Cassia fistula Linn. – A Phytopharmacological Review
Sunil Bavaskar*, Mayur Bhurat, Vikram Mahale, Nasir Mohammad, Yogesh patil,
Cassia fistula Linn. is a rarely used herb in Ayurvedic medicine. This review supports all updated information on its phytochemical and pharmacological activities, traditional uses and scientific approach. The plant parts contain important constituents and have been widely used for the treatment of a large number of human ailments. The chemical entities of this plant has been used as an antitussive activity, antifungal activity, wound healing, potential anti-fertility effect anti inflammatory, modulation of humoral immunity, hepato protective, anti hyperlipidemic, antidiabetic, blood pressure regulating activity, antiulceogenic, antioxidant activity, anticonvulsant activity, analgesic and purgative, antibacterial, anthelmintic and antiviral activity etc. Scientifically proved activities are related with traditional concept. Scientific evidence exists with respect to their major and minor constituents. Cassia fistula Linn. is one of the most important controversial andeffective natural origin that has a tremendous future for research. The novelty and applicability of Cassia fistula Linn. are hidden. Such things should be overcome through modern scientific concept.
Cassia fistula Linn. (Leguminosae)1, a tree of moderate size, indigenous to India and often cultivated there as an ornamental plant (Indian laburnum). Purging cassia was known in Europe in the thirteenth century, was used by the school of medicine at Salerno. Cassia fistula Linn. is prominently used for treatment of various ailments and in the form of various preparations especially in extract form. It is one of the crude material of Indian system of medicine. Cassia fistula Linn. was cited for its various medicinal properties, speciously antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-oxidant. Cassia fistula contents very complex and controversial chemical entities having variable properties. Cassia fistula is a moderate to medium size deciduous tree 6 to 9 metres tall with a spread trunk and spreading branches. Leaves are alternate, pinnate, 20-40 cm long, with 4-8 pairs of ovate leaflets, 5-12 cms long, 3. 5-9 cm broad, entire, the petiolules 2-6 mm long. Flowers are bright yellow, in long drooping terminal clusters (racemes); petals 5, yellow; sepals 5, green, the individual flower stalks 3-6 cm long. Stamens are 10. Fruits are pendulous, cylindrical, dark brown or brownish black with many seeds, septate, 25-50 cm long, 1. 5-3 cm in diameter, with 25-100 seeds. Seeds are lenticular, light to dark or reddish brown, etc. Cassia fistula Linn. is indigenous to India and naturalized in tropical Africa, South America and West Indies. Found throughout Punjab to Kanya Kumari in all deciduous forests and hilly tracts. It is sometimes cultivated for its beautiful yellow flowers, in the gardens and avenues.2, 3
Cassia fistula Linn. is rich in tannins. Flowers contain ceryl alcohol, kaempferol, rhein, and a bianthroquinone glycoside, which on hydrolysis, yields fistulin and rhamnose. Leaves contain rhein, rheinglucoside, and sennosides A and B. The root bark contains tannin, phlobaphenes, and oxyanthraquinone substances, which probably consist of emodin and chrysophanic acid; also contains (bark and heartwood) fistuacacidin, barbaloin, and rhein. Stembark contains lupeol, beta-sitosterol, and hexacosanol. The fruit Pulp contains anthraquinonerhein in free as well as in the form of glycoside2.
The methanolic extract of Cassia fistula Linn. was investigated for its effect on a cough induced model of sulphur dioxide gas in mice. It exhibited significant antitussive activity when compared with controlled in a dose dependent manner. The Antitussive activity of extract was comparable to that of codeine phosphate a prototype antitussive agent. The Cassia fistula Linn. extract (400, 600mg/kg.) show maximum inhibition of cough by 44. 44% and 51. 85% with respect to control group3.
