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  • Place of Origin: Gujarat, India

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Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Cassia
Species: fistula
Common Names: canafistula, golden shower, Indian laburnum, purging fistula

Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Cassia
Species: fistula
Common Names: canafistula, golden shower, Indian laburnum, purging fistula, purging cassia, gurmala, baton casse, ch'ang kuo tzu shu, chacara, nanban-saikati, samyaka, sember hiyari agaci, kachang kayu (woody bean), kallober, keyok, klober, klohur
Part Used: Fruit, Leaves, Bark

Canafistula is a fast-growing, medium-sized, deciduous tree which grows to about 9 meters in height. Leaves are compound, with 4-8 pairs of opposite leaflets. It produces flowers which are golden yellow and hang in showering bunches of up to 40 cm long earning its common name of "golden shower tree." The flowers appear when the branches are bare, just before the new leaves emerge and are a favorite of bees and butterflies. The blooms are followed by the production of two-foot-long, dark brown, cylindrical, woody seed pods which persist on the tree throughout the winter before falling to litter the ground. Canafistula is native to India, the Amazon and Sri Lanka, and is now widely cultivated worldwide as an ornamental tree for its beautiful showy yellow flowers.

TRIBAL AND HERBAL MEDICINE USES

There are many Cassia species worldwide which are used in herbal medicine systems. This particular family of plants are used widely for their laxative actions. Canafistula is no exception... it is often used as a highly effective moderate laxative that is safe even for children. However, in large doses, the leaves and bark can cause vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain and cramps. Canafistula is also employed as a remedy for tumors of the abdomen, glands, liver, stomach, and throat, for burns, cancer, constipation, convulsions, delirium, diarrhea, dysuria, epilepsy, gravel, hematuria, pimples, and glandular tumors. In Ayurvedic medicine systems, the seeds are attributed with antibilious, aperitif, carminative, and laxative properties while the the root is used for adenopathy, burning sensations, leprosy, skin diseases, syphilis, and tubercular glands. The leaves are employed there for erysipelas, malaria, rheumatism, and ulcers. In Brazilian herbal medicine, the seeds are used as a laxative and the leaves and/or bark is used for pain and inflammation.

PLANT CHEMICALS

Canafistula's laxative actions come from a group of well documented compounds called anthraquinones that are found in all Cassia and Senna plants in varying degrees. The seeds contain approximately 2% anthraquinones, 24% crude protein, 4.5% crude fat, 6.5% crude fiber, and 50% carbohydrates. The leaves have been documented with 15.88% crude protein, 6.65% crude fat, 20% crude fiber, and 39.86% carbohydrates. In addition to the anthraquinone glycosides, other compounds documented in the plant include fistulic acid, rhein, rheinglucoside, galactomannan, sennosides A and B, tannin, phlobaphenes, oxyanthraquinone substances, emodin, chrysophanic acid, fistuacacidin, barbaloin, lupeol, beta-sitosterol, and hexacosanol.

BIOLOGICAL ACTIVITIES AND CLINICAL RESEARCH

Various laboratory studies report that canafistula has evidenced antioxidant, hypoglycemic, Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitor, antibacterial, antiviral, laxative, liver protective, mild estrogenic, antitumorous, cholesterol lowering, pain relieving, and fever reducing actions.

WORLDWIDE ETHNOMEDICAL USES

Brazil

as a laxative, analgesic, anti-inflammatory

Dominican
Republic

as a laxative, vermifuge

India

for burns, cancer, convulsion, delirium, diarrhea, dysuria, epilepsy, gravel, hematuria, pimples, syphilis

Java

for carbuncles, dermatosis, herpes, wounds; as a purgative, laxative

Mexico

as a laxative

  

Panama

for diabetes

Peru

as an astringent, laxative, purgative

Venezuela

as an astringent, laxative, purgative

Elsewhere

for constipation, flu, fumitory, tumors; as an aperient, laxative, purgative

 

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