Senna alata (Cassia alata) is an important herbal plant with several medicinal benefits. It is a perennial shrub and belongs to the Leguminosae family. Senna alata is commonly known by several names such as candle bush, ringworm bush/candle, Christmas candle, empress camdle plant, and candelabra plant.
Beyond its medicinal uses, senna alata is also used as an ornamental plant in decorating compounds and gardens. It produces brightly yellowed flowers at the end of each stem branch. The plant grows in tropical and humid regions, and was thought tonhave originated from Brazil.
Are Senna alata edible?
The young leaves and pods of Senna alata are edible and can be cooked and eaten as vegetables. Toasted leaves are sometimes taken as a substitute for coffee. However, when using the young leaves and pods as vegetables, it is advisable to use a small quantity.
What are the health benefits of Senna alata
The leaves, pods, seeds, and roots of the plant have been used in traditional medicine for a wide range of diseases. Senna alata is benefical for topical application on your skin, as well as oral intake for internal diseases. These medicinal and biological properties of Candle bush are due to the arrays of bioactive phytochemical compounds present in the different parts of the plant.
Senna alata is beneficial for treating diabetes
Diabetes mellitus, which is a metabolic disorder is characterized by hyperglycemia resulting from defects in insulin secretion, insulin action, or both. It affects the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins in the body, leading to several complications such as nephropathy, neuropathy, and retinopathy. Depending on the cause, diabetes can be type 1 (Insulin dependent), or type 2 (Insulin independent) diabetes mellitus.
The cost of treatment or managent of diabetes mellitus is high, and the drugs usually present some side effects. Because of these, most low income earners and rural dwellers do resort to ghe use of herbal remedies to treat it. One of such herbal remedies is Senna alata. Both the flowers and leaf extracts of candle bush have been scientifically proven to be of great benefits in the treatment of diabetes.
Both the leaves and flowers reduces blood blood glucose level in diabetic patients. This is done by inhibiting the actibities of α-amylase and α-glucosidase enzymes, which catalyze the break down of carbohydrates to secondary sugars, and the break down of secondary sugars to primary sugars, such as glucose, respecrively. Aside lowering the blood sugar levels, the leaf extract also restors and improves insulin sensitivity. Indeed, Senna alata would benefit a diabetic patient.
Candle bush may lower blood cholesterol level
The leaves of Senna alata can be made into a tea or coffee and taken to clear bad choleaterol feom the body. According to a scientific report, the plant leaves were able to significantly reduce total cholesterol level, as wel as triglyceride levels. Non-esterified fatty acid, and hepatic triglyceride levels were also observed to be lowered. This is very important for managing obesity and its complications. The leaf tea can also be made and taken by healthy individuals to keep their blood cholesterol levels at normal. The leaves of perilla plant and physallis angulata leaves may also be combined with Senna alata leaves and taken as tea for synergisyic effects.
Senna alata prevents cancers
One of the many health benefits of Senna alata is the ability to inhibit cancer proliferation. Both the leaves and flowers of candle bush have been shown to have cytotoxicity and antiproliferative effects on both the human breast and colon cancer cell lines. The methanol extracts of the candle bush flowers exhibit potent anticancer properties mediated by suppression of oxidative stress induced protumorigenic and inflammatory signaling pathway causing DNA damage and epithelial cell stress, according to a research study by A. M. salamatullah and colleagues.
The flower of Senna alata is rich in bioactive compounds such as cyclotrisiloxan, β-Sitosterol, thiophene, tocopherol, beta carotene and cyclotrisiloxan derivative compounds. These compounds trigger apoptosis and antiproliferative activities. Another compound, indole −3-carbinol inhibit colon cancer cell proliferation via inhibition of p35 and caspase dependent apoptotic pathway.
It is worthy of note that the studies were conducted using methanol extracts. This means that you would need to make an alcoholic decoction of the plant leaves and flowers if your aim is to treat or manage cancer diseases.
