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Herbal Medicine Trail in Gunjur

My Magazine 2023/06
5 min
Author: Ahmed Manjang
Traditional herbal medicines are naturally occurring, plant-derived phytochemicals with minimal or no industrial processing that have been used to treat illness within local of regional healing practices. Medicinal plant is any plant which, in one or more of its organs, contains substance that can be used for therapeutic purposes. Such a plant will have its parts including leaves, roots, rhizomes, stems, barks, flowers, fruits, grains or seeds, employed in the control or treatment of a disease conditions and therefore, contains chemicals components that are medically active, these non-nutrient plants chemical compounds or bioactive components are often referred to as phytochemicals. They act as natural defence system for host plants and provide colour, aroma and flavour. Phytochemicals are protective and disease-preventing particularly for some form of cancer and heart disease.
. The study of natural products, on the other hand, is called photochemistry. Certain phytochemical from fruits such as grapes and apples, vegetables such as broccoli and onion, spices such as turmeric and beverages such as green tea and red wine, as well as many other sources have been isolated and characterised. 
Traditional herbal medicines are getting significant attention in global health debates.  In recent years in china, traditional herbal medicine played a dominant role in the strategy to contain and treat severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Eighty percent of African populations use some form of traditional herbal medicine and the worldwide annual market for these products approaches US$ 60 billion. Many hope traditional herbal medicine will play a critical role in global health. China, india, Nigeria, the united states of America (USA) and WHO have all made substantial research investments in traditional herbal medicines. Industries have also invested millions of US Dollars looking for promising medicinal herbs and novel chemical compounds. This is still a relatively modest investment compare to the overall pharmaceutical industry; however, it raises interesting ethical questions, some of which are not faced in more convectional drug development. In this article I discussed one of the most vasatile and widely used herbal medicine; Cassia occidentilis commonly known as CASALA in my community.
Cassia occidentalis (Leguminosae), family, caesalpainiacea plant has been widely used in indigenous and folklore medicine system. In India, folkloric medicine the plant has been documented as thermogenic, purgative, expectorant, diuretic, and used in the treatment of erysipelas, leprosy, ulcer, cough, bronchitis, constipation, flatulence, dyspepsia, menstrual problems, tuberculosis, and anaemia (1). There are also reports about it's immunosuppressive, anti-inflammatory, antimutagenic, antibacterial, antidermatophyte, anti-fertility, antiplasmodial, antimalarial and antidiabetic (2–9). The leave extract has been reported to repair, normalise and protect the liver functions. Phytochemical screening of the plant showed the presence of carbohydrates, saponins, sterols, flavonoids, resins, alkaloids, terpenes, anthraquinones, glycosides and balsam. Presence of these primary and secondary metabolites strongly affirmed the great medicinal potential of the plant. Flavonoids are present in the plant and might be responsible for the anti-inflammatory effect properties (3,9). Folkloric Chinese medicine contains flavonoids which have an anti-inflammatory effect on both acute and chronic inflammation. Alkaloids had been shown to decrease high blood pressure, balancing the nervous during mental illness and antimalarial properties (3). Tannins are known for wound healing and anti-parasite.  Presence of terpenes suggests possessing anti-tumour and anti-viral properties (2,9).  Leaves and bark infusion of C. occidentalis are given in diabetes and was found to be very useful as antihyperglycemic agent (8,10). There is no research has been reported on the seeds of this plant. In spite of extensive therapeutic effects of C. occidentalis, very little is known about the antiproliferative effects of this plant and their detailed mechanism of action, motivate us to add on to the list of plants to investigate the anticancer and cytotoxic properties (9).

This amazing plant, and many more, can be explored in Gunjur's Bolong Fenyo Nature Reserve. Contact us if you are interested in walking the herbal trails of Gunjur.

1. Madhulika Bhagat AKS. Evaluation of Cassia occidentalis for in vitro cytotoxicity against human cancer cell lines and antibacterial activity. 

2. Silva MGB, Aragão TP, Vasconcelos CFB, Ferreira PA, Andrade BA, Costa IMA, et al. Acute and subacute toxicity of Cassia occidentalis L. stem and leaf in Wistar rats. J Ethnopharmacol [Internet]. 2011 Jun;136(2):341–6. Available from:


4. Vedpriya Arya, Sanjay Yadav, Sandeep Kumar JY. Antimicrobial Activity of Cassia occidentalis L (Leaf) against various Human Pathogenic Microbes. 

5. Chukwujekwu JC, Coombes PH, Mulholland DA, van Staden J. Emodin, an antibacterial anthraquinone from the roots of Cassia occidentalis. South African J Bot. 2006;72(2):295–7. 

6. Lombardo M, Kiyota S, Kato ETM, Mathor MB, Pinto TDJA, Kaneko TM. Evaluation of in vitro biological properties of Senna occidentalis (L.) Link. Acta Sci Biol Sci [Internet]. 2015 Mar 10;37(1):9. Available from:

7. Gali Adamu Ishaku1, Abudulhamid Abdulrahman Arabo1, 4 EEB, Godwin4 AAUMU and E-U. Physicochemical Characterization and Antibacterial Activity of Senna occidentalis Linn. 

8. Sharma S, Choudhary M, Bhardwaj S, Choudhary N, Rana AC. Hypoglycemic potential of alcoholic root extract of Cassia occidentalis Linn. in streptozotocin-induced diabetes in albino mice. Bull Fac Pharmacy, Cairo Univ [Internet]. 2014 Dec;52(2):211–7. Available from:

9. Shruti KNV and N. Comparative Cytotoxic Potentials of the seeds and leaves of Cassia occidentalis on HeLa cell line. 



Ahmed Manjang
Senior lecturer, Medical Microbiology at The University of The Gambia, also Principal Medical Microbiology Lab Scientist at Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital.

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