Cassiae Semen: A comprehensive review of botany, traditional use, phytochemistry, pharmacology, toxicity, and quality control

J Ethnopharmacol. 2023 Apr 24:306:116199. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2023.116199. Epub 2023 Jan 23.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Cassiae Semen, belonging to the family Leguminosae, is derived from the dry mature seeds of Cassia obtusifolia L. or Cassia tora L. and has long been used as a laxative, hepatoprotective, improve eyesight, and antidiabetic complications medicine or functional food in Asia.

Aims of the review: This review summarizes the integrated research progress of botany, traditional uses, phytochemistry, pharmacology, toxicity, and quality control of Cassiae Semen. Additionally, the emerging challenges and possible developing directions are discussed as well.

Materials and methods: The information on Cassiae Semen was collected from published scientific materials, including ancient books of traditional Chinese Medicine; Ph.D. and M. Sc. dissertations; monographs on medicinal plants; pharmacopoeia of various countries and electronic databases, such as PubMed, Web of Science, ACS, Science Direct, J-STAGE, Springer link, Taylor, CNKI and Google Scholar, etc. RESULTS: First, the traditional uses and plant origins of Cassiae Semen are outlined. Secondly, approximately 137 compounds, including anthraquinones, naphthopyranones, naphthalenes, flavones, polysaccharides and other compounds, have been isolated and identified from Cassia obtusifolia L. and Cassia tora L. Third, the pharmacological activities and mechanisms of crude extract of Cassiae Semen and its main bioactive compounds are summarized. Moreover, the processing, toxicity, and quality control are introduced briefly.

Conclusions: Cassiae Semen is a frequently used Chinese Materia Medica with pharmacological effects that mainly affect the digestive system, cardiovascular systems and nervous system. This review summarized its botany, traditional uses, phytochemistry, and pharmacology, it also exhibited recent scientific research advances and gaps, which provide a deeper insight into the understanding and application of Cassiae Semen. In future research on Cassiae Semen, more attention should be given to the pharmacological activities of naphthopyranones and polysaccharides and the mechanism of action for improving eye diseases. Meanwhile, it is essential to focus on strengthening the study on the pharmacokinetics research and the safety evaluation of related health products research.

Keywords: Cassia obtusifolia; Cassia tora; Cassiae Semen; Pharmacology; Phytochemistry; Quality control; Toxicology; Traditional uses.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Botany*
  • Ethnopharmacology
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional
  • Phytochemicals / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plants, Medicinal* / chemistry
  • Quality Control
  • Seeds
  • Senna Plant*


  • Phytochemicals
  • Plant Extracts