Determination of Chemical Composition of Senna-siamea (Cassia Leaves)
Y.R. Alli Smith
The study on the chemical composition of the leaves of one of the most popularly known tropical plants, Senna siamea (Cassia leaves) has been carried out by analyzing samples of the plant leaves collected from Ado-Ekiti in Ekiti State for chemical composition. The proximate, elemental, phytochemicals and toxicant composition of the leaves of senna siamea were determined by analyzing samples of identified leaves using recommended method of analysis. The result of the analysis shows that the percentage crude protein, crude fibre, moisture content, ash content, carbohydrate and crude fat of the leaves are 4.01%, 12.36%, 46.01%, 17.93%, 7.67% and 12.02% respectively. The result of the mineral composition in PPM (Part per million) shows that iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, calcium, sodium, copper, phosphorus and lead are 112.00, 876.00, 35.10, 812.00, 932.00, 612.00, 0.84 and 0.34 respectively while cadmium and vanadium was not detected in the leaves. The photochemical analysis shows that the leaves contain anthraquinones, alkaloids, phylobatannins and saponin and the toxicant composition shows the presence of tannin, oxalate and phytate. The minerals present in leaves shows that the leaves are good sources of essential nutrients but the presence of the toxicants shows that these leaves should be properly processed before consuming them.
Plants have been found to be the source of energy for the animal kingdom.
In addition, plant can synthesize a large variety of chemical substances
that are of physiological importance (Kretovich, 2005). Medicinal plants
therefore, are groups of plant which in one or more if its parts contain
substances that can be used for the synthesis of useful drugs (Sofowora,
Today, lots of plant materials are used in the production of enormous
array of medicines. Stuffness and Douros (1982) reported that 50% of all
modern chemical drugs are of natural product origin. It was reported that
60-80% of the population in every developing countries of the world relies
on medicinal plants in the treatment of some diseases. This is mainly
because of shortage of hospitals and health centre as well as medical
staff and financial constraints. Although the actual number of the medicinal
plant is not known but there is no doubt that most of the plants around
us are medicinal (Hill, 1992). Some of the common uses of medicinal plants
sold in the markets include pain relief, antimalaria, treating of skin
infections and fumigation (Hailu et al., 2005).
In the last two centuries, there has been serious investigations into
the chemical and biological activities of plants and these have yielded
compounds for the development of synthetic organic chemistry and the emergence
of medicinal chemistry as a route for the discovery of more effective
therapeutic agents (Roja and Rao, 2000).
Senna siamea is an evergreen tree commonly cultivated in our area especially
in fuel plantation. It is a medium size tree up to 15-20cm tall, with
a straight trunk up to 30 cm in diameter, bole short, crown usually dense
and rounded at first, later becoming irregular and spreading with dropping
branches, Bank grey or light brown, smooth but becoming slightly fissured
with age (Bernard, 2005). Senna siamea is effective in managing
constipation association with a number of causes including surgery, childbirth
and the use of narcotic pain relievers (Hill, 1992). It is used locally
as antimalaria drugs especially when decocted (the leaves, bark) (Lose
et al., 2000). In traditional medicine, the fruit is used to charm
away intestinal worms and to prevent convulsion in children. The young
fruits and leaves are also eaten as vegetables in Thailand. The flowers
and young fruits are used as curries (Kiepe, 2001).
This study is designed to determine the chemical composition of the leaves
of Senna siamea for public and dietary awareness of its nutritional
Materials and Methods
Plant material preparation: The leaves of Senna siamea
were collected from Ado-Ekiti and identified in the science herbarium
of the department of Plant Science and Forestry, University of Ado-Ekiti,
Ekiti State, Nigeria. The leaves were sun dried for about five days and
then grounded into fine powder using a food blender. (without metal contamination).
The grounded samples were stored in an air-tight labeled plastic container
from which samples were removed for chemical analysis.
||Proximate composition of Senna siamea
Preparation of plant extract: 100g of the powdered leaves sample
was weighed into a container containing 100ml of hexane. This was lest
for 5 days until the solvent evaporated completely and the leave was recovered.
