TVAK (Cinnamomum Zeylanicum)
The Sanskrit word tvak literally means the skin. As the bark skin of this plant is used for medicinal purpose, it is aptly named as tvak. The plant has numerous synonyms in Ayurvedic scriptures like tvag, utkata, varanga, bhrnga, coca, mukhasodhana, bahugandha, valkala, hrddya, ramapriya, tanuka etc, As a spice it has been used in India since centuries. It is a well known domestic remedy for loss of appetite, dyspepsia, abdominal pain, deodorant and dental pain. Bhavaprakasa has mentioned it as one of the ingredients of trijata – three aromatics, viz, tvak, ela (Elettaria cardamomum) and tamalapatra (Cinnamomum tamala) and tamalapatra (Cinnamomum tamala). Trijata is commonly used in ayurvedic pharmacy is asava and arista preparations to augment the fragrance and to promote the appetite and digestion.
The plant is a native of Sri Lanka and grows in South India up to 1500 meters elevation. The small tree, evergreen, 8-10 meters in height (up to 16 meters in Sri Lanka), with reddish brown soft bark. The leaves large, 5-15 cm long, ovate, thick, leathery, pointed at tip, shining green, lighter color beneath, main nerves on leaves 3 or 5, running from base of leaf to middle or tip. The flowers are small, in axillary cymes or panicles. The fruits, ovoid berries, dark purple and seed solitary, not filling the fruit, plano-convex. The plant flowers in January and fruits during May to August.
The botanical name of tvak is Cinnamomum zeylanicum and it belongs to family Lauraceae. The leaf and bark essential oils from plant of north-east India contained eugenol whereas bark oil contained cinnamaldehyde. Two new polyhydro-xylated pentacyclic diterpenes-cinnezey-lanin and cinnezeylanol-isolated.
Tvak is pungent, bitter and sweet in taste, pungent in the post digestive effect and has hot potency. It alleviates kapha and vata dosas, but aggravates the pitta dosha. It possesses light, dry and sharp attributes. Tvak is an appetizer, anti-colic, aromatic, deflatulent, analgesic and anti-emetic in properties. It is used in the diseases like pruritus, distaste, diseases due to ama, heart diseases, piles, worms, sinusitis, cough, asthma, diseases of urinary bladder etc. (Bhavaprakash Nighantu)
The bark skin and its oil are used for medicinal purpose. It is used externally as well as internally. The small pieces of its bark are chewed for strengthening the gums and as mouth freshener in halitosis. The swab dipped in its oil is placed in dental cavities to alleviate the pains and to mitigate the dental infections. The thin paste of its bark skin is applied on the skin in dis-pigmentation. In headache and joint pain the paste applied, relieves pain and swelling. The cinnamon oil is also applied on scorpion sting to alleviate the pain. The oil promotes the cleansing and healing of tubercular ulcers also. The topical application of oil is beneficial in failure of penile erection. The oil massage is salutary in various vata diseases.
Internally, tvak is used in vast range of diseases. In diarrhea, associated with abdominal pain, the skin and bilva fruit pulp, powdered together, are given along with curds. Tvak is a valuable remedy for vata diseases associated with nervine debility. In digestive ailments, it works well in distaste, abdominal pain, colitis, ama disorders, nausea, vomiting, anorexia and piles. Cinnamic acid has anti-tubercular action, hence is benevolent in tubercular cough. The powder of its skin or oil is used in cough, asthma. The decoction of tvak, dhanyaka and sunthi is extremely useful in cough, asthma, tuberculosis, pleurisy and hoarseness of voice. It is stimulant to heart, promotes diuresis and is a blood purifier as well, hence, used in cardiac debility, urinary problems and blood disorders. In uterine debility, the combination of tvak and Ashoka is used with great benefit. Tvak is salutary in amenorrhea and oligomenorrhea, and all beneficial as aphrodisiac in male sexual debility.