Alexandrian senna consists of the dried leaflets of Cassia acutifolia, Delile, (N.O. Leguminosae), a small shrub indigenous to the middle and upper Nile territories. The leaves of the senna plant are paripinnate, compound, 10 to 13 centimetres long. Leaflets lanceolate or ovate-lanceolate, about 2.5 centimetres long, pale greyish-green in colour, thin and brittle, unequal at the base, and covered with a very short, fine pubescence visible tinder a lens; margin entire, slightly incurled; apex, acute and mucronate. Epidermis of both surfaces furnished with stomata, each stoma being surrounded by two to four cells, two of which are parallel to the ostiole; epidermal cells, polygonal not papillose; hairs, one-celled, conical, warty, straight or curved, sometimes slightly enlarged near the middle; pericycle, fibrous, accompanied by prismatic crystals of calcium oxalate. The drug has a slight, but characteristic odour, and a mucilaginous, sickly taste. On incineration, it yields about 10 per cent. of ash, although picked leaves (Indian) have yielded as much as 13 per cent. Alexandrian senna leaves as now imported are practically free from admixture. Occasionally the leaflets of C. obovata, Collad., may be found; they are readily distinguished by their obovate shape, and in powder by the papillose cells of the lower epidermis. Arabian or Mecca senna from C. angustifolia, Vahl., is sometimes offered as Alexandrian; the leaves are, however, narrow, lanceolate, and the drug usually discoloured. The leaflets of C. montana, Heyne, are darker in colour, have a rounded apex, and dark network of veins; those of C. holosericea, Fresen., are small and hairy. Senna, U.S.P., is derived from both C. acutifolia and C. angustifolia.
Constituents.—The constituents of senna leaves are not yet well known. Anthraglucosennin is the name given to a mixture of substances obtained by exhausting senna with weak ammonia, precipitating with hydrochloric acid, drying the precipitate, exhausting with alcohol, and evaporating to dryness. It contains senna-emodin, C15H7O2(OH)3, which appears to be identical with aloe-emodin, but different from frangula-emodin and rheum-emodin; senna-chrysophanic acid, probably not identical with ordinary chrysophanic acid; glucosennin, a glucoside yielding apparently senna-emodin and a sugar; senna-isoemodin, which closely resembles senna-emodin, but is soluble in petroleum spirit; senna-rhamnetin and senna-nigrin, the last two being ill-defined substances. Probably, therefore, the drug originally contains senna-emodin, senna-isoemodin, senna-chrysophanic acid, and glucosides yielding these bodies by hydrolysis. The so-called cathartic acid is undoubtedly a mixture. The drug contains in addition mucilage.
Action and Uses.—Senna is a member of the anthracene group of purgatives, its active principles being derivatives of anthraquinone. It is an efficient purgative either for occasional use or in habitual constipation. It is free from the after-astringent action of rhubarb, but, on account of its tendency to gripe, is usually combined with carminatives and other laxatives. Syrupus Sennae, Confectio Sennae, and Pulvis Glycyrrhizae Compositus are administered as suitable laxatives for the use of children and delicate persons, and are especially valuable in haemorrhoids. The infusion of senna is an active preparation, and is a useful vehicle for magnesium sulphate and other saline cathartics. The urine may be turned a yellow colour by senna, which changes to red on the addition of an alkali; it is uncertain, however, whether this is due to the absorption of the irritant principle. The properties of senna preparations ire altered by excessive heat and by the action of alkalies. The B.P. Mistura Sennae Composita retains its activity better when the aromatic spirit of ammonia is omitted.
Dose.—6 to 20 decigrams (10 to 30 grains).
- Confectio Sennae, B.P.—CONFECTION OF SENNA. Syn.—Lenitive Electuary.
- Senna, in fine powder, 9.33; coriander fruit, in fine powder, 4; figs, 16; tamarinds, 12; cassia pulp, 12; prunes, 8; extract of liquorice, 1.33; refined sugar, 40; distilled water, sufficient to produce, by weight, 100. Place the figs, prunes, and 32 of the water in a covered vessel and boil gently for four hours; replace the water lost by evaporation and incorporate the tamarinds and cassia pulp; digest for two hours; then rub the pulp through a hair sieve, rejecting the seeds and hard parts. To the resulting pulp add the sugar and extract of liquorice and gently heat until dissolved; white still warm add gradually the previously mixed senna and coriander powders, and thoroughly mix together. Finally, either by evaporation or by the addition of more water, make the weight of the resulting product 100. Confection of senna is a mild laxative, especially suitable in convalescence, for pregnant women, and for persons suffering from haemorrhoids. Dose.—4 to 8 grammes (60 to 120 grains).
- Confectio Sennae, U.S.P.—CONFECTION OF SENNA, U.S.P.
- Senna, 10; oil of coriander, 0.5; figs, 12; tamarinds, 10; cassia pods, 16; prunes, 7; sugar, 55.5; water, sufficient to produce, by weight, 100. Average dose.—4 grammes (60 grains).
- Confectio Sennae et Sulphuris, B.P.C.—CONFECTION OF SENNA AND SULPHUR.
- Confection of senna, 50; confection of sulphur, 50. Dose.—4 to 8 grammes (60 to 120 grains).
- Fluidextractum Sennae, U.S.P.—FLUIDEXTRACT OF SENNA.
- Senna, in No. 40 powder, 100; alcohol (95 per cent.), a sufficient quantity; alcohol (49 per cent.), sufficient to produce 100. The senna is first percolated to exhaustion with the alcohol (95 per cent.), and the percolate rejected; it is then exhausted with the alcohol (49 per cent.) and made to measure 100. Average dose.—2 mils (30 minims).
