Senna alata

scientific name: 
Senna alata (L.) Roxb.
Cassia alata L.
Botanical family: 

Botanical description

A short-lived shrub up to 3 m high.  Leaves alternate, compound pinnate, with 6-12 pairs of broadly oblong leaflets, blunt at the tip, unequal at the base, the terminal pair about 15 x 8 cm; inflorescence an axillary, compact raceme ca. 28 cm long; flowers golden yellow, subtended by a yellow-orange bract, 2.2 -2.5 cm long; pod 4-winged, 11-19 x 2-2.3 cm, black when ripe; seeds ca. 6 mm long, brown, angular, arranged transversely in the pod.



Longuefosse &Nossin,36,HAVPMC






fresh leaf, crushed with salt, applied locally5

skin conditions:

leaf, aqueous maceration, bath1-2


leaf, aqueous maceration, bath3

lota (small brown marks on the skin):

leaf, infusion or decoction, applied locally25

paño (pityriasis versicolor):

leaf, juice, applied locally4

skin conditions:

leaf, juice, applied locally1,25

For skin conditions and pimples:

Grind 50 grams of leaf (15-20 leaflets) and add 1 liter (4 cups) of boiled water.  Allow to settle for 12 hours.  Wash affected area 2-3 times a day3.

For tinea (ringworm) and fungal growth (mycosis between fingers):

Wash injury with boiled water and soap.  Properly wash leaf and crush it.  Apply 5 grams (1 spoonful) of vegetal material on affected area of skin.  Cover injury with dressing or clean cloth and replace 3-4 times a day.

Any medicinal preparation must be preserved cold and used within the 24 hours.

According to published and other information:

Use for skin conditions, paño (pityriasis versicolor), pimples, ringworm and fungal growth (mycosis between fingers) is classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use documented in the TRAMIL surveys, toxicity studies, scientific validation and available published scientific information.

Should there be a notable worsening of the patient’s condition, or should symptoms persist for more than 5 days, seek medical attention.

For topical application, strict hygiene measures should be observed in order to avoid contamination or additional infection.

TRAMIL Research21

The decoction from the fresh leaf (30%) (extract yield 13.6 mg/mL) was orally administered in a single dose of 6154 mg of vegetal material/kg of body weight (maximum volume 2 mL/100 g) to 6 Sprague Dawley rats (3 males and 3 females).  The vehicle control was distilled water, given to the same number of animals of same characteristics.  Twenty-four hour observation was performed for 14 days.  There was no mortality and no adverse clinical signs were observed.  Histopathological studies did not reveal any organic damage.  The extract did not show any toxicity in this test.

TRAMIL Research22

The aqueous extract from fresh leaf (20%) obtained through one-hour maceration was applied at a dose of 0.6 mL on an area of approximately 6 sq cm of the skin of 3 male New Zealand albino rabbits.  After 4 hours, the patch was removed and the skin was checked for erythema and edema at 24, 48 and 72 hours.  Given that no adverse clinical signs were observed, this use was classified as non-irritating.

Trabajo TRAMIL27 (will be translated in 3rd Ed.)

La hoja fresca machacada, en aplicación tópica (0.6 g de material vegetal sobre piel afeitada en parche 4 x 3 cm durante 24 h), a rata Wistar (5 hembras y 5 machos), modelo de toxicidad aguda tópica, no provocó muerte, ni otros signos adversos durante los 14 días de observación. El estudio histológico de los órganos no mostró lesiones.

La tintura (maceración hidroalcohólica) (10:1) de hoja fresca administrada por vía oral al ratón Swiss albino (peso 18 a 22 g)mostró una DL50 = 1459.32 mg/kg, según el método OECD-198726.(will be translated in 3rd Ed.)

The hydroalcoholic extract from leaf, administered orally and subcutaneously to mice (10 g of dried plant/kg) did not show evident signs of toxicity23.

The hydroalcoholic extract (30%) of the foliage, administered at concentrations of 0.50 to 2.91 mg of total solids/mL in an in vitro assay with Aspergillus nidulans D30 (mitotic segregation) and at doses of 0.60, 1.21, 2.43 and 1313, 2625, 5250 mg/kg in the micronuclei induction test in vivo did not show mutagenic activity24.

There is no available information documenting the safety of medicinal use in children or in pregnant or lactating women.

The leaf contains anthraquinones : aloe-emodin, chrysophanic acid, rhein6-7, dihydroxymethylanthraquinone; tannins8, but no saponins9.