Antibacterial and Antifungal activity:
Hexane, chloroform, ethyl acetate, methanol and water extract from the flower of Cassia fistula Linn (as ethno medicinal plant) were tested against bacteria and fungi. All the extracts exhibited antibacterial activity against gram positive organism with minimum inhibitory conc. (MIC) between 0. 078 and 2. 5 mg/ml. Among the gram negative bacteria only P. auruginosa was susceptible to the extract. Ethyl acetate crude extract was fractionated using chromatography technique. A crystal was isolated which was confirm as 4 hydroxy benzoic acid hydrate using x-rays chromatographically. It exhibited antifungal activity against tricophyton metagrophytes (MIC0. 5mg/ml) and epidermal phyton fluoccsum (MIC 0. 5mg/ml)4.
Wound healing potential:
Antibiotic resistance by pathogenic microorganism renders drug ineffective and calls for improve designing and development of new drug. The alcohol extract of Cassia fistula Linn. leaves were analyze for antibacterial effect against staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas auregenosa. Formulated ointment was topically applied on an infected wound. Wound reduction rate, histological analysis, biochemical analysis and gelatin zymography were obtained to access the healing pattern. 5
Oral administration of aqueous extract of seeds of Cassia fistula Linn. to mated female rats from day 1 to 5 of pregnancy at the doses of 100-200mg/kg body wt resulted in 57. 14% and 71. 43% prevention pregnancy its respectively, where as 100% pregnancy inhibition was noted at 500mg/kg body weight. In the uterine car bioassay test carried out in immature bilaterally ovary atomized female rats aqueous extract of seeds height (p<0. 001) but did not induced premature opening of vagina. This suggestion q mild estrogenic activity of the extract. However when the extract was administered conjointly with estradiol valerate (edv, 0. 1mg/kg bw) it significantly (p<0. 001) prevented the estrogen induced uterotrophic effect thus showing and anti-estrogenic nature of the extract in the presence of strong estrogen6.
Anti- inflammatory activity:
The presence of flavonoids in cassia fistula may be responsible for the anti- inflammatory effects7. The bark extract of cassia fistula posses significant anti-inflammatory effect in the acute and chronic anti inflammatory model of inflammation in rats. Cassia fistula bark extract showed significance radical scavenging by inhibiting lipid peroxidation initiated by ccl4 and feso4 in rat liver and kidney homogenates8. The cotton pellet granuloma method has been widely employed to assess the transductive exudation and proliferative component of chronic inflammation9.
Anti- oxidant activity:-
The flavonoids present in cassia fistula Linn. may be responsible for the antioxidant effects7. Antioxidant activity of the aqueous and methanolic extract of the Cassia fistula Linn. Bark were assay in Wister albino rats8. Both the aqueous and methanolic extracts exhibited significant Anti- oxidant activity in DPPH, the nitric oxide and hydroxyl radical induced in vitro assay method8. Hydroxyl radical is the principal contributor for tissue injury, Both the aqueous and methanolic extracts inhibited hydroxyl scavenging activity. The aqueous and methanolic extracts exhibited protection against lipid peroxidation induced by ccl4 initiation of lipid peroxidation by ferrous sulphate take place through ferryl preferryl complex10. The extract (CFA and CFM) inhibited the feso4 induced lipid peroxidation in a dose dependent manner.
Modulation of humoral immunity:
Fruits of Cassia fistula Linn. have immunomodulatory effect of and its Synergistic antimicrobial combination with amoxicillin named Amoxy- Cassia studied on humoral immune system of BALB/C mice11. They also work to heighten humoral and cellular immune responses by either enhancing cytokines secretion or by directly stimulating B or T lymphocytes. In clinical medicine they are used to treat patient suffering from AIDS, autoimmune disease and to prevent graft rejection12,13. Cassia fistula Linn (golden shower) is the medicinal plant used to treat Maia black white fever blood poisoning, dysentery, round worm infection, facial paralysis and rheumatism14-17. Amoxy-Cassia a novel synergistic anti-microbial combination that was in vitro found effective against multi drug resistant salmonella enterica serover Typhi. Amoxycillin is a Beta lactum antibiotic18-20. Cassia fistula Linn and Amoxy cassia treatment improved the haemaggutation antibody titer in blood collected before and after treating the immunized animal and the rising titer in no of specific antibody reflected as overall elevation of humoral immune response.
