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---Constituents---Water and diluted alcohol extract the active principles of Senna. Pure

alcohol only extracts them imperfectly. The leaves yield about one-third of their weight to

boiling water.

The purgative constituents are closely allied to those of Aloes and Rhubarb, the activities

of the drug being largely due to anthraquinone derivatives and their glucosides. It contains

rhein, aloe-emedin, kaempferol, isormamnetin, both free and as glucosides together with

myricyl alcohol, etc. The ash amounts to about 8 per cent, consisting chiefly of earthy and

ashy carbonates.

The active purgative principle was discovered in 1866. It is a glucoside of weak acid

character, and was named Cathartic Acid. By boiling its alcoholic solution with acids it

yields Cathartogenic Acid and sugar. There were also found Chrysophanic Acid, Sennacrol and

Sennapicrin, and a peculiar non-fermentable saccharine principle which was named

Cathartomannite or Sennit.

The conclusions reached after experimenting with Senna leaves washed with alcohol were as

(1) Strong spirit does not remove any of the active principle from Senna leaves.
(2) The therapeutic action of cathartic acid is assisted by one or more of the constituents

yielded by Senna to strong alcohol, though these constituents produce no purgative effect

when taken alone.
(3) Senna exhausted by alcohol is a reliable and pleasant purgative, but somewhat weaker in

its action than the unexhausted leaves.
Many substances produce precipitates with the infusion of Senna, but they may remove only

inert ingredients, and not be really incompatible medicinally. Cathartic acid is

precipitated by infusion of galls and solution of lead subacetate. Lead acetate and tartar

emetic, which disturb the infusion, have no effect upon a solution of this substance.
Cathartin is the name of a mixture of the salts of cathartic acid which may be used in doses

of from 3 to 6 grains.

Sennax is the name applied to the watersoluble glucoside of Senna, marketed in tablets

containing 0.75 gram each.