The fruit contains alkaloids10; the leaf and the flower do not contain leucoanthocyanins9.

The plant contains anthracene derivatives from aloe-emodin and rhein11.

TRAMIL Research12

The aqueous (10%) and hydroalcoholic (95%) extracts from the fresh leaf, in vitro, were evaluated against Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus andBacillus subtillis; Trichophyton rubrum, Aspergillus niger, Microsporum canis and Candida albicans.  The aqueous extract did not inhibit the growth of any strain.  The hydroalcoholic extract showed activity against all microorganisms studied, specifically, Trichophyton rubrum (100%),Microsporum canis (83%) and Aspergillus niger (51.6%).

The juice from the entire plant in vitro was inactive against Epidermophyton floccosum, Microsporum gypseum, Trichophyton rubrum, Candida albicans, Cryptococcus neoformans and Saccharomyces cerevisiae13.

The extract from the dried leaf in vitro showed antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus (sensitive and penicillin-resistant strains) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, isolated from secretions and from scraping patients’ skin.  Other bacteria affected were: Streptomyces pyogenes, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae andSerratia marcescens14.

The infusion from the dried young leaf in vitro (5%) fully inhibited the growth of Trichophyton mentagrophytes, T. rubrum, Microsporum canis, M. gypseum and Epidermophyton floccosum inguinalis, but was not active against 2.5%15.  The extracts (2.5 and 5%) did not inhibit the growth of Candida tropicalis, C. albicans or Cryptococcus neoformans16.

The dry hydroalcoholic extract (35%) from the leaf (10%) in vitro did not show activity against Neisseria gonorrhoea17.

The decoctions from the leaf, stem bark and root (1 mL)in vitro were inactive against Epidermophyton floccosum, Microsporum gypseum, M. canis andTrichophyton mentagrophytes15.

The dried ethanolic extract from the leaf in an ointment (10% polyethilenglycol base) revealed healing activity on rabbit skin18.

The aqueous extract from the leaf topically applied (at concentrations of 100, 90 and 80% depending on body area) in humans with pityriasis versicolor, eliminated the Malassezia furfur fungus that caused the disease19.

The hydroalcoholic extract (50%) from the dried leaf is claimed to have antihistaminic activity20.


1 DELENS M, 1990-92 Encuesta TRAMIL. Centro al Servicio de la Acción Popular CESAP, Caracas, Venezuela.

2 LONGUEFOSSE JL, NOSSIN E, 1990-95 Enquête TRAMIL. Asociation pour la valorisation des plantes médicinales de la Caraïbe AVPMC, Fort de France, Martinique.

3 GIRON L, 1988 Encuesta TRAMIL (Costa atlántica). Centro Mesoamericano de Tecnología CEMAT, Guatemala, Guatemala.

4 Castillo D, Rodriguez S, de los Santos C, Belen A, 2003 Encuesta TRAMIL (región Este). Dep. de Botánica, Jardín Botánico Nacional, Santo Domingo, República Dominicana.

5 BALLAND V, GLASGOW A, SPRINGER F, GAYMES G, 2004 TRAMIL survey. enda-caribbean, IICA, UAG & U.PARIS XI, Saint Vincent.

6 HARRISON J, GARRO CV, 1977 Study on anthraquinone derivatives fromCassia alata L. (Leguminosae). Rev Peru Bioquim 1(1):31-33.

7 MULCHANDANI NB, HASSARAJANI SA, 1975 Isolation of 1,3,8-trihydroxy-2-methylanthraquinone fromCassia alata (leaves). Phytochemistry 14:2728b.

8 HAUPTMANN H, NAZARIO LL, 1950 Some constituents of the leaves of Cassia alata. J Am Chem Soc 72:1492-1495.

9 RAO CK, SUBHASHINI G, 1986 Saponins & leucoanthocyanins in Cassia L. Curr Sci 55(6):320-321.

10 SMOLENSKI SJ, SILINIS H, FARNSWORTH NR, 1975 Alkaloid screening. VI. Lloydia 38(3):225-255.

11 RAI MK, UPADHYAY S, 1988 Screening of medicinal plants of Chindwara district against Trichophyton mentagrophytes: a causal organism of Tinea pedis. Hindustan Antibiot Bull 30(1/2):33-36.

12 FIALLO M, VAZQUEZ TINEO M, 1992 Evaluación in vitro de plantas usadas en afecciones de la piel: Extractos vegetales antimicóticos y antimicrobianos. Informe TRAMIL. CIBIMA, Fac de Ciencias, Universidad Autónoma UASD, Santo Domingo, Rep. Dominicana.

