Heat Clearing Herbs to Clear Heat and Purge Fire

  




Cassia Seed 

 
Latin: Semen Cassiae
 
Origin:
Cassia seed is the ripe seed of the annual plant Cassia obtusifolia Linn., or Cassia tora Linn., of the Leguminosae/Fabaceae family. The plant is native to the tropics. In China, it is mainly produced in Anhui, Guangxi, Sichuan and Guangdong provinces, with cultivated species grown throughout the country.

This is an upright plant with compound leaves in groupings of six. Bears 20-cm pods which contain many cylindrical seeds. In addition to being used as medicinal herbs, the seeds are also used as a mordant in dyeing. They can also be roasted and ground, used as a coffee substitute.

Cultivation of the plant is easy. Sow seed in the greenhouse in very early spring for a head start, or sow directly in the garden after the soil has warmed up. Thin or transplant to 60 cm apart. Flowers to 1.5 m tall.

It is picked and reaped in autumn, dried in the sun with the seed threshed off for use when raw or after being fried.

Also called Sickle Senna Seed, Oriental Senna Seed.
 
Properties:
Sweet, bitter and salty in flavor, slightly cold in nature, it is related to the liver, kidney and large intestine channels.
 
Functions:
The seeds remove intense heat from the liver, improve acuity of sight and loosen the bowels to relieve constipation.

The leaves contain anthroquinones, and are employed in weak decoction for treating childhood teething, fever and constipation.

The paste of the ground, dried root is used in Ayurveda as a treatment for ringworm and snakebite.
 
Applications:
1. Used for conjunctival congestion and blurred vision:

Being so bitter and cold as to purge heat and so sweet and salty as to replenish yin (body fluids), this herb can not only clear and purge fire from the liver, but also nourish the liver and the kidneys. As the liver has its orifices open on the eyes and the pupils correspond to the kidneys, this herb is excellent for the improvement of eyesight and can be used for eye ailments of both the excess and deficiency types. It is often used together with self-heal spica (Spica Prunellae), cape jasmine fruit (Fructus Gardeniae), etc., for conjunctivitis (inflammation of the conjunctiva, the mucous membrane that lines the inner surface of the eyelids and is continued over the forepart of the eyeball) and photophobia, or intolerance to light, due to fire of excess types in the liver channel.

It is also often used together with chrysanthemum, mulberry leaves, etc., for headache with conjunctival congestion due to upward attacks of pathogenic wind-heat. It is frequently used together with milk vetch seed (Semen Astragali Complanati), etc., for blurred vision due to yin deficiency of the liver and kidneys.

2. Used for constipation due to intestinal dryness:

With its cool and moistening properties, this herb can clear heat from the bowels and loosen them to relieve constipation. It is often used with hemp seed, Mongolian snake gourd seed (Semen Trichosanthis), etc., for constipation due to interior heat and intestinal dryness.

In addition, Ju Ming Jiang Ya Pian made from this herb in combination with chrysanthemum has a certain curative effect on high blood pressure, and sickle senna seed decoction, syrup and tablets are effective for hyperlipemia, the presence of excess fat or lipids in the blood.
 
Dosage and Administration:
6-12 g.

Decoct the ingredients for drinking. They should not be decocted for a long time if it is to be used to relieve constipation.
 
Cautions on Use:
Cassia seed should be avoided by anyone who has qi (energy) deficiency with loose stools.
 
Reference Materials:
Shen Nong's Herbal Classic : "It is indicated for blindness, xenophthalmia, phlyctenular kerato-conjunctivitis and conjunctival congestion. The vision can be improved considerably by taking this herb for a long time."

Research and Collection of Materia Medica : "Being salty in taste to promote blood circulation and cold in nature to treat heat syndromes, cassia seed treats ailments due to the impairment of the blood system by heat such as blindness, phlyctenular kerato-conjunctivitis, hyperdacryosis, etc., but it is not suitable for eye diseases due to the impairment of the qi system and pathogenic wind-cold."
 
Toxic or Side Effects:
 
Modern Researches:
The fresh seed of this plant contains emodin, chrysophanol, physcion, obtusin, obtusifolin, chryso-obtusin, aurantio-obtusin, retinoic acid, etc., as well as cassiaside; it also contains mucilage, protein, sitosterol, amino acids, fatty oil, vitamin A, and so on.

The anthra-glucoside it contains has a laxative effect. It can also contract the uterus. Cassia seed water infusion can inhibit dermatomyces, while its alcohol infusion can inhibit staphylococcus, bacillus diphtheriae, bacillus coli, typhoid and paratyphoid bacillus.
 
 
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