Family • Fabaceae / Leguminosae - Cassia occidentalis Linn. - COFFEE SENNA - Wang jiang nan

Scientific names

Cassia occidentalis Linn.
Senna occidentalis (L.)
Cassia torosa auct. non Cav.

Common names

Andadasi (Ilk)
Balatong-aso (Tag.)
Duda (C. Bis.)
Gulinggam (Sul.)
Kabal-kabalan (Tag.)
Katangan-aso (Tag.)
Suka (Ig.)
Sumting (S. L. Bis.)
Tambalisa (Tag.)
Tighiman (Tag.)
Coffee senna (Engl.)
Coffeeweed (Engl.)
Negro-coffee (Engl.)
Wang jiang nan jue ming (Chin.)

Other vernacular names

BURMESE: Ka.sau.poap, Sham:ka.sau., Sham:ka.zau, Tan.kywè:kri:
CHINESE: Wang jiang nan, Li cha, Ye bian dou, Gou shi dou, Yang jiao dou, Jiang mang jue ming.
CZECH : Kasie západní.
DANISH : Negerkaffe, Neger-kaffe.
ESTONIAN : Läänekassia.
FRENCH : Bentamaré, Bonne casse, Pois-puant, Café bâtard, Casse-café, Casse puante, Herbe puante, Séné d’occident.
GERMAN : Kaffeekassie.
HAUSA : Raiídor.
HINDI: Badi kasondi.
KOREAN: Gang nam cha, Seok gyeol myeong, Seok gyeol myeong pul.
NEPALESE : Kasaudi, Panvar.
PORTUGUESE : Balambala, Café-negro, Folha-do-pajé, Fedegoso-verdadeiro, Ibixuma, Lava-prato, Mangerioba, Mamangá, Mata-pasto, Maioba, Pajamarioba, Pereriaba, Taracurú.
SINHALESE : Pani thora.
SPANISH : Bicho, Brusca, Frijolillo, Guanina.
SWAHILI : Mwengajini, Mwengia.
TELUGU: Chennangi chettu.
THAI : Chumhet lek, Lang khet, Khet.
VIETNAMESE : Cây muồng hòe, Muồng hòe, Muồng tây.

Balatong aso is an erect, somewhat branched, smooth, half-woody herb or shrubby plant, 0.8 to 1.5 meters high. Leaves are pinnate and about 20 centimeters long. Rachis has a large gland at the base. Leaflets are rank-smelling, occurring in 5 pairs, oblong-lanceolate, 4 to 9 centimeters long, and somewhat pointed at the base and tapering gradually to a fine, pointed tip. Flowers are yellow, 2 centimeters long, and borne on axillary and terminal racemes. Calyx tube is short, sepals imbricate; petals are 5, subequal. Stamens are 10, rarely all perfect, 3 to 5 being reduced to staminodes or sometimes absent; anthers mostly basifixed opening by terminal pores or with the slit more or less continued downward. Ovary is sessile or stalked. Fruits are pods, about 10 centimeters long, 9 millimeters wide, thickened and containing about 40 seeds.


– Throughout the Philippines at low and medium altitudes as a weed in waste places in and about towns.
– Native of tropical America.
– Now pantropic.

• Seeds yield fatty matter (olein and margarine), 4.9; tannic acid, 0.8; sugar, 2.1; gun, 28.8; starch, 2.0; cellulose, 34.0; water, 7.0; calcium sulphate and phosphate; chrysophanic acid, 0.9; malic acid, sodium chloride, magnesium sulphate, iron, and silica, together, 5.4; and achrosine (coloring matter), 13.58 parts in 100.
• Stem yields considerable alkaloid.
• Leaves yield cathartin, a coloring matter.
• Roots yield a resin – a bitter, non-alkaloidal principle.
• Oxymethylanthraquinone is isolated from the plant; traces of it from the leaf; 0.25% from the fruit; and 0.3% from the root.
• Toxic components are anthraquinones, emodin glycosides, toxalbumins and alkaloids.
• Phytochemical screening yielded anthraquinones, carbohydrates, glycosides, cardiac glycosides, steroids, flavanoids, saponins, phytosterols, gums and mucilages.
• Phytochemical analysis yielded tannins (leaf, seed), alkaloids (S), saponins (LS), carbohydrates (LS), glycosides (S), phytosterols (LS), oils and fats (LS), phenols (LS), protein and amino acid (LS) and flavonoids (S).