13 ACHARARIT C, PANYAYONG W, RUCHATAKOMUT E, 1983 Inhibitory action of some Thai herbians (medicinal plants) to fungi. Mahidol Univ Fac Pharm Bangkok, Thailand.

14 BENJAMIN TV, LAMIKANRA A, 1981 Investigation ofCassia alata, a plant used in Nigeria in the treatment of skin diseases. Quart J Crude Drug Res 19(2/3):93-96.

15 CACERES A, LOPEZ BR, GIRON MA, LOGEMANN H, 1991 Plants used in Guatemala for the treatment of dermatophytic infections. 1. Screening for antimycotic activity of 44 plant extracts. J Ethnopharmacol 31(3):263-276.

16 FUZELLIER MC, MORTIER F, LECTARD P, 1982 Activité antifongique deCassia alata L. Ann Pharm Fr 40(4):357-363.

17 MATTA DC, 2000 Determinación de la actividad anti Neisseria gonorrhoeae de extractos vegetales por un método de dilución en agar (Tesis de química-biología). Facultad de Ciencias Químicas y Farmacia, Universidad de San Carlos USAC, Guatemala, Guatemala.

18 PALANICHAMY S, AMALA BHASKAR E, BAKTHAVATHSALAM R, NAGARAJAN S, 1991 Wound healing activity of Cassia alata. Fitoterapia 62(1):153-156.

19 DAMODARAN S, VENKATARAMAN S, 1994 A study on the therapeutic efficacy of Cassia alata, Linn. Leaf extract against pityriasis versicolor. J Ethnopharmacol 42(1):19-23.

20 MOKKHASMIT M, NGARMWATHANA W, SAWASDIMONGKOL K, PERMPHIPHAT U, 1971 Pharmacological evaluation of Thai medicinal plants (cont.). J Med Assoc Thai 54(7):490-504.

21 MARTINEZ MJ, MOREJON Z, LOPEZ M, BOUCOURT E, BARCELO H, LAYNEZ A, FUENTES V, MORON F, 2003 Clases Toxicidad Aguda (CTA) de hoja frescade Senna alata (L.) Roxb. Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio Central de Farmacología, Facultad de Ciencias Médicas “Dr. Salvador Allende”, La Habana, Cuba.

22 LOPEZ M, MARTINEZ MJ, MOREJON Z, BOUCOURT E, FERRADA C, FUENTES V, MORON F, 2005 Irritabilidad dérmica primaria de la maceración acuosa de hoja fresca de Senna alata (L.) Roxb. Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio Central de Farmacología, Facultad de Medicina “Dr. Salvador Allende”, Cerro, C. Habana, Cuba.

23 MOKKHASMIT M, SWATDIMONGKOL K, SATRAWAHA P, 1971 Study on toxicity of Thai medicinal plants. Bull Dept Med Sci 12(2-4):36-65.

24 VIZOSO A, RAMOS A, VILLAESCUSA A, BETANCOURT J, GARCIA A, PILOTO J, DECALO M, 2002 Passiflora incarnataL. y Senna alata (L.) Roxo: Estudio toxicogenético que emplea 2 sistemas de ensayos a corto plazo. Rev Cubana Plant Med 7(1):27-31.

25 DELAIGUE J, 2005 TRAMIL survey. PRDI, Tobago House of Assembly, Scarborough, Tobago.

26 LOGARTO PARRA A, SILVA YHEBRA R, GUERRA SARDINAS I, IGLESIAS BUELA L, 2001 Comparative study of the assay of Artemia salina L. and the estimate of the medium lethal dose (LD50 value) in mice, to determine oral acute toxicity of plant extracts. Phytomedicine 8(5):395-400.

27 MARTINEZ MJ, BETANCOURT J, LOPEZ M, MOREJON Z, FUENTES V, MORON F, 2005 Clases tóxicas agudas tópica de hoja fresca machacada de Senna alata. Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio Central de Farmacología, Facultad de Ciencias Médicas “Dr. Salvador Allende”, La Habana, Cuba.


The information provided is for educational purposes only for the benefit of the general public and health professionals. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. Since some parts of plants could be toxic, might induce side effects, or might have interactions with certain drugs, anyone intending to use them or their products must first consult with a physician or another qualified health care professional. TRAMIL has no responsibility whatsoever towards the user for any decision, action or omission made in relation to the information contained in this Pharmacopoeia.