These are phenolic compounds. Plants containing anthraquinones include senna, cascara, alder buckthorn, rhubarb, yellow dock, and aloe. Excessive internal use may interfere with certain drugs, and/or cause potassium depletion and other side effects. See Aloe Herb Monograph.
Links to Plants Containing Anthraquinones
The listings of research below represents a compilation of scientific articles found on the topic, with a very brief overview description of each article/study. This compilation of research articles does not necessarily imply that there are adequate results to demonstrate safe and/or effective human use of any herb listed.
- Emodin, aloe-emodin, and rhein are three anthraquinones of rhubarb that possess promising anti-cancer properties. From: Huang, Q., Lu, G., Shen, H. M., Chung, M., & Ong, C. N. (2007). Anti‐cancer properties of anthraquinones from rhubarb. Medicinal research reviews, 27(5), 609-630.
- Emodin (as found in Chinese rhubarb) induced apoptosis in human tongue cancer cells. From: Lin, S. Y., Lai, W. W., Ho, C. C., Yu, F. S., Chen, G. W., Yang, J. S., … & Chung, J. G. (2009). Emodin induces apoptosis of human tongue squamous cancer SCC-4 cells through reactive oxygen species and mitochondria-dependent pathways. Anticancer research, 29(1), 327-335.
- Emodin (as found in Chinese rhubarb) was cytotoxic against human multiple myeloma cells. From: Muto, A., Hori, M., Sasaki, Y., Saitoh, A., Yasuda, I., Maekawa, T., … & Kizaki, M. (2007). Emodin has a cytotoxic activity against human multiple myeloma as a Janus-activated kinase 2 inhibitor. Molecular cancer therapeutics, 6(3), 987-994.
- Aloe-emodin contributed to human carcinoma cell apoptosis. From: Lin, M. L., Lu, Y. C., Su, H. L., Lin, H. T., Lee, C. C., Kang, S. E., … & Chen, S. S. (2011). Destabilization of CARP mRNAs by aloé‐emodin contributes to caspasé‐8́‐mediated p53́‐independent apoptosis of human carcinoma cells. Journal of cellular biochemistry, 112(4), 1176-1191.
- Emodin may be effective in the treatment of androgen-sensitive prostate cancer. From: Masaldan, S., & Iyer, V. V. (2014). Exploration of effects of emodin in selected cancer cell lines: enhanced growth inhibition by ascorbic acid and regulation of LRP1 and AR under hypoxia‐like conditions. Journal of Applied Toxicology, 34(1), 95-104.
- Aloe-emodin induced apoptosis in human bladder cancer cells in vitro. From: Lin, J. G., Chen, G. W., Li, T. M., Chouh, S. T., Tan, T. W., & Chung, J. G. (2006). Aloe-emodin induces apoptosis in T24 human bladder cancer cells through the p53 dependent apoptotic pathway. The Journal of urology, 175(1), 343-347.
- Anthraquinones from the following plants inactivated the Herpes I virus: Rheum officinale (rhubarb), Aloe barbadensis (aloe), Rhamnus frangula (alder buckthorn), Rhamnus purshianus (cascara buckthorn), and Cassia angustifolia (senna). Other virus species were also affected by these plants in varying amounts. From: Sydiskis, R. J., Owen, D. G., Lohr, J. L., Rosler, K. H., & Blomster, R. N. (1991). Inactivation of enveloped viruses by anthraquinones extracted from plants. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 35(12), 2463-2466.
- Aloe-emodin was effective in vitro against the human influenza infection virus. From: Li, S. W., Yang, T. C., Lai, C. C., Huang, S. H., Liao, J. M., Wan, L., … & Lin, C. W. (2014). Antiviral activity of aloe-emodin against influenza A virus via galectin-3 up-regulation. European journal of pharmacology, 738, 125-132.
- Emodin was effective against Herpes 1 and 2 in vitro and in vivo. From: Xiong, H. R., Luo, J., Hou, W., Xiao, H., & Yang, Z. Q. (2011). The effect of emodin, an anthraquinone derivative extracted from the roots of Rheum tanguticum, against herpes simplex virus in vitro and in vivo. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 133(2), 718-723.
By: Kathy Sadowski