• Roots are very bitter.
• Considered antiinflammatory, analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal, antimutagenic, antiparasitic, antispasmodic, vasoconstrictor, antioxidant, laxative, insecticidal and antidote.
• As domestic medicine, considered tonic, diuretic, stomachic, febrifuge.
• Seeds considered antiperiodic, analogous to quinine.

Part utilized
Entire plant– roots, leaves and seeds.

– Seeds can be roasted and sometimes substituted for coffee.
– In Senegal and the Antilles, seeds used as a substitute for coffee.
– Leaves and flowers, cooked, are edible.

· Seeds used as emeto-cathartic. Also, employed as febrifuge, usually as an infusion in coffee.
· Used for chronic gastroenteritis, constipation, indigestion, gastric pains, asthma and fever, poisonous snake and insect bites.
· Pounded fresh material applied as poultice for snakebites.
· Plant used for dropsy, rheumatism, fevers and venereal diseases.
· Ointment used for ringworm, eczema and variety of skin diseases.
· Roots used for gonorrhea, black-water fever, malaria, and dysentery.
· In Peru, decoction of roots used for fevers; seeds brewed for asthma.
· In Brazil, roots are used as tonic, febrifuge, diuretic and anthelmintic; also used for fevers, menstrual problems, tuberculosis.
· Infusion of roots and bark used for malaria and hematuria.
· Infusion of bark used for diabetes.
· Leaves used as purgative and antiherpetic.
· Poultice of leaves used for skin irritation and eczema.
· In Lagos, leaf infusion used as specific for black-water fever.
· In Lagos and Liberia, infusion of leaves used as purgative.
· In Dahomey, decoction of leaves used as febrifuge.
· In the Dutch Indies, poultice of leaves used for toothache.
· In the French colonies of western Africa, infusion of leaves used for yellow fever.
· In Malaya, poultice of leaves used for headache.
· In the West Indies, root used as diuretic.
· In Panama, leaf decoction used for stomach colic; poulitce of crushed leaves as antiinflammatory; and fresh crushed leaves to expel intestinal worms.
· Used as abortifacient.
· In India, used for fever, menstrual problems, tuberculosis, anemia, sore eyes, rheumatism, hematuria. Bark infusion used in diabetes.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Hepatoprotective Effect of Hygrophila spinosa and Cassia occidentalis on Carbon Tetrachloride-induced Liver Damage in Experimental Rats / K. Usha, G. Mary Kasturi and P. Hemalatha / Indian Journal of Clinical Biochemistry, 2007 / 22 (2) 132-135

(2) Protective effect of Cassia occidentalis L. on cyclophosphamide-induced suppression of humoral immunity in mice / BIN-HAFEEZ Bila et al / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Vol 75, Issue 1, April 2001, Pages 13-18
/ doi:10.1016/S0378-8741(00)00382-2

(3) Antimicrobial screening of Cassia occidentalis L. in vivo and in vitro

(4) Poisonous Plants of North Carolina / Dr. Alice B. Russell, Department of Horticultural Science;

(5) Effect of ethanolic extract of Cassia occidentalis Linn. for the management of alloxan-induced diabetic rats/ Laxmi Verma, P K Singour et al / Pharmacognosy Research, 2010, Volume : 2, Issue : 3, Page : 132-137

(6) Antimicrobial Activity of Cassia occidentalis L (Leaf) against various Human Pathogenic Microbes / Vedpriya Arya, Sanjay Yadav, Sandeep Kumar, JP Yadav / Life Sciences and Medicine Research, Volume 2010

(7) Toxicological reproductive study of Cassia occidentalis L. in female Wistar rats / Aragão TP, Lyra MM, Silva MG, Andrade BA, Ferreira PA et al / J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 May 4;123(1):163-6. Epub 2009 Mar 6.