Paracetamol (2g/kg) has enhanced the SGPT, SGOT, ALP and Billirubin level reduced. Treatment with methanolic extract of C. fistula seeds (200 mg/kg and 400 mg/kg) has brought back the altered levels of biochemical markers to near normal levels in the dose dependant manner21.
Effect of hexane extract of cassia fistula barks on blood glucose and lipid profile in Streptozocin diabetic rats:22
Diabetes mellitus is expected to increase to by 42% from 51-52million in the developed countries and by 170% from 84-228 million in the developing countries by the year 202523. The plant is an important constituent in the traditional medicine of India it posses sees properties useful in the treatment of skin diseases inflammatory diseases rheumatism ulcers anorexia jaundice and laxative. Different parts of plant have been demonstrated to possess several medicinal values such as antitumor activity antioxidant activity and hypoglycemic activity24, 25, 26.
Leaf extract is indicated for its antitussive wound healing and Hepato-protective properties27. This fiber and mucilage content suggest that they can be used in diabetic mellitus in treatment of hypocholestermia28.
Seeds of Cassia fistula are reported to have antibacterial antitumor and anti-fertility effect and 4 novel compounds have been isolated25, 29-31. The antioxidant effect of crude extract of stem bark leaves flowers and fruits pulp of Cassia fistula have been assessed32.
Streptozocin is well known for its selective pancreatic islet B-cells cytotoxicity and has been extensively used to induce diabetic mellitus in animal. Intra Peritoneal administration of streptozotocin (45mgkg-1) effectively induced diabetes in normal rats are reflected by glycosuria hyperglycemia and body wt loss when compared with normal rats. The hexane extract of Cassia fistula bark can reverse their adverse effect caused by streptozotocin. The bark hexane extract administered administration streptozotocin dosed animal reversed its wt loss. The ability to recover body wt seems to be due to its anti-hyperglycemic effect. Cassia fistula barks used extensively against a wide range of ailments is known as a source of flavonoids, phenolic acids and xanthine glycosides29.
The treatment of hexane extract of Cassia fistula bark showed to improve lipid profile by reducing the level of total cholesterol triglyceride and LDL-cholesterol and same time increased level of HDL-cholesterol. The plant sterol (B-sitosterol) is well known for its cardio protective properties by lowering the cholesterol level.
Analgesic and antipyretic activity:
Cassia fistula has been found to posses significant analgesic and antipyretic activity34.
The sugar free residue from the pulp possessed cathartic activity in mice35.
The aqueous extract of the fruit pulp had significant purgative action; tha activity is due to the presence of anthraquinones present36.
Rhein the chief anthraquinone derivative from the pulp and have found it active against mycobacterium tuberculosis. 2
The extensive survey of literature revealed that Cassia fistula Linn. (Leguminosae) is an important source of many pharmacologically and medicinally important chemicals such as tannins, cetyl alcohol, kaempferol, rhein, fistuacacidin, barbaloin, lupeol, beta-sitosterol and hexacosanol. The plant has also been widely studied for their various pharmacological activities like anti-inflammatory, antioxidant activity, immuno-modulator activity, anti-fertility, Antitussive activity, hepato-protective activity, anti-tubercular activity, Wound healing potential, Analgesic and antipyretic activity, cathartic and purgative activity, etc. Further, the use of Cassia fistula Linn. by both male and female persons opting for future conception should account the anti-fertility activity. While Cassia fistula Linn. has been used successfully in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, more clinical trials should be conducted to support its therapeutic use. It is also important to recognize that Cassia fistula Linn. extracts may be effective not only when used singly, but may actually have a modulating effect when given in combination with other herbs or drugs. This review aims to highlight the main medicinal properties of Cassia fistula Linn. with a view to focus on future studies of this plant.
The authors wish to thanks to Dr. P. S. Kwatikwar, for his moral support.
