KATPHALA (Myrica nagi)
Katphala is sacred to Siva and Sakti and its fruit is offered to Durga. It is one of the gerbs mentioned in all ancient scriptures of Ayurveda and has various synonyms like ramapatri, somavalka, kaitarya, sriparnika, bhadra, kumudika, pracetasi etc. Maharsi Caraka has categorized it as vedanasthapaka – pain killer, sita prasamana – relieves cold sensation on the skin, samjna sthapana restores consciousness, kanthya – beneficial for the throat, sandhaniya – a healing herb and sukra sodhana – purifies seminal fluids. Also he has cited it to be useful in raktapitta and to alleviate the burning sensation of the body. Susruta has mentioned it as visaghna – detoxifier and stambhana astringent
Katphala trees are found in North Punjab, Garhwal, Kumau hills, Khasiya mountain and Silhat in India up to 2100 metes and also in Nepal, China etc. It is an evergreen, medium sized tree, with a big crown, giving shade. The bark is reddish, very fragrant, with bark skin nearly 10 cm in thickness, with oval dots on its inner surface. The trunk core is grey and hard. The leaves are simple, 10-12 cm long, 3-5 cm broad and fragrant. The fruits, berries, 1.5cm, become red when ripe and are sweet – sour in taste. The flowers are red in color, with small stalk and covered with tiny hairs. Katphla blooms in winter and bears fruits later on.
The botanical name of katphala is Myrica nagi (Synonym – M. esculenta) and it belongs to family Myricaceae . The bark reveals the presence of steroids, reducing sugars, tannins, and glycosides, reducing sugars, tannins, glycosides, saponins and volatile oils. The hexane extract of the plant roots shows presence of sitosterol and friedelin. New metabridged biphenyls – myricanol and myricanone – isolated from stem and bark and their structure elucidated. Myricanol glucoside, isolated from stem bark together with myricanol and myricanone. From the root bark 13-oxomyricanol isolated. A new triterpene isolated from bark and characterized as 28- hydroxyl – D – friedoolean – 14 – en – 2 – one (I) ; myricadiol,sitosterol, taraxerone and taraxwrl also isolated. Two new diarylheptanoid glycosides are isolated from stem bark and characterized.
Katphala is pungent, bitter and astringent in taste, pungent in the post digestive effect and has hot potency. It alleviates kapha and vata dosas, but aggravates the pitta dosa. It possesses light, dry and sharp attributes. It is diaphoretic, fragrant and astringent in qualities. It is used, chiefly in the diseases like cough, bronchial asthma, fever, diabetes, distaste and tumors.
The bark skin and the fruits of katphala have great medicinal value. The herb is used both, internally as well as externally. Externally, the powder of its bark skin is sprinkled on the wounds, for better healing. The wax from the fruits is said to be used as an application for ulcer healing. The powder of the bark is inhaled as a snuff in catarrh and headache. In hypothermia and cold sweating, the powder by itself or mixed with ginger powder is massaged all over the body with great benefit. The powder mixed with sesame oil is massaged in vata diseases like facial palsy and paralysis. Katphala is an effective gargle in stomatitis, sore throat, halitosis, dental aches and is useful to strengthen the teeth and gums. In bleeding piles the medicated oil of katphala is used for external application. Chewing of bark is said to relieve toothache.
Internally, the decoction of the bark mixed with ginger and cinnamon is valuable in cough, lung affections including bronchitis, diarrhea, dysentery, typhoid and diuresis. The bark is used in menorrhagia and is also reported to be useful in epilepsy and headache. Katphala is beneficial in cardiac debility, edema and haemoptysis. The decoction of the fruits is benevolent to regulate the menstrual cycle. The skin of bark and vasa leaves, in decoction, is the best panacea for bronchial asthma, cough and sinusitis. The comnination of three fruits, viz. katphala, mayaphala (Quercus infectoria) and fatiphala (Myristica fragrans) is commonly used to treat various ailments in children. The fruit oil is useful for massage in body ache, in ear discharges and in toothaches for topical usage. Ayurvedic Samhita mention katphala to be harmful to liver and spleen.
- Katphala curna
- Katphala kvatha
- katphala taila etc.