Sunday, October 01, 2006

curing Fungal infections of the skin
(Superficial Mycoses) with Cassia alata leaves.

Prof. Dr.S.Damodaran Ph.d ,
Tamilnadu, India..

Superficial mycoses- Pityriasis versicolor, Tinea corporis,Tinea cruris,and Tinea pedis.
Excerpts from the doctoral thesis submitted to Dept of Pharmacology and Environmental Toxicology, Dr. A. L. Mudaliar Post – Graduate Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Madras, Taramani campus, Chennai, India.600113.May 1997 and from Journal of Ethnopharmacology 42 [1994] 19-23 by Damodaran and Venkataraman © 1994.All rights reserved. [ pubmed 8046939 ]

The existing medicines in the treatment of superficial fungal infections have limited therapeutic spectrum and cause several side effects besides the cost factor. Many medicinal plants have a potential role in the treatment of fungal infections. Cassia alata is one such a plant and can be used in the treatment of superficial mycoses. This information is the result of twenty five years of research and is presented here by the author for the welfare of the mankind and should not be used for commercial purposes.

Cassia alata, Linn., is used in the Indian system of medicine namely Ayurveda, siddha and unani. belongs to the family Caesalpiniaceae, R.Br. and is distributed mainly in tropics and subtropics.
Sans. - Dadrughna. Eng. - Ringworm shrub. Hind. & Ben. - Dadmurdan; Dadmari. Mah. - Dadamardana. Tel. - Sheemaavisi; Sima avisl; Mettatamara. Tam. - Vendukolli; sheemai-agatti. Mal. - Seemagati. Can. - Sheemigida; Agase-gida. Kon. - Daddupana. Duk. - Dad-ka-patta;
Vilayati-agati. Burm. - Maizali-gi. view the plant for  full details, through my picasa web this link

Understanding pityriasis versicolor : Fungal infection caused by a fungus Malassezia furfur.Complete removal is very difficult but easy to make it invisible.The area of the infection is topmost layer of the skin,characterised by spots [macules]that range from small to geographical map of an atlas.The macules or spots may be more pigmented [hyperpigmented]or less pigmented [hypopigmented]Treatments result in the gradual disappearance of macules ,and restoration of a healthy skin which may be very slow.
ONETIME application of Cassia alata leaf extract over the infected regions  will  be enough to get rid of pityriasis versicolor for a maximum period of nine months.This establishes the therapeutic supremacy of
Cassia alata leaf extract over the existing medicines. It is to be noted that permanent cure of the pityriasis versicolor infection is a very difficult and time consuming process.

Drugs currently used in the treatment of pityriasis versicolor are many with diversified chemical structures. Local application of solutions containing Selenium sulphide, Sodium hyposulphite, Tolnaftate, Alcoholic solution of iodine, Propylene glycol, Zinc pyrithione, Acrisorcin and Whitefield's ointment is practiced for various lengths of time for the treatment of pityriasis versicolor. An oral antifungal agent Ketoconazole is also prescribed for several months and the disease may recur in 6-12 months.
Three factors are taken into consideration in the treatment of pityriasis versicolor with Cassia alata leaf extract.
i. Concentration of medicinal compounds in plants and consequently their therapeutic efficacy varies according to source and handling, the part of the plant, the age of the plant and ecological factors such as neighboring plant species, seasonality, diurnal changes in light, climatic and soil conditions . These factors play a major role in the synthesis and retention of medicinal compounds in the leaves of Cassia alata.
ii. Although the architecture of the skin is the same in all humans, individuals vary in skin characteristics. These factors include age, sex, genetics, occupation, race, intensity of melanin and location such as face, neck and trunk.iii. Pityriasis versicolor is a chronic fungal infection and requires long term therapy. Patients have two choices. Either to eliminate it once for all or can be free from pityriasis versicolor for some time and delay the recurrence, both require strict compliance.
A patient has to acquire enough knowledge regarding the above three factors by careful observations after each application.

One hundred grams of fresh ,young orange green healthy leaflets collected from the leaves of CASSIA ALATA must be washed with drinking water .Using 500 ml of drinking water the leaflets must be mashed by hand in a glass vessel or stainless steel vessel for thirty minutes and the leaf extract thus obtained is filtered using [ 100 mesh ] a filter cloth or nylon filter.The filtered leaf extract is treated as 100% concentrated solution.[ hereafter referred as CASSIA ALATA leaf extract.]
Table .1 Different concentrations of Cassia alata leaf extract used at affected parts in the treatment of Pityriasis versicolor (100 gm of fresh leaves/500 ml of water.

