Cassia senna, (Linne'), angustifolia(Vahl). The dried leaflets, with not more than 10 p.c. of stems, nor 2 p.c. of pods or other foreign organic matter, yielding not more than 3 p.c. of acid-insoluble ash.

Habitat. E. And C. Africa, India.

Syn. Senn.; Br. Sennae Folia, Senna Leaves: 1. Senna Alexandrina, Alexandrian (Nubian, Tripoli) Senna; Fr. Sene -- d'Alexandrie; Ger. Alexandrinische Senna. 2. Senna Indica, East Indian (Arabian, Bombay, Mecca, Mocha, Tinnevelly) Senna; Fr. Sene de l'Inde--de Tinnevelly, Feuilles de Sene'; Ger. Folia Sennae, Sennesblatter, Indische Senna.

Cas'si-a. L. fr. Gr. ..., fr. Heb. ..., to cut off, to peel off -- i.e., bark of some species cut off and used; classical name of a bark allied to cinnamon.

Sen'na. L. fr. Ar. sana, sena. Hind, sena -- i.e., native Arabian plant name; this is the subgenus of Cassia, but should have held full generic rank.

An-gus-ti-fo'li-a. L. Angustus, narrow, + folium, leaf -- i.e., leaves narrow.


Cassia Senna, small shrub, .6-1 M. (2-3 degrees) high; stem erect, woody, branching, whitish; flowers large, yellow, axillary raceme; fruit few, legume, 5 Cm. (2') long, 18 Mm. (3/4') broad, thin, broadly elliptical, reniform, dark green, membranous, smooth, indehiscent, 6-7-celled, each with a cordate, ash-colored seed; leaves alternate, 4-5 pairs; paripinnate, footstalks glandless, 2 small-pointed stipules at base; Cassia angustifolia, small shrub similar to preceding, except fruit a trifle longer and narrower, 8-seeded; leaves sessile, 5-8 pairs.


(C. Senna): Alexandria, 2-3.5 Cm. (4/5-1/2/5') long, 6-10 Mm. (1/4-2/5') broad, inequilaterallly lanceolate, lance-ovate, short, stout petiolules, acutely cuspidate, entire subcoriaceous, brittle, pale grayish-green; hairs short, appressed, few on upper surface mor numerous on lower, spreading on the midrib; usually unbroken, occasionally in fragments; odor characteristic; taste mucilaginous, bitter; (C. angustifolia): Tinnevelly, 2-5 Cm. (4/5-2') long, 6-15 Mm. (1/4-3/5') broad, yellowish-green, smooth above, paler beneath, slightly hairy, more abruptly pointed than, but odor and taste resembling closely the preceding.


light green -- fragments of veins with lignified tracheae and crystal-fibers, isolated hairs, masses of palisade and mesophyll parenchyma, stomata, calcium oxalate rosettes, prisms; hairs more numerous in C. Senna. Tests: 1. Boil for 2 minutes .5 Gm. with alcoholic solution of potassium hydroxide (1 in 10) 10 cc., add water 10 cc., acidify filtrate with hydrochloric acid, shake with ether, then shake the ethereal layer with ammonia T.S. 5 cc. -- latter pinkish-bluish-red color. Solvents: water or diluted alcohol extracts the active constituents (emodin, chrysophanic acid); water-soluble constituents 28 p.c.; a decoction made by long boiling is inert, being rendered more so by the addition of an alkali or acid; leaves by percolation with alcohol are deprived of their griping (resinous) content, odor, taste, and color, but still retain, slightly lessened, their pleasant cathartic power. Dose, 3ss-3 (2-12 Gm.).

Cassia Senna: half natural size; A. Leaflets; B, legumes.


