Cassia – Introduction, Health Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects of Cassia Fistula

Table of Contents 

1. What is Cassia?
2.  Morphology
3. Chemical Compound
4. Habitat
5. Ayurvedic Properties of Cassia
6. Health Benefits & Uses
7. Side Effects 
8. Forms of Cassia Available

1. What is Cassia?

Cassia scientific name is Cassia Fistula, some other common names are amaltas, sonhali, Indian laburnum, purging cassia, golden shower tree, pudding-pipe tree, and aragvadha. The tree of cassia is popularly knon as Indian Laburnum owing to its resemblance in color and profucion of flowers with the European Laburnum. The specific name fistula meaning a “shepherd’s pipe” refers to the shape of its fruits. In Ayurvedic medicine, Golden Shower Tree is known as a "disease killer" and it pacifies the 3 doshas of vaat, pitta, and kapha.

 

Cassia Fistula TREE

2. Morphology

Cassia or purging cassia is one of the most beautiful and decorative trees in India, it is a small to medium-sized tree with compound leaves and large, shining, dark green leaflets. It has bright yellow flowers in large, hanging branches and yields black or shining dark brown 50 to 60 cm long almost cylindrical fruit.

Leaves

The leaves of cassia trees are glossy, leathery, and elongated, ranging from 10 to 15 cm in length. They are alternately arranged and have a distinctive aroma when crushed.

Flowers

Cassia trees produce small, inconspicuous flowers that are greenish-yellow in color. The flowers are borne in panicles and are not particularly showy.

Fruit

The fruit is a small, dark drupe, usually containing a single seed. It is not typically used in culinary applications.

Bark

The inner bark is stripped, dried, and used as the spice. It curls into quills as it dries, similar to true cinnamon but thicker and coarser in texture.

3. Chemical Compound

The leaves of the tree contain anthraquinone derivatives and very little tannin, the root bark, besides tannin contains phlobaphenes and oxy-anthraquinone derivatives, a small amount of volatile oil, three waxy substances, and a resinous substance. The flowers are bright yellow, with widely spaced petals, about 2 inches wide with 10 stamens. The plant has a rich source of tannins, flavonoids, and glycosides and it is rich in carbohydrates, Linoleic, Oleic, and Stearic.

Cassia Fistula PODS

4. Habitat

The cassia tree is indigenous to India and commonly grows in moist or evergreen forests, Amazon, and Sri Lanka and diffused in various countries including Mexico, China, Mauritius, East Africa, South Africa, and West Indies. Cassia fistula plants are used as ornamental and shade trees around the houses and used in the event ‘Vishukkani’ on the day of Vishnu (The first day of the zodiac calendar), which means that "the first thing seen on the day of Vishnu after waking up".

5. Ayurvedic Properties of Cassia

 

1. Rasa (Taste): Cassia is believed to have a sweet (Madhura) taste.

2. Virya (Potency): It is heating in nature (Ushna Virya).

3. Vipaka (Post-digestive taste): The post-digestive taste is sweet (Madhura Vipaka).

4. Dosha Effects: Cassia is generally considered balancing for Kapha dosha and Vata dosha, but its heating nature can increase Pitta dosha in excess.

6. Health Benefits and Uses of Cassia Fistula

Nearly all parts of the tree have medicinal properties, the fruits are, however, most important and are included in the Indian Pharmaceutical Codex. Medicinally it has various pharmacological activities like antifungal, antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, hepatoprotective, and hypoglycemic properties. It is used to treat jaundice, gout, fatty liver, liver disorder, bronchitis, and skin diseases. According to Ayurveda, it helps to expel the pitta and Kapha from the body, the fruit pulp is used as a mild laxative, and the bark and leaves are used for skin diseases.

The leaves of the Cassia Fistula are used for erysipelas, malaria, rheumatism, and ulcers, the buds are used for biliousness, constipation, fever, leprosy, skin disease, and the fruit for abdominal pain, constipation, fever, heart disease, leprosy.

