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Cassia tora


Senna tora

Vernacular Names:

Malaysia: Gelenggang Kecil, Gelenggang Padang, Gelenggang Nasi, Ketepeng[1]
English Foetid cassia, Sickle Senna, Wild Senna, Tora, Sickle Pod, Coffee Pod[1]
Indonesia:  Ketepeng Sapi, Ketepeng Cilik (Java), Ketepend Lentik (Sunda), Pepo (Timor) [2]
Thailand:  Thai, Ki-kia, Nopanaa-noe (Karen Mae Hong Son), Chumhet Khwaai, Chumhet Naa, Chumhet Lek (Central), Phrom daan (Sukhothai), Lapmuen noi (Northern), Yaa Luek Luen (Prachin Buri) [3]
India:  Charota, Chakvad, Chakavat, Chakonda, Panwar (Hindi), Chakunda (Bengali), Kawaria (Gujerati), Gandutogache (Canarese), Chakramandrakam, Takara (Malyalam), Takala (Marathi), Chakramarda, Dadmari, Dadrughra,Taga (Sanskrit), Ushit-tagarai Tagarai (Tamil), Chinnakasinda (Telugu)
China:   Xiao Jue Ming[4]
Hong Kong:   Kuet Ming[4]
Japan:  Hosomi Ebisugusa[4]
Korea:   Gyul Myung Cha[4]
Portugal:   Fedegoso

General Information


Cassia tora is an herbaceous and sometime woody undershrub that can grow up to 90 cm tall. It is a foetid annual that grows in waste areas and sometimes considered as a weed. It has pinnately compound leaves with grooved rachis and conical glands in between each of the two lower pairs of leaflets. There are three pairs of leaflets. Each leaflet is oblong-obovate, membranous and base rather oblique. There are 8-10 pairs of veins. The flowers are yellow in colour in subsessile pairs appearing in the axils of the leaves. The upper ones are crowded together. There are seven perfect stamens with three staminodes. The fruits are subtetragonous with obliquely septate pods measuring 15-23 cm long. The sutures are broad. The seeds are rhombohedral and each pod contains between 25-30 seeds.

Plant Part Used

Leaves, Seeds, Roots

Chemical Constituents

Alkanol: Tricontan-1-ol

Sugars: D-mannitol, D-arabinose, D-glucose, D-mannose, D-rhamnose 

Fatty Acids: Linoleic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, succinic and -tartaric acids 

Fatty alcohols: Myricyl alcohol  

Flavonoids: Quercitrin, iso-quercitrin  

Phytosterols: b-sitosterol, b-sitosteral-b-D-glucoside, stigmasterol 

Anthraquinones and their glycosides: Chrysophanol, emodin, obtusifolin, obtusin, chryso-obtusin, aurantio-obtusin, alaternin, alaternin 2-O-β-D-glucopyranoside, gluco-obtusifolin, cassiaside, gluco-aurantio-obtusin , cassitoroside, toralactone gentiobioside , and chrysophanol triglucoside, chrysophanol, physcion, chrysophonic acid-9-anthrone, 1,3,5-trihydroxy-6-7-dimethoxy-2-methylanthroquinone, 2-hydroxyemodin 1-methylether 

Naphthopyrones: Rubrofusarin, nor-rubrofusarin, Naptho-alpha-pyrone-toralactune[3][4] 

Nucleoside: Uridine[3]

Traditional Use:

Young leaves of C. tora are cooked as vegetable amongst the Malays in Kedah and Penang and also in India. The seeds are roasted and made into coffee like drink without the aroma of coffee. [1] 

The leaves are considered aperients and the decoction is used to treat habitual constipation. The older leaves are more effective while the younger ones as vegetable are taken as preventive measures against constipation. On the other hand people in Indo-China used the pods to treat dysentery. In Ayurvedic remedies the leaves and seeds are used to treat flatulence, colic and dyspepsia., The whole plant is used to treat biliousness by the Malays where 7 plants were boiled and the decoction given twice daily, repeated boiling with addition of water equivalent to the amount taken was done until the water eventually become insipid. This is followed by the same cycle with 5 and subsequently 3 whole plants. The Indian and Chinese Physicians consider the plant to have liver protective properties and thus, it is being used as a liver tonic and to treat liver related conditions like jaundice, liver cirrhosis with signs of failure like ascites. The Thais used the whole plant to treat chronic gastrointestinal ailments of children associated with malnutrition and intestinal parasitism, and as laxative.[1][3][4][5][6][7] 

