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Cassia fistula L.


Bactyrilobium fistula Willd., Cassia bonplandiana DC., Cassia excelsa Kunth, Cassia fistuloides Collad., Cassia rhombifolia Roxb., Cathartocarpus excelsus G.Don, Cathartocarpus fistula Pers., Cathartocarpus fistuloides (Collad.) G.Don, Cathartocarpus rhombifolius G.Don [1]

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Bereksa, tengguli, rajah kayu, dulang [2]
English Golden shower, Indian laburnum, pudding pipe tree, purging tree, canafistola, casse [23] 
Indonesia Keyok, klohur, peyok, piyok, tangguli, tengguli, trengguli (Java); bobondelan, bubundelan, bumbungdelan, bondel, tanggoli, tranggoli (Sundan) [2]
Thailand Kun, raja pruk, chaiya pruk [2].

General Information


Cassia fistulais a member of the family Leguminosae family. It is a small to medium-sized tree, could reach up to over 10-15 m height, deciduous or semi-deciduous. It is with spreading branches while the young twigs are smooth. The leaves are with 3-7 pairs of leaflets, with petiole 5-8 cm long, terete, with ovate-oblong leaflets, measuring 7-12 cm x 4-8 cm, subcoriaceous, broadly wedge-shaped at base, acute at apex, with shiny upper surface and smooth when mature. The inflorescence is an axillary, pendulous, lax raceme, measures 20-40(-60) cm long and many-flowered. The flowers are fragrant, with sepals 7-10 mm long; broadly ovate petals and golden-yellow. There are 10 stamens where 3 of them are with filaments 3-4 cm long while the other 4 are shorter with filaments 6-10 mm long and the last 3 are reduced with filaments 3-4 mm long . The anthers are minute. The fruit is 20-60 cm long, pendent, terete, measures 1.5-2 cm in diametre, black, hairless and indehiscent. The seeds are numerous, separated by papery septa and embedded in black glutinous pulp [24].

Plant Part Used

Bark, leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds. [3][4][5][6]

Chemical Constituents

C. fistula seeds are rich in glycerides with linoleic, oleic, stearic and palmitic acids, trace amounts of caprylic and myristic acids, cephalin and lecithin phospholipids and carbohydrates [3][4].

C. fistula bark has been reported to contain lupeol, β-sitosterol and hexacosanol [5]. Its fruit tissue has been reported to contain a substantial amount of potassium, calcium, iron and manganese [6]. In addition, the in vivo and in vitro extracts of C. fistula are rich in polyphenolics and the secondary metabolites which are consisted of anthraquinones, flavonoids and flavan-3-ol derivatives, sennoside A, sennoside B and many others [7]. 

Traditional Uses

The pulp in the fruits is used as a laxative for constipation and as a purgative [2] [8] [9] while the decoction of the bark is used externally to treat wounds and ulcerations [2] [8].

Preclinical Data


Antimicrobial activity


The crude extract of C. fistula fruit at a concentration of 1000 μg/mL showed antibacterial activity against 10 bacteria using the agar dilution-streak method. The complete inhibition was showed against Bacillus cereus var mycoides, Bacillus pumilus, Bacillus subtilis, Bordetella bronchiseptica, Micrococcus luteus, Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Streptococcus faecalis, Saccharomyces cerevisiae after compared to positive control ciprofloxacin (3g/ml) [10]. In addition the redissolved dried leaf extract of C. fistula was tested using disk diffusion method and was found to be effective against Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa [11].


The crude extract of C. fistula fruit at a concentration of 1000 μg/mL showed antifungal activity against 2 fungi using the agar dilution-streak method. The complete inhibition was showed against Candida albicans and Aspergillus niger after compared to positive control amphotericin-B (3g/ml) [10].

Wound healing activity

A hydrocarbon ointment containing 10% w/w of C. fistula leaf extract was topically applied onto infected albino rat wounds. It showed improved healing through wound closure and tissue regeneration [11].

Hepatoprotective activity

n-heptane extract of C. fistula leaves was tested in hepatotoxicity-induced rats using tetrachloride:liquid paraffin.  At a dose of 400 mg/kg, the extract showed significant hepatoprotective activity by lowering the serum levels of transaminases, bilirubin and alkaline phosphatase which was comparable to the standard drug which is a liver tonic Neutrosec administered at a dose of 5 ml/kg (p.o)  [12].

