Sicklepod senna – nutrition, proven benefits and uses

sicklepod senna

The scientific name of the sicklepod is Senna tora (L.) Roxb. It is also known as Foetic cassia, Coffee pod, Coffee pod, Sicklepod senna, Stinking cassia, Tora, Sickle senna, and Wild senna.

Other names include

ARABIC: Tukhme panwar.
ASSAMESE : Bon medelua, Medeluwa.
BENGALI : Chakunda, Panevar.
BURMESE : Tan.kywè: , Tan.kywè:ka.lé:, Mo:kya.lak-hpak.
CHINESE: Jue ming, Xiao jue ming.
FRENCH : Cassier sauvage, Pois puant, Séné.
GUJARATI : Kawaria.
HINDI : Chakavat, Chakod, Chakunda, Chakvad, Chakwand, Charota, Edgaj, Prapunat, Tarkil.
KANNADA : Gandutogache, Tagache.
KOREAN: ho gyeol myeong, Gin gang nam cha.
LAOTIAN : Lap mun, Nha lap meun.
MALAYALAM : Chakramandrakam, Takara.
MARATHI: Takala, Tarva.
NEPALESE : Cakamake, Cakramandi, Carkor, Taper, Tapre.
ORIYA : Chakunda.
PERSIAN : Sangsaboyah.
POLISH : Stracze egipskie, Straczyniec.
PORTUGUESE : Fedegoso branco.
SANSKRIT : Chakramarda, Chakramardakah, Dadmari, Dadrughra, Edgajah, Padmatah, Tarkil, Taga.
SPANISH : Bicho, Brusca cimarrona, Ororuz.
TAMIL : Tagarai, Thagarai.
THAI : Chumhet thai.
URDU: Ergaj.
VIETNAMESE : Cây Muồng ngủ, Muồng lạc, Muồng ngủ, Muồng đồng tiền, Muồng hòe, Thảo quyết minh.

Sicklepod is  a stout erect, smooth, rank-smelling, half-woody annual, 1 meter or less in height. Leaves are 8 to 12 centimeters long and pinnately compound with 6 leaflets. Leaves are furnished with glands on the main rachis between leaflets. Leaflets are oblong-ovate or obovate and 2 to 5 centimeters long. Flowers are crowded, in pairs, in the axils of the upper leaves, and about 1.5 centimeter across. Calyx-tube is short; sepals are imbricate. Petals are 5, yellow, subequal. Stamens are 10, rarely all perfect, 3 to 5 being reduced to staminodes or sometimes absent, anthers mostly basifixed opening by terminal spores or with the slit more or less continuous downward. Ovary sessile or stalked. Fruits are slender pods, up to 15 centimeters long and 3 to 4 millimeters thick. Seeds are flattened in the same direction as the pod.


– A very common weed throughout many countries, in settled areas at low and medium altitudes.

– Pantropic.


• Seeds yield tannins and dyes (yellow, blue and red).

• Volatile oil showed a high content of aliphatic acids (>75%) and anthraquinones.

• Seed analysis showed the following percentage composition: water, 27.2%; petroleum ether extract, 9.75%; ether extract, 0.86%; absolute alcohol extract, 1.63%, and watery extract, 20%.

• Plant yields emodin to which the medicinal properties are attributed to.

• Leaves yield a principle similar to cathartin.

• Seeds contain phytosterine and glucosenine.

• Phytochemical screening yielded glycosides, tannins, flavonoids, and saponins.

• Leaf extracts yielded anthraquinones, carbohydrates, glycosides, steroids, flavonoids, and saponins.

• Proximate analysis of leaves (per 100g) yielded moisture 42gm ±2gm, ash 96gm ±1gm. Phytochemical analysis showed the presence of magnesium, calcium, sulphur, iron, sodiaum, chlorine, alkaloids, tannin, saponin, flavonoids, carbohydrate, protein, steroids, glycosides. (see study)

Medicinal Properties of Sicklepod

• Sweet tasting, slightly cooling.

• Diuretic, laxative, purgative.

• Mucilaginous and foetid smelling leaves are aperient, antiperiodic, antiseptic, alterative, febrifuge, anthelminthic, digestive.

• In Ayurveda, considered aperient, laxative, cardiotonic, anthelmintic, liver tonic, expectorant.

Parts utilized

· Seeds, leaves, roots.

· Collect pods from August to October when the seeds are about to ripen.

· Sun-dry, remove the pericarp before using.


• Edible wild vegetable.

• Leaves used as pot herb.

• Roasted seeds used as coffee substitute. In Mexico, used as substitute for coffee or for adulterating it.