(8) Cassia occidentalis poisoning as the probable cause of hepatomyoencephalopathy in children in western Uttar Pradesh / V. M. Vashishtha, Amod Kumar, T. Jacob John & N.C. Nayak / Indian J Med Res 125, June 2007, pp 756-762

(9) Anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory and anti-lipidperoxidant effects of Cassia occidentalis Linn / G Sreejith, P G Latha et al / Indian Journ of Experimental Biology, Vol 48, May 2010, pp 494-498

(10) Clinical & pathological features of acute toxicity due to Cassia occidentalis in vertebrates / V.M. Vashishtha, T.J. John & Amod Kumar / Indian J Med Res 130, July 2009, pp 23-30

(11) Evaluation of Cassia occidentalis for in vitro cytotoxicity against human cancer cell lines and antibacterial activity / Madhuilka Bhagat and Ajit Kumar Saxena / Indian Journ of Pharmacology, 2010, Vol 42, Issue 4, Pp 234-237

(12) Analgesic and antipyretic activity of Cassia occidentalis Linn / K R Sini, B N Sinha et al / Annals of Biological Research, 2011, 2 (1) :195-200

(13) Chemical and pharmacological evaluation of aqueous extract of seeds of Cassia occidentalis / A. V. S. Sastry, V. Girija Sastry, B. Appalanaidu et al / J. Chem. Pharm. Res., 2011, 3(2):566-575

(14) Carboxymethylation of Cassia occidentalis seed gum / Sarika Gupta, Pradeep Sharma, P L Soni / Journal of Applied Polymer Sciencem V 94, No 4, Pp 1606–1611, 15 November 2004 / DOI: 10.1002/app.20958

(15) Sorting Senna names / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / A Work in Progress. School of Agriculture and Food Systems. Faculty of Land & Food Resources. The University of Melbourne. Australia / Copyright © 1997 – 2000 The University of Melbourne.

(16) A Toxic Cardiomyopathy Caused by Cassia occidentalis. I. Morphologic Studies in Poisoned Rabbits /
P. J. O’Hara and K. R. Pierce / Veterinary Pathology March 1974 vol. 11 no. 2 97-109 / doi: 10.1177/030098587401100201

(17) Acute toxicity and Diuretic studies of leaves of Cassia occidentalis Linn / Arun, Mittal; Sushma, Aggarwal; Kumar, Gupta Anil; Satish, Sardana / Journal of Pharmacy Research;Sep2011, Vol. 4 Issue 9, p3042

(18) Cassia occidentalis: effect on healing skin wounds induced by Bothrops moojeni in mice / Maraísa B. Delmut*, Leila M. L. Parente, José R. Paula, Edemilsom C. Conceição, Adriana S. Santos and Irmantraut A. H. Pfrimer / Journal of Pharmaceutical Technology & Drug Research / DOI :

(19) Antifungal activity of crude extracts of Cassia occidentalis / Vipul S. Davariya*, Anjana K. Vala / Int. J. Res. Phytochem. Pharmacol., 1(2), 2011, 36-38

(20) Anti-trypanosoma Activity of the Ethanolic Leaf Extract of Senna occidentalis (Fabaceae) on Trypanosoma brucei brucei Infected Mice / Lawal Mustapha, Oboh Angela* and Malann Yoila David / International Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences Vol. 2. No. 1. 2013. Pp. 32-37

(21) Studies on the phytochemistry, antimicrobial activity and antioxidant properties of Cassia occidentalis L. /
Sathya, A, V. Ambikapathy and A. Panneer Selvam / Asian Journal of Plant Science and Research, 2012, 2 (4):530-533

(22) Larvicidal Activity of Cassia occidentalis (Linn.) against the Larvae of Bancroftian Filariasis Vector Mosquito Culex quinquefasciatus / Deepak Kumar, Rakesh Chawla, P. Dhamodaram, and N. Balakrishnan / Journal of Parasitology Research, Vol 2014 (2014) /

(23) Evaluation of Anti bacterial and antifungal activities of Cassia occidentalis Linn root extracts / Krishna Mohan Chinnala, Jithendra Debtha, Vidya Sagar Jenugu Srinivas Ampati / Annals of Biological Research, 2010, 1 (3) : 81-84



