Botanical name: Cassia Alata, Senna Alata
Common name: Gelenggang besar (mal), Empress candle plant, Candle Bush, Carrion Crow Bush, Candlesticks, Seven Golden Candle sticks.
TRIBAL AND HERBAL MEDICINE USES :
The Tikuna Indians of the Amazon prepare a decocotion of the flowers as a purgative and one cup is taken each morning. In Cuba, the plant is named guacamaya francesa and it is used for herpes ulcers and other skin conditions, as a diuretic and as a laxative. In Peruvian herbal medicine systems the plant is called retama and the flowers are prepared in an infusion to treat urinary infections and used to increase urination; the leaves and stems are prepared in a decoction for acaries, herpes ulcers, ringworm, and other skin conditions; and, the root, leaves, wood and flowers are decocted for a remedy against intestinal parasites and hepatitis. Interestingly, the flowers are used as a diuretic (to increase urination), while the leaves are believe to be anti-diuretic. In Brazil, the plant is called guajava or mata-pasto. An infusion of the bark and roots is used for hydropsy, skin erruptions and fever. The leaves are considered an ememmagogue and diuretic and are prepared in extracts or capsules for liver problems, anemia, dyspepsia, menstrual problems, and high fevers. The leaves are juiced and mixed with lemon juice and applied to the skin for dematitis and taken internally for syphilis.
Fruit: Black pod with two broad wings; seeds small square and rattle in the pod when ripe.
Flowers: Buds covered with orange bracts which fall off when the flower opens.
Traditional medicinal uses: Leaves or sap are used to treat fungal infections such as ringworm. They contain a fungicide, chrysophanic acid. Because of its anti-fungal properties, it is a common ingredient in soaps, shampoos and lotions in the Philippines. The effectiveness of this plant against skin diseases is confirmed by modern scientific studies.
fruit pods- Other chemicals contained in the plant includes saponin which acts as a laxative and expels intestinal parasites. In Africa, the boiled leaves are used to treat high-blood pressure. In South America, besides skin diseases, it is also used to treat a wide range of ailments from stomach problems, fever, asthma to snake bite and venereal diseases (syphilis, gonorrhoea).