Senna, the popular drug used for constipation was introduced by an Arabian physician and they use their leaves and pods. The two varieties of Senna are the Cassia acutifolia Family Leguminosae (popularly known as Alexandrian or Khartoum Senna) and the other variety is Cassia Angustifolia (Tinnevelly senna). The drug contains important phytoconstituents sennoside responsible for their purgative activity.

Structure of Sennoside
Fig.1: Structure of Sennoside
Images of Cassia acutifolia and C. angustifolia plant
Fig.2: Images of Cassia acutifolia and C. angustifolia plant

Production of Sennoside

Method A:

  • The dried senna leaves were extracted with 70 percent methanol.
  • Shake the drug with methanol for around 4 hours at room temperature.
  • Filter the extract and reduce the volume to 1/8 under vacuum.
  • The extract is acidified to pH 3 with the help of Hydrochloric acid.
  • After acidification filtration is done and removes any soluble aglycone with chloroform.
  • The filtrate is neutralized with liquid ammonia and then centrifuge to isolate the sennoside.

Method B:

  • The extraction of the crude drug was performed with the help of benzene for two to three hours with frequent shaking at room temperature.
  • Dry the residue (marc) left after the extraction with benzene at oven or room temperature which should be not exceeded 40°C. The dry drug or marc should be extracted with 70 percent methanol for 4-6 hours on a shaker at room temperature. Repeat the same process with fresh methanol for 2 hours.
  • Club both the methanol extract and concentrate to 1/8 volume under reduced pressure. The pH is adjusted to 3 with hydrochloric acid and kept on the side for 3 hours afterward filter it. Anhydrous calcium chloride dissolves in the denatured spirit and is added to the filtrate with vigorous shaking.
  • Maintain the pH 8 of the solution by ammonia solution and keep it aside for two hours. Filter the solution and dry the precipitate over desiccant like phosphorus pentaoxide in a desiccator.

Estimation of Sennoside

Hot water is useful for the extraction of anthraquinone glycosides. Acidified the aqueous extract and treat with chloroform to make free the aglycone which is largely present in the solution.

First, neutralize the solution and then centrifuge it afterward add ferric chloride to the solution.

Reflux the solution and further acidify it to bring oxidation and hydrolysis. The aglycone present should be extracted with ether and redispersed in the magnesium acetate solution. Measure the absorbance of the sennoside and express the concentration in comparison to sennoside B at 515 nm.


The main use of sennoside is cathartic. It may be used in habitual constipation or occasional constipation. The sennoside glycoside absorbs in the gastrointestinal tract and the aglycone portion is released in the colon. The released aglycone stimulates and irritates the colon. Thus movement in the colon portion is increased due to local action. The peristalsis movement is increased which generates soft and bulky stool.

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