(26) Antidiabetic Potentials Of Cassia occidentalis Leaf Extract On Alloxan Induced Diabetic Albino Mice /
Onakpa M.M.* and Ajagbonna O.P. / International Journal of PharmTech Research, Vol.4, No.4, pp 1766-1769, Oct-Dec 2012


(28) Anti-oxidant and Nephroprotective Activities of Cassia occidentalis Leaf Extract against Gentamicin Induced Nephrotoxicity in Rats / M Gowrisri*, Sarita Kotagiri, Vrushabendra Swamy BM, Archana Swamy P, Vishwanath / Research Journal of Pharmaceutical, Biological and Chemical Sciences, Vol 3, Issue 3, July-September 2012

Study Findings
· Hepatoprotective / Carbon Tetrachloride: Study evaluating the effects of Cassia occidentalis on carbon tetrachloride-induced liver damage in rats concludes that the antioxidant content of Cassia occidentalis might play a major role in hepatoprotection and controlling tissue damage caused by reactive oxygen species.
• Protective effect of Cassia occidentalis L. on cyclophosphamide-induced suppression of humoral immunity in mice: C. occidentalis possesses antimutagenic activity against cyclophosphamide-induced mutagenicity in mice. The study suggests that through the modulation of hepatic drug metabolizing enzymes, C. occidentalis may be influencing the hematotoxic and immunotoxic responses of cyclophosphamide.
• Antimicrobial: Antimicrobial screening of Cassia occidentalis L. in vivo and in vitro: Ethanol extracts of C. occidentalis and metabolite-rich fractions (anthraquinones, sennosides and flavonoids) of leaves, pods and flowers were tested against human pathogenic bacteria and fungi. The anthraquinones were found to be more active against E. coli and S. aureus.
• Antimicrobial: In a study of various extracts, methanol and aqueous extracts showed significant antimicrobial activity against seven human bacterial pathogens and two fungal strains. The most susceptible organism was P. aeruginosa followed by P. mirabilis and C. albicans.
• Antihepatotoxic Activity of Cassia occidentalis: An ethanol extract of leaves of Cassia occidentalis was evaluated for antihepatotoxic activity against carbon tetrachloride and thioacetamide as hepatotoxins.
• Antimutagenic: Study of the aqueous extract of CO on its mutagenic potential against chromosomal aberrations showed antimutagenic activity by modulating the xenobiotic activation and detoxification mechanisms.
• Antimalarial: The antimalarial activity of C occidentalis has been confirmed. The plant showed more than 60% inhibition of parasite growth in vitro.
• Antimalarial Activity: In a study of the extracts of 3 medicinal plants for antimalarial activity, M morindoides and P niruri showed 74 and 72% suppression, while C occidentalis was slightly less active at 60% chemosuppression of Plasmodium berghei in mice.
• Antibacterial: In an Argentinian study of 132 water extracts from 54 plant families, C occidentalis was one of those that showed greater antibacterial activity against Salmonella typhi.
• Antidiabetic: Ethanolic extract of C. occidentalis exhibited significant antidiabetic activity in normal and alloxan-induced diabetic rats, with improvement in parameters of body weight, lipid profiles and histopathologic changes showing regeneration of pancreatic B-cells. A methanolic extract of leaves tested against alloxan-induced diabetic mice showed significant reduction of blood glucose in diabetic mice.
• Antimicrobial / Phytochemicals: Preliminary screening showed anthraquinones, carbohydrates, glycosides, cardiac glycosides, sterols, flavanoids, saponins, phytosterols, gums and mucilages. Of the extracts studied, the methanol and aqueous extracts showed significant antimicrobial activity against tested organisms, esp: P aeruginosa, P mirabilis and Candida albicans.
• Toxicological Reproductive Study: In the rainforests and other tropical regions of South America, CO is considered a potent abortifacient. Results of this study showed no statistically significant difference between the control and treated groups in many of the observed parameters. However, there was the presence of dead fetuses registered in both doses of 250 and 500 mg/kg of CO. Further studies are needed and its use is not recommended in pregnancy.
• Poisoning / Hepatomyoencephalopathy: Recurrent outbreaks of an acute encepalopathy illness to in India, earlier attributed to a viral encephalitis, were probably caused by the consumption of C. occidentalis beans with its phytotoxins. causing a multisystem disease – a hepatomyoencephalopathy syndrome. Public education has the potential to prevent future outbreaks.
• Wound healing: Study showed the topical application of a methanol extract of C. occidentalis and a pure compound Chrysophanol, an anthraquinone derivative, promoted wound healing activity in excision, incision and dead space models in rats.
• Anti-Allergy / Anti-Inflammatory / Anti-Lipid Peroxidation : Study showed CO inhibited mast cell degranulation, stabilized HRBC membrane thereby alleviating immediate hypersensitivity besides showing antioxidant activity.
• Cytotoxicity / Antibacterial: Study showed dose-dependent in vitro cytotoxicity against human cancer lines and antibacterial potential activity against B subtilis.
• Relaxant Effect / Antihypertensive: Study of the relaxant effects in rat aortic rings of an aqueous extract of the leaf of C occidentalis showed dose-dependent inhibition of contraction elicited by noradrenaline and potassium chloride. Results suggest the effect may be due to a direct relaxant effect and may justify its extensive use in folk medicine as an antihypertensive agent.
