Agastya, Agati, Agathi or Sesbania is considered native to many South East Asian countries and found throughout India, Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines. The tree bears tamarind tree like leaves and big flowers. The leaves of the tree are edible and contain dietary fiber, iron, calcium, carbohydrate, protein, fiber, fat, vitamin B1, vitamin A and vitamin C and essential amino acids etc. The leaves, fruits and tender shoots are eaten as vegetable.
In Sanskrit, Sesbania Grandiflora is known as Agastya and considered very sacred. It is named after Vedic Rishi (sage) Agastya who is one of the Saptarshi. He is also believed to be the author of Agastya Samhita. The flowers of tree are sacred to Shiva and are supposed to represent the male and female, generative organs.Due to medicinal properties of leaves, fruits and bark, it is prescribed in Ayurveda and folk medicine to treat variety of ailments. The leaves are effective in fever of all types. This tree is non-toxic and can be used even to treat a new born. The leaves of this tree are tridoshnask. The bark is very astringent, but not bitter, and used as a tonic.
Sesbania Grandiflora bears flowers in white, red, or yellow colour. Agathi leaves and flowers are edible. Its flower can be used to prepare pakodas and Gulkand. Its leaves are very rich in vitamin A and can be used to prepare vegetables.
Plant Description: It is small, slender, soft wooded tree reaching upto 6-m.
The leaves are paripinnate and the leaflets are numerous. Flowers occur in axillary 2 – 4-flowered racemes. Calyx is campanulate, 5- toothed and two-lipped. Corolla is sickle-shaped, red, pink or white. Petals are 5 and long clawed. Stamens are 9. Fruit is long and tetragonous pod. Pod is about 50 cm long with numerous seeds.
- Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Leaves, flowers, bark, roots, shoots, fruits
- Plant type / Growth Habit: Small tree
- Duration: Perennial / Annual
- Distribution: Cultivated in gardens all over India,
- Habitat: Hot and humid environments. Tolerates water logging and is suited for seasonally water logged or flooded environments. It can grow in saline and alkaline soil conditions.
Vernacular names / Synonyms
- Latin: Sesbania grandiflora
- Sanskrit: Augastya, Munidrum, Agati, Agasthya, Dirghaphalaka (Dirgha=long, phala=fruits), Dirghashimbi, Kanali, Kharadhvansi, Munidruma, Munipriya, Munipushpa, Munitaru, Pavitra, Raktapushpa, Shighrapushpa, Shuklapushpa, Sthulapushpa,Surapriya, Vaka, Vakrapushpa (as the flowers are curved, Vakra in Sanskrit=curved, puspa=flower)
- Hindi: Agustiya, August, agati, Basna
- English: Sesbane, Hummingbird Tree, Agathi, Sesban, Swamp pea
- Gujrati: Augthiyo
- Malayalam: Agathicheera, Agathi
- Marathi: Augse gida, Hadga
- Kannada: Agastya
- Tamil: Agati, Acham, Agatti, Akatti-keerai, Kariram, Muni, Peragatti, Sewagatti
- Telugu: Agise, Agase
- Myanmar: Pauk-pan-phyu, Pauk-pan-ni
- Sinhalese: Katuru-murunga
- Other common names: Australian Corkwood Tree, Flamingo Bill, Sesban, Swamp Pea, Tiger Tongue, West Indian Pea, White Dragon Tree
All plants are scientifically classified into main 7 levels. These levels are Kingdom, Division, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species. A genus comprise of many species and botanical name consists of Genus (uppercase) followed by Species (lowercase). Genus consists of many species which are closely related and have lots of similarities. Species is the lowest level and represents the group of same plant.
The botanical name of Sesbane / Agastya / Agathi is Sesbania grandiflora. It belongs to plant Pea family. Below is given taxonomical classification of plant.