Concentration of the leaf extract Areas applied

100% Trunk only
90% Neck and hands
80% Face
The fresh leaf extract is generously applied only once over the affected parts as per Table.1 at bed time [4 hours before sleep] and washed off thoroughly with water in the next morning, without using soap. The effect of application of the extract is given in table.2.
Table 2: Clinical improvement after Cassia alata leaf extract treatment against Pityriasis versicolor on the human skin after one time application
2nd and 3rd day - Mild irritation
4th and 5th day - Mild itching
2nd week -portions of stratum corneum [topmost layer of the skin] peeled off in the areas of macules(infected Regions).  Infected macules begin to disappear.
3rd month Infected regions (macules) appear
as less pigmented (Hypopigmented). Re-pigmentation begins in the hypopigmented zones.

4th to 10th month-Original skin colour is restored without any signs of underlying fungus. Skin appears healthy. (Apply leaf extract to delay the recurrence .Don't wait for the recurrence)
11th to 12th month-Pityriasis versicolor reappears with first signs of macules in the previously infected areas.
Table 3. Comparison of Cassia alata leaf extract with existing medicines in the treatment of Pityriasis versicolor

medicines period of application Side effects
1. Selenium sulphide ) 2-3 times a week and less frequently after improvement. sulphur odour.
2. Propylene glycol (topical) Twice a day for 2-3 weeks3. Sodium thiosulphate (topical)Once a day for several weeks Offensive odour
4. Tolnaftate topical irritation
5. Clotrimazole topical Nightly for 7 days irritation
6. Miconazole topical Twice daily for two weeks
7. Econazole topical
8. Ketoconazole topical
9. Whitfield's ointment Nightly for 7 days irritation
10. Ketoconazole (oral) 200 mg tablets daily ranging from 5days to four weeks.hepatotoxic.
11. Cassia alata leaf extract only once nil .
Therapeutic dose of Cassia alata leaf extract in the treatment of pityriasis versicolor is accompanied by a tolerable irritation on the second day after application, itching on the third day, shedding of stratum corneum in layers over the macules and the disappearance of macules and repigmentation of hypopigmented zones within 3 months. All these indicate the presence of medicines in sufficient concentrations in Cassia alata leaf extract.If irritation and itching are intolerable and the stratum corneum is shed [on application of the extract] even in non infected regions of the skin then the concentration of medicines in Cassia alata leaf extract is more and consequently to be reduced to the next lower concentration in the subsequent applications.
On the contrary, absence of itching and irritation and no-shedding of layers over the macules indicate less concentration of medicines in the extract. Hence the concentration is to be increased to the next ascending order in the subsequent applications.
It is always safer to increase the concentration of Cassia alata leaf extract in the subsequent applications instead of applying higher concentrations in the beginning and experiencing intolerable irritation and itching. Table 2 can be followed for localised infections. Patients with acute infections all over the body have to find out the clinically effective but safe concentration in subsequent applications.The falling of scales from macules followed by the appearance of macules as lesspigmented zones are the first signs of the efficacy of the treatment. The macules remain hypopigmented for three weeks. It has been observed that even with existing antifungal agents, the pigmentation after treatment will take longer time and any attempt to accelerate repigmentation may not be successful. As a result of pigmentation, disappearance of macules takes place throughout the second month and the skin appears healthy from the third month onwards up to the eighth month. From nineth month onwards macules reappear resulting in recurrence. See
Table 2.
Photograph of a patient showing Pityriasis versicolor

infected regions[MACULES] before the application of Cassia alata leaf


Photograph showing the clinical efficacy

of Cassia alata leaf extract on the same

patient after one time application.