• Analgesic / Antipyretic: Ethanol and water extracts of Cassia occidentalis showed significant dose-dependent antinociceptive and antipyretic properties. Results provide a rationale for the use of the plant in pain and inflammatory disorders.
• Seed Gum / Carboxymethylation / Mucilage: The seeds are a rich source of galactomannan gum and the gums derived from the seed endosperm can be used in industries to replace conventional gums. Study showed the carboxymethyl gum exhibited relatively high viscosity and stability.
• Potential Typhoid Fever Treatment: Study suggests the aqueous extract of Senna occidentalis has a potential for typhoid fever treatment. However, AST, ALT, urea and creatinine levels suggest a side effect on the liver and kidney which warrant further investigation.
• Diuretic Activity: Study evaluated an ethanolic extract on wistar strain albino rats for acute toxicity and diuretic activity. Results showed diuretic activity with increased urinary electrolyte concentration, a significant increase in urinary output, and an increase in potassium ion excretion greater than sodium ion.
• Wound Healing / Leaves: Study showed leaves of C. occidentalis stimulated healing of wounds induced by the dermal venom of Bothrops mooheni in mice, and can be considered an alternative treatment for snakebite wounds.
• Antifungal: Crude extracts of various parts (leaf, seed, and pod) were examined for fungal activity against Candida albicans, Aspergillus clavatus and A. niger. Results showed as good or better activity than standard drugs Nystatin and Griseofulvin, except for the activity of leaf extracts against Aspergilli.Seeds exhibited the highest antifungal activity.
• Larvicidal / Mosquitocidal against Malarial Vector: Study of methanolic extract of C. occidentalis leaf showed larvacidal activity.
• Anti-Trypanosomal Activity: Study evaluated an ethanolic extract of leaves of Senna occidentalis for anti-trypanosomal activity in mice infected with T. brucei. Results showed the extracts possess trypanocidal properties and a potential source of a new trypanocidal agent.
• Histological Female Reproductive Effects / Antifertility: Study evaluated the histological effects of an aqueous extract on female reproductive organ in wistar rats. Results suggest an antifertility effect on the ovary, with photomicrographs showing moderate vascular congestion, mild tissue separation and mild infiltrates of chronic inflammatory cells.
• Antimicrobial: An aqueous extract of Cassia occidentalis showed maximum inhibition against E. coli, Pseudomonas spp, and Staphylococcus spp. C. occidentalis showed potential as an antimicrobial agent in the form of pellets of paste.
• Larvicidal / Barcroftian Filariasis Vector Mosquito Culex quinquefasciatus: Study evaluated the larvicidal activity of C. occidentalis against larvae of Culex quinquefasciatus. The larvae transmit parasites and pathogens of deadly diseases like filariasis, dengue, yellow fever, malaria, Japanese encephalitis, chikungunya. In this study, C. occidentalis exhibited a realistic mortality for larvae of filarial vector, and suggests a natural weapon for mosquito control.
• Antibacterial / Antifungal / Roots: Study evaluated roots of Cassia occidentalis for antimicrobial activity. Results showed antibacterial and antifungal activity. The activity showed more susceptibility to gram positive than gram negative bacteria in a concentration dependent manner. Extract was most effective against B. subtilis and least against Vibrio cholerae.
· Hepatoprotective / Paracetamol-Induced Hepatotoxicity: Aqueous extract of the leaves of Cassia occidentalis showed hepatoprotective activity on paracetamol-induced toxicity in adult Wistar rats.
· Antianxiety / Antidepressant: Study of ethanolic and aqueous extracts of leaves in rodents showedantianxiety (elevated plus maze model and actophotometer) and antidepressant (despair swim test and tail suspension test) activity. The ethanol extract showed more significant activity than the aqueous extract.
· Analgesic / Anti-Inflammatory: Study of extract of leaves showed analgesic activity in a radiant heat tail-flick method and anti-inflammatory activity in a rat paw edema model induced by carrageenan.
· Nephroprotective / Anti-Inflammatory: Study of evaluated the nephroprotective activity of a 70% hydroalcoholic extract against gentamicin induced nephrotoxicity in rats. Results showed nephroprotective activity with reduction of gentamicin induced elevation of urinary sodium, potassium, urinary glucose, BUN and creatinine levels, with almost normal kidney architecture.
· Anthelmintic: Study evaluated an ethanolic extract of Cassia occidentalis against adult earthworm Pheretima posthuma. Results showed dose dependent activity. Albendazole was used a reference.
· Immunomodulatory / Anti-tumor: In a study on modulation of immune functions by medicinal plants, an aqueous extract of Cassia occidentalis showed no mortality and apparent toxicity in treated animals. CO showed stimulatory effect on specific and non-specific immunity. CO showed antitumor activity against Ehrlich Ascites tumor cell line and antibacterial activity against Salmonella typhimurium.

