Anthraquinone is an organic compound that is available in a yellowish or light gray to gray-green crystal powder. The construction makeup of anthraquinone provides the fundamental construction of many natural colors found in plants. And hence, the compound is effectively used in the manufacture of dyes as well as in wood pulp production. The substance is also nauseating for birds that go through a digestive disorder after consuming grass doctored with anthraquinone and hence is considered to be an effective goose repellent.

Commercially, the compound can be manufactured in two methods - by oxidizing anthracene with chromic acid or condensing benzene and phthalic anhydride and dehydrating the product later. Anthraquinone is the most important by-product of anthracene and the base material of several dyes and colors. The compound is also very useful in pulp production and in the paper industry anthraquinone is used to enhance the fiber potency by lowering the effect of cellulose. For ages, plants containing anthraquinone have been exploited like dyes and purgatives. The dual function of anthraquinone led scientists to separate it from other compounds for effective usage of its properties.

While madder (Rubia tinctorum) and cochineal, which is obtained from insects, are the significant dyes possessing anthraquinone, the compound's laxatives include senna pods (Cassia angustifolia or C. acutifolia), cascara sagrada (Rhamnus purshiana), alder buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula), rhubarb root (Rheum palmatum), yellow dock (Rumex crispus) and aloes (Aloe vera). Although many different varieties of anthraquinone by-products are present in the plant kingdom, all of them possess the same molecular structure.

Anthraquinones are more likely to be present in the plants as glycosides owing to the variety of sugar contents and this enhances the range of the compound. Usually anthraquinones are found in the form of aglycone with one or more sugar molecules and the straight anthraquinone by-products include emodin from Rhamnus spp., Rhein from Rrehum, Rumex and Cassia spp., Chrysophanol from Rehum and Rumex spp., and Aloe-emodin from Rehum and Cassia spp. In addition to these, anthraquinone has many less significant by-products which synthesize to turn out amalgams such as sennosides of Cassia spp. as well as reidins from Rheum spp. Apart from these, aloin is the most significant glycoside produced from aloes which is produced bio-synthetically. These are similar, but separate from the previously mentioned anthraquinone by-products.

Pharmacological researches have proved that the effects of anthraquinones are reliant on the occurrence of burning up of acid and hence they are consumed as glycosides. In this case, the function of the bowel vegetation has also been involved. It has been proved that sennosides are basically diluted to sennidins in a phased manned through sennidin-8-monoglucosides and later diminished to an active purgative known as rheinanthrone.

Although segregated aglycone is strongly effective if taken intravenously, it is basically sedentary when swallowed. This goes on to prove that the vitriol and sugar moiety are mutually essential for the amalgamation from acid although aglycone itself is effective.

This is true because, when aglycone is soaked into the internal system and enters the blood vessels, it has an influence on the protein synthesis of the body perhaps leading to the formation of enzymes. However, all these are still a probability considering the fact that when a person swallows a dose of anthraquinone it takes at least 8-14 hours to start action and this is also the same time period for the protein or enzyme synthesis have its affect. However, the end outcome is the prostaglandins of the PGE series that enhances the tetchiness of the soft muscles of the bowl wall. The most likely reasons for the irritation of the bowl wall could be the spur in the local cyclic AMP manufacture and the hang-up of Na+ /K+-ATPase. In fact, laxatives derived from anthraquinnones basically intensify the bowel wall, aggravating augmented muscle contractions and peristaltic movements.

People using anthraquinone laxatives regularly need to be cautious as the wanton use of this herbal medicine has bitter side effects. Many people who use these laxatives are of the firm belief that they cannot have their bowls cleared without the medicine. Little do they realize that the constant use of anthraquinones to stimulate their bowl muscles ultimately worsen their conditions as the tissues loose their stimulating tone. In fact, these people finally reach a situation which is irreversible and after some time find it difficult to give up the habit. Hence the safest and the most effective manner to use anthraquinone laxatives is to in take them for a limited period to solve the congestion of bowl. However, the best manner to use anthraquinone-based medicines is to add four parts of psyllium or linseed to a maximum period of six months and this combination is enough to clear any congested bowl and bring relief.

There are more threats from prolonged use of anthraquinone laxatives, as not all constipations are caused by the atony of the bowel muscles. Bowel problems can also arise owing to undue tension of the bowel muscles. When a person suffers from stress or anxiety, the nervousness may be spread to the colon or 'mucous colitis' results to loose motions or constipations. When children or adolescents pass nut-like stools it is primarily due to excessive tensions and cannot be treated by laxatives. In this case, herbal remedies like visceral relaxants are the best remedy and any use of anthraquinone can prove to be harmful.

When we examine the medicines more minutely, we find that the exciting action of anthraquinones tend to persuade griping that is more obvious in some remedies than others. While most remedies possess tannins that basically function to control the strengths of the laxatives' actions and in some cases like in docks and English rhubarb root (Rehum palmatum) they are actually applied to cure diarrhea. Again, the intensity of some remedies like buckthorn is lessened by storing them up for a year before use. So, it is important to give due consideration to the reactions among the individual ingredients in a medicine before applying them to heal a problem.

Anthraquinone has many other effects. For example, rhein, a by-product of anthraquinone, has antiseptic properties and is particularly deadly to enteric pathogen Shigella dysenteriae and also to Staphylococci. In addition, anthrquinone has a bitter taste and this acts as a catalyst in the digestive system, particularly in the flow of bile. Before we conclude, the keyword to remember is that anthraquinone laxatives should never be applied alone, but provided with some soothing carminative herbs like fennel, dill or aniseeds. When it is done this way, the remedies lower the intense gripping tendency of anthraquinone and slowly cool down the bowel. It may also be remembered that the usage of laxatives is only a part of a broader goal in any treatment.