Senna tora (L.) Roxb.

Last updated: 14 November 2016

Scientific Name

Senna tora (L.) Roxb.


Cassia borneensis Miq., Cassia gallinaria Collad., Cassia numilis Collad., Cassia tora L., Emelista tora Britton & Rose, Cassia tora var. borneensis (Miq.) Miq. [1]    

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Gelenggang kecil, gelenggang padang, gelenggang nasi, ketepeng [2]
English Foetid cassia, sickle senna, wild senna, tora, sickle pod, coffee pod [2]
China Xiao jue ming [3]
India Charota, chakvad, chakavat, chakonda, panwar (Hindi); chakunda (Bengali); kawaria (Gujerati); gandutogache (Canarese); chakramandrakam, takara (Malyalam); takala (Marathi); chakramarda, dadmari, dadrughra,taga (Sanskrit); ushit-tagarai tagarai (Tamil); chinnakasinda (Telugu)  [2][4]
Indonesia Ketepeng sapi, ketepeng cilik (Java); ketepend lentik (Sunda); pepo (Timor) [4][5]
Thailand Thai, Ki-kia, nopanaa-noe (Karen Mae Hong Son); chumhet khwaai, chumhet naa, chumhet lek (Central); phrom daan (Sukhothai); lapmuen noi (Northern); yaa luek luen (Prachin Buri) [6]
Hong Kong Kuet Ming[3]
Cambodia D[aa]ng'hët khmaoch ni. [4]
Vietnam Th [ar]o quy[ees]t minh, mu[oof]ng h[oo]i, mu[oof]ng ng[ur]. [4]
Korea Gyul Myung Cha [3]
Japan Hosomi Ebisugusa[3]
Portugal Fedegoso [3]
Laos Nha leung meum, nha lap mun. [4]
France Casse reticle. [4]

Geographical Distributions

The origin of Senna tora is unknown, but nowadays it is only found in the Old World tropics. [4]

Botanical Description

S. tora is a member of Leguminosae family. S. tora is a foetid smelling herb or undershrub, up to 1 m tall, almost smooth and with a stout taproot. [4]

The leaves are with 3 pairs of leaflets, petiole 1-4 cm long, rachis 2-3 cm long, and with an awl-shaped gland which is 2 mm long between the two lowest pairs of leaflets. The leaflets are obovate and measuring 2-5 cm x 1.5-2.5 cm. The upper leaflets are largest, thin, with wedge-shaped base to rounded and rounded apex. [4]

The inflorescence is a short axillary raceme and 1-2(-3)-flowered. The flowers are with ovate sepals and measuring 5 mm x 2-4 mm while the petals are obovate, unequal, measuring up to 10 mm x 6 mm and yellow. The 7 stamens are almost equal. The filaments are 1.5-2 mm long with 3 large anthers. The 4 smaller ones are 1.5-2.5 mm long, with absent staminodes, densely hairy ovary with hairless style and truncate stigma. [4]

The fruit is linear, cylindrical and measuring 10-15 cm x 0.5 cm. There are 20-30 seeds per pod which are rhomboidal, measuring 5 mm x 3 mm, glossy and with an areole (1.5-2 mm wide) that covers part of the seed surface. [4]


S. tora is common throughout Southeast Asia in anthropogenic habitats at lower altitudes. It is reported to be an important weed in pastures and cropped fields in Southeast Asia, partly because of its high seed production. [4]

Chemical Constituent

S. tora have been reported to contain tricontan-1-ol, d-mannitol, d-arabinose, d-glucose, d-mannose, d-rhamnose, linoleic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, succinic and tartaric acids, myricyl alcohol, quercitrin, iso-quercitrin, b-sitosterol, b-sitosteral-b-D-glucoside, stigmasterol, Chrysophanol, emodin, obtusifolin, obtusin, chryso-obtusin, aurantio-obtusin, alaternin, alaternin 2-O-β-D-glucopyranoside, gluco-obtusifolin, cassiaside, gluco-aurantio-obtusin , cassitoroside, toralactone gentiobioside , and chrysophanol triglucoside, chrysophanol, physcion, chrysophonic acid-9-anthrone, 1,3,5-trihydroxy-6-7-dimethoxy-2-methylanthroquinone, 2-hydroxyemodin 1-methylether, Rubrofusarin, nor-rubrofusarin, Naptho-α-pyrone-toralactune and uridine. [4][6]

Plant Part Used

Leaves, seeds and roots. [4]