• General info: Poisonous when taken in considerable amounts by domesticated animals, known to cause deaths in cows, horses and goats. The seeds contain emodin, mucilage, proteins, tannic acid, fatty acids and essential oils. There are many anthraquinone derivatives and alkaloids in CO, and no single principle toxin has been identified. Toxicity seems to occur with seasonality, when the beans become palatable with the taste of raw edible beans.
• Animals: Plant causes poisoning in different plant species. all parts are toxic, but with differing levels of toxicity. Most poisoning in animals come from pods and beans. In cattle, it is reported to cause severe muscle degeneration, liver degeneration and death. The toxic effects can be rapidly fatal.
• Vet clinical signs: Toxicity manifestations include lethargy, recumbency, jerky respiration, tremors, diarrhea, ataxia, hyperpnea, incoordination. Death may occur within 24 hours.
• Risk of Poisoning in Children: The beans may be an object of use in the games, playing house, play-cooking and accidental ingestions. Pica, an abnormal craving for food as a manifestation of disease or iron deficiency, can be a risk for poisoning in children. Case-fatality rate in acute severe poisoning is 75-80 percent in children.
• Poisoning / Hepatomyoencephalopathy: In India, cases of acute encepalopathy were subsequently attributed to consumption of C. occidentalis beans causing a multisystem disease – a hepatomyoencephalopathy syndrome. Public education has the potential to prevent future outbreaks.
• Toxic Cardiomyopathy in Poisoned Rabbits: Ground endosperm of seeds given to rabbits caused a fatal cardiomyopathy with mitochondrial degeneration, lipid accumulation, myofibrillar degeneration,myocytolysis and minor reparative changes.
• Clinical & Pathological Features of Toxicity: The toxic effects in large animals, rodents and chickens are on skeletal muscle, liver, kidney and heart. Pathological findings are necrosis of skeletal muscle fibers and hepatic centrilobular necrosis; renal tubular necrosis is less frequent. Toxicity is attributed to various anthraquinones, derivatives and alkaloids. The clinical spectrum and histopath are similar in animals and children.
· Non-Toxicity in Acute and Subacute Testing / Stem and Leaf: A preclinical safety evaluation of hydroalcoholic extract of C. occidentalis stem and leaf in in male and female Wistar rats did not show acute and subacute toxicity, suggesting a safety use by humans.

Leaf powder, extracts, tinctures in the cybermarket.