Alexandria: 1. C. Obovata, leaflets, called by Arabs Senna Ealadi (Wild Senna), and considered in Egypt less valuable than Senna Jebeli (Mountain Senna, C. Senna). 2. Solenos-tem-ma Ar'gel, leaves which have lateral veins indistinct, leathery, wrinkled, bitter; flower buds present; fruit pear-shaped. 3. Crac'ca Tephro'sia Apollin'ea, leaflets, S. Europe, uneven base, obovate, emarginate (poisonous). 4. Coria'ria myrtifo'lia, leaves (poisonous), and Colu'tea arbores'cens, leaflets formerly used. 5. Leaves of Ailan'thus glandulo'sa, Tree of Heaven, easily recognized, even in the powder. 6. Pods, leaf-stalks, branches. All these now are garbled out carefully. The Arabians preferred the pods, as they contain 25 p.c. more cathartic principle than the leaflets, and no resin or volatile oil, hence do not gripe. Six or eight pods infused in 3ij (60 cc.) of water will purge an adult.

Cassia Senna: a, legume; b, leaflet, about natural size.


Plants yield two annual crops of leaflets, the larger (best) in September, at the end of the rains, the smaller in April, during the dry season; the entire plants are cut down (by natives), exposed on rocks to the hot sun until dry, stripped of leaflets, which are packed in palm-leaf bags for transportation on camels to the market ports, where, after being garbled, the drug is put into large bales for exportation. There are several varieties: 1. Alexandrian (Nubian), chiefly from Nubia (Sennaar, Kordofan), some from Timbuctoo, being forwarded usually via Assouan, Darao, thence by the Nile to Cairo and Alexandria; its botanic source has receive various synonyms: Cassia Senna, C. Acutifolia, C. Lanceola'ta, C. Leniti'va, C. officinalis, C. aethio'pica, C. orientalis, etc.; Tripoli senna, from Tripoli (interior Africa), having no doubt the same botanic origin, is conveyed to market ports by caravans, being, as a rule, much broken, discolored, and mixed with legumes, stalks, and earthy matter, but no foreign leaves, and seldom reaches our country; it is restricted by some to C. Aethiopica (C. obovata, C. Ova'ta), and is not grown in Arabia or India. 1, Tinnevelly (Indian, Arabian, Mocha), originally indigenous to S. Arabia and interior of Africa, but entered market via India (Bombay, Calcutta); its botanic source has received several synonyms: Cassia angustifolia, C. Elonga'ta, C. Med'ica; now cultivated extensively from Arabian seeds, at Tinnevelly, S. India, where it becomes most luxuriant; and owing to freedom from legumes, stalks, etc., furnished the finest and purest leaflets; it is exported mostly from Tuticorin, and Madras; Bombab (E. India) Senna, sold frequently as Tinnevelly, has the same source, but is dried less carefully, often containing small and discolored leaflets; Arabian (Mecca) Senna, sold often as Bombay, is collected and dried even with less care, and contains many brown leaflets and legumes.

Cassia angustifolia: half natural size; A, leaflets; B, legumes.


Anthraglucosennin, Emodin 1 p.c., Chrysophanic acid, Glucosennin, Isoemodin, Senna-rhamnetin, Sennanigrin, Kaempferol Kempferin, gum, resin, catharto-mannite (non-fermentable sugar), isomeric with quercite, sennapicrin, oxalic, malic, tartaric acids, combined with calcium, volatile oil (developing after drying), ash 10-12 p.c., of which 3 p.c. is insoluble in hydrochloric acid.

Anthraglucosennin. -- Obtained (Tschirch) by evaporating a weak ammoniacal percolate of senna; it is a complex brownish-black powder, partly soluble in ether, acetone, capable of being resolved into components by various solvents; the ether-soluble portion (emodin, chrysophanic acid, glucosennin) when boiled with toluene, to a partial solution, and poured into benzin gives a precipitate -- (senna-)emodin -- trioxymethylanthraquinone, melting at 223 degrees C. (434 degrees F.), while in the benzin mother-liquor remains -- (senna-) chrysophanic acid -- trioxymethylanthraquinone, obtained by evaporation; the ether-soluble portion insoluble in toluene is an emodin glucoside -- glucosennin, C22H18O8 (yellow amorphous powder). The ether-insoluble portion (isoemodin, senna-rhamnetin) when treated with acetone and shaken with benzin yields -- (senna-)isoemodin, CHO (isomeric with (senna-)emodin, but differs in being soluble in benzin); the acetone solutin retains -- senna-rhamnetin (reddish-brown powder, differing from rhamnetin in not fluorescing in sulpuric acid solution); the anthraglucosennin residue left after treatment with ether and acetone is a black, amorphous powder, which treated with alcoholic potash yields -- (senna-emodin and senna-)chrysophanic acid.  From an aqueous percolate Tschirch extracted cathartic acid and a crystalline body, CHL, having similar reactions as sennanigrin, but concludes that the cathartic action (peristalsis) is due solely to the emodin and chrysophanic acid, both being both being oxymethylanthraquinones.  Formerly senna was believed to contain: cathartic (cathartinic) acid, senna-picrin, sennacrol (resin causing griping), chrysophan and pheretin (yellow coloring matters), sennite (cathartomannite), mucilage, ash 10-12 p.c.