Various parts of the plant have been used to treat cough. The Thaïs made use of the stem to make their cough remedy while the Indians take the leaves and seeds as an expectorant and cough suppressant. The Indians make use of it to treat asthma and bronchitis. Amongst the Malays the decoction of the leaves are used for the same entity. The Chinese recommend the use of the leaves and licorice in a decoction to treat common cold.[3][4][5][6][7] 

The whole plant is considered cardiotonic in both Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Its used to treat hypertension had been described in various Traditional Chinese Medicine. One method is to use the ground friend seeds of C. tora with sugar and dissolving it in boiling water. The Malays however, made use of the whole fruit in a decoction as a remedy for hypertension. The seeds are used in treating headaches due to high blood pressure and it is also useful to treat vertigo.[4][6][7][8] 

Various parts of the plant have been used to treat many conditions of the eyes and these are ulcerated cornea, red eye with pain and swelling, conjunctivitis, glaucoma, cataracts, nyctalopia, ocular swellings and pain, blurred vision. It is also used in treating inflammatory condition of the eyes accompanied by pain, photophobia and lacrimation. For the treatment of acute conjunctivitis a decoction of the seeds together with our herbs are used locally. For some eye disease a decoction of the leaves has been advocated.[4][8] 

One of the most common uses of this plant it in the treatment of various skin diseases. Most society recognizes its ability to treat ringworms and has used it in many different ways. Other skin diseases or conditions that C. tora had been used include leprosy, yaws, parasitic skin conditions, ulcers, psoariasis, irritating skin eruptions and keloids. Dried and fresh leaves are used by tribes in North Nigeria to treat ulcers, ringworm and other parasitic skin diseases. Ainslie mentioned that ground seeds with buttermilk can be used to treat irritating skin eruptions and the roots rubbed on a stone with limejuice is an excellent remedy for ringworm (psoariasis)           

The seeds has been used as an abortifacient and is known to have oxytocic activities. The Malays made use of the decoction of the roots and leaves in a bath for women in confinement. The roots is also used to treat snakebites.[6][7][8][9] 

Pre-Clinical Data


Antiviral activity: 

The 50% ethanol extract of the plant showed antiviral activity in cell culture against Ranikhet virus.[3] 

Antibacterial activity: 

Various extracts of the leaves were tested against Straphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis It was found that the acetone extract was active against all tested bacteria, the diethylether extract was effective against Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus subtilis while the ethanol extract was effective against Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli. Water extract did not show any antibacterial activities against the tested bacteria. 

The de-alcoholized extract of the seeds showed antibacterial activities against Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus albus, Staphylococcus citreus, Corynebacterium dyphtheriae, Bacillus megaterium, Salmonella typhosa, Salmonella paratyphi, Salmonella schottmuelleri and Escherichia coli. On the other hand the aqueous extract did not show any antibacterial activities against the tested bacteria. It is thought that part of the antibacterial activity was due to the phagocytotic stimulatory effects of the extracts. [4][10][11] 

In one study done it was found that torachrysone, toralactone, aloe-emodin, rhein and emodin showed noticeable effects on four strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. 

Antifungal activity: 

Hot water extracts of the seeds at various concentrations showed antifungal activity against Trichophyton gypseum, Trichophyton granulosum, Trichophyton purpureum and Trichophyton rubrum. 

The benzene extract of the seeds which contains chryophanic acid-9-anthrone was shown to be effective in killing and inhibiting the growth of Trichophyton mentagrophytes, Microsporum canis, Mircosporum gypseum and Geotriculata candidum. [12][13][14][15] 

Antiplasmodial activity: 

In a study on inhibitory effects of various plants from the Sudan against Plasmodium falciparum 3D7 (chloroquine sensitive) and Dd2 (chloroquine resistant and pyrimethamine sensitive), extracts from C. tora was found to inhibit both parasites. [16]               

Antihypertensive activity: 

A centrally mediated mechanism of action was shown to be the probable mechanism of the hypotensive activity of C. tora. This was shown in a series of test reported by Chinese investigators in 1976. The aqueous and methanol extracts of the seeds were found to elicit hypotension in anaesthetized rats and preliminary phytochemical studies showed that this could be due to the glycosides in the kernel of the seeds. 