Antioxidant activity

The preliminary antioxidant assessment was performed using ethanol extract of the leaves and methanol extracts of the bark, pulp and flowers of C. fistula. The antioxidant activity was found to correlate with the total polyphenolic content of the extracts and was in the descending order of bark, leaves, flowers then pulp [13].

The antioxidant activity of the aqueous extract of C. fistula flowers (ACF) was later investigated in alloxan-induced diabetic rats. For rats that were treated with ACF, there was a significant reduction in peroxidation products (thiobarbituric acid reactive substances, conjugated dienes and hydroperoxides) and a prominent increase in the activities of the antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase, glutathione reductase and glutathione [14].

Aqueous and methanol extracts of C. fistula bark were also investigated for their antioxidant activity. Both extracts exhibited antioxidant activity in DPPH, nitric oxide and hydroxyl radical-induced in vitro assay methods.  The extracts also showed a dose-dependent protective effect against lipid peroxidation and free radical generation in liver and kidney homogenates [15].

Anti-inflammatory activity

The anti-inflammatory activity of the aqueous (CFA) and methanol (CFM) extracts of C. fistula bark was assayed in Wistar albino rats. Both the extracts exhibited significant (P < 0.01) reduction in carrageenan-induced oedema at 250 and 500 mg/ kg. It also significantly (P < 0.001) reduced the weight of the cotton pellet-induced granuloma with the percentage inhibition was 42.69% for CFA, 22.31%  for CFM and 50.42% for the reference standard Diclofenac [15].

Antitumour activity

Methanol extract of C. fistula seeds exhibited some promising antitumour activity in Ehrlich ascites carcinoma tumour mice especially at a dose 100 mg/kg. This extract had increased the life span and decreased the tumour volume and viable tumour cell count of the mice [16].

Ni(II) biosorption activity

The dried biomass of C. fistula was tested as a biosorbent for Ni(II), a known environmental pollutant. The sorption ability of C. fistula biomass for Ni(II) removal tends to be in the order: leaves<stem bark<pods bark. When the initial Ni(II) concentration was 25 mg/L, 100 % pollutant removal was achieved with the herbal biomass [17].

Other activities

Other documented activities of C. fistula include antifertility [18], effects on central nervous systems [19] and inhibitory action on leukotriene biosynthesis [20].


The aqueous extract of C. fistula fruit was tested in vitro on isolated guinea pig ileum. The acute and sub-chronic toxicity of the extract was compared with the reference Senokot tablet. LD50 of the extract was found to be 6600 mg/kg and the extract showed no pathological changes on the organs examined microscopically. It was concluded that the aqueous extract of C. fistula was safe to be used as a laxative and as a substitute for the official Senna [21].

In another acute toxicity study using both the aqueous and methanol extracts of C. fistula bark, there was no sign of toxicity up to a dose level of 2000 mg p.o. [15].

Clinical Data

Clinical Trials

No information

Adverse Effects in Human:

C. fistula is a stimulant laxative and may cause diarrhoea and loose stool after ingestion [22].

Used in Certain Conditions:

Pregnancy / Breastfeeding

Pregnant women or nursing mothers should consult a health care provider prior to using any dietary supplement containing C. fistula [22].  

Age Limitations

Neonates / Adolescents

No information


No information

Chronic Disease Conditions

No information


Interactions with drugs

Additive effects are seen with preparations containing senna or any other laxatives [22].

Interactions with Other Herbs / Herbal Constituents:

People should exercise caution when taking C. fistula together with other herbal preparations (Aloe spp., Frangula alnusGrangula purshiana, Rhamnus cathartica, Rheum officinale, Rheum palmatum, Senna spp.) that also possess laxative effects [22].



C. fistula should be avoided by patients experiencing abdominal pain or diarrhoea or hypersensitivity to it or to members of the Leguminosae family [22].

