Cassia occidentalis is known as Kasamarda in Ayurveda, Kasaondi (Kasundi) in Unani and Paeyaavarai, Thagarai in Siddha. In Sanskrit, meaning of Kasa is cough or phlegm and Mardan means to destroy. So one which destroys Kasa is called Kasamarda. As this plant possess expectorant properties, and is effective against cough, asthma and other respiratory ailments it is given the name Kasamarda and Kasari. It cleanses the throat, purifies the blood and improves the digestion.
The leaves, roots and seeds of plant are purgative. Cassia occidentalis, is used externally in skin diseases and poisonous bites. The leaves are applied on scabies, ringworm and other skin diseases. Though it is named Coffee Senna, but it has no relation to coffee.
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Cassia occidentalis, is a much branched, smooth, half woody herb or shrub about 0.8 to 1.8 m tall.
- Stem is erect and without hairs.
- Leaves are lanceolate or ovate-lanceolate, bipinnately compound and about 20 to 25 cm in length. Each pinna has four to seven pairs of leaflets, which are 3 to 9 cm in length and 2 to 4 cm in width and arranged oppositely. Leaflets are ovate or ovate lanceolate in shape with a long, fine pointed tip. Each leaf has a distinct spherical shaped gland, which is located about 0.3 to 0.5 cm from the base of the petiole.
- Inflorescence is a terminal or axillary raceme. Flowers are yellow coloured and about 2 cm long and 3 to 4 cm wide.
- Fruit is a pod / legume, compressed, 8 to 12 cm long, 0.7 to 1 cm wide and curved slightly upwards. Each pod contains 20 to 30 seeds, which are ovoid in shape, smooth, shiny and dull brown to dark olive-green in colour.
- Soil preferred for growth: slightly acidic to neutral soil with high moisture content.
- Propagation: By seeds from mature pods.
- Flowering: March, June
The botanical name of is Cassia occidentalis. It belongs to plant family Fabaceae ⁄ Leguminosae and genus Caesalpinia L. or Caesalpiniaceae. The genus Caesalpinia (Caesalpiniaceae) has more than 500 species distributed worldwide. The plants of this genus are rich in flavonoids, diterpenes, and steroid and used medicinally throughout the world.
Below is given taxonomical classification of plant.
- Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
- Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
- Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
- Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
- Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
- Subclass: Rosidae
- Order: Fabales
- Family: Fabaceae ⁄ Leguminosae – Pea family
- Genus: Caesalpinia L. – nicker
- Species: Cassia occidentalis
- Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Roots, leaves, seeds, bark
- Plant type: herb or undershrub
- Distribution: Occurs in the tropics including India, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Philippines Islands.
- Habitat: Wet places
- Status: Common plant
- Chief action: diuretic, blood purifying, laxative
Vernacular names / Synonyms
- Scientific name: Cassia occidentalis
- Sanskrit: Kasamarda, Arimarda, Kasari, Badikasondi, Chakunda, Kasonda, Dipana, Kala, Kalankata, Kanaka, Karkasha, Kasamardaka, Kasari, Kashamarda, Jarana, Vimarda
- Siddha: Paeyaavarai, Thagarai
- Unani: Tukhme Kasaondi
- Hindi: Kasondi
- Marathi: Kasunda
- Malayalam: Natrum takara, Ponnaveeram
- Bengali: Kalakasunda
- Gujarati: Kasuvayee
- Tamil: Nattandagarai, Peyavirai, Ponnavirai
- Telugu: Kasinda
- English: Coffee Senna, Negro Coffee, Rubbish Cassia, Stinking Weed, fedegoso
- Maldives: Dhigu thiyara
- Sri Lanka (Sinhalese): Penitora
Constituents of Cassia occidentalis
The seeds contain fatty matter, tannic acid, sugar, gum, cellulose, calcium sulphate and phosphate, crysophanic and malic acids, sodium chloride, magnesium sulphate, iron, silica and achrosine. 1, 8-dihydroxy-2- methylanthraquinone, 1, 4, 5-trihydroxy-7-methoxy-3- methylanthraquinone, physcion, its glucoside, rhein, aloe-emodin, chrysophanol, its glycoside, N-methylmorpholine, glucosides of campesterol and ß-sitosterol, and a galactomannan are also present in seeds.
The volatile oil obtained from the leaves, roots and seeds have antibacterial and antifungal activity.
Few medicines containing Cassia occidentalis
- Himalaya Liv.52 for Liver care
- Himalaya Bonnisan
- Himalaya Herbolax Tab for Constipation
- Himalaya Geriforte
- Pancha Jeeraka Gudam
Ayurvedic Properties and Action
Kasamardaka is sweet, alleviator of kapha (Kasa=cough, marda=destroy) and vata. It is carminative and cleanses the throat. It specially alleviates pitta. It is bitter, sweet in taste (Rasa), pungent after digestion (Vipaka), and is hot in effect (Virya).