Traditional Use

Young leaves of S. tora are cooked as vegetable amongst the Malays in Kedah and Penang and also in India. The seeds are roasted and made into coffee like drink without the aroma of coffee. The leaves are considered aperients and the decoction is used to treat habitual constipation. The older leaves are more effective while the younger ones as vegetable are taken as preventive measures against constipation. On the other hand people in Indo-China used the pods to treat dysentery. In Ayurvedic remedies the leaves and seeds are used to treat flatulence, colic and dyspepsia. The whole plant is used to treat biliousness by the Malays where 7 plants were boiled and the decoction given twice daily, repeated boiling with addition of water equivalent to the amount taken was done until the water eventually become insipid. This is followed by the same cycle with 5 and subsequently 3 whole plants. The Indian and Chinese Physicians consider the plant to have liver protective properties and thus, it is being used as a liver tonic and to treat liver related conditions like jaundice, liver cirrhosis with signs of failure like ascites. The Thais used the whole plant to treat chronic gastrointestinal ailments of children associated with malnutrition and intestinal parasitism, and as laxative. [2][4][5][6][7]

Various parts of the plant have been used to treat cough. The Thaïs made use of the stem to make their cough remedy while the Indians take the leaves and seeds as an expectorant and cough suppressant. The Indians make use of it to treat asthma and bronchitis. Amongst the Malays the decoction of the leaves are used for the same entity. The Chinese recommend the use of the leaves and licorice in a decoction to treat common cold. [3][6][5][7]

The whole plant is considered cardiotonic in both Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine. It used to treat hypertension had been described in various traditional Chinese medicines. One method is to use the ground friend seeds of S. tora with sugar and dissolving it in boiling water. The Malays however, made use of the whole fruit in a decoction as a remedy for hypertension. The seeds are used in treating headaches due to high blood pressure and it is also useful to treat vertigo.[3][7][8]

Various parts of the plant have been used to treat many conditions of the eyes and these are ulcerated cornea, red eye with pain and swelling, conjunctivitis, glaucoma, cataracts, nyctalopia, ocular swellings and pain, blurred vision. It is also used in treating inflammatory condition of the eyes accompanied by pain, photophobia and lacrimation. For the treatment of acute conjunctivitis a decoction of the seeds together with our herbs are used locally. For some eye disease a decoction of the leaves has been advocated. [3][8]

One of the most common uses of this plant it in the treatment of various skin diseases. Most society recognizes its ability to treat ringworms and has used it in many different ways. Other skin diseases or conditions that S. tora had been used include leprosy, yaws, parasitic skin conditions, ulcers, psoriasis, irritating skin eruptions and keloids. Dried and fresh leaves are used by tribes in North Nigeria to treat ulcers, ringworm and other parasitic skin diseases. Ainslie mentioned that ground seeds with buttermilk can be used to treat irritating skin eruptions and the roots rubbed on a stone with lime juice is an excellent remedy for ringworm (psoriasis). The seeds have been used as an abortifacient and known to have oxytocic activities. The Malays made use of the decoction of the roots and leaves in a bath for women in confinement. The roots also used to treat snakebites. [2][7][8]

Preclinical Data


Antiviral activity

The 50% ethanol extract of S. tora has been reported to showed antiviral activity in cell culture against Ranikhet virus. [6]

Antibacterial activity

S. tora had been tested against Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis. It reported that the acetone extract was active against all tested bacteria, the diethylether extract was effective against Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus subtilis while the ethanol extract was effective against S. aureus and E. coli. Water extract did not show any antibacterial activities against the tested bacteria. The de-alcoholized extract of the seeds of S. tora showed antibacterial activities against S. aureus, S. albus, S. citreus, Corynebacterium dyphtheriae, Bacillus megaterium, Salmonella typhosa, Salmonella paratyphi, Salmonella schottmuelleri and E. coli. On the other hand the aqueous extract did not show any antibacterial activities against the tested bacteria. It is thought that part of the antibacterial activity was due to the phagocytotic stimulatory effects of the extracts. [3][9][10]

S. tora had been reported that torachrysone, toralactone, aloe-emodin, rhein and emodin showed noticeable effects on four strains of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus. [10]

Antifungal activity

It has been reported that S. tora showed antifungal activity against Trichophyton gypseum, Trichophyton granulosum, Trichophyton purpureum and Trichophyton rubrum. The benzene extract of the seeds which contains chryophanic acid-9-anthrone reported to be effective in killing and inhibiting the growth of Trichophyton mentagrophytes, Microsporum canis, Mircosporum gypseum and Geotriculata candidum. [11][12]

