Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Witches' Brew: Cassia

The research on cassia has been interesting because I have discovered that a lot of the things attributed to cassia may not be exactly true. This is because there are hundreds of different types of cassia. Therefore quite often research done on one variety is then attributed to a different species which leads to a very very confused scientist. (Analogy a lion is a cat and a tiger is a cat too; but a lion is most definitely not a tiger). Good news or bad news first? Good news is that cassia has been used for centuries and has a long record in alternative medicine and witchcraft (the healing kind lol). The bad news is that the knowledge of which plant or part of the plant seems sketchy in science. Sometimes people talk about the leaves or the flowers or the bark or the whole plant.................yes, I was quite frustrated with this research. However, I did say I was going to research it so I persisted and here's what I have: 1. Whole plant extracts from cassia obovata (hair dye) has been shown to reduce swelling (or inflammation) in rats ( Journal of Ethnopharmacology, pg 135 -142, 1997) 2. Extracts from the bark of cassia Blume have been shown to stimulate hair growth - interestingly the same extract is found in grape seeds ( Food and Chemical Toxicology pg 545-552, 1999) 3. Extracts from the seeds cassia tora and cassia obtusifolia have been shown to be useful in hair conditioning (Journal of Cosmetic Science, pg 637 -650, 2007) 4. Extracts from the leaves of cassia alata have antibacterial potential ( Planta Medica, pg 1802-1805, 2008) 5. Extracts from cassia tora have been used as an antifungal treatment (Lloydia - The Journal of Natural Products, pg 218-220, 1975 ). Unfortunately what I cannot tell you is exactly how cassia would bind to hair or if it does at all. I haven't found a study to support the widespread theory that chyrosphanic acid in cassia obovata binds to hair. However, it is a good theory nonetheless given it is a yellow acid and cassia tends to weakly stain yellow. As you can see from above, different cassia species have been shown to be quite potent. I cannot tell you if cassia obovata also carries these properties as the research is not directly on the obovata species. I am guessing that there are some really well educated 'witch-doctors' and herbalists in Africa, China and South America who will have in depth knowledge on which form of cassia to use for which condition. I think if scientists spent sometime with traditional medicine, we would advance further than we think possible. An excellent example of this is the 'new' appetite suppressant Hoodia which was discovered and used for centuries by the San Bushmen of Namibia. Image credit


  1. I think if scientists spent sometime with traditional medicine, we would advance further than we think possible.I couldn't agree with you more on this!

  2. thanks for posting your research on cassia!!! fascinating! i noticed the same thing about the different types of cassia as i did some research (it wasn't this much-lol). but the literature wasn't as convincing as henna. the antibacterial/antifungal properties were promising so i thought about using it instead of henna for a while since i didn't want henna to alter my color too much. but i also want to know if it binds to hair.

    since i'm haitian i grew up with the concept of herbs, teas and the like and in a very positive way. i have seen what herbs can do and i really respect those type of healers that you mentioned. they have taught me a lot. hoodia is an excellent example of this! thanks for bringing that up. i'm sure many people use it for weight loss since it's "popular" and don't know the origins. there are different types of hoodia too. supposedly the species hoodia gordonii is the best so now you have advertisers fighting over who's is the best now. lol

  3. oooo, this is so interesting!!! i hope i have the right brand! i'm going to go look and see if i have the one that helps.

    i got it from, a pretty reputable site. so hopefully they gave me the right one.

  4. ''I think if scientists spent sometime with traditional medicine, we would advance further than we think possible ''

    You're so right. There are so many herbal properties that are being thought from generation to generation and it seem like they are not fonding much researches to confirm this knowledges or bust the myth. How come coconut oil has being proven beneficial only recently ?

    (I left a question on your post about mineral oils on april 17th LOL. Any idea what the answer might be ? )
    thank you

  5. Thanks for reminding me Kadiane!

  6. this is awesome info -- i followed you from bglh and i will be subscribing!!


  7. Thanks Lina - BGLH is fab!


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