[photograph taken after three months from the date of application]
[Author's note.This is my photo as a patient taken during 1980s.Read below " The story behind this blog."
Single application of Cassia alata leaf extract over the infected regions and protecting the individual from recurrence for a maximum period of nine months from pityriasis versicolor establishes the therapeutic supremacy of Cassia alata leaf extract over the existing medicines. It is to be noted that permanent cure of the pityriasis versicolor infection is a very difficult and time consuming process.
RINGWORM INFECTIONS [DERMATOPHYTOSES]These are caused by ringworm fungi or dermatophytes.Traditionally the diseases caused by dermatophytes have been named according to their anatomical location .Tinea capitis (scalp), tinea barbae (beard), tinea corporis (face and trunk), tinea axillaris (armpits), tinea cruris (groin), tinea pedis (feet), tinea manuum (hands) and tinea unguium (nails) ..Tinea corporis [ringworm], tinea cruris [dhobie-itch], tinea pedis [athlete’s foot] are common among the people worldwide.
Microscopic examination of scrapings from the lesions (infected regions) treated in 10% Potassium hydroxide will reveal the presence of the fungus.
Existing medicines.Drugs currently used in the treatment of dermatophytoses are many with diversified chemical structures. Local application in the form of creams or gels or lotions or solutions or powders containing Potassium permanganate, Gentian violet, Diiodohydroxy quinoline with hydro cortisone, Calcium or Sodium propionate, Thymol iodide, Sulphur, Salicylic acid, Ammoniated mercury, Tolnaftate, Ciclopirox olamine or Haloprogin or Naftifine hydrochloride or Undecylinic acid and its salts or Whitefield ointment or Castellani's paint, Benzimidazoles like Clormidazole, Clotrimazole, Miconazole and Econazole either alone or in combination are prescribed for various lengths of time. Oral antifungal agents like Terbinafine or Benzimidazoles like Ketoconazole or Fluconazole or Griseofulvin are also prescribed. The treatment is continued for a couple of weeks after clinical subsidence. Recurrences are common. Infections by fungi are often chronic and require prolonged treatment by antimycotic drugs that are expensive and sometimes non effective.
Application of Cassia alata leaf extract for ringworm infections.For the treatment of ringworm infections, the 100% Cassia alata leaf extract is applied generously to the affected parts of infection daily at bed time [2 hours before sleep] and washed off in the next morning with water without using soap, until the subsidence of all the clinical manifestations and then once in a week for one month and then once in a month for one year.

Table 4 Application schedule and clinical improvement of Cassia alata leaf extract in the treatment of three important ringworm infections.
Cassia alata leaf extract applied daily at bed time 100gm of leaves/500 ml water
Tinea pedis.
Ist week. Disappearance of painful itching and scaly fissures.
IInd week Disappearance of hyperkeratotic patches,[thickened skin]and fissures.
IIIrd week
Disappearance of all clinical manifestations.
Continue once in a week for one month and once in a month for ever under continued wet and moist conditions to avoid recurrence.
Tinea cruris.
Ist week. Stopping of itching and disappearance of borders.
IInd week. Disappearance of inflammation and scales.IIIrd week. Disappearance of all clinical manifestations.Continue once in a week for one month and once in a month for ever to avoid recurrence.
Tinea corporis circular lesion[recent onset]Ist week. Stopping of itching and disappearance of borders.
IInd week. Disappearance of inflammation and scales.IIIrd week. Disappearance of all clinical manifestations.
Continue once in a week for one month to avoid recurrence.
Tinea corporis spreading
[chronic lesion. several
years old. ]
Ist week. Stopping of itching.
IInd week. Disappearance of inflammation.
Continue once a week for six months.

Upper Photograph shows Tinea pedis [athlete’s foot] infected foot before the application of Cassia alata leaf extract. The sole shows whitish hyperkeratotic patches and blisters, with fine scales. Maceration, peeling and fissuring of the skin are observable as a result of acute infection.

The middle photograph shows Scaling and fissuring in the lateral toe web spaces
(intertrigenous type)
characteristic of tinea pedis.

The lowermost Photograph shows the curative efficacy of Cassia alata leaf extract over the affected regions of the same foot after treatment.

upper Photograph shows a circular lesion[area with
disease] with raised active borders (6 months old) oft corporis [ringworm] on lateral side of the waist a male. [22 years).
Middle Photograph shows tinea corporis infected glabrous skin in the process of healing after the application of Cassia alata leaf extract.

In the lowermost photograph the lesion disappeared within 21 days The Photograph also shows hyper pigmentation [more pigmented] after healing of the lesion.

The upper Photograph shows a 5 years old chronic lesion of tinea corporis [ringworm]in the posterior scapular region of a male [30 years] spreading in all directions

The lower Photograph shows the same site of infection in the process of healing after the application of Cassia alata leaf extract. The healthy rejuvenating skin is clearly visible.


