Senna alata (L.) Roxbury
Family: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Common names: candle bush, ringworm cassia, ringworm shrub, wild senna, craw-craw plant, ogaru– Igbo; asuwon oyibo – Yoruba. Synonym – Cassia alata.
Senna alata is an erect shrub with a height of 3-4 m, which is distributed in the tropical and humid regions. The pinnately compound leaves are oblong and composed of 6-12 pairs of leaflets. They have a rounded tip with a slight indentation in the middle. Flowers have bright yellow colors and are arranged in a vertical column and bloom from the base of the column.
Parts used- leaves, flowers, and roots.
Phytochemical analysis has shown that the plant contains phenolics (rhein, chrysophanol, kaempferol, aloe emodin, and glycosides), anthraquinones (alatinone and alatonal), fatty acids (oleic, palmitic, and linoleic acids), steroids, and terpenoids (sitosterol, stigmasterol, and campesterol), alkaloids, flavonoids, saponins, and tannins. These chemicals attribute to its anti-oxidant, anti diabetic, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-poison, antispasmodic, emollient, anticonvulsant, anthelmintic, laxative, dermatophytic, antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral, anti poison, wound healing, diuretic, carminative, hepatoprotective, and antihyperlipidemic properties.
Traditional applications of the plant are as follows:
For skin afflictions – fresh crushed leaves are used in treating ringworm, scabies, blotch, eczema, skin rashes, mycosis, and dermatitis.
Application: Apply juice of leaves topically. You can also macerate a handful of the fresh leaves with little salt in water. Then, apply the poultice on affected parts of the body and allow it to stay on the body for 15 minutes before washing off. This is very effective even in chronic conditions. Do this daily for seven days, and your good skin will bounce back. No wonder the chemical extracts from the species are commonly used as ingredients in herbal soaps, shampoos, creams, oils, and lotions. You can formulate yours – for example, the dried leaves can be processed into a super antiseptic herbal soap. Happy experimenting!
Fast wound healing: leaf extracts of the species have shown to facilitate wound closure and tissue repair.
Application: Leaves are prepared in an ointment and applied for fast wound recovery. Applying this 2 X daily for 14 days would decrease the wound surface. Stem and root decoctions can also be used for the treatment of wounds.
Skin glow and complexion: taking senna internally will help you achieve a beautiful skin glow inside out.
Application: Drink a teacup daily for blood cleansing while herbal body wash prepared with fresh or dried leaves and flowers would make a great complexion enhancer. Also, bathing powder can be made into paste with water, applied gently for about two minutes, and washed off. Do this weekly for improved skin softness and youthfulness.
Hair treatment- patent applications have been made using wild senna for the treatments of hair loss. The species features in many herbal hair oils and products used to treat chronic dandruff and hair breakage.
Regulates uterine disorders- wild senna has given many women suffering from several uterine issues hope. Formulations with the plant have recorded positive results with blocked tubes, irregular menstruation, anovulatory circles, fibroids, ovarian cysts, and other infertility issues.
Application: Decoction of fresh tender leaves of wild senna singly or in combination with other herbs like citrullus colocynthis (bitter melon), nettle and cloves plus a little medicinal potash is given in cases of such uterine listed above.
Take 100 ml once a day or 3 X weekly. Note that this combo is laxative. Consult a qualified practitioner for the best recommendation.
Indigestion, constipation and piles: flowers are mildly purgative and help loosen the bowels to relieve habitual constipation, and piles. The powdered leaves and flowers are also often used as a laxative agent and are very helpful in alleviating indigestion. The fresh leaves can also be drunk to relieve constipation. This should also be taken with caution.
Application: Take 1 Tsp as infusion or, together with plain pap and you would soon be waving goodbye to hard stools, painful bowel movement, bleeding, and stomach bloating.
For sexually transmitted diseases– the plant has been reported to be a good cure for gonorrhoea, syphilis, and other infections.
Application: Leaves and roots are boiled with little salt under moderate heat for 45 minutes. Take 60 – 100 ml 2 X daily.
Powdered flowers with a pinch of potash taken with hot pap or water will get rid of erectile dysfunction, boost sperm count, and cure Impotency.
Weak muscles and impure blood: Its leaf powder proves useful in toning up heart muscles, nerves, and purifying blood. The juice from the leaves is also used as antidotes in various poisonings and in maintaining the normal cholesterol levels in the blood.
Application: A handful of leaves are infused in 1L of hot water. Take 1 standard teacup 2 X daily.
For de-worming – traditionally, leaf and flower decoctions of the plant are used in the treatment of intestinal worm infestation and stomach disorder.