NARIKELA (Cocus nucifera)
Narikela or coconut is truly Nature’s gift. In India, every auspicious occasion is recommended by offering prayers to the Lord along with coconut. During ritual worship, Gods and Goddesses are invoked with the holy offering of Narikela, as a symbolic expression. Narikela is one of the herbs mentioned in all Ayurvedic Samhita. The great sage Charaka has categorized it as brmhaniya – a bulk promoting herb. Maharishi Sushruta has mentioned various properties of Narikela as raktapittahara – alleviates bleeding disorders, sukra vardhaka – augments seminal fluids, kaphakara – aggravates the kapha dosha etc.
The plant grows all over India along the coast, Sri Lanka and Burma. It is cultivated throughout South India. It is a straight, 15-25 meters tall, unbranched palm. The bark is thick, 30-60 cm in diameter, blackish grey, bearing a crown of large leaves. The leaves, 2-5 meters long, pinnate, leaflets 60 cm – 1 meter long, equidistant narrow and tapering. The flowers in spadix, male flowers small, yellow and female flowers few. The fruits are trigonously obovoid, green or yellowish fibrous drupes. The seed solitary, oval with a hard endocarp and oily white endosperm, with sweet milky water in the large cavity. Flowering occurs in May to July.
The botanical name of Narikela is Cocus nucifera and it belongs to family arecaceae. From the ripened fruit 60-70% oil is obtained along with vitamin A and B. From fruit water – sugar, mannitol, gum, tartaric acid and mineral water is obtained. In fresh shell of the fruit nitrogenous substances, fat, ash, lignin etc. are present. In the ash of the leaves, potash is yielded in considerable amount. Coconut oil contains saturated fatty acids like capric, caproic, caprilic, lauric, myristic, palmitic, stearic and arachidic acids. The unsaturated fatty acids present in it are palmitolic, oleic, linolenic and arachidonic acids. The riped fruit water contains solida (5.4), sugar (3), minerals (0.5), fats (0.17) and proteins (0.1%). From minerals, 50% potassium and remaining 50% part contains sodium, calcium, and phosphorus, copper and iron. The riped water has PH 5.2.
Narikela is sweet in taste, sweet in the post digestive effect and has cold potency. It has a special potency as kesya – hair growth promoting herb. It alleviates vata and pitta doshas. It possesses heavy and oily attributes. It is a bulk promoting, ana bolic, tonic in properties and is used in diseases like raktapitta, burning sensation of the body, worms, urinary disorders, especially, cystitis, and blood disorders
The root, inflorescence, seeds (shell kernel, water and oil) of narikela are used for medicinal purpose. The massage with narikela oil is beneficial for hair growth and useful in wound healing and is effective in skin diseases. Local application of coconut oil is used, as an antidote, to treat the skin rashes due to bhallataka (Semecarpus anacardium) allergy. The fruit-water can also be rubbed on similar rashes. In alopecia areata, the fruit-water is rubbed on the affected area with great benefit. The shell oil is salutary in skin diseases like eczema and acne, used in combination with camphor. The paste of ginger with shell oil is more effective panacea for acne vulgaris.
Internally, the fruit water is commonly used to alleviate the vitiated pitta dosha, burning sensation, excessive thirst (hyperdipsia) and in raktapitta – bleeding disorders. The water and juice of the young spadix when fresh is sweet, cooling, digestive, aphrodisiac, diuretic, aperient, anthelmintic and tonic, and is useful in cystitis, dehydration, strangury, exhaustion, diarrhea, dysentery and general debility. The ksara of coconut is useful in glandular swellings. The famous preparation of narikela – sriphala kusumadi vati is used in colitis. The ripened fruit is a good tonic, anabolic, tissue builder and aphrodisiac, but is heavy to digest .
The coconut water is given along with sugar and cardamom in raktapitta. Coriander soaked in coconut water is an effective remedy for dysuria. In strangury, the juice of coconut pulp is benevolent. The roots are astringent, diuretic and anthelmintic, and are useful in pharyngodynia, uterine disorders, menorrhagia, bronchitis, hepatopathy, strangury and helminthiasis.
Classical Ayurvedic Preparations
Sriphala kusumadi vati
Narikela ksara etc.