Folkloric traditional medicine uses and remedies with sicklepod senna 

· In the Philippines, the entire plant, in decoction, is used as purgative and vermifuge.

· Leaves and seeds used as a remedy for ringworm and scabies.

· Decoction of seeds used for hepatitis, edema associated with liver problems, hypertension, infantile convulsion, night blindness due to fever, habitual constipation.

· Infusion of leaves used for intestinal disorders. Decoction is mildly laxative.

· Poultice of seeds and leaves used for scabies, psoriasis, ringworm and eczema.

· Paste of the roots used for ringworm.

· Decoction of leaves used in children suffering from fever while teething.

· Leaves fried in castor oil are used as application to foul ulcers.

· In Africa and India, a traditional medicine for the treatment of ulcers. Pounded fermented leaves added to food or local gin and taken orally as purgative or anthelmintic.

· leaves also used to hasten suppuration.

· Malays use decoction of leaves as a mild purgative or as a cure for coughs.

· In Ayurveda, seeds and leaves used for cough, leprosy, ringworm, colic, flatulence, dyspepsia, bronchitis.

· In India, used for rheumatism and gout.

· In Indo-China, pods are used for dysentery and ophthalmia.

· Seeds, ground with sour buttermilk, used to relieve irritation of itchy eruptions.

Other uses

• Pesticide: In organic farms in India, used as a natural pesticide.

• Dye: In India, seeds also used in dyeing along with indigo.

• Used in pet food preparations.

• Gelling agent in air fresheners.

Scientific proven health benefits and uses of Sicklepod senna

Antifungal / Chrysophanic Acid:

Study of an aqueous paste of defatted seed powder isolated chrysophanic acid and other hydroxynathraquinone derivatives. The major antifungal compound, identified as chrysophanic acid-9-anthrone, was active against Tricophyton rubrum, T. mentagrophytes, Microsporum canis, M gypseum, and Geotrichum candidum.


Study showed ethanol extract of CT to have potent antifungal activities against Microsporum canis and C albicans, suggesting a potential as a antifungal agent.

Immunomodulatory / Capable of modifying or regulating one or more immune functions/ Anthraquinones:

Anthraquinones of edible wild vegetable Cassia tora stimulate proliferation of human CD4+ T lymphocytes and secretion of interferon-gamma or interleukin 10.

Antioxidant / Volatile Oil:

The study of chemical components of the volatile oil from C. tora showed antioxidant activity of potential use for hyperlipidemia, hypertension and inflammatory disease.

Lipid Effects / Fiber Supplement:

Effects of Cassia tora Fiber Supplement on Serum Lipids in Korean Diabetic Patients: Cassia tora fiber supplement can help improved serum lipids in T2DM.

Lipid Effects:

Ethanolic extract of seeds of CT decreased total and LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and increased HDL.

Hypotensive /owering the blood pressure/ Vagal Reflex:

A possible reflex mechanism of hypotensive action of extract from Cassia tora seeds: Study suggests a possible vagal reflex that alters the vasomotor tone of the sympathetic NS.

Anthelmintic/ helps to remove worms:

Study demonstrated the anthelmintic activity of alcohol and aqueous extracts of Cassia tora.


Study on various extracts of Cassia tora, Calendula officinalis and Mormodica charantia showed activity against all tested bacteria, Staph aureus being more susceptible to the aqueous extracts.

Antihypertensive/ treat hypertension (high blood pressure):

Study of the methanol extracts from the raw and roasted seeds of Cassia tora exhibited significant inhibitory properties against ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme).

Aldose Reductase / Diabetes:

Study of seed extracts of CT isolated nine anthraquinones, with compounds 6 and 8 exhibiting inhibitory activities on protein glycation and aldose reductase.

Anti-Inflammatory/ reduces inflammation, pain and swelling:

Study of the methanol extract of leaves of C. tora exhibited significant anti-inflammatory activities against carrageenin, histamine, serotonin and dextran-induced rat hind paw edema.

Hepatoprotective / protect liver/ Antioxidant:

Study in albino rats showed the protective effects of Cassia tora against carbon tetrachloride induced hepatotoxicity attributed to its effective free radical scavenging that accounts for its antioxidant property.


Study evaluated the antioxidant and antiproliferative potential. The plant extract induced a marked concentration dependent inhibition of proliferation, reduced DNA content and apoptosis in HeLa. Results indicated that C. tora is effective against free radical mediated diseases.


Study results indicate that constituents of C. tora seeds have a beneficial effect on postprandial blood glucose control which may be partly due to mediation by stimulated insulin secretion from the pancreas of diabetic rats.

By suppressing EROD, NADPH CYP-450 reductase in cells and promoting GST activity.