In another study by the same investigators showed that it involves a vagal reflex mechanism reciprocally altering the vasomotor tone of the centrally emanating sympathetic nervous system. This was proven so when the vagotomized rats did not respond well to the extract and that in sympathetic nervous system interruption by spinal cord transection too greatly antagonized the effect. They finally localized the site of action to the medial portion of the medullary reticular formation when by injecting the extract directly into this site they observed that there was a decrease in arterial blood pressure. They also observed that by electronically damaging the site the hypotensive response was eliminated. They concluded the C. tora seed extracts modulated basic cardiovascular reflexes favouring a decrease in vasomotor tone. [17][18][19] 

ACE Inhibitory activity: 

It was found that the methanol extract of raw and roasted seeds of C. tora exhibited significant inhibitory properties against Angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE). It was also noted that only gluco-aurantio-obtusin showed marked inhibitory activity by competitive inhibition. [20] 

Antioxidant activity: 

Various recent studies have found that part of the pharmacological activities of the plant to be related to its antioxidant activities. In an early study on the antioxidant activities of C. tora it was shown that alaternin, an anthraquinone, and two naphthopyrone glycosides nor-rubrofusarin-6-beta-D-glucoside (cassiaside) and rubrofusarin-6- -D-gentiobioside have radical scavenging effect with alaternin being the most potent. 

In another study it was noted that the antioxidant properties of the water extracts of the seeds vary with the method of preparation i.e. in degree of roasting and duration of roasting of the seeds. The highest activity being seen in the raw state while the lowest in the other extreme. 

A more recent study on antioxidant activity has show that alaternin from an ectract of Cassia tora to be the most potent Peroxynitrite (ONOO-) scavenger. [21][22][23][24] 

Antidiabetic activity: 

Two studies done by Korean investigator on the ability of various extracts of C.tora to inhibit the formation of advanced glycation end products had shown promising effects. 

The first published in 2006 involved the study on Butanol extract of seeds of C. tora L. Three naphthopyrone glucosides cassiaside, rubrofusarin-6-O-β-D-gentiobioside, and toralactone-9-O-β-D-gentiobioside were found to inhibit the formation of advanced glycation end products. 

In another publication in 2007 by the same investigators they found two anthraquinones i.e. emodin and obtusifolin to have significant advanced glycation end products inhibitory activities. These were extracted from the seeds of C. tora L. using ethanol. On the other hand aurantio-obtusin, chryso-obtusin-2-O-b-D-glucoside and emodin showed significant inhibitory activity on rat lens aldose reductase. [25][26] 

Antilipidaemic activity: 

In a paper published in 2004, Indian investigators found that ethanolic extracts and their ether and water soluble fractions of seeds of C. tora were able to reduce elevated total cholesterol levels in triton induced hyperlipidaemic models. They also noted that the extracts increased the HDL-cholesterol levels while at the same time reduced the triglyceride and the LDL-cholesterol levels. 

In a clinical trial done in Korea, it was found that C. tora fiber added to the diet of Type II Diabetics help improve serum lipid status without serious adverse effects. In a more recent study on rats fed a high-cholesterol diet it was shown that the lipid lowering effects were due to faecal lipid excretion. [27][28][29] 

Hepatoprotective activity:                       

Three naphto-gamma-pyrone glycosides isolated from the seeds of C. tora showed significant hepato-protective effects against galactosamine damage and this effects was found to be higher than those of silybin. These glycosides are cassiaside, rubrofusarin-6--gentiobioside and 6-[(b-apiofuranosyl-(1à6)-O-b-D-glucopyranosyl)oxy]-rubrofusarin.

Another compound isolated from the leaves of Cassia tora recently i.e. ononitol monohydrate was found to have hepatoprotective activity. It was found that this compound effect decrease in serum transaminase, lipid peroxidation and TNF alpha while at the same time increased the levels of antioxidant and hepatic glutathione enzyme activities. It also show a higher liver protective activity than the reference drug i.e. silymarin. [30][31] 

Anticancer activity: 

In vitro studies of various fractions of methanol extracts of seeds of Cassia tora showed antimutagenic effects. It was determined that the compounds responsible for this activity are chrysophanol, chryso-obtusin, aurantio-obtusin, cassiaside and rubrofusarin gentiobioside. 