Case Reports

No information


  1. The Plant List. Cassia fistula L. [internet] Ver1.1, 2013. [cited 2014 Sept 10]. Available from
  2. Burkill IH. A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula, Vol. I. Published on behalf of the Governments of Malaysia and Singapore. Kuala Lumpur: Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives; 1966. p.481-482.
  3. Abu Sayeed M, Abbas Ali M, Astaq Mohal Khan GRM, Rahman MS. Studies on the characterization and glyceride composition of Cassia fistula seed oil. Bangladesh J. Sci. Indust. Res. 1999;34:144-148.
  4. Niranjan GS, Katiyar SK.  Chemical analysis of some wild leguminous seeds. J. Indian Chem. Soc., 1979; LVI (56): 722-725.
  5. Sen AB, Shukia YN. Chemical examination of Cassia fistula. J. Indian Chem. Soc. 1968;45:744.
  6. Barthakur NN, Arnold NP, Alli I. The Indian laburnum (Cassia fistula L.) fruit: an analysis of its chemical constituents. Plant foods for human nutrition (Dordrecht, Netherlands). 1995 Jan;47(1):55-62.
  7. Bahorun T, Neergheen VS, Aruoma OI. Phytochemical constituents of Cassia fistula. Afr. J. Biotechnol. 2005 December;3(13):1530-1540.
  8. Kirtikar KR, Basu BD. Indian medicinal plants (Vol. II). Delhi, India: Vivek Vihar; 1975.
  9. Satyavati GV, Sharma M. Medicinal Plant in India. New Delhi: CMR; 1989.
  10. Kumar VP, Chauhan NS, Padh H, Rajani M. Search for antibacterial and antifungal agents from selected Indian medicinal plants. J. Ethnopharmacology. 2006 Sept;107(2): 182-188.
  11. Kumar MS, Sripriya R, Raghavan HV, Sehgal PK. Wound healing potential of Cassia fistula on infected albino rat model. J Surgical Res. 2006 Apr;13(2):283-289.
  12. Bhakta T, Mukherjee PK, Mukherjee K, Banerjee S, Mandal SC, Maity TK et al. Evaluation of hepatoprotective activity of Cassia fistula leaf extract. J. Ethnopharmacology. 1999 Sept;66(3):277-282.
  13. Siddhuraju P, Mohan PS, Becker K. Studies on the antioxidant activity of Indian laburnum (Cassia fistula L.): a preliminary assessment of crude extracts from stem bark, leaves, flowers and fruit pulp. Food Chemistry. 2002 Oct;79(1):61-67.
  14. Manonmani G, Bhavapriya V, Kalpana S, Govindasamy S, Apparanantham T. Antioxidant activity of Cassia fistula (Linn.) flowers in alloxan induced diabetic rats. J Ethnopharmacology. 2005 Feb;97(1):39-42.
  15. Ilavarasan R, Mallika M, Venkataraman S. Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities of Cassia fistula Linn bark extracts. Afr. J. Trad. CAM. 2005 Dec;2(1):70-85.
  16. Gupta M, Mazumder UK, Rath N, Mukhopadhyay DK. Antitumor activity of methanolic extract of Cassia fistula L. seed against Ehrlich ascites carcinoma. J Ethnopharmacology. 2000 Sept;72(1-2):151-156.
  17. Hanif MA, Nadeem R, Bhatti HN, Ahmad NR, Ansari TM. Ni(II) biosorption by Cassia fistula (Golden Shower) biomass. J Hazardous Materials B. 2007 Jan;139(2):345-355.
  18. Yadav R, Jain GC. Antifertility effect of aqueous extract of seeds of Cassia fistula in female rats. Adv. Contraception. 1999;15(4):293-301.
  19. Mazumdar UK, Gupta M, Rath N. CNS activities of Cassia fistula in mice. Phytother. Res. 1998 Nov;12(7):520-522.
  20. Sunil Kumar KC, Muller K. Inhibition of leukotriene biosynthesis and lipid peroxidation in biological models by the extract of Cassia fistula. Phytotherapy Res. 1998 Nov;12(7):526-528.
  21. Akanmu MA, Iwalewa EO, Elujoba AA, Adelusola KA. Toxicity potentials of Cassia fistula fruits as laxative with reference to senna. Afr. J. Biomedical Res. 2004;7(1):23-26.
  22. Code of Ethics & Business Conduct. A Publication of The American Herbal Products Association; 2006. p. 4.
  23. Nelson LS, Shih RD, Balick MJ. Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants. Berlin: Springer-Verlag; 2007. p. 110-112 
  24. Toruan-Purba AV.Cassia fistulaL. In: de Padua LS, Bunyapraphatsara N, Lemmens RHMJ. (Editors). Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 12(1): Medicinal and poisonous plants 1. Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher; 1999. p. 183-184.

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