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Guda - Saccharum officinarum


Flowering thick-stemmed sugar cane Photograph by: Ton Rul Saccharum officinarum, sugarcane, is a large, strong-growing species of grass in the genus Saccharum. It originated in New Guinea. It arrived in the New World with the Spanish and is now cultivated in tropical and subtropical countries worldwide for the production of sugar and other products.


Saccharum officinarum was first domesticated in New Guinea and the islands east of the Wallace Line by Papuans, where it is the modern center of diversity. Beginning at around 6,000 BP it was selectively bred from the native Saccharum robustum. From New Guinea it spread westwards to Island Southeast Asia after contact with Austronesians, where it hybridized with Saccharum spontaneum

Parthasarathy (1946) referred to Tamil classics of the Sangam period (2000BC) Pattirrup-pattu where refrences were made to growth, arrowing and cultivation.
Caraka reported in 100BC about existence of two sugarcane types viz., iksh and Paundra.
In 200 BC Patanjali mentioned that by about 400 BC sugarcane was familiar at Takshasila. There were citations on sugarcane during 800 BC in Atharva Veda and Manu in 1000 BC.
Sugarcane was first mentioned in China during 286 AD (Bashan) and it was reported to be known in the period of Su-ma-siang Ju.
After the time of Buddha, Indian sailors who possibly had contacts with Burma, Indonesia and Malaya would have brought Saccharum officinarum to India from Indonesia.
Saccharum is the Latin name proposed by Linne in 1753 as a derivation from Karkara and Sakkara from Sanskrit and Prakrit.
It is the opinion of many explorers that sugarcane had its origin in Saccharum barberi Jesweit of North India, and that Saccharum officinarum had Polynesian origin.
Barber and Jesweit (1930) indicated that Saccharum officinarum evolved in Malaysia - Indonesia-Papua-new Guinea region or in the islands of Polynesia or Melanesia groups.

Taxonomical Classification

Kingdom: Plantae - Plants
Subkingdom: Streptophyta
Superdivision: Spermatophyta - Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida - Dicotyledons
Family: Poaceae
Genus: Saccharum
Species: Saccharum officinarum

Allied species:

Arundo saccharifera Garsault, Saccharum chinense Roxb, Saccharum violaceum Tussac, Saccharum atrorubens Cuzent & Pancher ex Drake, Saccharum monandrum Rottb., Saccharum occidentale Sw.


Sanskrit: Ikshava,Pundrakah, Rasalah
English: Sugar cane , noblecane
Hindi: ईख Eekh, गन्ना Ganna
Urdu: Gannaa
Telugu: Cheruku
Bengali: Aankha, Ukha, Uuka
Marathi: Usa, शेरडी Sherdi
Konkani: कोब्बु kobbu
Oriya: Akhu
Gujarathi: Sherdi
Tamil: Kaarumbu (Karumbu), Pundaram
Malayalam: Karimbu, Karimpu
Kannada: Petta patti kabbu, ಖಬ್ಬೂ Khabbu
Punjabi: Gacnaa
Sindhi: Kamand
Arabic: Qassab es sukkar
Spanish: Caña de azúcar, Caña dulce, Cañamiel, Caña melar, Caña sacarina, Caña común.
Assamese: Kusiyar
Japanese: Satou kibi.
Chinese: Hong gan zhe, Guo zhe, Gan zhe.
French: Canne a sucre
German: Zuckerrohr
Burma: kyaan
Nepal: Ganna, Sahacar, Ukhu
Persian: Naishkar
Sinhalese: Uk, Angarigai, Karumbu, Ikshu.
Tulu: ಕರುಂಬು
Greek: Sakharon


There are 3 species of Saccharum in Maharashtra:
Saccharum officinarum L.
Saccharum ravennae (L.) L.
Saccharum spontaneum L.
The last one is found in the wild, the other two are cultivated.


Ikshavo raktapittaghnaa balyaa vrishyaa kaphapradaaha |
Swaadupaakarasaaha snigdhaha guravo mutralaha himaha ||


Synonyms in Ayurveda: iksu, ikshu, jaggery, sarkara

Saccharum is the Latin name proposed by Linne in 1753 as a derivation from Karkara and Sakkara from Sanskrit and Prakrit.
It is the opinion of many explorers that sugarcane had its origin in Saccharum barberi Jesweit of North India, and that Saccharum officinarum had Polynesian origin.

