Babbula (Acacia arabika)
Since centuries, babbula is used traditionally in Ayurveda for a number of afflictions. Babbula has several synonyms portraying its peculiarities like kaphantaka – destroys kapha disorders, kasaya astringent, suksmapatra – has tiny leaves, yugmakanta – with pair of spines, pitapuspaka – have yellow flowers etc. The bark, which is markedly astringent, its decoction was considered as a panacea for diarrhea, dysentery, and as a mouthwash and gargle in aphthous stomatitis. The twig is commonly used for brushing the teeth. Various uses of babbula have been mentioned in Ayurvedic texts.
Babbula grows all over India, especially in deciduous forests. It occurs in Punjab, Rajasthan and Western ghats in abundance. Indian gum is the dried gummy exudation obtained from the stem and branches of this plant. About 85% of the world supply of gum acacia is from Sudan. It is an evergreen tree, growing upto 10 metres in height, with a short trunk. The branchlets are slender, pubescent when young. The leaves bipinnately compound, with paired stipular spines. The spines are whitish in colour, straight and sharp. The pinnae are 4-9 in pairs, with subsessile leaflets. The fruits – pods are flat, stalked and have constrictions between the 8 – 12 seeds. The gum exudes from cuts in the bark in form of ovoid tears. The tears are glossy and marked with minute fissures and are brittle in nature. The colour of the gum varies from pale yellow to black. It is soluble in water.
The botanical name of babbula is Acacia Arabica or Acacia nolotica and it belongs to family Mimosaceae. The plant has undergone for extensive phytochemical investigations. The bark contains phenolic constituents and tannis, catechin, gallic acid, catechol, epicatechol, dicatechol and epigallocatechin the leaves contain tannis, carotin and vitamin C. The pods have 41% tannis. Gallic acid, protocatechuic acid and leucocyanidin are isolated from the pods (Leather Sci. 1977, 24, 293) . The gum contains calcium, polysaccharides, magnesium, salts of Arabic acid malic acid, L – arabinose, D galactose, L – rhamnose and oxidative enzymes. From these roots hentriacontane, lapachol, n-hentriacontanol, sitosterol and paulowin are isolated. The root bark contains amyrin, octacosanol, sitosterol and betulin. In the seed fatty oil, capric (0.12), lauric (0.07), myristic (1.32), palmitic (0.51), stearic (16.12), eleic (34.78), linoleic (44.07) and archidic (4.01%) acids are detected by GLC.
Babbula is astringent in tase pungent in the post digestive effect and has cold potency . It alleviates kapha and pitta dosas. It possesses heavy (guru) and dry atiributes. It is useful in skin diseases, cough, piles, burning sensation of the body and diseases due to ama.
The gum (niryasa) of babbula is sweet and astringent in taste, sweet in the post digestive effect and has cold potency. It alleviates vata and pitta dosas. (Kaiyadeva Nighantu)
The bark skin, leaves, seeds, pods and the gum of babbula are used for medicinal purpose. The plant is used internally as well as externally. The powder of its leaves is sprinkled on burns and scalds, externally, to arrest bleeding and promote the healing. The bark decoction is beneficial as a gargle and mouthwash in throat and laryngeal inflammation and aphthous stomatitis. The juice of tender leaves is used as a lotion in conjunctivitis. The decoction of the leaves is salutary, as uttara basti medicated enema, in menorrhagia. It is also used for treating the rectal prolapse.
Internally, babbula is a valuable drug for various ailments. Diarrhoea is controlled well, with the juice of its leaves given along with curds. In menorrhagia, the combination of the pods of babbula and the skin of salmali (Bombax malabaricum), given with milk, is very effective. The pods are used with great benefit in diarrhea, dysentery, piles, raktapitta and worm infestation. The skin of the bark is benevolent, as an adjunct, in diabetes and various dermatoses. The gum alleviates sexual debility and the pods prevent the premature ejaculation. The gum and wheat flour, fried in ghee and jam is prepared by adding sugar. To this mixture, almonds, raisins, pistachio and munjatake (Eulophia compestris) rhizome powder are added. This preparation is popular as an anabokic agent, in general debility. The bark powder of babbula is used widely as a demulcent, in conjunctivitis, and the gum as an antipyretic and antidiarrhoeal medicine. The root powder is used in leucorrhea. The decoction of bark skin is valuable as an anti-toxin. A household tonic is prepared, by mixing the gum fried in ghee, with double quantity of sugar. Ti is rewarding in general debility.
- Babbula curna
- Lavangarista etc.