Methanolic extract of C. tora leaves showed marked inhibition on proliferation, reduced DNA content and apoptosis in HeLa. This is mediated through its antioxidant properties and it is believed the polyphenols ( gallic acid) contents of the leaf extract was responsible for this effect. [32][33] 

Antipigmentation activity: 

Emodin isolated from seeds of C. tora showed potent inhibitoryeffects on phosphorylation of Kit (Stem Cell factor receptor). It also blocked other receptor tyrosine kinase activities such as epithelial growth factor receptor, vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2, fibroblast growth factor receptor 1, platelet-derived growth factor receptor b. It also blocked cellular kinase activities in Kit and its downstream p44/42 mitogen activated protein kinase in MO7e cells and human primary melanocytes. Thus, Emodin strongly suppressed the melanin synthesis triggered by stem cell factor treatment. Emodin is thus, a good candidate for the development as an antipigmentation agent. [27][34] 


No documentation

Teratogenic effects

No documentation

Clinical Data

Clinical Trials

No documentation

Adverse Effects in Human:

No documentation

Use in Certain Conditions

Pregnancy / Breastfeeding

Seeds are not to be given to pregnant women. [6]

Age Limitations

Neonates / Adolescents

No documentation


No documentation

Chronic Disease Conditions

No documentation


Interactions with drugs

No documentation

Interactions with Other Herbs / Herbal Constituents

No documentation



No documentation

Case Reports

No documentation


  1. I.M. Burkill A Dictionary of Economic Products of the Malay Peninsula.1966. pp. 487 – 488.
  2. Prof H.M. Hembing Widjayakusuma. Tanaman Berkhasiat Obat Di Indonesia. 1. Jakarta: Pustaka Kartini; 1992. p. 60.
  3. Norman Farnsworth, Nuntavan Bunyapraphatsara. Thai Medicinal Plants: Recommended for Primary Health Care System. Medicinal Plant Information Center;1992. p.107.
  4. Takeatsu Kimura, Paul P. H. But. Unesco Northeast Asia. Singapore World Scientific Publishing Co;1996. p. 60.
  5. Prof H.M. Hembing Widjayakusuma. Tanaman Berkhasiat Obat Di Indonesia. 1. Jakarta: Pustaka Kartini; 1992. p. 60.
  6. Find Me A Cure – Alternative Medicine. Available from: Accessed on 15th September 2009
  7. Kamarudin Mat-Salleh, A. Latif. Tumbuhan Ubatan Malaysia. UKM Selangor, Pusat Pengurusan Penyelidikan, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia; 2002: p. 366.
  8. Chao-hsiang Chuang, Ning-han Li. Chinese Medicinal Herbs of Hongkong. Hongkong, Shang wu yin shu kuan; 1983. Vol 2. p. 38.
  9. Prof H.M. Hembing Widjayakusuma. Tanaman Berkhasiat Obat Di Indonesia. 1. Jakarta: Pustaka Kartini; 1992. p. 60.
  10. Dhar ML., Dhar MM., Dhawan BN., Mehrotra BN., Ray C. Screening of Indian Plants for Biological Activity: Part 1. Indian J. Exp. Biol. 1968; 6:232 -247
  11. Hatano T, Uebayashi H, Ito H, Shiota S, Tsuchiya T, Yoshida T. Phenolic constituents of Cassia seeds and antibacterial effect of some naphthalenes and anthraquinones on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). Aug1999;47(8):1121-1127.
  12. Lohakajornpun P. MSc.The study on antibacterial and antifungal activity of some medicinal plants –Thesis Chulalongkorn University 1978
  13. Ito K., Ota N. Effects of vegetable drugs on pathogenic fungi. Effect of anthraquinone-glycoside containing crude drug upon growth of pathogenic fungi. Bull Pharm res Inst Japan. 1951; 2:23
  14. Shibata S Ranqaswani S, Rav NVS eds Some chemical studies on Chinese drugs. In: Some recent development in Chemistry of Natural Products 1. New Delhi Prentice Hall.1972.
  15. Acharya TK, Chatterjee IB Isolation of Chrysophanic acid-9-anthrone, the major antifungal principle of Cassia tora L. Lloydia.1975; 38(3): 218 – 220.