Rasa: Madhura
Guna: Guru Snigdha
Veerya: Sheetha
Vipaka: Maduram
Karma: Kaphahara Pittahara Vatahara

Saccharum officinarum and its hybrids are grown for the production of sugar, ethanol, and other industrial uses in tropical and subtropical regions around the world. The stems and the byproducts of the sugar industry are used for feeding to livestock. Pigs fed on sugarcane juice and a soy-based protein supplement produced stronger piglets that grew faster than those on a more conventional diet. As its specific name (officinarum, "of dispensaries") implies, it is also used in traditional medicine both internally and externally.


Most commercial sugarcane is grown at latitudes between 35°N and S in the tropics, usually at elevations from sea level to 1,600 metres
The plant grows best in areas where the mean annual rainfall is in the range 1,500 - 2,000mm, tolerating 1,000 - 5,000mm
It prefers a mean annual temperature within the range 24 - 37°c, though can tolerate 15 - 41°c
There are large differences between different cultivars in their tolerance to cold and susceptibility to frost
Generally, long-term exposure to temperatures below 10°c can be lethal, whilst even short periods at 0°c causes the leaves to become chlorotic, at about -3°c young plants turn brown and the terminal buds and leaves of mature cane die, when the temperature reaches -11.5°c the whole plant dies
Grows best in a sunny position. A very greedy plant, soon exhausting the soil of nutrients
The plant is considered to be moderately tolerant to saline soil conditions and relatively tolerant of acid soils
Grows best in a position sheltered from strong winds
Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 8, but can tolerate 4.5 - 9
Well-grown plants can become invasive
When irrigated, yields of 100 - 150 tons of cane can be obtained from mature plants
Young plants can yield 60 - 90 tons
There are many named varieties
The roots develop from the growth ring on the original planting piece and also from the new shoots that develop. The majority of the roots are thin and superficial with four fifths of the roots commonly found in the top 25 - 50cm of the soil. Thicker roots will penetrate to depths of 4 metres or more


Seed -
Cuttings, consisting of 2 - 3 joints of the upper part of a stem that has been selected from a vigorous, healthy plant. They are placed in the ground with only 2 - 5cm of the cutting projecting above the surface. In about two weeks from planting the eyes at each node will send forth shoots, and roots will grow from the nodes themselves. As the shoots develop, the parent stem decays and the young plants produce roots of their own


Harvesting commences, according to the cv and climate, 12–20 months from time of planting, the canes becoming tough and turning pale yellow when ready for cutting. They are cut as close to the ground as possible, for the root end of the cane is the part richest in sugar. The rhizomes will continue to crop for at least 3–4 years, sometimes up to 8 or more years (MacMillan, 1925).


Studies of sugarcane wax, juice, and leaves have yielded the presence of various fatty acid, alcohol, phytosterols, higher terpenoids, flavonoids, glycosides and phenolic acids. 
- Proximate analysis of sugarcane pulp yielded high amount of moisture (71.91 ± 0.05%), low dry matter (28.09%) consisting of carbohydrate (58.55 ± 0.04 g/100g), fiber (29.88 g/100g), ash (6.69 g/100g) and some mineral elements. 
- Phytochemica analysis of sugarcane pulp yielded alkaloids (8.07 ± 0.04 µg/100 g), saponins(5.57 ± 0.01 µg/100g) and flavonoids (1.52 ± 0.02 µg/100g), along with mineral elements magnesium, potassium, calcium and others in trace amounts. 
- Phytochemical screening of aqueous ethanol extract yielded saponins, tannins, flavonoids, and reducing sugars. 
- Phytochemical analysis of ethyl acetate extract of Brazilian hybrids yielded ß-carotene (1), steroids steroids sitosterol (2) , stigmasterol (3) and campesterol (4), α-tocopherol (5), vanillic acid (6), ferulic acids (7), tricin (5,7,4-trihydroxy-3,5-dimethoxyflavone) (8), sitosterol glucoside (9), p-hydroxycinnamic (10),and p-hydroxybenzoic(11)


Important formulations 
1. Trnapancamula Kvatha, 
2. Sukumara Ghrta, 
3. Brahma Rasayana

Parts used for medicinal purpose

Leaves, Root, Stem, ,


15-30 gm in decoction form.


