KHADIRA (Acacia catechu)
The Sanskrit word Khadira literally means that which alleviates the diseases and stabilizes the body. Khadira has various synonyms in ancient scriptures of Ayurveda, like balapatra tini leaved; vakrakanta has hooked spines, dantadhavana useful for cleansing the teeth, kanthi beneficial for the throat, kusthaghna anti dermatosis, etc. The great sage Caraka has categorized it as udarka prasamana anti urticarial and kusthaghna anti dermatosis. Acarya Vagbhata has highly praised it as the drug of choice for the treatment of numerous skin diseases. Susruta has described the plant to be effective as an anti obesity herb. Khadira grows throughout India, up to an elevation of 1500 meters in Himalaya and in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Punjab. A moderate sized tree, not reaching more than 9-12 meters high and often smaller, with a short, somewhat crooked trunk. The branches numerous, irregular, straggling. The bark is dark grey and rough. The leaves numerous, alternate, stalked, often armed with a few prickles, bipinnately compound, leaflets 30-50 pairs. The flowers are pale yellow in color. The fruit, pod, 5-12 cm long, brown, acute, shining, with 3-10 seeds. The flowering occurs in May and June.
The manufacture of catechu, is traditionally done, by boiling the separated red heart wood, till all soluble portion exhausted. On cooling, it is converted to semisolid mass as cutch and less soluble fraction is removed as kattha.
The botanical name of khadira is Acacia catechu and it belongs to family Mimosaceae. Catechu contains 2-12% catechins, 25-33% phlobatinin, 20-30% gummy matter, quercitrin, and quercitin. The acacia tree has epicatechin that is distinct from catechin in gum gambhir. Epicatechin forms white acelluar crystals which are soluble in hot water and alcohot and give a green color with ferric salts. Catechutannic acid is an amorphous phlobotannin, which is formed from epicatechin by loss of the elements of water. It readily yields the phlobaphane catechu-red. Isolation of kaempferol, isorhamnetin. Faxifolin, dihydrokaempfrol (+) afzelechin, an unidentified dimeric procyanidin and (-) epicatechin. The seed fatty acids contained 0.1% of c 18:1 epoxy acids.
Khadira is bitter and astringent in taste, pungent in the post digestive effect and has cold potency. It alleviates kapha and pitta dosas. It has a special potency to alleviate the skin diseases. It possesses light and dry attributes It is used in the diseases like worms, wounds, fever, edema, pruritis, diabetes, obesity, blood disorders, cough, asthma and anemia etc.
The bark, wood, extracts fruits. Gum and flowering tops of khadira are used for medicinal purpose. The plant is useful, internally as well as externally. Used externally as a powder by itself, it arrests the bleeding in gums. The decoction is an effective gargle in sore throat, cough and hoarseness of voice. The paste is beneficial, externally, in skin diseases and wounds. The bath of its decoction is an effective panacea for various skin affection. In stomatitis, halitosis, dental caries and cavities, halitosis, dental caries and cavities, khadira is used with great benefit. The popular preparation Khadiradi guti is extremely helpful for chewing in sore throat, hoarseness of voice, and tonsillitis etc. due to vitiation of kapha doshas. It dries up the mucous secretions and regains the taste sensation.
Internally, khadira is useful in vast range of diseases. The decoction of khadira along with fennel and sunthi is salutary in diarrhea, dysentery and colitis, especially associated with bleeding. The decoction of khadira, given along with honey, effectively curbs the haemoptysis (bleeding through sputum) and alleviates the cough due to kapha dosa. In chronic fever with enlarged spleen, its decoction is beneficial. Khadira, because of its dry and light attributes alleviates the excessive body fats in obesity. For that, daily 3 gm cutch in 100 ml water is given as a drink. Within 3-6 months it wards off excessive body fats. It also works well as an adjunct in diabetes. Khadira is one of the most potent drugs, used in various skin diseases. Khadirarista is a famous preparation used for that purpose. The plant is extremely beneficial in vaginal diseases, leucorrhea, menorrhagia etc. for which its decoction is commonly used. Khadira along with yastimadhu, helps healing the wounds and ulcers in vaginal and anal mucosa. In anal fistula, the decoction of its bark skin and triphala is given with ghee and vidanga powder. In skin affections due to kapha dosa, the decoction of phadira and amalaki is used with bakuci powder, with great benefit.
Classical Ayurvedic Preparations
- Khadiradi vati
- Khadiradi kvatha
- Irimedadi taila etc.