Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Cassia Alata

Last August I wrote a post called Can You Identify this Tree? on my other blog. I have finally found the botanical name of the tree through Zawi's Virtual Tourist site.

The tree is called Cassia Alata. It is also known as Senna alata, Herpetica alata, Cassia bracteata, and Cassia herpetica.

In Sarawak the tree is known by two names. My mother calls it the Sulok tree. The other name escapes me. There are a few Cassia Alata trees in my parents yard.

My mother would cut up a few branches of the tree and put them out to dry. When the leaves are dry she will put them over a fire to dry it even further and also to give the leaves that smoked flavour. Then the leaves are removed from the branches and stored away for boiling into a tea.

Dried cassia alata leaves

I like the flavour of the Sulok tea. It has a pleasant mild flavour. I don't know about it being a laxative but I know for sure that it works very well as a diuretic!

People in Sarawak believe that drinking Sulok tea will help lower your blood cholesterol. My uncle who has very high blood cholesterol says that his cholesterol level went down after consistently drinking the tea for a month.

I brought a small bag of the Sulok tea leaves back to California. Two days ago I boiled a kettle of the tea. I had forgotten to take my hydrochlorothiazide medication on Sunday and on Monday I took my medication as usual and drank several cups of Sulok tea. Oh boy, did the two combined made me go to the toilet often! Got rid of all the water retention in my body!

My cup of cassia alata tea

According to an article I read, cassia alata has blood sugar lowering properties. That is excellent news indeed because I am concerned about my blood sugar. It is a bit on the high side and I did suffer from gestational diabetes. My father is a diabetic and with that family history, for me it is a matter of when not if where diabetes is concerned.

Now I wished I had brought more of the leaves for my tea! The reason I brought a small amount was that I was afraid that the customs people would confiscate my tea leaves if they found I was carrying a bag of it! :-)

Some people have successfully grown the cassia alata here in the US. I might want to get the seeds and try planting it. There are companies selling the seeds and even young plants here in the U.S. It is a fast growing tree and if I plant it in a big pot I might be able to protect it from the cold during the winter months. Doug has been meaning to build a greenhouse for a long time but he has not got around to doing it. In fact he has the stuff needed to build the greenhouse already!

Who knows I might want to market the tea leaves like any herbal tea! Hey Zawi, here's another business possibility for us!!


Lee said...

Hi Puteri, Sulok tea? Ahhh, thats something new to me.
My wife and I drink Chinese green tea. I drink 6 big cups a day...and we take just one pill a day, NO! Not birth control pills, but 'Bee Pollen' (past 35 years) and so far the wrinkles haven't appeared on my wife yet. She still looking good at 61 and other day posed for me, my favourite hobby, portrait photography in her 25 year old cheong sum and sarong kebaya as well one sarong she wore the day she met me wayyyyyyyy back in the 70's. Holy Smoke!
Apart from some wriggling that would make an Egyptian belly dancer envious and change profession, she got into that dress! I think she was more shocked than me, I was too busy admiring her curves in that fitting dress, whooohooo!
She eats or we eat vegetables like rabbits, eat fish like a Japanese, and every morning does her stretching exercises.....dia takut put on weight, then I chabut go look for a younger sexy Iban or Orang Ulu, arhaaa ha ha.
You keep well, Puteri, Lee.

Unknown said...

Hello Puteri,

I arrived here and of course I read Lee's comment first and now tak tahu what to pen as I'm tickled with laughter! Lee ni kan memang pandai berseloka. Good to have in in our midst in this scary world today.

So anyway, where were we? Ah yes, me too, I have never tasted sulok tea and right now I am so curios as to its taste. Will check in the supermarket nanti. Nice informative post this.

Puteri said...


You and your stories!! Always amusing and always making people laugh! I like it!

Wah, you so lucky your wife want to hang on to you so much that she dares not put on weight in case you cabut! Hahah. Eh, share the portrait lah, ok?

I should be eating my vegetables like rabbits too! I love red meat too much! Haha, now I have to watch my diet, coz afraid of diabetes.

The last couple of days Doug and I have been eating baked fish, and baked chicken breasts. I found a wonderful site filled with recipes for diabetics. Last night I ordered 3 diabetic cookbooks. Haha, I want to start eating a diabetic diet so I will never suffer from diabetes! Need to exercise also .. not my favorite thing to do.

About the Sulok tea, it is Cassia Alata leaves la. Sulok is what we call it in Iban.

Cheers, Lee!

Puteri said...

Hi Ruby,

Lee memang pandai berseloka! If we are with him in person probably our gusi also sentisa kering listening to his tales!

About the Sulok tea, I don't think you can find it in the supermarket.But back in Miri at the pasar malam, some people have the dried leaves for sale. If you have Cassia Alata tree in your yard, you can make your own tea. Gelenggang, I think is the common Malay name for the tree. Just dry the branches and the pluck the dry leaves. For a medium sized kettle I put between 10-12 leaves. Like I said, it has a mild pleasant flavour. A very good diuretic and laxative is seems.

