Senna, Cassia (biochemistry)

C. angustifolia is angustifolia cassia, Indian, grows in Africa and Arabia in the Red Sea and in East Africa to the Zambezi River. Cultivated in India.

C. acutifolia, African cassia, grows wild in the Nile Valley, Sudan. Separate leaves or individual beans are collected, and the stalks and common petioles are discarded.

Both types of shrubs are within 1 m high, the leaves are alternate, paired pinnate, with 4-8 pairs of leaflets. The leaves are gray-green, short-petiolate, lanceolate, with a pointed apex, slightly unequal at the base, glabrous, entire, thin, brittle, secondary veins gather in arcs along the edge. Inflorescences are short racemes located in the leaf axils. The flowers are quite large, golden yellow, with 5 sepals and 5 petals, many stamens. The fruit is a bean, brownish-green, oblong-oval, traditionally slightly curved, very flat and membranous, multi-family.

The species differ in the shape of the leaflets: C. angustifolia has leaflets longer and narrower, 2.5–6 cm long and 1–2 cm wide; leaflets C. acutifolia within 2-3 cm long and within 1 cm wide. The beans are also somewhat larger in the first species.

Leaves (Folium Sennae) and fruits (Folliculi Sennae) contain a mixture of hydroxymethylanthraquinone derivatives and their glycosides, totaling 2-3%.


Aloe-emodin, rhein, and anthrone compounds, called sennidins A and B, and their glycosides, sennosides A and B, have been found. Kaempferol and some other flavonoids, also resins, have been found. Resins have an undesirable side effect and cause painful spasms in the intestines, so the extract “resinless leaves” is prepared. There are no resins in the fruits; they are known under the name Folliculi Sennae.

Leaves and beans are used as laxatives in the form of water infusions. For the same purpose, the beans of C. fistula L. (tubular cassia) are used, a tree widely grown and cultivated in India and other states of Southeast Asia and Africa.

Beans (Fructus Cassiae fistulae) are cylindrical, 50-70 cm long and 2.5-3 cm in diameter, brown-black, indehiscent, with a fragile woody shell; inside, the bean is divided by numerous transverse partitions into chambers, each with one horizontally located hard, shiny seed, surrounded by dark, sour-sweet pulp. The pulp contains 50-60% sugars, mucus and anthraglycosides within 1%. A decoction of beans is used as a mild laxative, especially for babies.

Leaves and beans of other types of cassia are also used as laxatives – C. obovata Collad. (Abyssinia), C. setigera DC (India), C. marylandica L. (South America), etc. C. obovata – cassia tupolistnaya – most easily takes root in a climate close to subtropical (Italy, Syria); this species was introduced into culture in the USSR (Tajikistan).

The plant contains chrysacin derivatives.



The most common derivatives of chrysacin are emodin, chrysophanol, rhein, aloe-emodin, fiscion.



Anthraquinones often form dimeric compounds, which can be formed from 2 identical (isodianthrones) or 2 different (heterodianthrones) compounds.


In anthracene glycosides, aglycones are anthracene derivatives of different degrees of oxidation:

Anthraquinones, in turn, can be divided into two large classes of natural compounds:

In anthraquinone glycosides, sugars are found at C 1 , C 6 and C 8 ; In antronols and antrons – also in position C 9 and C 10 . Glycosides are mostly monosides, but biosides are also quite common. Along with glycosides, raw materials traditionally contain free aglycones.

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