Cassia angustifolia Cracca a, legume; b, leaflet, Argel leaf. Coriaria leaf. (Tephrosia) leaflet about natural size.


1. Fluidextractum Sennae. Fluidextract of Senna. (Syn., Fldext. Senn., Fluid Extract of Senna; Liquor Sennae Concentratus; Fr. Extrait fluide de Sene'; Ger. Sennafluidextrakt.)


Similar to Fluidextractum Sarsaparillae, page 126; menstruum: 33 p.c. alcohol, reserving first 80 cc. Dose, 3ss-2 (2-8 cc.).

Preps.: 1. Syrupus Sennae. Syrup of Senna. (Syn., Syr. Senn.; Fr. Sirop de Sene'; Ger. Sirupus Sennae, Sennasirup.)

Manufacture: 25 p.c. Mix oil of coriander .5 cc. With fldext.of senna 25, gradually add water 33, let stand 24 hours in cool place, shaking occasionally, filter, pass through filter water q.s. 58 cc. in which dissolve sucrose 63.5 Gm., add water q.s. 100 cc. Dose, 3ss-4 (2-15 cc.).

2. Syrupus Sennae Aromaticus, N.F., 12.5 p.c., + jalap 5, rhubarb 1.75, +. Dose, 3j-3 (4- 12 cc.). 3. Syrupus Ficus Compositus, N.F., 20 p.c.

2. Pulvis Glycyrrhizoe Compositus, 18 p.c. 3. Confectio Sennae, N.F., 10 p.c., + cassia fistula 16, tamarind 10, prune 7, fig 12, water 65, digest, strain, add sucrose 55.5, evaporate to 89.5, add senna 10, oil of coriander .5. Dose, 3j-2 (4-8 Gm.). 4. Infusum Sennae Compositum, Black Draught, N.F., senna 6 Gm., manna 12, magnesium sulphate 12, fennel 2, boiling water q.s. 100 cc.; must be recently prepared. Dose, 3j-3 (30-90 cc.). 5. Species Laxativae, St. Germain Tea, N.F., 40 p.c., + sambucus 25, fennel 12.5, anise 12.5, potassium bitartrate 10. Dose, gr. 15-30 (1-2 Gm.).

Unoff. Preps.: Extract, gr. 5-20 (.3-1.3 Gm.). Infusion (Br.), 10 p.c. + ginger .5. Compd. Syrup 13.5 p.c.,+. Tinctura Sennae Composita (Br.), 20 p.c.


Cathartic, acts on nearly the entire intestinal tract (especially colon), increasing peristalsis and intestinal secretion, except biliary; produces in 4 to 6 hours copious yellow stools, with griping and flatulence; does not cause hypercatharsis nor constipation. Large dose vomits, purges, with severe tenesmus, but never poisons; the odor acts as a cathartic on very susceptible persons.


Arabians used it in skin affections; now employed for habitual constipation, hemorrhoids, fissura ani, fevers. Its smell, taste, tendency to nauseate, injurious effects in hemorrhoids, intestinal hemorrhage, and inflammation, all lessen its popularity; its purgative action is increased by bitters, calumba, etc., while the griping and nausea are diminished by coriander, tamarind, manna, fennel, Epsom or Rochelle salt. If leaves be macerated long in water, or if the mass be pressed tightly, much acrid, resinous principle will be obtained, causing griping, hence should exhaust by rapid percolation.