Upper Photograph shows an acute tinea cruris[dhobie-itch] infection on the right thigh of a male (22 years) with scales and inflammatory borders.
Middle Photograph shows hyper pigmented and eczematised skin at the infected sites of the same patient.

Lowermost Photograph shows the same region gradually in the process of healing from tinea cruris after application of Cassia alata leaf extract. The scales and inflammatory borders are disappeared. Skin became healthy with the disappearance of hyperpigmentation. The heavily dark pigmented zones are still seen near the groins.
The medicinal compounds present in the leaf extract of Cassia alata are more effective than the existing antifungal agents in the treatment of superficial mycoses. They are very powerful against the fungi Malassezia furfur of pityriasis versicolor and Trichophyton, Epidermophyton and Microsporum of ring worm infections (dermatophytoses).It has long been suspected that a major problem in clinical practice is the lack of patient compliance causing failure of drug therapy or the reason for poor control of the disease. One of the main reasons attributable to non compliance is the cost of medicines in the treatment of superficial mycoses. Fungal infections need long term therapy involving several weeks. But the patient discontinues the application, due to cost factor, when the clinical manifestations subside resulting in the recurrence of the disease. As a result superficial fungal infections become chronic, causing enormous physical and psychological distress to the sufferers. Since Cassia alata leaf extract is totally inexpensive even for repeated applications, the cost factor as a barrier is easily overcome and the patients can get rid of the fungal infections.
Another factor observed among the patients for the poor compliance is lack of knowledge regarding fungal infections. They should be well informed that fungal infections need long term therapy and drugs used for the treatment can be successful only when the schedule is strictly followed. The medicinal compounds present in Cassia alata leaf extract deliver assured cure, only when the therapeutic schedule (Table 4) is strictly followed.The climate, migration, frequency and speed of travel, lack of sanitation, increased use of synthetic garments, use of infected garments, community life, use of common toilets and bathrooms, increased urbanization, the discharge of fungal propagules into the environment by chronic sufferers all result in increased incidences and prevalence of superficial fungal infections
Health care systems of all types, all over the world are in crisis, predominantly in the developing countries, not least in India. The principal losers are the poor, i.e. the myriads of Indians of low socio economic status and their counterparts in other developing countries. Alleviation of the suffering and amelioration of the diseases are the ultimate aims of medicinal practice. The problems of ill health in the developing countries can only be solved by a judicious blend of various possible approaches to improve the health. The availability of suitable cost effective medicines for the treatment of diseases and the relief of symptoms are important components of any health system. One very practical approach is the optimizations of the use of already available, often inexpensive drugs.
Throughout our investigation, we came across with patients suffering from superficial fungal infections for more than 5 years. They have tried all systems of medicine, underwent all sorts of
sufferings, yet, failed to get rid of the disease. Many of these patients were unaware of the therapeutic efficacy of Cassia alata leaf extract in the treatment of superficial fungal infections, some although, residing very near to Cassia alata plant never cared to apply the leaf extract either because of their disbelief over the efficacy of herbal remedies or lack of knowledge about the mode of extraction and application schedule. The present work is an effective solution to all their problems.
1.Fungal infections usually cause continuous itching.2. Tight synthetic garments, perspiration, hot environment promote fungal infections.3.Remove excess nail portions to avoid scratching and damaging the skin .4.Use Mycoderm powder for infections.5.Instead of using one or two costlier inner garments purchase more cheap garments with the same cost and discard them after sufficient use.6.Follow Cassia alata leaf extract application schedule strictly and if there is any break restart the schedule once again.7.No dietary restrictions during application schedule.8.Since Cassia alata produces beautiful flowers it can be grown in schools ,colleges, and in home gardens.9.It is easy to remove fungal infections at the outset .never allow to become chronic. 10
A word of caution :.The medicinal compounds in Cassia alata leaf extract are more powerful in fresh leaf extract.  They  are polyphenolic in nature ,those[, esp fair  skinned, and  girls with tender skin ] who want to apply cassia alata fresh  leaf extract are advised  to follow strictly the procedures outlined in this blog and are requested repeatedly to read the paragraph “Cassia alata and  pityriasis versicolor ..Three factors are taken into consideration … etc,etc,”.11.It is always better not to use common towels  through which you may invite fungal spores for infection.12.Family members are advised to keep individual towels .13.Always confirm your fungal infection through a dermatologist.
Our ongoing projects: EASY HERBAL CURE FOR  Psoriasis [project completed ].visit ], Dandruff, Plant cosmetics, Vitiligo.

