Cassia tora L

[From Hebrew, q'tsi'ah = cut off bark and from Latin, torus = swelling]

Physical description: It is a common tropical herb which grows to a height of 1 m. Leaves: foetid, stipulate and consisting of 6 pairs of folioles. The stipules are linear and caducous. The folioles are obovate, apiculate, and 2cm-5cm long. A gland is present between the folioles of the first and second pairs. The flowers are arranged in axillary bracteated racemes. The calyx comprises of 5 sepals which are ovate, acute and 8 mm long. The corolla comprises of 5 petals which are obovate, and 1.2cm-1.5cm long. The andrecium comprises of 7 stamens and 3 staminodes. The ovary is long, conspicuous, and characteristically sickle-shaped. The pods are linear, quadrangular, 15 cm x 3 mm and contain 25-30 seeds which are very small (Fig. 161).

Common names: Sickle senna, sickle pod, coffee weed, foetid cassia; gelenggang kecil (Malay); petite casse puante (French); dau giau (Vietnamese); dangwe (Burmese); chueh ming, tsao chueh (Chinese); thao quyet minh, muong ngu (Vietnamese); ayudham and 10 other names (Sanskrit).

Senna Leaf
Fig. 161. Cassia tora L. From: KLU Herbarium. University of Hawaii and Bishop Museum, Natural Products from the Pacific Investigations. Geographical localization: Western Samoa, village garden area. Upolu, Lefaga: Savaia. 25 m elev. Field collector: ML Bristol 1 May 1962.

Pharmaceutical interest: Cassia tora L. contains a series of anthraquinones which are most probably responsible for the laxative and antiseptic properties mentioned above. Among these quinones are chrysophanol, chryso-obtusin, and aurantio-obtusin which protect Salmonella typhimurium against aflatoxin Bt-induced mutations

(Choi JS et a/., 1997). An extract of Cassia tora L. inhibits significantly the proliferation of both chloroquine-resistant and chloroquine-sensitive Plasmodium falciparum (El-Tahir et a/., 1999). A methanolic extract of the leaves of Cassia sp. contracts the smooth muscles of guinea pig ileum and rabbit jejunum in a concentration-dependent manner, increases intestinal transit in mice dose-dependently, and exhibits antinociceptive activity in mice (Chidume FC et a/., 2002). What is the principle involved here? The seeds of Cassia tora L. lower the serum levels of lipid (Patil UK eta/., 2004).

Uses: In China, the seeds of Cassia tora L. are used to treat herpes infection, diseased eyes, and to heal infected sores. In Malaysia, the seeds are eaten to relieve the bowels of costiveness and lower blood pressure. A decoction of about 10 g of seeds is used to treat acute conjunctivis. In Vietnam and in the Philippines, the plant is used to expel intestinal worms. In Vietnam, 10 g to 15 g of raw seeds are used to relieve the bowels of costiveness, and the roasted seeds are ingested to assuage headache, relieve the bowels of costiveness, control excessive urination, treat cough, insomnia, ophthalmia and ocular congestion, and to lower blood pressure. An alcoholic or vinegar maceration of the seeds is applied externally to treat eczema and mycosis. In India, a decoction of the leaves is drunk to relieve the bowels of costiveness. The seeds and leaves are used to treat ringworm infection and irritated skin. The gum (panwar gum) expressed from the seeds of Cassia tora L. has been tried as an emulsifying, suspending and binding agent for pharmaceutical technology (Joshi S eta/., 1964).





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