Nala - Arundo donax


adulteration of honey with cane sugar, acid- hydrolized cane sugar syrup or with honey obtained from feeding sugar to bees

Commercial value:

Sugar cane is a very greedy crop that soon exhausts the soil. In some countries the plant is intercropped with indigo or other leguminous plants between the rows when the canes are first planted. These legumes are turned into the soil while they are still green and succulent. This process has a very beneficial effect

Sugarcane is an important commercial crop of the country occupying around 3.8 million hectares with an annual cane production of around 270 million tonnes. It occupies about 2.8% of the cultivated land area and contributes about 7.5% to the agricultural production in the country. About 35 million farmers grow and depend on sugarcane for their livelihood. And an equal number of agricultural labourers earn their living by working in sugarcane farms.


Drug occurs in form of root stock with attached yellowish-brown stem portion, having 10 to 15 cm long, numerous grey to blackish-brown fibrous roots; solid, jointed, more or less cylindrical, 2 to 2.5 cm thick and varying in length, rough; fracture, splintery; odour and taste, not distinct.

Growth Form: Tall clumping grass which can grow up to 6 m tall. 
Foliage: Leaves are arching and linear or lanceolate (about 70 – 150 cm long, 3 – 6 cm wide). Leaves are large with conspicuous mid rib and sharply toothed leaf margin. Leaf sheath is loose mostly glabrous while being slightly hairy at the mouth. Ligule possesses small hairs too.
Stems: Stems occur in culms and are about 3 – 6 m tall, 20 – 45 mm in diameter. Culms are solid, juicy, and high in sugar content. Culms are jointed at nodes and have about 20 – 40 nodes. Internodes are often swollen and coloured. 
Flowers: Flowers are plume-like and usually whitish grey. Panicle is large (50 – 100 cm long), often hairless but pilose at nodes. 
Fruits: Seed is oblong and small (about 1.5 mm long). 


Root Stock – Shows single layered epidermis followed by 3 to 4 layers of oval to elliptical, lignified, thick-walled more or less radially elongated, sclerenchymatous cells; cortex consists of upper 12 to 15 layers oval to polygonal, thin-walled and lower 5 layers, elliptical, parenchymatous cells; endodermis single layered; pericycle 3 or 4 layers, sclerenchymatous; fibro-vascular bundle, covered with sclerenchymatous sheath, scattered throughout the ground mass of parenchymatous cells.

Root – Shows single layered epidermis of thin-walled, rectangular cells, followed by a layer of hypodermis of thin-walled, rectangular cells, outer cortex composed of 2 or 3 layers of thick-walled, polygonal to circular, sclerenchymatous cells filled with dark brown or blackish pigment, inner cortex composed of large mrenchymatous cells; endodermis composed of barrel-shaped, thin-walled cells, enclosing a layer of pericycle consisting of rectangular cells having inner wall thickened, and vascular tissue; xylem and phloem form an equal number of separate bundles. arranged in a ring; centre occupied by a large pith, composed of circular to oval, parenchymatous, thin-walled cells

Geographical distribution:

Originated in the South Pacific Islands and New Guinea. Found throughout the tropics and subtropics. In the US it is cultivated from Florida to Texas. Sugarcane is cultivated as far as north as 36.7° (Spain) and as far south as 31° (South Africa) (Irvine, 1981).