Bush candle possess antiviral properties
The leaves and stem bark of candle bush has been used in traditional medicines to treat viral infections. Some speculations suggests that the plant may be effective against coronavirus. Some traditional usage include the treatment of herpes simplex virus, Dengue virus and others.
The antiviral activity may be linked to the beta-sitosteroid present in the leaves, and some other essential oil.
Senna alata for skin care
Senna alata is best known for skin care treatment. It is beneficial for such skin diseases as rashes, eczema, and mycosis. It can also be used topically as a skin care cream. To do this, the young leaves are squeezed and the juice used to massage the skin. Alternatively, the leaves and dried, gound into fine powdered form and infused in oil or parafin cream. Thereafter, the infused oil or cream can be rubbed on the skin. It can also be infused in a watermelon seed oil for skin protection and to maintain an even body skin tone.
May be used as malaria treatment herb
For a malaria patient, the leaves can be made into a decoction and taken orally to help relieve the patient of malaria symptoms. This malaria healing effect is due to the antiplasmodic potential of the leaf extracts. The antiparasitic properties of bush candle is also employed in the treatment of scabies. Another health benefits of senna or cassia alata is in the treatment of versicolors and ringworm. Senna alata is also used in wound healing and may be applied on wounds alongside other wound healing herbs such as the stem bark of Steculia setigera, Coral tree, ficus platyphylla, and garcinia kola.
Cassia alata skin care treatment
Aside being used in treatment of various skin diseases, the extracts of cassia alata leaves are used in cosmetic and dermatological skin care to prolong skin aging due to oxidation and inflammations. This may be due to the strong antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds present in the leaves of the plant, which may also prevent the burning and tarning effects of UV rays from the sun.
Cassia or senna alata for stomach ulcers
Senna alata has been used traditionally for treating ulcer and stomach pains. However, there are little scientific studies in this regard. The decoction is also taken for worm expulsion and tontreat constiparion. It is therefore recommended that more scimetific studies be carried out on the antiulcer properties of cassia alata and its antiworm properties. However, the leaf juice may be taken along with cabbage juicecabbage juice for both ulcer and constipation treatments.
Cassia alata liver cleanser
Senna leaf decoctions has also been used as liver cleanser. This is due to its storng hepatoprotective effects. This may also be due to the strong antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.
May be used to treat epilepsy
Like Sweet violet, candle bush possess strong anticonvulsant effect, and may be used in the treatment of epilepsy. This anticonvulsant activity may be the blocking GABAergic inhibitors.
Convulsions may be epileptic or non-epileptic, febrile convulsions occur in children between 6 months and 5 years. 9 to 35% of the first crises are complex. Febrile neurological convulsions are the most common neurological problem in pediatrics, affecting approximately 3% of the world’s infant population.
Senna alata is beneficial for insomnia
Anxiety disorder, depression and insomnia are serious health conditions that have gained increased incidents, especially of recent due to the Covid-19 economic havoc. However, like corn silk tea, Senna alata leaf tea can be taken to reduce depression and anxiety disorder. It helps reduce insomnia and enables you to enjoy a good sleeping hour. The tea can be taken after dinner and before bed time. This way, you would not stay awake all night looking at the roof.
The health benefits of Senna alata are many. However, so little studies have been conducted on the plant. The plant is also known as cassia alata, and the flowers, leaves and roots are medicinal.
Anandan R, Jayakar B, Manavalan R. Hepatoprotective Activity of the Infusion of the Dried Leaves of Cassia Alata Linn. Biomed. Pharmacol. J.2009;2(1)
Modarresi Chahardehi, Amir & Arsad, Hasni & Ismail, Noor Zafirah & Lim, Vuanghao. (2021). Low cytotoxicity, and antiproliferative activity on cancer cells, of the plant Senna alata (Fabaceae). Revista de Biología Tropical. 69. 10.15517/rbt.v69i1.42144.
Senga P, Mayenda H F, Nzingoula S. Profil des convulsions du nourrisson et du jeune enfant à Brazzaville (Congo). Pédiatrie dans le monde, 1985: 477- 480.