Antioxidant / Leaves:

Study evaluated a methanolic extract of leaves for antioxidant activity using various assays. Results showed a reduction of DPPH radicals in a concentration-dependent manner. The potent in vitro antioxidant activity may be attributed to phenolic content of leaves.

Antioxidant Activity / Topical Cream of Leaves Extract:

Study evaluated the in vivo antioxidant activity of a newly formulated O/W cream of of methanolic extract of leaves. Results showed topical O/W creams prevented oxidative stress induced in rats by exposure to UV-B light through antioxidant activity.

Trypsin / Protease Inhibitory Activity:

Study investigated the protease inhibitory activity of Cassia tora against trypsin, Aspergillus flavus and Bacillus sp. proteases. Proteases play an important role in many human, plant, and insect pathogens. Results showed crude extracts with strong antitryptic, bacterial, and fungal protease inhibitory activity. The Cassia tora inhibitor may attenuate microbial proteases and may be used a phytoprotecting agent.

Study evaluated the protease inhibitory activity of cassia tora seeds. Results showed trypsin inhibitory activity of the seeds.

Novel Cancer Therapeutic / Leaves:

Study of methanolic leaf extract of C. tora showed a concentration dependent lipid peroxidation inhibition. The antiproliferative activity of CTME with anticancer drug Cisplatin was studied using HeLa (human cervical cancer cells). The plant induced marked concentration dependent inhibition of proliferation, reduced DNA content and apoptosis in HeLa cells.


Study evaluated the antiasthmatic activity of C. tora leaves. A hydroalcoholic extract showed bronchodilator activity, significantly inhibiting the contractile effect of histamine in isolated goat tracheal chain.

Anti-Psoriatic Activity:

Study evaluated the anti-psoriatic activity of newly formulated oil in water (O/W) creams of methanol extract of leaves using Mouse tail model. O/W creams containing a methanol extract of leaves showed potent antipsoriatic activity, significantly and dose-dependently decreasing relative epidermal thickness of animal skin.

Antibacterial / Leaves:

Study evaluated ethanolic and aqueous extracts of leaves for antibacterial activity. The alcoholic extract revealed anthraquinone glycosides, phenolic compounds and saponin glycosides; the aqueous extract yielded glycosides and phenolic compounds, saponins glycosides. Both extracts exhibited significant antibacterial activity. Ciprofloxacin was used as reference drug.

Antimicrobial / Seeds:

In vitro study evaluated extract and prepared test ointment for antimicrobial activity against two bacterial species (S. aureus and E. coli) and two fungal species (A. niger and M. gypseum). The benzene extract was most potent against Staphylococcus aureus and A. niger. Phytochemical analysis of the seeds showed it mainly contained anthraquinones.

Anti-Ulcer / Antioxidant:

In a study on Wistar albino rats, a seed extract showed potent anti-ulcerogenic properties probably via cytoprotective mechanism from its antioxidant properties.

Neuropharmacological Effects/ good for nervous system:

Study evaluated the neuropharmacological effect of leaves in mice. Ethanol and aqueous extracts showed significant activity in the behavioral model of hole board test. Chlorpromazine was the standard drug reference.

Anthelmintic Activity / Stem Bark:

Study evaluated methanolic and aqueous extracts of Cassia tora stem bark for anthelmintic potential against earthworm Pheretima posthuma. Both extracts exhibited significant anthelmintic activity. Albendazole was the reference drug.

Mucilage / Suspending Agent:

Cassia tora mucilage exhibited the strongest suspending ability. The mucilage can be a stabilizer of choice if high viscosity is desired, and serve as a good thickening agent both in the pharmaceutical and food industries.

Anti-Psoriatic Activity / Flavonoids / Seeds:

Study evaluated the anti-psoriatic activity of three flavonoids, namely luteolin-7-O-β-glucopyranoside (1), quercetin-3-O-β-D-glucuronide (2) and formononetin-7-O-β-D-glucoside (3), isolated from the ethanol extract of C. tora leaves using a UV-B induced photodermatitis model. Results showed the flavonoids from C. tora leaves have significant antipsoriatic activity.

Larvicidal / Seeds:

Study evaluated various concentration of seed extracts for larvicidal activity against the larvae of Anopheles stephensi. Results showed larvicidal activity, with the 0.4% extract sowing 80% larvae mortality.

Antimicrobial / Leaf:

Study evaluated organic and aqueous extract of leaves of C. tora for antimicrobial activity against three human pathogenic bacterial and two fungal strains. Aqueous and methanol extracts showed significant antimicrobial activity against most of the tested microbes. The most susceptible was Pseudomonas aeruginosa followed by Candida albicans.



In the market, available in a variety of commercial products.

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