Polygala senega L (Polygalaceae)
Bambara, bulughâ lon, gizr uththuban, Klapperschlangenwurzel, mountain
flax, peuhl, polygala de virginie, racine de polygala, racine de senega, Radix
polygalae, Radix polygalae senegae, rattlesnake root, seneca snakeroot, Senegakreuzblume,
senega root, senega snakeroot, Senegawurzel, snake root, szenega gyökér,
tsuknida, vahulill, virginische Schlangenwurzel, yoruba
A perennial herbaceous plant with numerous stems sprouting from a single thick
gnarled crown arising from a conical, twisted, branched yellow root. Aerial
portion consists of several erect or ascending, smooth stems up to 15–
40cm high, bearing alternate, lanceolate or oblong-lanceolate leaves with serrulate
margins. Inflorescence a spike of small, white flowers, which are almost sessile
with rounded-obovate wings, concave with a short crested carina
Plant material used
dried roots and root crowns
Quantitative analysis of triterpene saponins by high-performance liquid chromatography
Major chemical constituents
Methyl salicylate (0.1–0.3%), the compound responsible for the characteristic
odour of the drug. The major reported biologically active constituents are triterpene
saponins (6–16%). The saponins are 3-glucosides of presenegenin, which
also contain at C-28 an oligosaccharide chain that has a fucose moiety esterified
with 3,4-dimethoxycinnamic or 4-methoxycinnamic acid
Uses supported by clinical data
in pharmacopoeias and well established documents
As an expectorant for symptomatic treatment of coughs due to bronchitis, emphysema
and catarrh of the upper respiratory tract.
in traditional medicine
Treatment of amenorrhoea, asthma, constipation, rheumatism and snake bites
Proven pharmacological activity
Expectorant, Reduce blood cholesterol and triglyceride, Antihyperglycaemic
The LD50 of the root was 17 g/kg body weight after intragastric administration
to mice. The LD50 of the root bark was 10 g/kg body weight and that of the root
core (which had the lowest saponin concentration of the three root samples)
was 75 g/kg body weight
Pregnancy (See Precautions).
If coughing persists for more than 7 days, seek medical advice. Radix Senegae
may exacerbate existing gastrointestinal inflammations such as gastritis or
gastric ulcers, and excessive doses may cause vomiting.
Carcinogenesis, mutagenesis, impairment of fertility
No mutagenic effects of an aqueous or 50% methanol extract of the root were
observed in the Bacillus subtilis recombination assay or in the microsome reversion
assay in Salmonella typhimurium strains TA98 and TA100.
Pregnancy: teratogenic effects
Pregnancy: non-teratogenic effects
Traditional uses for Radix Senegae include its use as an emmenagogue. As extracts
of the root have been shown to stimulate uterine contractions in animal models,
Radix Senegae should not be taken during pregnancy.
No information available on general precautions or precautions concerning drug
interactions; drug and laboratory test interactions; nursing mothers; or paediatric
use. Therefore, Radix Senegae should not be administered during lactation or
to children without medical supervision.
Overdose with Radix Senegae preparations may cause nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting
due to gastrointestinal upset. In sensitive individuals, gastrointestinal upset
may occur even at the therapeutic dosage.
Chopped crude drug for decoctions and extracts. Store in a tightly closed container,
protected from light and humidity.
(Unless otherwise indicated)
Daily dosage: 1.5–3.0 g crude drug as an infusion or decoction in divided
doses. A 60% ethanol extract (made slightly alkaline with dilute ammonia): 0.9–3
ml; tincture: 2.5–7.5 g. Equivalent preparations)