Antiplasmodial activity

S. tora had been reported on inhibitory effects against Plasmodium falciparum 3D7 (chloroquine sensitive) and Dd2 (chloroquine resistant and pyrimethamine sensitive), extracts from S. tora was found to inhibit both parasites. [13]              

Antihypertensive activity

S. tora had been reported to have hypotensive activity. This was shown in a series of test reported by Chinese investigators in 1976. The aqueous and methanol extracts of the seeds were found to elicit hypotension in anaesthetized rats and preliminary phytochemical studies showed that this could be due to the glycosides in the kernel of the seeds. [14]

S. tora been showed that it involves a vagal reflex mechanism reciprocally altering the vasomotor tone of the centrally emanating sympathetic nervous system. This was proven so when the vagotomized rats did not respond well to the extract and that in sympathetic nervous system interruption by spinal cord transection too greatly antagonized the effect. They finally localized the site of action to the medial portion of the medullary reticular formation when by injecting the extract directly into this site they observed that there was a decrease in arterial blood pressure. They also observed that by electronically damaging the site the hypotensive response was eliminated. They concluded the S. tora seed extracts modulated basic cardiovascular reflexes favouring a decrease in vasomotor tone. [14][15][16]

ACE Inhibitory activity

Methanol extract of raw and roasted seeds of S. tora been reported to exhibited significant inhibitory properties against Angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE). It was also noted that only gluco-aurantio-obtusin showed marked inhibitory activity by competitive inhibition. [17]

Antioxidant activity

S. tora had been reported to have antioxidant activities. In an early study on the antioxidant activities of S. tora it was shown that alaternin, an anthraquinone, and two naphthopyrone glycosides nor-rubrofusarin-6-β-D-glucoside (cassiaside) and rubrofusarin-6- -D-gentiobioside have radical scavenging effect with alaternin being the most potent. [18]

It also reported that the antioxidant properties of the water extracts of the seeds vary with the method of preparation i.e. in degree of roasting and duration of roasting of the seeds. The highest activity being seen in the raw state while the lowest in the other extreme. A more recent study on antioxidant activity has showed that alaternin from an extract of S. tora to be the most potent Peroxynitrite (ONOO-) scavenger. [18][19][20][21]

Antidiabetic activity

S. tora had been reported that two studies done by Korean investigator on the ability of various extracts of S. tora to inhibit the formation of advanced glycation end products had shown promising effects. S. tora had been reported butanol extract of seeds were found to inhibit the formation of advanced glycation end products which is from three naphthopyrone glucosides cassiaside, rubrofusarin-6-O-β-D-gentiobioside, and toralactone-9-O-β-D-gentiobioside. [22]

S. tora had been found that two anthraquinones i.e. emodin and obtusifolin to have significant advanced glycation end products inhibitory activities. These were extracted from the seeds of S. tora L. using ethanol. On the other hand aurantio-obtusin, chryso-obtusin-2-O-b-D-glucoside and emodin showed significant inhibitory activity on rat lens aldose reductase. [22][23]

Antilipidaemic activity

S. tora had been found that ethanolic extracts and their ether and water soluble fractions of seeds were able to reduce elevated total cholesterol levels in triton induced hyperlipidaemic models. They also noted that the extracts increased the HDL-cholesterol levels while at the same time reduced the triglyceride and the LDL-cholesterol levels. S. tora had been found that its fiber added to the diet of Type II Diabetics help improve serum lipid status without serious adverse effects. In a more recent study on rats fed a high-cholesterol diet it was shown that the lipid lowering effects were due to faecal lipid excretion. [24][25][26]

Hepatoprotective activity                     

S. tora has been reported that three naphto-γ-pyrone glycosides isolated from the seeds showed significant hepato-protective effects against galactosamine damage and this effect was found to be higher than those of silybin. These glycosides are cassiaside, rubrofusarin-6-gentiobioside and 6-[(b-apiofuranosyl-(1à6)-O-b-D-glucopyranosyl)oxy]-rubrofusarin. S. tora has been reported that the leaves i.e. ononitol monohydrate was found to have hepatoprotective activity. It was found that this compound effect decrease in serum transaminase, lipid peroxidation and TNF-α while at the same time increased the levels of antioxidant and hepatic glutathione enzyme activities. It also show a higher liver protective activity than the reference drug i.e. silymarin. [27][28]

Anticancer activity

S. tora has been reported that in vitro studies of various fractions of methanol extracts of seeds showed antimutagenic effects. It was determined that the compounds responsible for this activity are chrysophanol, chryso-obtusin, aurantio-obtusin, cassiaside and rubrofusarin gentiobioside. S. tora has been reported that methanolic extract of theleaves showed marked inhibition on proliferation, reduced DNA content and apoptosis in HeLa. This is mediated through its antioxidant properties and it is believed the polyphenols (gallic acid) contents of the leaf extract were responsible for this effect. [29][30]

