Though Cassia consists of large number of plants but during present investigation Cassia senna and Cassia occidentalis were examined.

   Cassia senna :- It is known by different names in Hindi : Bhuikhakhasa, Hindisana and Sonamukhi ; English : Alexandrian, <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Bombay, or Tinnevelly senna ; Sanskrit : Bhumiari, Pitapushpi, Swarnamukhi, swarnapatrika ;  Rajasthan : Senna.

  The plant is a variable, branching, erect shrub, upto 1.8 m in height.  Leaves pinnate pubescent, leaflets pale green to bluish green, 3 to 9 pairs, lanceolate or elliptic, varying on the same plant, 1.5 to 5 cm. X 0.4 to 2 cm. ; flowers brilliant yellow, in erect, terminal racemes ; pods light green when young to dark brown or black when mature, flat, thin, oblong pubescent, 3.5 to 7 cm. x 0.2 to 2.5 cm. ; seeds dark brown, obovate-oblong, 5 to 7. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

  It is highly drought resistant crop and suitable for desert. It is largely cultivated on marginal lands in a 10,000 ha. , both as rain-fed and irrigated crop, mainly in Tamil Nadu, where it is now grown principally as a cash-crop in Tirunelveli, Ramanathapuram, Tiruchchirappalli and Madurai districts and to a lesser extent in Salem district (Gupta et. al., 1977). Recently, it has been observed occuring wild in Cuddapah district of Andhra Pradesh, and Bhuj district of Gujarat. At present, it is also being cultivated in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra (Pune). About 2,700 ha. is under cultivation in Cuddapah, Mysore and Anand and Mehsana districts of Gujarat. Trials conducted at Jammu, Jhodhpur district of Rajasthan and Delhi have given very encouraging results ; in Jammu, it can be grown at


lower altitudes in drier regions. It was successfully introduced into West Bengal, and recommended for Tripura (Gupta,1977).

  The plant requires dry and warm climate, bright sunshine, and occasional drizzle for good growth. It can grow in places where the average minimum  and maximum temperatures fluctuate between 10 and 420 C. A rainfall of 60-70 cm per year is sufficient for a good crop ; however, 25-40 cm of rainfall was reported to be sufficient in arid areas.

  The plant is stripped three times during the season, first picking is in March and others before May ; more picking can be taken later in October and December. (Pareek et al 1984, Shah et al., 1979).

   Immediately after picking the leaves are dried in sun. Quick drying ensures excellent green colour. The method of drying affects the percentage of sennosides in the leaves. In sun drying-sennosides are 2.98% ; moisture , 70.60% and in oven drying  ( 400  to ± 20 ) – sennosides are 3.03% ; moisture 72.80%  (Pareek et al., 1981).

  Among different methods of drying, freeze drying was found to be the best method of drying.


Yield of sennosides through different methods of drying of leaves of Cassia senna 

Method   Sennosides   Total

A    B C    D

Sun – drying       0.63     0.64   0.60   0.58     2.45

Air – Oven drying      0.69   0.70   0.70   0.67    2.76

Freeze – drying   0.97   0.95 0.91    0.85    3.68   

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  The senna is well known drug in Unani, Ayurvedic and Allopathic systems of medicines and is also a house hold medicine. The drug from India is known as Tinnevelly senna. The dried leaves and pods comprise the drug, the former known as Senna leaf and later Senna fruit as pod. The commercial drug consists of dried green leaves and shells of nearly dried and  ripe pods. The flowers are reported to contain considerable quantity of sennoside (2.6%). The commercial samples of pod (shells) contain sennosides 3 to 5% and the foliage 2.5 to 4%  (Kapoor and Atal, 1982 ; Pareek et al. , 1983).   

  The Senna leaves and pods contain sennasoides A, B, C, D, G, rhein, aloe-amine, Kaempferein and iso-rhein in the free and compound glycoside forms (Srivastava et al., 1982, 1983). The leaves, pods and roots of Cassia senna contains rhein, chrysophenol, imodin and aloe-imodin ( Srivastava et al., 1980).

   The leaves and pods (shells) are usually administered in the Ayurvedic and Unani systems of medicine as infusion, and considered a great tonic. The milk of nursing women acquires purgative properties after the use of senna. The drug is contra indicated in spastic constipation and colitis. The senna is an efficient purgative either for occasional use or for habitual constipation. It is free from astringent action of rhubarb (Rheum sp.) type but has a tendency to cause gripe ; hence it is combined with carminatives, aromatics and other saline laxatives ; the pods, however, cause less gripe. The disagreeable odour is masked by the addition of ginger or cloves. In India several household preparations such as decoction, powder, syrup, infusion and confection are made with senna. It enters into a compound Nilaavarai Churnam used for treating distention of stomach, hiccups, vomiting and biliousness (Kapoor and Atal, 1982).

