Cassia is a small to medium-sized tree with compound leaves and large, shining, dark green leaflets. It has bright yellow flowers in very large, hanging branches and black or shining dark brown, 50 to 60 cm long almost cylindrical fruits.
The leaves of the tree contain anthraquinone derivatives and very little tannin. The root bark, besides tannin, contains phlobaphenes and oxy-anthraquinone substance; the pulp contains rhein, the major anthraquinone derivative, a small amount of volatile oil, three waxy substances and a resinous substance.
Botanical Name- Cassia fistula
Indian Name- Amaltas
Below are some of the medicinal properties of cassia:
- The cassia pulp is a popular laxative and is used in the treatment of constipation. It can be safely taken even by children and expectant mothers. About 50 grams of the pulp is soaked in water overnight. It is then strained in the morning and taken with 25 grams of sugar.
The pulp of cassia is a mild, pleasant and safe purgative. 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 mixture with the leaves of senna, botanically known as cassia angustifolia.
- The root of the cassia tree is a tonic and useful in reducing fever. An alcoholic extract of the root bark is used for black water fever.
- The root of cassia is useful in common cold. In case of running nose, smoke from the burning root can be inhaled. It encourages a copious nasal discharge and provides relief.
- The pulp of cassia is beneficial in aguesia or loss of sense of taste due to excessive use of opium or cocaine. About 24 grams of the pulp is mixed with a quarter liter of hot milk and used as a mouthwash to treat this syndrome.
- The leaves of the cassia tree are helpful in relieving irritation of the skin and in alleviating swellings and pains. 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 dropsically 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.
- For children suffering from flatulence, the cassia pulp can be applied around the navel to ensure evacuation. Mixed with linseed or almond oil, it can be massaged on the stomach for easing the bowel movements.