1. Wallis, T. E., 1967, Textbook of Pharmacognosy, 5th edn, J and A Churchill Ltd, London, 252-3.
2. Raghunathan, K., Mitra, R., 2005, Pharmacognosy of indigenous drugs, vol-1, 2nd reprint, Central Council for Research in Ayurveda and Siddha, New Delhi, 22-3.
3. Bhakta, T., Mukharjee, P., Pal, M., Saha, B. (1998). Studies on antitussive activity of Cassia fistula Linn. (Leguminosae) leaf extract, Pharmaceutical Biology, vol. 36 (2):140-3.
4. Duraipandiyan, V., Ignachimuthu, S., (2207). Antibacterial and antifungal activity of Cassia fistula L. an ethanomedical plant, Journel of Ethanopharmacology, 112(3):590-4.
5. Muthusamy, S., Ramasamy, S., Raghvan, H., Leum, P., (2006). Wound healing potential of Cassia fistula L. on infected albino rat model, Journal of Surgical Research, 131(2): 283-9.
6. Yadav, R., Jain, G., (1999). Anti-fertility effect of aqueous extract of seeds of Cassia fistula L. in female rats, Journal of Advances in Contraception, 15(4): 293-301.
7. Yadava, R. N., and Verma, V. (2003). A new biologically active flavones glycoside from the seeds of Cassia Fistula (Linn). J Asian Nat Prod Res. 2003 5(1):57-61.
8. Raju ILavarasana*, Moni Mallikaband Subramanian Venkataramanc, Afr. J. Trad. CAM (2005). Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant Activities of Cassia Fistula Linn Bark Extract 2(1):70-85.
9. D’Arcy, P. F., Haward, E. M., Muggleton, R. W. and Townsend, S. B. (1960). Theanti-inflammatory action of Gtiseofulvin in experimental animal. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology 12:659-665.
10. Gutteridge, J. M. C. (1985). Age pigments and Free Radicals: Fluroscent lipid complexes formed by iron and copper containing proteins, Biochem Biophys Acta, 834:144.
11. Nafisa Hassan Ali, Shahana Urooj Kazmi And Shaheen Faizi*, January(2008). Modulation Of Humoral Immunity By Cassia Fistula And Amoxy-Cassia Pak. J. Pharm. Sci., vol. 21, No. 1, pp. 21-23.
12. Puri A, Sahal R, Singh Kl, Saxena RP, Tandon JS and Saxena KC(2000). Immunostimulant activity of dry fruits and plant material used in Indian Traditional Medical System for mother after child birth and invalids. Journal of Ethnopharmacol., 71:89-92.
13. Zhang L, Huang Y, Wang L, and Xiao P(1995). Several compounds from Chiese traditional and herbal medicines immunodulators. Phytotherapy Res., 9:315-322.
14. Bhakta T, Mukherjee PK, Saha K, Pal M and Saha BP (1998). Studies on anti-tussive activity of Cassia Fistula (Leguminosae) leaf extract. Pharmaceut. Biol., 36:140-143.
15. Bhavan BV (1992 )Cassia Fistula linn In: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan selected plants of India. Chemexcil, Bombay, pp. 77-80.
16. Jayaweera DMA(1981). Medicinal Plants (indigenious and exotic) used in Ceylon, part 3. National Science Council of Sri lanka, Colombo, p. 179.
17. Misra A and Sinha R (1981). Cassia in Islamic medicine, Vol. 1-2, edition Proceedings of the first International Conference on Islamic Medicine, pp. 390-334.
18. Ali Nh, Kazmi SU and Faizi S (2007). Activity of Synergistic combination amoxy-cassia against salmonella. Pak. Jour. Pharm. Sci., 20:140-145.