    Besides being an excellent laxative, the senna is used as a febrifuge, in splenic enlargements, anaemia, typhoid, cholera, biliousness, jaundice, gout, rheumatism, tumours, foul breath and bronchitis and probably in leprosy. It is employed in the treatment of amoebic dysentery, as an anthelmintic and as a mild liver stimulant. The leaf is one of the constituents of a patented drug reported to have protective effects on the liver. The leaves in the form of confection of senna are used in treating haemorrhoids. They are externally used for certain skin diseases and the powdered leaves in the vinegar are applied to wounds and burns, and to remove pimples. However, it has been known to cause a severe and painful dermatitis in sensitized persons. The leaves along with those of hina are used to dye the hair black (Chopra et al. 1958).

Botanical name:- Cassia occidentalis Linn.

  It is known by different names. In Hindi ; Badikanodi, Chakunda, Kasonda, in English ; Coffee-senna, Foetid Cassia, Negro coffee, Rubbish Cassia, Stinking-weed, in Sanskrit:- Kasamarda and in Rajasthan, Chakundra Talka.

    An erect, foetid, annual herb or under shrub, 60-150 cm. in height found throughout in India upto an altitude of 1500 m. Leaves, 15-20 cm. long, lanceolate or ovate-lanceolate, leaflets 3 pairs, membranous, glaucous, ovate  or  lanceolate ;  flowers yellow,  in  short racemes ;  pods  recurved,

 glabrous, compressed 10-13 cms x 0.8 cm. ;  seeds dark olive green, ovoid, compressed 6 mm. x  4 mm., hard and  smooth shining.


  The herb is reported to be used as condiment and in perfumery. The young leaves are eaten aloned as potherb or cooked along with unripe pods and eaten with rice ; the leaf when eaten is reported to act as a prophylactic against leucorrhoea.

  The herb can be utilized as cattle-feed and can from maintenance ration for bullocks although suspected poisoning of stock in Northern Queensland and scouring in heifers have been reported. The herb can be used for reclamation of land and also as green manure to restore fertility in exhausted fields. It is often cultivated as a shade plant.

  All parts of the plant have almost similar properties. They possess purgative, tonic, febrifugal, expectorant and diuretic properties. The plant is used to cure sore eyes, haematuria, rheumatism, typhoid, asthama and disorders of haemoglobin, is also reported to cure leprosy. A decoction of the plant is used in hysteria, in dysentery and other stomach troubles, and also as an application to sores, itch and inflammation of the rectum. The plant is employed in dropsy, and as a vermifuge. Along with other plant as, it is made into an ointment used for skin diseases. The herb forms an ingredient of the patented indigenous herbal drug “Liv-52”, which shows marked effect in the early cases of hepatic cirrhosis having steatorrhoea ; Liv-52 reduced the toxicity of cadmium and beryllium in experimentally infected rats with SFV (Semiliki forest encephalitis virus). As an ingredient effect in rats ; excellent response was recorded in senile pruritus cases. An infusion of the bark is given in diabetes. The volatile oil obtained from the leaves, roots and seeds showed anti-bacterial and anti-fungal activity. The leaves have purgative, febrifugal, tonic, sudorific, diuretic and stomachic properties. They are given in cough and hysteria. A lotion of the leaves is used as an eye-wash in tetanus. The leaves are used internally and externally in skin-diseases, such as itches, yaws, scabies and ring-worm. A decoction of the leaves is given to children as a mild vermifuge ; the hot decoction is given as an antiperiodic and is reported to be preferred to quinine for its tonic properties. The fresh leaves, pounded with salt and onions, are applied as a poultice to guineaworm sores to extruse the worms. They are used in the inflammatory swelling, rheumatism, wounds, sprains and wrenches and also given in jaundice, pleurisy, headache and toothache. A paste of the leaves with calcium hydroxide is applied on abscesses for quick opening and pus clearance. The leaf paste is also applied externally for bone fracture. The leaves are used in foot and mouth disease of cattle. Their extract exhibits activity against earthworms.

  The seed is bitter and has tonic, febrifugal and purgative properties. It is considered to be a blood tonic and excellent diuretic. Seeds are useful in cough and whooping cough, convulsions and in heart diseases. Their powder is externally applied in cutaneous diseases and eruptions. The extracts showed positive response on guineapig-ileum, rat-uterus, rabbit-heart, and depressor-effect on blood-pressure of dogs, and also activity against earthworms.  

    Like all systems of Indian sciences, the science of medicine has taken origin from the gods. According to Indian mythology, Ayurveda was first