Bakula (Mimusops elengi)
Bakula is one of the herbs mentioned in all ancient scriptures of Ayurveda and has been used for medicinal purpose, since centuries. In Meghaduta, one of the highly esteemed ancient poetry of the great poet Kalidasa, there is a mention of bakula tree. Susruta has cited it to have astringent property and beneficial to alleviate kapha and pitta dosas (Susruta Samhita), Cakradatta has mentioned about its usefulness in dental diseases, especially dental aches. Bakula has innumerable synonyms portraying its peculiarities like surabhi – fragrant, madhu gandha – sweet odoured, cira – puspa flowers remain fresh and fragrant for long duration etc.
Bakula grows thoughout India. It is an evergreen tree, growing upto 16 metres in height. The bark is dark grey in colour and many a times fissured. The bark wood is tough, heavy, reddish grey on outer side and dark red on inner side. The leaves are smooth, shiny, 5 – 10 cm long and 3 – 5 cm broad. They resemble to those of jambu leaves. The flowers are white, with yellowish tinge, about 2 cm in diameter, solitary or in bunches and fragrant. The fragrance retains even when the flowers are dried completely, hence are used as ornamental. The fruits are ovoid, 2.5 cm long, green in colour when raw and become yellow on ripening.
The ripened fruits are sweet and astringent. The seeds are 1 – 2 per fruit, ovoid, shiny, compressed and grayish brown in colour. The plant flowers in April and the fruiting occurs in June.
The botanical name of bakula is Mimusops elengi and it belongs to family Sapotaceae. The flowers contain volatile, whereas, the seeds contain non volatile oil, From the fruits and seeds quercitrol, ursolic acid, glucose, a triterpene alcohol, quercetin, dihydroquercetin and sitosterol glycoside have been isolated. Taraxone, taraserol, butilinc acid and spinasterol are isolated from the bark. Hentriacontane, carotene and lupeol from the leaves, heartwood and roots are isolated (Phytochemistry 1967, 6, 4543). The mixture of saponins contained in the bark yielded on hydrolysis amyrin and basic acid
Bakula is astringent in taste pungent in the post digestive effect and has cold potency. It alleviates kapha and pitta dosas. It possesses heavy and dry attributes. It is antidiarrhoeal, vermicide and beneficial in dental disorders. The fruits are astringent and sweet in taste, pungent in the post digestive effect and have cold potency. The alleviate kapha and pitta dosas and also diseases of teeth.
The bark, flowers, fruit and seeds have great medicinal value. The plant is used both externally as well as internally. Bakula is used externally as a remedy for various odontopathies. Be9ng an astringent and styptic , it is valuable aid in dental ailments like bleeding gums, pyorrhea, dental caries and loose teeth etc. In such conditions, the tender stems are used as tooth brushes or the powder of bark skin is used for cleansing the teeth . A popular combination of powders of its bark skin, roots of kantakari (Solanum xanthocarpum), saireyaka (Barleria prionitis) leaves and skin of an almond fruit is burnt into ash and is used to cleanse the teeth and strengthen them. The gargles of decoction of its bark skin and that of khadira (Acacia catechu) are effective in bleeding and swollen gums. The unripe fruit is used as a masticatory and helps to fix loose teeth. The flowers are used for preparing a lotion for wounds and ulcers, the powder of dried flowers is a brain tonic and useful as a snuff to relieve cephalalgia. The extract of flowers is salutary in heart diseases as well. Internally the bark skin and flowers being astringent and styptic in properties are benevolent in leucorrhoea and menorrhagia. Bakula curbs premature ejaculations. It works well as an antidiuretic in polyuria. It alleviates the toxins, hence useful as an anti toxin. The ripened fruit isrewarding as a general tonic in debility and also alleviates the burning sensation of body due to vitiated pitta dosa. The ripened fruits facilitate the urination and the squash prepared from them, alleviates burning micturition and helps elimination of urinary calculi.
Classical Ayurvedic Preparations
- Bakuladya taila
- Bakula puspa curna
- Bakula tvak kvatha etc.