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Botanical Name: Cassia Augustifolia
Popular Name(s): Senna, Indian Senna, Tinnervelly Senna, Cassia Senna, Locust Plant, Rajavriksha
Parts Used: Pods, Stems and Leaves
Habitat: Cultivated in dry lands of Southern & Western India, Burma and indigenous to Arabia.
Genus Species: Cassia senna or Cinnamonum cassia
Cultivated: Hot wet tropics of China, Indochina, East and West Indies, and Central America
Cassia is an aromatic bark, similar to cinnamon, but differing in strength and quality. Cassia bark is darker, thicker and coarser, and the corky outer bark is often left on. The outer surface is rough and grayish brown, the inside bark is smoother and reddish-brown. Cassia is less costly than cinnamon and is often sold ground as cinnamon. When buying as sticks, cinnamon rolls into a single quill while cassia is rolled from both sides toward the centre so that they end up resembling scrolls.
The leaves, known as tejpat in Nepali, Tejpatta in Hindi, Tejpat in Assamese and Tamalpatra in Marathi and in original Sanskrit, are used extensively in the cuisines of India, Nepal, and Bhutan, particularly in the Moghul cuisine of North India and Nepal and in Tsheringma herbal tea in Bhutan. It is called Biryani Aaku or Bagharakku in Telugu. They are often erroneously labeled as “Indian bay leaves,” though the bay leaf is from the Bay Laurel, a tree of Mediterranean origin in a different genus, and the appearance and aroma of the two are quite different. Bay leaves are shorter and light to medium green in color, with one large vein down the length of the leaf;photo while tejpat are about twice as long and wider than laurel leaves. They are usually olive green in color, may have some brownish spots and have three veins down the length of the leaf.photo True tejpat leaves impart a strong cassia- or cinnamon-like aroma to dishes, while the bay leaf’s aroma is more reminiscent of pine and lemon. Indian grocery stores usually carry true tejpat leaves. Some grocers may only offer Turkish bay leaves, in regions where true tejpat is unavailable.
Cassia buds resemble cloves. They are the dried unripe fruits about 14 mm (1/2 in) long and half as wide. It is native to Burma and grown in China, Indo-China, the East and West Indies and Central America. Cassia is called kwei in the earliest Chinese herbal by Shen-nung (2700 B.C.). It reached Europe in classical times with Arabian and Phoenician traders and the buds were known in Europe in the Middle Ages.
There are many varieties of cassia, including:
Chinese cassia (Cinnamomum cassia) or cassia, is from Burma and South China, coming in quills or rolled. This variety is also the source of cassia buds.
Indian cassia (Cinnamomum tamala) is native to India where its leaves are also used as an herb (tejpat).
Indonesian cassia (Cinnamomum burmanni) or Padang cassia has a smoother bark and double quills. This is usually the cassia that is imported to North America.
Saigon cassia (Cinnamomum loureirii) is native to Indonesia and is also grown in Japan and Korea.
Oliverâ’s Bark (Cinnamomum oliveri) is an Australian substitute of cassia and cinnamon.
Mossoia Bark (Cinnamomum) is an inferior substitute for cassia and cinnamon from Papua New Guinea.
Bouquet: The buds have a slight aroma. the bark is sweet-spicy like cinnamon, but more pungent.
Flavour: The bark and the buds have similar flavours: warm, sweet and pungent.
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Cassia is the name given to the bark of several trees such as Cinnamonum cassia, C. aromatium, C. loureirii, C. burmannii, etc. These varieties have a wide distribution, but in ancient trade cassia used to come mainly from China, hence the name Chinese cinnamon or bastard cinnamon. The bark is coarser than that of true cinnamon, and the taste is more astringent and harsh, although a variety C. burmannii from Indonesia is similar to the Sri Lanka product.
Cassia is more widely used today than is cinnamon, although most people are unfamiliar with the name cassia; moreover, the word can be confused with Cassia angustifolia â€“ a very different plant, namely senna! Cassia as a spice is favored by the Chinese for incorporation in Five Spice Powder (along with Szechuan pepper, cloves, fennel and star anise). Cassia leaves (tejpat) are currently used as a spice in Indian cooking, while cassia leaves and buds were a favored import (with the name malabathrum) in ancient Rome and also during the Middle Ages. See a list of spices by Taste and Hotness.
Useful Parts :The spice in the case of both cinnamon and cassia come from bark of the plants.
Medicinal Properties:It is useful in habitual costiveness. It lowers bowels, increases peristaltic movements of the colon by its local action upon the intestinal wall.
Cinnamon and cassia extracts have been used medically to treat gastrointestinal problems and as a specific for diarrhea, but their value is marginal. Their use as antimicrobials is of limited relevance, and it is dubious if the presence of cinnamon or cassia in cooked foods retards spoilage if left unrefrigerated in a tropical climate. Nevertheless, cinnamon along with many other spices has antibacterial properties that may be worth exploiting.
The properties of cassia and cassia oil are similar to those of cinnamon and comprised largely of cinnamaldehyde.. Cassia is a tonic, carminative and stimulant. It is used to treat nausea and flatulence. It is also used alone or in combination to treat diarrhea.
Cassia (called rÃ²u gÃ¹i; è‚‰æ¡‚ in Chinese) is used in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is considered one of the 50 fundamental herbs.
A 2003 study published in the DiabetesCare journal followed Type 2 diabetics ingesting 1, 3 or 6 grams of cassia daily. Those taking 6 grams shows changes after 20 days, and those taking lesser doses showed changes after 40 days. Regardless of the amount of cassia taken, they reduced their mean fasting serum glucose levels 18â€“29%, their triglyceride levels 23â€“30%, their LDL cholesterol 7â€“27%, and their total cholesterol 12â€“26%, over others taking placebos.
The effects, which may even be produced by brewing a tea from cassia bark, may also be beneficial for non-diabetics to prevent and control elevated glucose and blood lipid levels. Cassia’s effects on enhancing insulin sensitivity appear to be mediated by polyphenols . Despite these findings, cassia should not be used in place of anti-diabetic drugs, unless blood glucose levels are closely monitored and its use is combined with a strictly controlled diet and exercise program.
There is also much anecdotal evidence that consumption of cassia has a strong effect in lowering blood pressure, making it potentially useful to those suffering from hypertension. The USDA has three ongoing studies that are monitoring the blood pressure effect.
Though the spice has been used for thousands of years, there is concern that there is as yet no knowledge about the potential for toxic buildup of the fat-soluble components in cassia, as anything fat-soluble could potentially be subject to toxic buildup. There are no concluded long term clinical studies on the use of cassia for health reasons.
Historical View : The properties of cassia are similar to those of cinnamon; but it is commonly regarded as somewhat more astringent. Its uses are the same as those of cinnamon.
Bentley, Robert and Henry Trimen. Medicinal Plants; being descriptions with original figures of the principal plants employed in medicine and an account of the characters, properties, and uses of their parts and products of medicinal value. London, Churchill, 1880. (WZ 295 B556m 1880)
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
www.theepicentre.com and en.wikipedia.org