Cassia tora

Chinese Name: Jiu ming zi
Medical Name: Semen Cassiae
Latin Name: Cassia tora L., an annual plant, of the Leguminosae family
Origin: Ripe seed, sundried
Taste: Sweet, bitter and salty in flavor

Quotes from Chinese historical sources

THE HERBAL CLASSIC OF SHEN-NONG: "It is indicated in cases of blindness, xenophthalmia, and conjunctivitis. The vision can be improved considerably by taking this herb for a long time."

COLLECTED RESEARCH ON THE MATERIA MEDICA: "Salty in taste, it promotes blood circulation, and its cold nature makes it effective in the treatment of heat syndromes. Cassia seed treats ailments due to the impairment of the blood system by heat such as blindness, conjunctivitis, hyperdacryosis, and others. However, it is not suitable for eye diseases resulting from impairment of the qi system and from pathogenic wind-cold."

Western Research

Life Sci. 2004 Nov 19;76(1):85-101.
Antigenotoxic properties of Cassia tea (Cassia tora L.): mechanism of action and the influence of roasting process
Wu CH, Yen GC.
Department of Food Science, National Chung Hsing University, 250 Kuokuang, Road, Taichung 40227, Taiwan.
Antigenotoxic properties and the possible mechanisms of water extracts from Cassia tora L. (WECT) treated with different degrees of roasting (unroasted and roasted at 150 and 250 degrees C) were evaluated by the Ames Salmonella/microsome test and the Comet assay. Results indicated that WECT, especially unroasted C. tora (WEUCT), markedly suppressed the mutagenicity of 2-amino-6- methyldipyrido(1,2-a:3':2'-d) imidazole (Glu-P-1) and 3-amino-1, 4-dimethyl-5H-pyrido (4,3-b)indole (Trp-P-1). In the Comet assay performed on human lymphocytes, WECT exhibited significant protective effect on Trp-P-1-mediated DNA damage followed the order of unroasted (55%) > roasted at 150 degrees C (42% ) > roasted at 250 degrees C (29%). Pre-treatment of the lymphocytes with WEUCT resulted in 30% repression of DNA damage. However, no significant effect on excision-repair system was found during DNA damage expression time in post-treatment scheme (p>0.05). WEUCT showed 84% scavenging effect on oxygen free radicals generated in the activation process of mutagen detected by electron paramagentic resonance system. Two possible mechanisms were considered: (1) neutralization the reactive intermediate of Trp-P-1; and (2) protecting cells directly as an antioxidant that scavenge the oxygen radicals from the activation process of mutagen. The individual anthraquinone content in extracts of C. tora was measured by HPLC. Three anthraquinones, chrysophanol, emodin and rhein, have been detected under experimental conditions. The anthraquinone content decreased with increased roasting temperature. Each of these anthraquinones demonstrated significant antigenotoxicity against Trp-P-1 in the Comet assay. In conclusion, our data suggest that the decrease in antigenotoxic potency of roasted C. tora was related to the reduction in their anthraquinones.

J Agric Food Chem 2001 May;49(5):2579-86
Inhibitory effects of Cassia tora L. on benzo[a]pyrene-mediated DNA damage toward HepG2 cells.
Wu CH, Hsieh CL, Song TY, Yen GC.
Department of Food Science, National Chung Hsing University, 250 Kuokuang Road, Taichung 40227, Taiwan, Republic of China.
The effect of water extracts from Cassia tora L. (WECT) were tested for their effects on DNA damage in human hepatoma cell line HepG2. DNA damage in HepG2 cells could be reduced by WECT in a dose-dependent manner.

Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo) 1999 Aug;47(8):1121-7
Phenolic constituents of Cassia seeds and antibacterial effect of some naphthalenes and anthraquinones on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
Hatano T, Uebayashi H, Ito H, Shiota S, Tsuchiya T, Yoshida T.
Department of Pharmacognosy, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Okayama University, Japan.
Thirteen phenolic glycosides including six new compounds were isolated from seeds of Cassia tora (Leguminosae). Among them, torachrysone, toralactone, aloe-emodin, rhein and emodin showed noticeable antibacterial effects on strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. On the other hand, the phenolic compounds tested did not show strong antibacterial effects on E. coli and P. aeruginosa.

Arch Pharm Res 1994 Dec;17(6):462-6
Alaternin, cassiaside and rubrofusarin gentiobioside, radical scavenging principles from the seeds of Cassia tora on 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radical.
Choi JS, Lee HJ, Kang SS.
Dept. of Nutrition and Food Science, National Fisheries University of Pusan, Korea.
Radical scavenging principles on 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl(DPPH) radical were isolated from the seeds of Cassia tora L. Assignments of the 1H- and 13C-NMR data showed the active components to be an anthraquinone, alaternin and two naphthopyrone glycosides, nor-rubrofusarin-6-beta-D-glucoside(cassiaside) and rubrofusarin-6- -D-gentiobioside. Alaternin showed more potent radical scavenging effect than the others.

Planta Med 1997 Feb;63(1):11-4
In vitro antimutagenic effects of anthraquinone aglycones and naphthopyrone glycosides from Cassia tora.
Choi JS, Lee HJ, Park KY, Ha JO, Kang SS.
Department of Food and Life Science, National Fisheries University of Pusan, Korea.
The antimutagenic activity of a methanol extract of Cassia tora seeds against aflatoxin B1(AFB1) was demonstrated. Column chromatography using silica gel yielded pure chrysophanol, chryso-obtusin, and aurantio-obtusin from the CH2Cl2 fraction and cassiaside and rubro-fusarin gentiobioside from the n-BuOH fraction. Each of these compounds demonstrated significant antimutagenic activity.