- Rasa (taste on tongue): Madhura (Sweet), Tikta (Bitter
- Guna (Pharmacological Action): Laghu (Light), Ruksha (Dry)
- Virya (Action): Ushna (Heating)
- Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Katu (Pungent)
Kasmarda cures krmi (parasitic infection), pratishyay (rhinitis), Aruchi (anorexia), Shvasa (asthma) and Kasa. It helps in the cleansing of ulcers.
Unani Properties of Kasondi
In Unani the Seeds are used in skin diseases, cough and whooping cough. The Roots are used in fever, neuralgia and dropsy.
Mizaj (Temperament): Hot2 Dry2
Leaf, Root & Seed: purgative
Root: diuretic and antiperiodic
Important Medicinal Properties
Cassia occidentalis is rich in medicinal properties. The understanding of these properties will help us to better utilize this herb. These also indicate the conditions in which we should avoid it. For example, it has laxative and diuretic properties and therefore should not be used in loose motions and medical condition which restricts use of diuretics.
Below is given medicinal properties along with the meaning.
- Antioxidant: Neutralize the oxidant effect of free radicals and other substances.
- Anti-allergic: Prevents, or relieves an allergy.
- Anti-inflammatory: Reducing inflammation by acting on body mechanisms.
- Anthelmintic: Antiparasitic, expel parasitic worms (helminths) and other internal parasites from the body.
- Anti-lipid peroxidant: against lipid peroxidation / oxidative degradation of lipids which causes cell damage.
- Diuretic: Promoting excretion of urine/agent that increases the amount of urine excreted.
- Expectorant: Promotes the secretion of sputum by the air passages, used to treat coughs.
- Laxative: Tending to stimulate or facilitate evacuation of the bowels.
- Purgative: Strongly laxative in effect
- Stomachic: Stimulates gastric activity.
- Tonic: Restore or improve health or well-being.
Medicinal Uses of Cassia occidentalis
Cassia occidentalis has many medicinal properties and traditionally used as purgative, tonic, diuretic, febrifuge, and anthelminthic agent. It is used as folk medicine in dropsy, rheumatism, fevers, piles, colic pain, snake bite and venereal diseases. It is used topically on ringworm, eczema and other skin diseases.
The seeds of tree are roasted and powdered to prepare strong coffee due to which it is also known as Coffee Senna or Negro Coffee. Roasting destroys the purgative property of seeds. This coffee is given as a substitute to coffee and also as a tonic, cure for asthma and convulsions, hysteria. The seeds are also used in treatment of whooping cough and diseases of heart.
Seeds possess diuretic, febrifugal, emetic, and purgative / cathartic properties.
Leaves are used as vegetable. They have laxative and liver detoxifying properties. They are used as a purgative. Leaf poultice is applied for relief from oedema. Bruised leaf is used in pleurisy and similar inflammatory conditions, both internally and externally.
1. Colic pain
The paste prepared from leaves is taken in dose of 1 gram twice a day for three days.
2. Chicken pox
Kasmarda leaves, Neem leaves, Khus Khus Grass, Sandalwood and Dhamasa (Fagonia cretica) are boiled in water and used as bath.
3. Cutaneous diseases and eruptions
The seed powder is applied externally.
Bark infusion is used in diabetes.
5. Tinea/ringworm, scabies
Paste of leaf is applied topically.
6. Fever, liver disorders
Roots are used in intermittent fevers and as a tonic and diuretic in dropsy and liver complaints.
Dry the roots of plant. Ground to make powder. Take in dose of 5 grams.
The seed powder is taken in dose of 2 grams twice day for a week.
8. Snake bite
For snake bite 10 gm root part is chewed three times a day for three days.
Dosage of Cassia occidentalis
- Leaves are used in dose of 5-10 grams and the seeds in 1-3 grams.
- Fresh leaf juice can be taken in dose of 10-20 ml.
- The root bark decoction is taken in dose of 50-100 ml.
- Contraindications, Interactions, Side-effects and Warnings Cassia occidentalis
- Do not take in diarrhea.
Though the animal study show oral administration during pregnancy in female Wistar rats did not cause statistically significant changes between control and test groups with respect to fetuses, placentae and ovaries weight, it is better to avoid this herb in pregnancy as it is a hot in potency and has purgative effect.
Acute toxicity test conducted on Cassia occidentalis found that this plant did not show any hazardous symptoms. The leaves are found to be safe with no adverse effect on the liver and kidney functions at the doses administered.