  16. El-Tahir A, Satti GM, Khalid SA. Antiplasmodial activity of selected sudanese medicinal plants with emphasis on Acacia nilotica. Phytother Res. Sep1999;13(6):474-478.
  17. Koo A, Wang JC, Li KM. Extraction of hypotensive principles from seeds of Cassia tora L. Am J Chin Med (Gard City N Y). Autumn1976;4(3):245-248.
  18. Koo A, Chan WS, Li KM. A possible reflex mechanism of hypotensive action of extract from Cassia tora L. seeds. Am J Chin Med (Gard City N Y). Autumn1976;4(3):249-255.
  19. Chan SH, Koo A, Li KM. The involvement of medullary reticular formation in the hypotensive effect of extracts from seeds of Cassia tora L. Am J Chin Med (Gard City N Y). Winter1976;4(4):383-389.
  20. Hyun SK, Lee H, Kang SS, Chung HY, Choi JS. Inhibitory activities of Cassia tora and its anthraquinone constituents on angiotensin-converting enzyme. Phytother Res. Feb2009;23(2):178-184.
  21. Choi JS, Lee HJ, Kang SS. Alaternin, cassiaside and rubrofusarin gentiobioside, radical scavenging principles from the seeds of Cassia tora L on 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radical. Arch Pharm Res. Dec1994;17(6):462-466.
  22. Yen GC, Chuang DY. Antioxidant properties of water extracts from Cassia tora L. in relation to the degree of roasting. J Agric Food Chem. Jul2000;48(7):2760-2765.
  23. Yen GC, Chung DY. Antioxidant effects of extracts from Cassia tora L. prepared under different degrees of roasting on the oxidative damage to biomolecules. J Agric Food Chem. Apr1999;47(4):1326-1332.
  24. Park TH, Kim DH, Kim CH, Jung HA, Choi JS, Lee JW, Chung HY. Peroxynitrite scavenging mode of alaternin isolated from Cassia tora L. J Pharm Pharmacol. Oct2004;56(10):1315-1321.
  25. Lee GY, Jang DS, Lee YM, Kim JM, Kim JS. Naphthopyrone glucosides from the seeds of Cassia tora L. with inhibitory activity on advanced glycation end products (AGEs) formation. Arch Pharm Res. Jul 2006;29(7):587-590.
  26. Jang DS, Lee GY, Kim YS, Lee YM, Kim CS, Yoo JL, Kim JS. Anthraquinones from the seeds of Cassia tora L. with inhibitory activity on protein glycation and aldose reductase. Biol Pharm Bull. Nov 2007;30(11):2207-2210.
  27. Patil UK, Saraf S, Dixit VK. , Dr Hari Singh Gour Hypolipidemic activity of seeds of Cassia tora Linn. J Ethnopharmacol. Feb2004;90(2-3):249-252.
  28. Cho SH, Kim TH, Lee NH, Son HS, Cho IJ, Ha TY. Effects of Cassia tora fiber supplement on serum lipids in Korean diabetic patients. J Med Food. Fall2005;8(3):311-318.
  29. Cho IJ, Lee C, Ha TY. Hypolipidemic effect of soluble fiber isolated from seeds of Cassia tora Linn. in rats fed a high-cholesterol diet. J Agric Food Chem. 21Feb2007;55(4):1592-1596.
  30. Wong SM, Wong MM, Seligmann O, Wagner H. New antihepatotoxic naphtho-pyrone glycosides from the seeds of Cassia tora. Planta Med. Jun1989;55(3):276-280.
  31. Dhanasekaran M, Ignacimuthu S, Agastian P. Potential hepatoprotective activity of ononitol monohydrate isolated from Cassia tora L. on carbon tetrachloride induced hepatotoxicity in wistar rats. Phytomedicine. Sep2009;16(9):891-895.
  32. Choi JS, Lee HJ, Park KY, Ha JO, Kang SS. In vitro antimutagenic effects of anthraquinone aglycones and naphthopyrone glycosides from Cassia tora. Planta Med. Feb1997;63(1):11-14.
  33. Rejiya CS, Cibin TR, Abraham A. Leaves of Cassia tora as a novel cancer therapeutic--an in vitro study. Toxicol In Vitro. Sep2009;23(6):1034-1038.
  34. Lee SJ, Jeong D, Park WK, Kong JY, Choi G, Kim H, Kang S, Cho H. Screening of Kit inhibitors: suppression of Kit signaling and melanogenesis by emodin. Phytother Res. 7Jul2009.

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