The β-Ο-linked glycosides (sennosides) are neither absorbed in the upper gut nor split by human digestive enzymes. They are converted by bacteria of the large intestine into the active metabolite (rhein anthrone). Aglyca are absorbed in the upper gut. Animal experiments with radio-labelled rhein anthrone administered directly into the caecum demonstrated absorption < 10%. In contact with oxygen, rhein anthrone is oxidised into the rhein and sennidins, which can be found in the blood, mainly in the form of glucuronides and suphates. After oral administration of sennosides, 3-6% of the metabolites are excreted in urine; some are excreted in bile. Most of the sennosdies (ca. 90%) are excreted in faeces as polymers (polyquinones) together with 2 – 6% of unchanged sennosides, sennidins, rhein anthrone and rhein. In human pharmacokinetic studies with senna pods powder (20 mg sennosides), administered orally for 7 days, a maximum concentration of 100ng rhein/ml was found in the blood. An accumulation of rhein was not observed. Active metabolites, . rhein, pass in small amounts into breast milk. Animal experiments demonstrated that placental passage of rhein is low.
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