- Infusum Sennae, B.P.—INFUSION OF SENNA.
- Senna, 10; ginger, sliced, 0.625; distilled water, boiling, 100. Infuse the drugs in the water for fifteen minutes, in a covered vessel, and strain. Infusion of senna is a mild purgative, suitable as a vehicle for the sulphates of sodium and magnesium. Dose.—15 to 30 mils (1/2 to 1 fluid ounce); as a drought, 60 mils (2 fluid ounces).
- Infusum Sennae Compositum, B.P.C. and U.S.P.—COMPOUND INFUSION OF SENNA. Syn.—Mistura Sennae Composita sine Ammonia.
- Senna, 6; manna, 12; magnesium sulphate, 12; fennel fruit, bruised, 2; distilled water, sufficient to produce 100. This preparation may be given in place of Mistura Sennae Composita, when a non-alcoholic preparation is desired. Dose.—60 to 120 mils (2 to 4 fluid ounces).
- Infusum Sennae Concentratum, B.P.C.—CONCENTRATED INFUSION OF SENNA.
- A product closely resembling infusion of senna is obtained by diluting 1 part of this preparation with 7 parts of distilled water. Dose.—2 to 4 mils (1/2 to 1 fluid drachm); as a drought, 8 mils (2 fluid drachms), diluted with water.
- Liquor Sennae Concentratus, B.P.—CONCENTRATED SOLUTION OF SENNA.
- Senna, in No. 5 powder, 100; tincture of ginger, 12.5; alcohol, 10; distilled water, sufficient to produce 100. Slightly moisten one-third of the senna with distilled water, transfer to a percolator, set aside for twenty-four hours, then percolate with distilled water until the product measures 25. Repeat the process with an equal weight of the senna, using the percolate from the first portion for percolation together with an additional 25 of liquid obtained by passing more water through the first portion. Again, repeat the operation with the remainder of the senna, using the percolates from the second portion as extracting media, and continuing successive percolation through the three portions of senna until the product from the third percolator measures 80; then heat the liquid to about 82° for five minutes, cool, add the previously mixed alcohol and tincture of ginger, set aside for seven days, and filter. The finished preparation should measure 100. This preparation should be replaced by Infusum Sennae Concentratum, which is a more satisfactory product. Dose.—2 to 4 mils (1/2 to 1 fluid drachm).
- Mistura Sennae Composita, B.P.—COMPOUND MIXTURE OF SENNA. Syn.—Compound Senna Mixture; Black Draught.
- Magnesium sulphate, 25; liquid extract of liquorice, 5; compound tincture of cardamoms, 10; aromatic spirit of ammonia, 5; infusion of senna, sufficient to produce 100. Add the magnesium sulphate to 50 of the infusion, dissolve, add the previously mixed liquid ingredients, and make up to the required volume with infusion of senna. Two fluid ounces of this mixture contain about 220 grains of magnesium sulphate, 48 minims each of liquid extract of liquorice and aromatic spirit of ammonia, and 96 minims of compound tincture of cardamoms. This mixture is a brisk purgative, useful in occasional constipation and to clear out the bowels. It has been stated that the mixture acts more effectively when prepared without the aromatic spirit of Ammonia; a useful non-alcoholic substitute is Infusum Sennae Compositum. Dose.—30 to 60 mils (1 to 2 fluid ounces).
- Pulvis Sennae Aromaticus, B.P.C.—AROMATIC SENNA POWDER.
- Senna leaves, 16; fennel fruit, 8; precipitated sulphur, 9; casein, to 100. Dose.—4 to 8 grammes (60 to 120 grains).
- Syrupus Sennae B.P.—SYRUP OF SENNA.
- Senna, 40; oil of coriander, 0.02; alcohol, 0.08; refined sugar, in powder, 50; distilled water, a sufficient quantity; alcohol (20 per cent.), 70. Macerate the senna with 40 of the diluted alcohol for three days, then subject it to strong pressure, and reserve the expressed liquid; break up the solid residue, macerate it with 15 of the diluted alcohol for twenty-four hours, again express, and add the expressed liquid to that previously reserved. Again break up the marc, macerate it with the remainder of the diluted alcohol for three hours, express, and evaporate the expressed liquid until it is of such a volume that when added to the liquid previously reserved and mixed the whole shall measure 40. Heat the mixture in a covered vessel to 82° for a few minutes; allow to stand for twenty-four hours, filter, pass sufficient distilled water through the filter to make the filtrate measure 40, add the sugar, dissolve by the aid of gentle heat, cool, add the oil of coriander, previously dissolved in the strong alcohol, and shake well. The product should weigh 92. Syrup of senna is an efficient purgative for the use of children and delicate persons. Dose.—2 to 8 mils (1/2 to 2 fluid drachms).
- Syrupus Sennae, U.S.P.—SYRUP OF SENNA, U.S.P.
- Fluidextract of senna, 25; oil of coriander, 0.5; syrup, sufficient to produce 100. Average dose.—4 mils (1 fluid drachm).
- Tinctura Sennae Composita, B.P.—COMPOUND TINCTURE OF SENNA.
- Senna, broken small, 20; raisins, freed from seeds, 10; caraway fruit, bruised, 2.5; coriander fruit, bruised, 2.5; alcohol (45 per cent.), 100. Macerate for seven days and complete the maceration process. Compound tincture of senna is used as a purgative, often with saline cathartics. It is more pleasant to the taste than the infusion. Dose.—2 to 4 mils (1/2 to 1 fluid drachm) for repeated administration; for a single administration, 8 to 15 mils (2 to 4 fluid drachms).
The British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1911, was published by direction of the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.