Antipigmentation activity

S. tora has been reported that emodin isolated from seeds showed potent inhibitory effects on phosphorylation of Kit (Stem Cell factor receptor). It also blocked other receptor tyrosine kinase activities such as epithelial growth factor receptor, vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2, fibroblast growth factor receptor 1, platelet-derived growth factor receptor b. It also blocked cellular kinase activities in Kit and its downstream p44/42 mitogen activated protein kinase in MO7e cells and human primary melanocytes. Thus, Emodin strongly suppressed the melanin synthesis triggered by stem cell factor treatment. Emodin is thus, a good candidate for the development as an antipigmentation agent. [24][31]


No documentation

Clinical Data

No documentation


No documentation

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing



Figure 1: The line drawing of S. tora [4]



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  12. Acharya TK, Chatterjee IB. Isolation of Chrysophanic acid-9-anthrone, the major antifungal principle of Cassia tora L. Lloydia.1975; 38(3): 218–220.
  13. El-Tahir A, Satti GM, Khalid SA. Antiplasmodial activity of selected Sudanese medicinal plants with emphasis on Acacia niloticaPhytother Res. 1999;13(6):474-478.
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  15. Koo A, Wang JC, Li KM. Extraction of hypotensive principles from seeds of Cassia tora L. Am J Chin Med (Gard City N Y). 1976;4(3):245-248.
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  17. Hyun SK, Lee H, Kang SS, Chung HY, Choi JS. Inhibitory activities of Cassia tora and its anthraquinone constituents on angiotensin-converting enzyme. Phytother Res. 2009;23(2):178-184.
  18. Yen GC, Chuang DY. Antioxidant properties of water extracts from Cassia tora L. in relation to the degree of roasting. J Agric Food Chem. 2000;48(7):2760-2765.
  19. Choi JS, Lee HJ, Kang SS. Alaternin, cassiaside and rubrofusarin gentiobioside, radical scavenging principles from the seeds of Cassia tora L on 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radical. Arch Pharm Res. 1994;17(6):462-466.
  20. Yen GC, Chung DY. Antioxidant effects of extracts from Cassia tora L. prepared under different degrees of roasting on the oxidative damage to biomolecules. J Agric Food Chem. 1999;47(4):1326-1332.
  21. Park TH, Kim DH, Kim CH, et al. Peroxynitrite scavenging mode of alaternin isolated from Cassia tora L. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2004;56(10):1315-1321.
  22. Lee GY, Jang DS, Lee YM, Kim JM, Kim JS. Naphthopyrone glucosides from the seeds of Cassia tora L. with inhibitory activity on advanced glycation end products (AGEs) formation. Arch Pharm Res. 2006;29(7):587-590.
  23. Jang DS, Lee GY, Kim YS, et al. Anthraquinones from the seeds of Cassia tora L. with inhibitory activity on protein glycation and aldose reductase. Biol Pharm Bull. 2007;30(11):2207-2210.
  24. Patil UK, Saraf S, Dixit VK, Gour HS. Hypolipidemic activity of seeds of Cassia tora Linn. J Ethnopharmacol. 2004;90(2-3):249-252.
  25. Cho SH, Kim TH, Lee NH, Son HS, Cho IJ, Ha TY. Effects of Cassia tora fiber supplement on serum lipids in Korean diabetic patients. J Med Food. 2005;8(3):311-318.
  26. Cho IJ, Lee C, Ha TY. Hypolipidemic effect of soluble fiber isolated from seeds of Cassia tora Linn. in rats fed a high-cholesterol diet. J Agric Food Chem. 2007;55(4):1592-1596.
  27. Wong SM, Wong MM, Seligmann O, Wagner H. New antihepatotoxic naphtho-pyrone glycosides from the seeds of Cassia tora. Planta Med. 1989;55(3):276-280.
  28. Dhanasekaran M, Ignacimuthu S, Agastian P. Potential hepatoprotective activity of ononitol monohydrate isolated from Cassia tora L. on carbon tetrachloride induced hepatotoxicity in wistar rats. Phytomedicine. 2009;16(9):891-895.
  29. Choi JS, Lee HJ, Park KY, Ha JO, Kang SS. In vitro antimutagenic effects of anthraquinone aglycones and naphthopyrone glycosides from Cassia toraPlanta Med. 1997;63(1):11-14.
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