Ranging from Warm Temperate Dry to Moist through Tropical Very Dry to Wet Forest Life Zones, sugarcane is reported to tolerate annual precipitation of 4.7 to 42.9 dm (mean of 58 cases = 16.7), annual temperature of 16.0 to 29.9°C (mean of 58 cases = 23.7), and pH of 4.3 to 8.4 (mean of 49 cases = 6.3) (Duke, 1978, 1979). Occurs gregariously, growing in sunny areas, on soil unsuitable to trees; needs aeration at the roots and grows in sand but not loam, along sandy banks of rivers that change their course (Burkill, 1966). Requires a hot humid climate, alternating with dry periods, and thrives best at low elevations on flat or slightly sloping land, with stiff loamy or alluvial soil; however, it flourishes in any ordinary good soil, provided the necessary moisture is available 

Plant conservation:

IUCN: not evaluated

General Use:

The leaf ash is used to treat sore eyes.

The stem juice is used to treat sore throats
. The sweet juice in the stem is used to treat snakebite and wounds from poison arrows[]. Mixed with an infusion of wallaba (Eperua sp.) it is used to treat curare poisoning
A decoction of the young leaves is used to treat urinary conditions

Therapeutic Uses:

• The juiciest and sweetest sugarcane is the tropical green sugar cane.
• It strengthens stomach, kidneys, heart, eyes, brain and sex organs.
• The sugarcane can be used as simple energizer and protein supplement in infectious fevers.
• It acts as an instant energizer and supplies body with instant glucose.Sugarcane is rich in iron and carbohydrate.
• Sugarcane juice mixed with lemon and ginger juice helps in easy flow of urine
• Pure sugarcane juice which is devoid of micro organisms is very beneficial in jaundice.
• Chewing sugarcane and sucking its juice help to strengthen the teeth and gums.
• People who are under weight are benefited by this. This helps to gain healthy weight

Systemic Use:

Sugarcane has the properties of normalizing imbalanced rakta or blood and pitta (bile). It rejuvenates liver. Because of this property it is widely used in treating jaundice. It is, however, very essential that the juice, must be clean and devoid of micro organisms.

Increases body strength and energy (Balya):
The sugar cane juice instantly energizes our body and provides strength. Sugar cane is rich in iron and carbohydrates. Hence it boosts energy straight away.

Helps to improve sperm count and sexual health (Vrushya)
Sugarcane is praised by ayurveda acharyas for its properties which support to improve male fertility and male sexual health. It acts as an aphrodisiac and increases libido, increases sperm count and sperm motility . This can be used in oligospermia. It also helps in rectifying erectile dysfunction. It is one of the vajikarana foods.




Crystals are odorless and sweet.
- Considered antidote, antiseptic, bactericidal, cardiotonic, demulcent, diuretic, emollient, cooling, laxative, stimulant.
- Studies have suggested immunostimulatory, prokinetic, hypoglycemic, antioxidant, steroidogenic, antimicrobial, hypolipidemic, hepatoprotective, anticancer, diuretic, antiurolithiatic, anticoccidial properties. 

Clinical trials:

1. Hypoglycemic activity of polysaccharide fractions containing ß-glucans from extracts of Rhynchelytrum repens (Willd.) C.E. Hubb., Poaceae/ doi: 10.1590/S0100-879X2005000600010 Braz J Med Biol Res, June 2005, Volume 38(6) 885-893

2. Ethnobotanical Study of Plants Used to Treat Arterial Hypertension, in Traditional Medicine, by Abbey and Krobou Populations of Agboville (Côte-d’Ivoire) / Nguessan Koffi et al / European Journal of Scientific Research • Vol.35 No.1 (2009), pp 85-98


1. Preliminary study on the effect of sugar cane (Saccharum officinarum) molasses on steroidogenesis in testicular cell cultures / Farzana Rahiman and Edmund John Pool / African Journal of Food Science, Vol. 4(2) pp. 037-040, February 2010

2. Phytochemical and Antimicrobial Properties of the Aqueous Ethanolic Extract of Saccharum officinarum (Sugarcane) Bark / Eneh Frank Uchenna, Okechukwu Amara Adaeze, Chukwuemeka Steve Adindu / Journal of Agricultural Science, 2015; Vol 7, No 10 / DOI: 10.5539/jas.v7n10p291

3. Impact of Sugar cane peel (Saccharum officinarum) Extract on the Blood Status and Gonadal Integrity of Wistar Albino Rat / ASHADE, O.O., ABUBAKAR, R.O., NGUKA, O.O., YAKUBU, A.O., OYESANYA, O., OFOEGBU, C.C., BELLO, O.N., OSUNTADE, B.A. / IJAPBC, July-Sept 2014; 3(3)


