Cassia fistula Linn. has medicinal value in traditional systems
By Ashwani Kumar
| October 28th 2009 08:29 AM | Print
Scientific Name Cassia fistula Linn.
Family Caesalpiniaceae (Fabaceae)
Used Part Root.
Distribution Area A deciduous medium-sized tree, occurring in
deciduous forests throughout the greater part of India, ascending up to an altitude of 1,220 m in the sub- Himalayan
tract and outer Himalayas.
Common Uses . The root and its bark possess astringent, tonic, febrifugal, and
purgative properties. The aqueous extract of the rootbark exhibits anti-inflammatory activity. The root is useful in cardiac disorders, biliousness, rheumatic condition, haemorrhages, wounds, ulcers and boils, tubercular glands and various skin diseases; also reported to be beneficial in leprosy. The alcoholic extract of the rootbark can be used for the treatment of black-water fever.
A paste of the roots, pepper, leaf-juice of Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam. and red mud is applied to the swellings of throat in cattle.
The flowers are eaten. They possess astringent, purgative, febrifugal and anti-bilious properties. A decoction of the flowers is given in stomach troubles. The pollen-grains are starchy- and lipid-type, and the former type have been reported to cause allergy.
The bark possesses tonic and anti-dysenteric properties. It is
also used for skin complaints. The wood is given in dysentery; the ash is reported to be employed as caustic to open abscesses. The powder or decoction of the bark is administered in leprosy, jaundice, syphilis and heart diseases. The stembark is reported to be eaten raw for stomachache. The extract of stembark showed high interferon-like anti-viral activity against Ranikhet Disease Virus and Vaccinia Virus
(VV). In Papua New Guinea, bark- scrapings and leafsap are employed to heal broken bones and topical ulcers. A decoction of the stembark along with cumin seeds and garlic is given as a purgative to cattle. The bark possesses tonic and anti-dysenteric properties. It is also used for skin complaints. The wood is given in dysentery; the ash is reported to be employed as caustic to open abscesses. The powder or decoction of the bark is administered in leprosy, jaundice, syphilis
and heart diseases. The stembark is reported to be eaten raw for
stomachache. The extract of stembark showed high interferon-like anti-viral activity against Ranikhet Disease Virus and Vaccinia Virus (VV). In Papua New Guinea, bark- scrapings and leafsap are employed to heal broken bones and topical ulcers. A decoction of the stembark along with cumin seeds and garlic is given as a purgative to cattle.
The pods are official for their laxative properties. The drug
consists of the dried pod, known as CASSIA-FRUIT, or CASSIA-POD, and its pulp, CASSIA-PULP.
In Europe, the pods are used in the preparation of tobacco for smoking. The heated pods are applied to swellings on the neck due to cold. The fruits are reported to be used for asthma in Andhra Pradesh. The pulp from the crushed ripe pods has a dark brown colour, sickly odour and a sweet, mucilaginous taste. It is widely used in a combination called CONFECTION OF SENNA, which contains the leaves of senna, coriander, figs, tamarind, prunes, licorice extract and sucrose. The pulp is used to prepare a sherbet. It also forms an
ingredient of special tobacco-cakes for hookah.
The pulp is a safe purgative, and is recommended for children and pregnant women. It is given in disorders of liver, and in biliousness, and acts as a tonic; it is also applied in gout and rheumatism. The drug may safely be used as an analgesic. As an antipyretic, it is a remedy for malaria and blackwater fever. It is also utilized in blood-poisoning, anthrax and dysentery, and given in leprosy and diabetes and for the removal of abdominal obstructions. A decoction of it is given in hoarseness. Fruit pulp and stembark are used in Ayurvedic
preparations for the treatment of blood impurities. The decoction of the pods is given in pneumonia and common fever. The pulp, mixed with rapeseed oil, is orally given to cattle suffering from cough, and as a stomachic. The crushed seeds and leaves are employed for making a sherbet. The
seeds are slightly sweet and possess laxative, carminative, cooling and anti-pyretic properties; they are given in constipation. They are useful in jaundice, biliousness, skin- diseases, and in swollen.
throat. The whole seed powder cures intestinal amoebiasis.
Powdered seeds are administered in Raktapradara by
the Bhil tribals in southern Rajasthan. The seeds yield a
dark-coloured gum slightly soluble in water and hence have a
possibility as a source for industrial gum.
They possess antiperiodic and laxative properties. The leaves are used in jaundice, piles, rheumatism, ulcers, and also externally, in skin eruptions, ringworm, eczema, prurigo, pruritis, etc. The leaves and bark, mixed with oil, are applied to pustules, insect- bites and to lessen inflammation in facial paralysis. Internally, the leaf-juice is also given for paralysis and brain affection, and to cure ringworm; also used to allay irritation. A poultice is used to treat chilblains.
Pharmacological Effect The ethanolic (50%) extract of the pods showed
anti-fertility activity in female albino rats, which is due probably to its estrogenic nature. The shell provokes abortion and the expulsion of the placenta. The pods exhibit similar anti-viral activity as the bark and also show similar Interferon-like activity against Ranikhet Disease Virus and Vaccinia Virus. An aqueous extract of the pulp exhibited slightly lower anti- bacterial activity than its dealcoholized extract against Micrococcus pyogenes var. aureus , M.pyogenes var. albus Hucker,M.citreus Eisenb., Corynebacterium diphtheriae
(Kruse) Lehmann & Neumann, Bacillus megaterium de Bary, Salmonella typhi (Schroter), S . paratyphi (Kayser) Castell & Chalm., S. schottmuelleri and Escherichia coli. A seed-diet produced marked hypoglycaemic activity in normal albino rats but not
in alloxan-diabetic albino rats. The dealcoholized extract of seeds inhibits organisms, but to a lesser extent than the pulp; the aqueous extract inhibits only Salmonella typhi and Corynebacterium diphtheriae .
The rootbark yields a mixture of three flavonoids, one of them was identified as fistucacidin. Two fractions (CFR I and II) obtained from the rootbark were found to be active against fungi, such as Microsporon gypseum
(Bodin) Guiart & Grigorakis, Trichophyton mentagrophytes (Robin) Blanch., T. rubrum (Cast.) Sabour. and T. tonsurans Malmsten, which cause skin diseases. The rootbark also contains tannins, phlobaphenes, reducing sugars and oxyanthraquinones.[
Others The bark mixes well with babul [Acacia nilotica Delile subsp.
indica (Benth.) Brenan] bark for the production of half- tan
leather. Fishing- nets are tanned and dyed with the extract of the
bark, for preservation.
The leaves are eaten as fodder for livestock. Leaves are also a source of green manure.