The Promising Medicinal Plant in Senegal: Leydour (Cassia Italica)


Leydour, scientifically known as Senna or Cassia italica is an important medicinal and cash crop native to the continents of Africa (Senegal and Mauritania) and Asia (India). In addition to curing various ailments, Leydour has financial importance in the lives of many female farmers in Senegal. Despite the challenges of climate change, Leydour plants remain promising.

Ethnobotanical surveys conducted in Senegalese rural communities reveal a rich tradition of utilizing local flora for healthcare purposes. A study encompassing 184 farmers identified 33 native plant species employed to address various ailments, including intestinal worms, malaria, hypertension, sexually transmitted infections, toothaches, menstrual cramps, hepatitis, cough, and even scars.

This reliance on medicinal plants underscores their crucial role in developing countries where access to modern medical facilities might be limited (Tabuti et al., 2003; Mehdioui et al., 2007). With an estimated 80,000 plant species boasting medicinal properties out of a global total of 500,000 (Quyou, 2003; Benkhnigue et al., 2011), the potential for natural remedies is vast. The growing acceptance of phytotherapy (plant-based medicine) and its demonstrated health benefits have integrated natural medicine into mainstream practices, even in developed nations (Béné, 2016).

Throughout history, Leydour has been revered for its medicinal potential, serving as a cornerstone in traditional healing practices across Africa and Asia. Its efficacy in addressing a spectrum of maladies, ranging from stomach ailments to venereal diseases, underscores its therapeutic versatility. Furthermore, its utility extends to treating jaundice, fever, bile disorders, intestinal worms, and various skin afflictions such as burns and ulcers. This rich pharmacological profile renders Leydour a pivotal asset in indigenous healthcare systems, offering holistic remedies deeply rooted in cultural heritage.

Financial Value of Leydour Plants

Beyond its medicinal attributes, Leydour emerges as a vital economic resource, particularly in regions like Senegal, where its cultivation thrives. The plant’s leaves, bark, and seeds not only sustain traditional livelihoods but also generate substantial income streams. Remarkably, a hectare of Leydour can yield financial returns surpassing those of conventional crops like millet and peanuts combined. With a kilogram of Leydour fetching significant market value, particularly in the range of 1500 CFA francs, it presents an economically viable avenue for local communities. Women, in particular, have leveraged Leydour cultivation to secure substantial earnings, exemplified by instances where they accrued up to 215,000 CFA francs in just two months, thereby empowering them as key contributors to household economies.


However, the burgeoning success of Leydour cultivation is not immune to challenges, chief among them being the looming specter of climate change. Rising temperatures and erratic rainfall patterns in Senegal pose formidable obstacles to sustained cultivation, exacerbating vulnerability to pests and diseases. Additionally, limited access to markets further impedes the realization of Leydour’s full economic potential. Despite these adversities, the resilience of Leydour as a promising crop remains unwavering. Its adaptability to organic cultivation methods, coupled with its nutritional richness in vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber, underscores its intrinsic value as a resilient agroecosystem.

Leydour’s fusion of medicinal efficacy, economic viability, and adaptability underscores its indispensable role in mitigating the socio-economic impacts of climate change. By tapping the diverse benefits of Leydour, from its therapeutic applications to its economic dividends, stakeholders can cultivate a resilient agricultural landscape that not only safeguards livelihoods but also fosters community resilience in the face of environmental challenges.


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