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Damodaran.S. and Venkataraman .S.1997.Studies on the experimental and clinical evaluation of Cassia alata .Linn., leaf extract on superficial mycoses. Ph.D. thesis.Dept of Pharmacology and Environmental Toxicology, Dr. A. L. Mudaliar Post – Graduate Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Madras, Taramani campus, Chennai, India.600113.VIEW in google docs
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1. Can I see the fungus causing Pityriasis versicolor?

With the help of your fingernail, remove a thin film of skin from the infected region [macule] and give it to a microbiologist or a botanist. When mounted on a slide in 10% potassium hydroxide solution and stained with 1% methylene blue for one minute and observed under the microscope, round budding cells like a bunch of grapes and short hyphal threads, characteristic of Malassezia furfur can be seen as in the photograph. This picture may vary as a result of medication.
2. Can I see the fungus causing ringworm?
Remove the scales at the margins of the infected portions. When mounted on a slide in 10% potassium hydroxide solution and stained with 1% methylene blue for one minute and observed under the microscope, the fungus appears in the form of highly branched threads with cross walls running through the skin cells as seen in the photograph. The picture may vary as a result of medication. [For storing the skin portions use clean, dry, paper]

3.Can I see the medicinal compounds present in Cassia alata leaves?

With the help of various phytochemical methods and tools one can completely separate the medicinal compounds and view them and identify them.These are the completely separated medicinal compounds.

4.Like to have a Ph.D along these lines? join us at .

5.Post your questions in the comments section.

6.What about psoriasis,dandruff and plant cosmetics?Through individual emails.[daamu48 at]

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The story behind this blog .

During 1970s , I was a chronic patient of pityriasis versicolor. Though it never threatened me , the cosmetic disfiguration and the itching during sweating caused me greater physical and psychological discomfort. I tried my level best to get rid of the infection , experimenting with all sorts of medications ,notable among them were sodium thiosulphate and selenium sulphide. The bad offensive sulphur odour , emanated from me, kept away my friends for a few days, following the applications. Example of this kind was met with every treatment.

In one of my evening strolls  along the betel vine fields, I came across with a Cassia alata plant with its attractive yellow orange flowers. I enquired about this plant near  a passerby, who told me the Tamil name of the plant as vandukolli or semaiagathi and its use in curing the ringworm infections. Being a Botanist, I did not know much about the mycotic infections. The reasoning power, which drives every person urged me to try this plant in the treatment of pitiriasis versicolor.In the absence of any procedure for application ,I applied the raw leaf juice all over my body and the results in the following days were extremely terrific. Unbearable irritation and itching for one week. After one week my entire stratum corneum began to peel off which gave me a horrified appearance !! After one month the macules gradually disappeared and to my great satisfaction the skin became healthy. After nine months pitiriasis versicolor relapsed once again bringing with it the same anxiety.

In the next five years I standardized the application procedure, in the treatment of pityriasis versicolor with the help of myself and my infected friends. I desired a PhD along these lines but no Botanist was ready to guide me since it involved a thorough knowledge in the field of microbiology, biochemistry and pharmacology. With the help of Prof.D.B.Motlag , I joined the dept of biochemistry , Guindy campus, University of Madras and acquired sufficient knowledge related to this field and got my M.Phil on antimicrobial studies in C.alata.

In the years that followed I acquired more information regarding the chemistry, microbiology and pharmacology of antimicrobial compounds of the genus Cassia. With this background I was introduced to 
Dr . S.Venkataraman , professor of pharmacology , PGIBMS ,UNIV OF MADRAS for a PhD degree and with his guidance I got it on superficial mycoses. During my research , I came across with innumerable superficial mycotic patients who were not able to get rid of the disease but were exploited by all kinds of physicians. I understood that dissemination of information regarding epidemiology and therapeutics of superficial mycoses is the first prerequisite to get rid of these diseases.

During these 25 years of research career, I witnessed the gradual revival of interest in medicinal plants all over the world covering their phytochemistry and their therapeutic applications. In my opinion,total coordination and commitment among the research departments offering microbiology,biochemistry,chemistry and pharmacology will yield rich dividends in the field of phytotherapy.
[Read on September 13,2003,
National seminar on superficial mycoses

Causes,prevention and cure with plant medicines.

Organized by myself and Sponsored by U.G.C Govt of India.]

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