Here are some health benefits and uses

Ageusia

The pulp of cassia is very useful in Ageusia or loss of sense of taste caused by excessive use of opium or cocaine. About 24 grams of the pulp mixed with a quarter liter of hot milk is used as a mouthwash to treat this syndrome.

Common Cold

The root of the tree is useful in the common cold, in case of a runny nose, smoke inhaled from the burning root encourages copious nasal discharge and provides relief.

Constipation

The pulp from the fruits, called cassia pulp is a well-known laxative and is often used in the treatment of constipation. It can be safely taken even by children and expectant mothers. About 50 grams of pulp soaked in water overnight, strained the next morning, and taken with 25 grams of sugar relieves constipation.

Approximately four grams of the pulp is taken with an equal quantity of sugar or tamarind, as a purgative, 30 to 60 grams are required, but this quantity may cause colic, nausea, and flatulence. It is therefore generally used in combination with other drugs, preferably in a mixture with the leaves of senna, botanically known as Cassia Angustifolia.

Fever

The root of the tree is a tonic and useful in reducing fever, an alcoholic extract of the root bark is used for black water fever.

Intestinal Disorders

For children suffering from flatulence, cassia pulp is applied around the navel to ensure evacuation, mixed with linseed or almond oil, it can be massaged on the stomach for ease bowel movements.

Skin Disorders

The leaves of the tree are useful in relieving irritation of the skin and in alleviating swellings and pain, their juice or paste serves as a useful dressing for ringworm and inflammation of the hands or feet caused by exposure to cold. They also relieve dropsical swellings due to excessive accumulation of fluid in the body tissue. Its leaves can be rubbed beneficially on affected parts for relief from rheumatism and facial paralysis.

7. Side Effects of the Cassia Fistula

All Ayurveda herbs are plant-based, and they don’t have any side effects, but they may react with some allopathy or homeopathy medicine. It is better to consult the doctor if you are on any medications or have unique health issues.

Overdose or wrong dose may cause nausea, dizziness, diarrhea, dysentery, and heavy purgation, it is not recommended in infants and pregnant women.

Digestive Issues: Overconsumption can lead to digestive discomfort, including nausea, stomach cramps, and diarrhea.

Skin Irritation: When used topically, especially in concentrated forms like essential oils, it can cause skin irritation or allergic contact dermatitis.

Overuse Concerns: Long-term excessive use can lead to adverse effects due to the accumulation of toxic compounds like coumarin, emphasizing the need for moderate consumption.

Blood Thinning: Cassia can act as a blood thinner, which may increase the risk of bleeding, especially when taken with anticoagulant medications.

8. Forms of Cassia Available

Cassia is available in various forms, each suited to different uses in culinary, medicinal, and industrial applications. Here are the main forms.

Cassia Fistula Pods

Whole Pods: The long, cylindrical pods contain numerous seeds surrounded by a sticky, sweet pulp. These are used in traditional medicine, especially for their laxative properties.

Pulp Extract: The pulp from inside the pods is extracted and used in medicinal preparations. It is known for its laxative, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.

Cassia Fistula Seeds

Whole Seeds: The seeds are extracted from the pods and used in various traditional remedies. They are known to have a mild laxative effect.

Seed Powder: The seeds can be dried and ground into a powder. This form is used in traditional medicine for its various health benefits, including digestive health.

Cassia Fistula Bark

Dried Bark: The bark of the Cassia fistula tree is harvested, dried, and sometimes used in traditional medicine, though it is less commonly used compared to the pods and pulp.

Cassia Fistula Leaves

Dried Leaves: The leaves are harvested and dried for use in herbal medicine. They are known for their anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

Leaf Powder: Dried leaves can be ground into a fine powder for use in herbal formulations and teas.

Cassia Fistula Flowers

Dried Flowers: The bright yellow flowers can be dried and used in herbal infusions and traditional medicines for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Flower Extracts: Extracts from the flowers are sometimes used in cosmetics and medicinal products due to their soothing properties.


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  • Gima Pala on

    I am interetsed in the herbal benefits this tree provides


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