and use of bulk forming agents failed.
Up to now there is no clear evidence to
recommend a specific dose nor a specific
combination of different bowel cleansing methods.