Butea (Palash) is native to India and is found throughout the country. Palash tree is also known as 'flame of the forest' because of its red coloured flowers. It is a medicinal tree and its different parts are used to cure various clinical disorders.
"Palash Tree" by Gurpreet singh Ranchi - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Palash is used as tonic and anthelmintic in Ayurveda. In Ayurvedic treatise Acharya Charak and Sushruta mentioned the medicinal use of seeds and bark. Chakradatta described its gum as astringent and seeds as anti-parasitic. Palash is considered anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anthelmintic, anti-diabetic, diuretic, analgesic, antitumor and astringent. Its leaves are astringent, diuretic and anti-ovulatory properties. Its flowers are tonic and nutritive. Its roots are used to treat night blindness.
Scientific classification of Palash (Butea monosperma)
- KINGDOM Plantae
- SUBKINGDOM Viridiplantae
- INFRAKINGDOM Streptophyta – land plants
- SUPERDIVISION Embryophyta
- DIVISION Tracheophyta – vascular plants, tracheophytes
- SUBDIVISION Spermatophytina – spermatophytes, seed plants
- CLASS Magnoliopsida
- ORDER Fabales
- FAMILY Fabaceae – peas, legumes
- GENUS Butea Roxb. ex Willd.
- SPECIES Butea monosperma (Lam.) Taub.
Vernacular names in India
- SANSKRIT: Palas
- HINDI: Dhak, Palas, Tesu, palaash
- ENGLISH: Bastard Teak, Bengal Kino
- BENGALI: Palas
- GUJARATI: Khakharo
- MARATHI: Kakracha
- TELUGU: Mooduga, palasamu
- TAMIL: Parasa
- KANNADA: Muttuga
- MALYALAM: Brahmavriksham, kimshukam
- PUNJABI: Chichra, dhak, palas
- TRADE NAMES Palasha, Dhak
Distribution of Palash (Butea monosperma)
Palash or Dhak is found throughout India up to 1300-1400 m except in very arid parts.
It is also found in Sri Lanka, India, Myanmar and other countries of Indian subcontinent.
A moderate sized, deciduous tree;bark fibrous, bluish grey or light brown outside;Leaves compound, with three leaflets, rachis 12-22.5 cm long, leaflets hard, rigidly coriaceous, glabrescent above and silky tomentose beneath;Flowers terminal, red in colour, appear on leafless tree giving an appearance of fire flame;Calyx dark brown, hairy outside and fleshy, grey-silky inside;Petals are bright orange-red;stamens, 2-adelphous;ovary shortly stalked;Pod 10-15 cm, bearing single seed at the end of the pod;
Flowering: February-April;Fruiting: May-July.
Parts used: Seeds, gum, leaves, flower and bark.
The gum obtained from tree known as Gum Kino.
Palash root bark contains beta-sitosterol, leucoanthocyanidin, amyrin, betulinic acid, stigma sterol and en active principal palasonin. Gum and bark contain tetramers of leucocyanidin.
Palash flowers contain seven flavonoid glucosides, butrin, isobutrin, three glucosides (coreopsin, isocoreopsin and sulphurein), monospermoside and isomonospermoside.
Palash leaves contain glucosides. Seeds contain proteolytic and lypolytic enzymes, Palasonin, monospermoside and somonospermoside.
Palasonin from seeds has anthelmintic activity. Seeds administered as crude powder at doses of 1, 2 and 3 g/kg to sheep naturally infected with mixed species of gastrointestinal nematodes exhibited a dose and a time dependent anthelmintic effect. The seeds are effective against Ascaridia galli, ascaris lumbricoides, earthworms, toxocara canis, oxyurids, dipylidium caninum and taenia.
Medicinal uses of Palash/Dhak
Various part of Palash tree are used in traditional medicine system, Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani, for treatment of variety of diseases. The seeds of tree have purgative, diuretic/stimulates production of urine and anthelmintic/ anti-parasitic properties. The seeds powder is used in case of intestinal parasites. The seeds when ground with lemon juice have powerful rubefacient (causing dilation of the capillaries and an increase in blood circulation) action and are used for treating Dhobi's itch. Flowers and leaves are diuretic, aphrodisiac, astringent and increase flow of blood in pelvic region. In diarrhoea flower infusion is given.
Palash tree bark yields a gum which is known as Bengal Kino. It has astringent action and is useful in case of haemorrhage.
Many Ayurvedic medicines such as Krimikuthar rasa, Mahanarayana taila, Janma ghutti, Palasabeejadi Churna contain Palash as an ingredient.
Here are few remedies that can be done at home to cure various disorders using Butea or Palash.
Crotch itch (dhobi itch or jock itch)
Take Palash seeds (1 teaspoon) and pound in lemon juice (1 teaspoon). Apply on affected area.
The seeds of Palash tree are anthelmintic and laxative.
The fresh seed juice can be given with honey.
Seed kernel powder is also used for treating parasitic infestation. The seeds are soaked in water and seed coat is removed to get the kernel. The kernels are dried and powdered. The powder is taken in dose of 1/2 teaspoon with honey for three days.
Inflammation, sprain, swelling due to any reason (arthritis, moch)
Palash or daak flowers are used to treat inflammation, swelling and sprain in body. Take Palash flower and cook in steam. For cooking in steam take vessel full of water, bring it to boil when steam starts coming put a mesh or grid on it as lid. Now put flowers on it. Apply these flowers on affected part.
Palash Gum Powder, cinnamon powder (each 1/4 teaspoon) are taken with warm water.
Dust crushed seeds of Palash on affected body area.
The traditional remedy for snakebite (that is used in some parts of India), is to give mix of equal amount of Palash bark and ginger orally.
The flowers (one handful) are boiled in one litre water. The mix is filtered and rock salt is added. This should be taken frequently.
Palash flowers are used to remove body toxins. For this purpose dried or fresh flowers can be used. Take dried flowers and grind in mortar and pestle to make powder. Take 1 -2 gm daily.
Sexual dysfunction, intestinal infection, ulcer
Take dried Palash flower and make powder. This powder (1 teaspoon) should be taken twice a day with misri and milk.
Take Palash flower powder (2 gm) with misri (2 gm). If suffering from diabetes do not mix misri.
Prepare paste of leaves and apply on affected area.
Dosage of various palash parts
Stem bark- 5-10 g powder;Decoction of bark - 50-100 ml twice a day;
Fresh leaves juice- 10-15 ml, twice a day;
Flower - 3-6 g powder;
Seed powder- 0.5-1 g;
Gum- 25-50 mg twice a day;
Caution, Side-effects of Palash (Butea monosperma)
Like every other medicine, Herbs also have some side-effects.
- Butin from Palash seeds have anti-conceptive and anti-implantation activity.
- The seeds exhibited anti-implantation, pregnancy terminating and reduction in the number of implantation sites in dose dependent manner.
- Butin has weak estrogenic activity.
- Palash seeds are used traditionally as contraceptive.
The seeds must be used as medicine for short duration and in recommended dosage. When seeds are given for longer duration to rats, dogs and rabbits, nephrotoxicity, anaemia, gross dilation of stomach, gastric inflammation, liver enlargement and spleen enlargement (with congestion) occurred.