Herbal Medicines for Constipation and Phytochemical Comparison of Active Components

Qinge Ma, Chong Zhi Wang*, Wamtinga R. Sawadogo, Zhao Xiang Bian, Chun Su Yuan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Constipation is a very common medical condition worldwide, negatively affecting patients' quality of life and healthcare system. Rhubarb, senna leaf, and aloe are three frequently used herbal medications for achieving regular bowel movement. Rhubarb is also a key ingredient in MaZiRenWan, a Chinese medicine formula used every so often for constipation in oriental countries. We reviewed and summarized the major chemical components from these three botanicals, including dianthrones, anthraquinone glycosides, free anthraquinones, and other polyphenols. The purgative actions of these constituents have been compared. Anthraquinone, especially its dianthrone compounds such as sennoside A and sennoside B, as natural stimulant laxatives, possesses significant effects to promote gastrointestinal motility and relieve functional constipation. Furthermore, the safety, reported side effects, and other benefits of anthraquinone compounds are presented. To date, many anti-constipation natural products are being used but their research is relatively limited, and thus, more investigations in this field are indeed needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)723-732
Number of pages10
JournalThe American Journal of Chinese Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine

User-Defined Keywords

  • Aloe
  • Anthraquinone
  • Functional Constipation
  • Hemp Seed Pill
  • Idiopathic Constipation
  • Laxatives
  • MaZiRenWan
  • Review
  • Rhubarb
  • Senna Leaf


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