Leaves and sheaths of some varieties are covered with a large number of siliceous hairs. These hairs penetrate the skin of cane cutters and are most unpleasant; hence cane cutters prefer varieties with few hairs or burnt cane

Toxicity studies:

Sugarcane contains hydrocyanic. Sugar cane is a known teratogen. Molasses in excess amounts, alone or mixed with feeds, may cause diarrhea, colic, urticaria, kidney irritation, sweating and paralysis in domestic stock; horses seem more susceptible, and toxicity could prove fatal. Total phenolic content at 200 µg/ml 

Use in other system of medicine:

Edibility / Nutritional
- Largely used for preserving meat and fruit.
- In India, sugarcane juice is known as a nutritional drink.
- In Nigeria, stem pulp is widely consumed as a snack for its sugar content.
- Suitable for use as rehydration and functional food plant. 
- Refined sugar has been used for fevers, lack of secretion, dry coughs.
- Molasses is used as a laxative.
- Sugar is applied to wounds, ulcers, boils, and inflamed eyes.
- Leaf ash used to treat sore eyes. Stem juice used for sore throats, snake bites, and wounds from poison arrows. 
- Pulped sugar used to dress wounds; the cane used for splinting broken bones. 
- In Mexico used to relieve coughs.
- Malay women use it in childbirth.
- Decoction of root used for whooping cough. 
- In India, plant juices used for abdominal tumors.
- In Cote-d-Ivoire, leaf decoction used for hypertension. 
- In India, used in the treatment of jaundice, hemorrhage, dysuria, and various urinary diseases. 
- In Sri Lanka, leaf decoction taken for cough. Fresh stem juice with crushed ginger given for stomachaches in children. Treacle used as laxative. 
- In Sindh medicine, sugarcane dissolved in water or mixed with milk is applied to affected areas of hand burn. Paste of S. officinarum and Citrus limonum mixed with Cocos nucifera oil is applied to scalp for treatment of dandruff. Paste of S. officinarum and Triticum aestivum applied for wound healing. Paste of sugarcane and jaggery in oil used for wound healing. Paste of sugarcane and butter applied to areas of psoriasis. 
- In Ghana, sugarcane is boiled with fruit peels of Anonas comosus and leaves of Azadirachta indica and the decoction drunk three times daily for treatment of malaria. 
- in Ogbomoso, SW Nigeria, juice used for treatment of diabetes. 
- Wax: Used in the production of furniture, shoes, leather polishes, and waxed paper. 
- Alcohol / Fuel: Stem sap used for making alcohol and used as fuel. 
- Fiber: Stems are source of fiber for making paper. 
- Residue: Bagasse residue after extraction of sugar used for making fiberboard, paper pulp, furfural and cellulose


Sugarcane is a large, perennial, grass. It produces thick culms that may grow up to 2 - 3 meters tall, but with extended growing periods the plant can become much taller
A major crop in the tropics, where it is grown mainly for the sap in the stems which is used for making sugar, alcohol for fuel etc. The plant is also a major source of biomass and a useful wax. It has been cultivated since ancient times. Crystals are odorless and sweet.
- Considered antidote, antiseptic, bactericidal, cardiotonic, demulcent, diuretic, emollient, cooling, laxative, stimulant.
- Studies have suggested immunostimulatory, prokinetic, hypoglycemic, antioxidant, steroidogenic, antimicrobial, hypolipidemic, hepatoprotective, anticancer, diuretic, antiurolithiatic, anticoccidial properties. 

Ayurvedic Formulations:

Common Ayurvedic Formulations of Guda with their Indications
Agasthya Rasayanam - Agasthya Rasayana for asthma

Bahushala Guda
Vilwadi Lehyam
Brahma Rasayana
Ashwagandhadi Lehyam

Photos of Guda -

Saccharum officinarum by Vaidhyaraj Acharya Balkrishna Ji Maharaj

KEY WORDS: Guda Saccharum officinarum

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