Cassia (senna, Alexandria senna)

Cassia (senna, Alexandria senna)

Cassia (senna, Alexandria senna)

Specification & Spread

Senna (cassia) leaves — folia sennae (folia cassiae)
Senna fruits — fructus sennae
Alexandrine senna — cassia acutifolia delile ( = senna alexandrina mill.)
Bean family (Senna family) – fabaceae (caesalpinioideae)
Other names: Alexandria senna, cassia.
It is a small xerophytic shrub from 0.5 to 1 m tall.
The stem is branched, the lower branches are long, creeping along the ground.
The leaves are alternate, large, pinnately-compound from 4-5 pairs of folioles, with styrous stipules.
The folioles are oblong-lanceolate, entire, slightly uneven at the base, anastomosing veins are clearly visible along the edge.
The flowers are yellow, slightly zygomorphic, pentamerous, collected in axillary brush.
The fruit is a flat wide elliptic webbed dry greenish-brown and polyspermic bean.
It blooms from late June to autumn, the seeds ripen from September.
Naturally it grows in desert and semi-desert areas of Northern and Middle Sudan, on the coast of the Red Sea, in the Nubian Desert, Southern Arabia and Somalia. It is cultivated in India and Pakistan.
It is cultivated in specialized farms of South Kazakhstan (Chimkent region) and in Turkmenistan in the form of annual crop.


The leaves and fruits of Alexandrine senna contain the amount of anthracene derivatives consisting of:

  • simple monomers and
  • their glycosides,
  • as well as di- and heterodiantrons (sennosides A, B, C, D, and
  • aglycones – corresponding sennidins).

Its content in leaves is up to 6%, in fruits – 2.7%.
The flavonoids are represented by derivatives of kampferol and isorhamnetin.
There are mucus and tar. The resinous substances present in the leaves of cassia cause pain in the intestines, are released from them when filtering the prepared infusions after complete cooling, in a cold form the resin precipitates and remains on the filter.
In the preparation of fees with cassia leaves from resinous substances get rid of the pre-soak in alcohol.
The resinous substances are absent in fruits.

Harvesting and storage of raw materials

Harvesting. The leaves are harvested by hand 2-3 times per season. The last time the whole plant is mown, the separate leaves of a compound leaf are torn off. The fruit harvesting on seed plantations is carried out manually as they mature.
Drying. It is dried in the shade, under a canopy, turning the raw material several times.
Storage. It is stored in pharmacies – in well-closed boxes, in stock – in bales or piles in a dry and well-ventilated room, fruits – in a special pantry for fruits and seeds.

Whole raw materials.
There are separate leaves and petioles of a complex parotid leaf, whole or partially crushed, pieces of thin herbaceous stems, buds, flowers and unripe fruits.
The small leaves are oblong-lanceolate and pointed to the apex. It is wide in the middle part, at the base it is unequal, thin, brittle, entire with a very short petiole.
The lateral veins of the first order are clearly visible on both sides. It is diverged at an acute angle from the main vein and interconnected by arcs running parallel to the edge of the small leaf.
The leaf length is 1-3 cm, the width is 0.4-1.2 cm.
The fruit is a bean that is flat, leathery, slightly curved, 3-5 cm long and 1.5-2 cm wide.
The leaf colour on both sides is grayish-green or yellowish-green on the upper side and matt. The fruits are greenish-brown with dark outlines of seed chambers. The buds and flowers are yellow.
The smell is weak. The taste is slightly bitter with a sensation of mucous.
Milled raw materials
The pieces of various shapes that is passing through a sieve with holes of 7 mm diameter.
The colour is grayish green. The taste is slightly bitter with a sensation of sliminess.
It is flat, thin, leathery, slightly curved or slightly reniform beans, rounded at the apex with a slight remaining stab, narrowed to the base. It is 3-6 cm long and 1.5-2 (2.5) cm wide.
The glumes are dry and membranous. Each fruit contains up to 6 seeds.
The seeds are net-wrinkled, flat, heart-wedge-shaped or almost quadrangular in outline.
The colour of the fruit is light green, in the middle it is brown. The taste is bitter.

Properties and application

The cassia leaves have laxative properties, it increases the motor function of the large intestine due to irritation of the receptors of the mucous membrane, reflexively increasing peristalsis, which leads to faster emptying and restoration of the normal functioning of the intestine. The action comes after 6-12 hours after administration. The prolonged use can lead to atrophy of the smooth muscles of the colon and the violation of its innervation. Senna can be used in violation of the flow of bile into the intestine.
Application of cassia
The senna leaves are one of the fixed assets used on all continents as a laxative. Cassia is used for habitual constipation, before surgery, for postoperative intestinal atony.

  • Hypersensitivity to the preparation,
  • perforated ulcer,
  • intestinal obstruction,
  • abdominal pain of obscure origin,
  • impaired water-electrolyte metabolism,
  • acute inflammatory diseases of the abdominal cavity,
  • proctitis and hemorrhoids in the acute stage,
  • strangulated hernia,
  • bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract,
  • uterine bleeding,
  • cystitis,
  • spastic colitis,
  • spastic constipation,
  • pregnancy,
  • lactation,
  • children under 12 years old.