This was done to extract the active ingredients.
Analysis of extract: The mineral constituents of the leaves namely
iron, manganese, magnesium, potassium, calcium, sodium, copper, cadmium,
lead, phosphorus and vanadium were determined using the methods of analysis
described by A.O.A.C. (1990). The proximate analysis namely Crude protein,
crude fibre, moisture content, ash content fat content and carbohydrate
were also determined by the methods described by A.O.A.C.(1990).
The phytochemical constituent of the leaves namely Alkaloids, saponin,
Anthraquinones, Tannins and phlobatanins were determined using the method
of Trease and Evans (1978). Oxalate was determined using the method of
Day and Ununderword (1986). Phytate was determined using the method of
Wheeler and Ferrell (1971).
The results of the determination of the proximate, elemental phytochemicals
and antinutrients compositions of Senna siamea leaves are represented
in Table 1, 2, 3
and 4 respectively.
Proximate analysis of a food is the nutritional composition of that food.
It is the estimation of the nutritive value of human food in its chemical
form. The proximate analysis as shown In Table 1 reveals
that Senna siamea contains protein (4.01%), crude fibre (12.36%),
moisture content (46.01%), ash content (12.93%) crude fat (12.02%)and
carbohydrate content (7.67%).
The values shows that the protein content is relatively low but it can
contribute to the formation of hormones which controls a variety of body
functions such as growth, repair and maintenance of body protein (Mau
et al., 1999). The moisture, Ash, crude fibre and crude fat content
are relatively high. According to Michael and David (2002). The high content
of ash is useful in assessing the quality of grading the plant and also
gives an idea of the amount of minerals present in the sample.
||Elemental composition of Senna siamea
|ND -Indicates not detected
||Phytochemical screening of Senna siamea
|+ indicates present
||Antinutrient screening of Senna siamea
|+ indicates present
The fat content can be used for storage and transport forms of metabolic
fuel. The relatively high carbohydrate content can be used as energy source
and also it is necessary in the digestion and assimilation of other foods.
The proximate composition of Senna siamea show a fairly good nutrient
constitution when compared to other common vegetables such as Amaranthus
hybridus (Nwaogu et al., 2006).
Table 2 shows the mineral content of Senna siamea.
The need for supplementary diet rich in mineral content is necessary for
a singular ration, to avoid metal deficiency syndrome like rickets and
clarification of bones, as a result of calcium deficiency. Distorted enzymatic
activity and poor electrolyte balance of the blood fluid are related to
inadequate Na, k, mg and Zn, as they are the most required elements of
living cells. The leaves of Senna siamea have fairly adequate concentrations
of sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron in comparison with those
reported for A. hybridus leaf extract (Nwaogu et al., 2006)
The result of phytochemical screening and antinutrient composition of
Senna siamea are given in Table 3 and 4
respectively. Saponin, alkaloids, antraquinones and phylobatannins were
the major phytochemical identified in the leave extract. These phytochemical
exhibit diverse pharmacological and biochemical actions when ingested
by animals (Amadi et al., 2006).
Saponin reduces the uptake at certain nutrients including glucose and
cholesterol at the gut through intra-luminal physicochemical interactions.
Hence, it has been reported to have hypocholesterolemic effect (Price
et al., 1987) and thus may aid in lessening the metabolic burden
that would have been placed in the liver. Alkaloids are often toxic to
man and may have dramatic physiological activities hence their wide use
in medicine (Shelton, 2000).
The antinutritional contents include phytate, tannin and Oxalate. Oxalate
can complex with most essential trace metals therefore making them unavailable
for enzymatic activities and other metabolic activities. Tannins are capable
of lowering available protein by antagonistic competition and can therefore
elicit protein deficiency syndrome, ‘kwashiorkor’ Phytic acid
has complicated effect in human system including indigestion of food and
flatulence (Maynard, 1997).
These antinutritional factors can easily be reduced to tolerable limits
by proper simple processing techniques such as soaking cooking, frying
(Ekpo et al., 2004; Ekpo and Eddy, 2005b).
This present study reveals that Senna siamea contains essential
nutrients for good human and animal health.
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