19. Labadie RP, Nat JM, Simons JM, Kroes Bh, Kosasi S, Nanden Berg AJJ, Hart La, Vandar Sluis Eg, Abeysekera A, Bamunnuarachchi A and Desilve KTD (1989). An ethnopharmaccognostic approach to search for immunodulators of plant origin Plant medica., 55:339-348
20. Maiti SN, Philips Oa, Micetich RG and Livermore DM(1998). Beta Lactamase inhibitor agents o overcome bacterial resistance. Curr. Med. Chem., 5:441-456.
21. Chaudhri, N., B., Chittam, K., P., Patil, V., R., (2009). Hepatoprotective activityof Cassia fistula seeds against paracetamol induced hepatotoxicity in rats, Arch. Pharm. Sci and res 1(2):218-221.
22. A. Nirmala, J. Eliza, M. Rajalakshmi, Edel Priya And P. Daisy (2008). Effect Of Hexane Extract Of Cassia Fistula Bark on Blood Glucose and Lipid Profile in Streptozotocin Diabetic Rats, International Journal Of Pharmacology 4(4):292-296.
23. King. H. R. E. ubert and W. H. Hermthe, 1998. Global Burden of diabetis, 1995-2025. Prevalence, numerical estimates and projections. Diabetes Care, 22:1414-1431.
24. Bhakta, T., P. K. Mukhergee, M. Pal and B. P. Saha, 1997. Hypoglycemic activity of Cassia fistula Linn. (Leguminosae)leaf(methanol extract) in alloxaninduced diabetic rats. J. Ethnobot., 9:35-38.
25. Gupta, M., U. K. Muzamder, n. Rath and D. K. Mukhopadyay, 2000. Antitumour activity of methanolic extract of Cassia fistula L. seed against hrlich ascites carcinoma. J. Ethnopharmacol., 72:151-156.
26. Luximon-Ramma, A, T. Bahorun, M. A. Soolbratte and O. I. Aruoma, 2002. Antioxidant activities of phenolic, proanthrocyanidin and flavonoid components in extracts of Cassia fistula. J. Agric. Food Chem,, 50:5042-5047.
27. Bhakta, T., P. K. Mukhergee, k. Mukherjee, S. Banerjee, T. K. Mandar Maity, M. Pal and B. P. Saha, 1999. Evaluation of hepatoprotective activity of Cassia fistula leaf extract. J. Ethnopharmacol., 66:277-282.
28. El-Saadany, S. S., R. A. El-massry, S. M. Labil and M. z. Sitohy, 1991. The biochemical role and hypocholesterolaemic potential of the legume Cassia fistula in hypocholesterolaemic rats. Die Nahrung, 35:807-815.
29. Perumal, r., Samy, S. Ignacimuthu And A. Sen, 1998. Screening of 34 medicinal plants antibacterial properties. J. Ethnopharmacol., 62: 173-181.
30. Kuo, H., P. h. lee and Y. S. Wein, 2002. Four new compounds from the seed of cassia fistula. J. Nat. Prod., 65:1165-1167.
31. Yadav, R. and G. C. Jain, 1999. Antifertility effect of aqueous extract of seeds of Cassia fistula in female rats. Adv. Concept., 15:293-301.
32. Sidduraju, P., P. S. Mohan and K. Becker, 2002. Studies on the antioxidant activity of Indian Laburnam(Cassia fistula L. )A preliminary assessment of crude extract from stem, leaves, flowers and fruit pulp. J. Agric. food chem., 79:61-67.
33. Gupta, v., A. Agrawal and H. p. Tiwari, 1989. Isolation and characterization of two flavonoids and a xanthine glycoside from the stem bark of Cassia fistula L. Indian J. chem., 28b:282-284.
34. Patel, D. G., Karbhari, S. S., Gulati, Gokhale, S. D., 1965. Antipyretic and analgesic of Aconitum spicatum, Cassia fistula, Arch. Ind. Pharmacodyn., 157:22.
35. Iyengar, M., A., Pendse, G. S., Narayan, N., 1966, Bioassay of Cassia fistula L. (aragvadha) Planta medica, 14:289.
36. Lilly Kutty, L., 1968, pharmacological studies of Cassia fistula M. D. Thesis. Univ. Kerala.