Since I am concerned about my blood sugar, I like to drink it too. Supposed to have blood sugar lowering properties.

I love herbal teas that have health benefits! I also drink bitter melon tea (buah peria). It is supposed to be good for lowering blood cholestrol.


Unknown said...

Sulok Tea? Hey, never heard of it. Gotta read more about this. Always interested with health and herbs related topics. You know, with all the medications and the side effects, herbs work better(",).
Yes, a business indeed...

Puteri said...


Sulok tea is Gelenggang tea! Haha. In Sarawak pokok gelenggang is also known as pokok sulok! So since the leaves is used as a tea, I call it Sulok tea! Haha.

It is very good indeed as a diuretic, and according to that article I read, it can help lower your blood sugar. It is also a good laxative.

I don't know if the taste of the green leaves is the same as the dried leaves. If you have pokok gelenggang around where you live, you might want to dry some branches and use the leaves as a tea. I like the mild flavour.

I like trying out natural remedies for health problems. Drugs can damage your kidney and liver! :-(

Lee said...

Hello Puteri, while waiting for my wife to cook something good for dinner...right! You guessed it, vegetables, and steamed fish. Sometimes salt fish which I love. As well bean sprouts...I put bean sprouts in practically anything I eat except my cornflakes, my wife says, "you gila or what"! Arhaaa ha ha...I kaypoh check up on you, see what you up too...maybe cleaning your gun accidentally shoot neighbours jamban he reading papers inside, ha ha.
Wa, if suspect got diabetes, jaga your gula and salt too.
WHAT? You bought 3 books on diabetes? Wa, like this give you 2 months, you become expert, huh? Okay, if I hear anyone got problems I see doktor Puteri.
Red meat? There's a McDonalds 5 minutes away from us, and we have been inside only 3 times 15 years! Once to try, twice friends invite for kopi chat.
Ahhh, but I love that ayam goreng Kentucky or fish & chips. But only once in 3 months.
I eat fruits like as if China or Thailand only grow Opium instead of rice, ...believe it or not, evening or night watching TV I can polish off half a bunch of seedless grapes, plus an apple, maybe add an orange too. If happen to be a ahemmm, slightly naughty movie, ahhh, than eat kachang puteh as well my wife will peel more oranges.
I smoke a pipe, but not that often, maybe when G. Bush starts coughing in the rumah puteh affect my stocks, then I light up.
Okay, dinner almost ready, keep your finger off the trigger, Lee.

Pak Zawi said...

Aiya, you beat me to it cos I was saving it for my next blog hahahaha. Any its good to see you do it since it is well written. Its gelenggang in Malay and thanks for telling us that the botanical name is changed. Cassia alata is still my preferred name as it sounds so nice and easy to remember. It is a very important talking point on my natures walk with my tourist guests.
Another use for it is that the leaves can be used to treat tinea. Since from a young age I have to collect the leaves for my father to treat his tinea which seemed to have covered almost all part of his body. The leaves will be rolled up into a small bundle the size that you can grip in your palm. Since I was then still small, it was the size for my small hand. The rolled up leaves will be cut at one end and the cut up end will be used to scrub on his body. It may have relieved alot of itchiness. In those days having tinea all over the body was like a fashion. In the Malay folklore Awang Selamat was described as a man with 'panau macam awan larat' all over his body.
Since daun gelenggang is a good laxative it is often added to slimming tea. The ingested food will make an early exit so much so that the small intestine will not have time to absorb all the nutrient in the digested food. That is how the slimming is effected.
Hey dont take your sulok tea too often, it will lead you to a relaxed sphincter muscle and before you reach old age, you may have to use pampers cos the muscle cant hold it back anymore.
Tell Doug not to waste space in his green house by planting cassia alata as I can send the dried leaves by Fedex together with the daun kapalterbang extract. How much of it that you need for the first consignment? There is so many of them growing wild over here. They are available infront of my house. Took the picture of them for the VT post from there. Puteri lets sign the contract soon. Yea me and Puteri are now going to be patners in business! Import-Export International Ltd.

Puteri said...


Bean sprout and ikan masin together ... slurp!! The Vietnamese love to eat their bean sprouts raw, so I learnt to eat it raw too .. only when I sit down to eat Vietnamese food la!
Why don't you try putting your bean sprouts in your cereal too? Hahah.

I don't eat a lot of fast food. I am not crazy about burgers, but I do like the KFC fried chicken!

The three books I bought are diabetic cookbooks .. not about the disease la .. you salah baca! Anyway, I really have to watch my sugar and salt intake. The cookbooks will, hopefully, help me to cook foods that will help me control my blood sugar through diet. Also I have started exercising on my exercise bicycle ..5 minutes only today! Heheh, felt like 50 minutes!!

