Golden Shower

Cassia cf. fistula (Fabaceae)

Characteristics

Distribution

Natural Medicine Properties

The ripe pods and seeds are widely used in both traditional and conventional medicine as a laxative. The root-bark, leaves and flowers also have laxative properties, but to a lesser extent.
In modern medicine, the fruit pulp is sometimes used as a mild laxative in paediatrics.
The fruit pulp and leaves are rich in anthraquinone derivatives (around 2%), and glycosides, which are responsible for the laxative properties.
The fruit pulp is rich in pectins and mucilage.
In-vitro and in-vivo tests have shown that the seed powder has amoebicidal and cysticidal properties against Entamoeba histolytica and that it could cure intestinal amoebiasis of humans. The aqueous fraction of the pods has produced a significant decrease in glycaemia.
Aqueous and methanolic bark extracts have shown significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities.
An alcohol extract of the leaves has shown antibacterial activity in vivo against Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, plus accelerated wound healing.
A water extract of the leaves has shown antifungal activity against the human skin pathogens Trichophyton spp., Epidermophyton floccosum and Microsporum ferruginum.
The pods are used as a remedy for malaria, blood poisoning, anthrax, diabetes and dysentery.
The pods contain a sweet, sticky pulp.
A decoction of this is taken as a cure for kidney stones, as a vermifuge and as a laxative.
The pulp is extracted from the pods by bruising them and then boiling them in water, after which the decoction is evaporated. It may be obtained from fresh pods by opening them at the sutures and removing the pulp with a spatula.
The pulp is apt to become sour if long exposed to the air, or mouldy if kept in a damp place.
The bark or leaves are widely applied to skin problems.
Broken bones and tropical ulcers are bandaged with bark scrapings and leaf sap.
The heartwood is traditionally applied as an anthelmintic.
A decoction of the roots is applied to purify wounds and ulcers.
In India the roots are used to treat fevers.
The concentration of sennoside in the leaves of Cassia fistula is highest soon after the onset of the rainy season, when new leaves have appeared, and flowering started.
The sennoside content of the pods is highest at the mid-stage of fruit maturation, when the pods are pale brown.

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Further reading:

Literature

World Flora Online
WorldChecklist of Selected Plant Families
A working list of all plant species