I love fruits too but sweet fruits are out .. now can only eat green apples, or some dried fruits. :-(

Ok, I will not do any pistol cleaning while I am on my exercise bicycle! Haha.

Puteri said...


I have been looking for the botanical name for Sulok/Gelenggang since last year. Good thing I looked at the pictures on your VT site!

You know, you keep saying it is a strong laxative, but for me it is mild! Haha, I can drink several cups a day, and all it makes me do is pee a lot, which is good since I have water retention problem. I take a diuretic called hydrochlorothiazide which is supposed to help control my blood pressure.

Yes, I inherited my father's genes. My father suffers from hypertension and diabetes. My sister and one brother are taking hypertension medication. Here is the US they start giving you hydrochlorothiazide if you have reached pre-hypertension stage.

I want to use herbal remedies for my health problems if possible. So when I read that cassia alata has sugar lowering properties I started taking out my sulok tea leaves and making a big kettle of it!

Haha, how about 10 kg of dried cassia alata leaves in your first consignment? Haha. Enough leaves to last me a year, you think? You know what, if Vietnam can export bitter melon tea (buah peria) why can't Malaysia export cassia alata tea?! Do it up nicely and I will find supermarkets here that will carry the tea! I bought my bitter melon tea at a big Asian supermarket here in Sacramento. Bitter melon tea is good for lowering blood cholesterol.

Hey, go write your blog post about Cassia Alata and the business opportunities that can be had from cultivating cassia alata and marketing the leaves as an herbal tea! In Sarawak some Iban ladies are already selling the dried leaves at the market.

Yes, lets start our import-export business! We can export California nuts to Malaysia, like almonds, and import cassia alata tea and daun kapal terbang! :-)

Pak Zawi said...

Are you serious about the business? If you are then we are in business. Just say yes and I will start the ground work ASAP.Any FDA certification necessary?

Puteri said...

Zawi, you can start by asking shipping rates. Also think about about how we want to ship the leaves. Already cut up, vacuumed packed etc?

Here the health food stores do sell tea leaves in bins, and people just buy the amount they need. But we want to reach a wider market and tea that is already packed in tea bags are a lot easier to sell, I think.

Herbal teas do not need FDA certification. Except maybe a declaration for customs that the material is not "live" .. that means it is already processed. Need to look further into that too, on this side.

Yes, let's start a business! E-mail me .. my email is in my profile page.

Anonymous said...

Just passing through when I noted your post on cassia alata.
I too have a post on cassia alata at my blog, http://dqfarm.blogspirit.com

Best wishes to all of you

HS Wong

Unknown said...

Hi, Saya Yee dari KL. Saya ingin beli Daun Gelenggang ini secare besar besaran dalam 1ton hingga 2 ton sebulan.

Daun dengan batang sekali saya nak.

Kita akan beli dari kamu dengan harga RM1 / kg.

Boleh hubungi saya dengan telephone 012-2389319.

Puteri said...

Yee, saya tidak tau siapa nya ada tanam pokok gelenggang secara besar besaran. Awak boleh cuba contact Mr Wong dari DQ Farms dekat nombor ini:

03 4251 6580, or
016 212 8506
Fax: 03 4251 6604

Ini dia punya website:

Unknown said...

Hi Puteri
Quite a few Cassia subspecies have sugar-lowering and laxative properties (due to Sennosides, e.g. Cassia auriculata Tanner's Cassia or Awaram Poo in Tamil), Cassia angustifolia or Cassia acutifolia (popularly called Senna leaf, Cassia fistula a.k.a golden shower (national flower of Thailand, Cassia javanica, Cassia grandis, etc.

The Cassia auriculata flower is used by Tamil Indians for blood sugar lowering. I've tried it but it does not appear to lower my blood sugar and the taste is terrible. You should be able to get it in Indian ethnic markets - packed in big plastic bags. very cheap too. All parts of the plant can be used - flowers, twigs, seed pods, roots, stems. To make a tea, decoct 2 tablespoons of the flowers in 2 mugs of water and simmer until one cup is left. Drink that twice a day for a week to see if works on blood sugar.

Cassia alata or gelenggang can be bought in wholesale quantities from a supplier in Penang - Cedar Food Industries via www.alibaba.com or www.tradekey.com. Cedar Food Industries exports a lot of Malaysian and Asian herbs to other countries so you might want to make a note of it. Just google them up or go through alibaba.com

As for Cassia angustifolia or Senna, you can get in most Chinese herb shops or pharmacies in dried leaf form (called 'fan xie ye')- very cheap too! Go to any herb shop in chinatown in some American cities and you should be able to find it. Most western pharmacies have already got the preferred pill form which contains standardized extracts of Sennosides A popular brand is Senokot.

Cassia should not be used for long term esp for its laxative properties. Indiscriminate use can lead to dependency. So beware!

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