- Kingdom: Plantae (comprising all living or extinct plants)
- Subkingdom: Tracheobionta (have lignified tissues or xylem for conducting water and minerals)
- Superdivision: Spermatophyta (produce seeds)
- Class: Magnoliopsida (flowering plant producing an embryo with paired cotyledons)
- Subclass: Rosidae
- Order: Fabales
- Family: Fabaceae ⁄ Leguminosae (dicotyledonous tree with legumes and nodules on the roots that contain nitrogen-fixing bacteria)
- Genus: Sesbania Scop. (Riverhemp)
- Species: Sesbania grandiflora (L.) Poir. (Small tree also known as vegetable hummingbird, agati or hummingbird tree)
- Agati grandiflora (L.) Desv
- Aeschynomene grandiflora
- Coronilla grandiflora Wild.
- Robinia grandiflora Linn.
- Sesban grandiflorus Poir.
Constituents of Sesbania grandiflora
The flowers of this tree are rich in calcium, iron and vitamin B. The bark contains tannin and gum. All parts of the tree contain tannins, flavonoids, coumarins, steroids and triterpens.
Ayurvedic Properties and Action
Agastya is bitter in taste (Rasa), pungent after digestion (Vipaka), and is cool in effect (Virya).
- Rasa (taste on tongue): Tikta (Bitter)
- Guna (Pharmacological Action): Laghu (Light), Ruksha (Dry)
- Virya (Action): Shita (Cooling)
- Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Katu (Pungent)
It is a Katu Vipak herb. Vipak refers to post-digestive (effect after digestion / cooking of Rasa) effect of tastes after its mixing with digestive juices. It is the long term effect of herb.
Katu Viapk herbs, increases dryness in body. Such foods reduce fertility and Kapha.
Important Medicinal Properties
Sesbania grandiflora is rich in medicinal properties. The understanding of these properties will help us to better utilize this herb.
Below is given medicinal properties along with the meaning.
- Bark: Anti ulcerogenic, Anticonvulsant
- Leaf: Anxiolytic, Hepatoprotective, antioxidant and Antiurolithiatic activity
- Flower: Anti-cancer, Anti-microbial Analgesic and Anti pyretic
- Root: Anti inflammatory
Medicinal Uses of Sesbania grandiflora
Agathi or Agastya is used in Ayurveda for many ailments due to its aperient, diuretic, emetic, emmenagogue, febrifuge, laxative and tonic properties. It is used both internally and externally. Internally, it is given to treat cough, cold, catarrah, fever, weakness, indigestion, jaundice, excessive heat in body etc. Externally it is applied on bite of poisonous insects-animals, rheumatic joint, skin diseases etc.
Here are few remedies that can be done at home using Augastya to cure various ailments.
Antibiotic, anthelmintic, antitumor and contraceptive
A tea made from the leaves is taken.
Root juice 12-24ml is given with honey.
Boil leaves and flowers of Agastya in water. Cook for few minutes, filter and dink.
A bark decoction is taken along with sugar.
Duodenal and gastric ulcers
Leaf juice is used.
Eye diseases, night blindness, vision problems
Cooked leaves are taken to get cooling effect to infected eyes.
Leaves are cooked in ghee and eaten at morning and in afternoon and flower juice is uses as eye drop.
Flowers are used as curry for night blindness.
Fever of all, visham jwar (intermittent fever), food poisoning
Indigestion, stomach disorders in new-born and children
Take white Agastya flowers and extract its juice. Give 1-2 teaspoons to baby.
Infection in uterus, itching burning sensation in vagina
Take Agastya leaves and extract its juice. Soak cotton in this juice and put inside vagina. This cures vaginal infection.
Or boil Agastya leaves with Neem leaves and add alum. Use this water to wash vagina.
Improving eyesight, eye related problem
Extract Agastya leaves juice and put few drops in eyes to cure eye related problems.
Seed powder mixed with honey and ghee is given.
Jaundice, digestive problems
A decoction of pods is given.
Knee and ankle pain
The paste of leaves is applied topically.
Leucorrhoea (Shwet pradar or white discharge), Raktapradar (abnormal uterine bleeding)
This is herbal remedy to cure leucorrhoea. Take Agastya dried flower powder with milk regularly.
Migraine, sinusitis, catarrh, cough
Extract Agastya leaves or flower juice and put few drops in nose to cure migraine.
Leaf paste is applied over the head.
Nasal catarrh, headache
The leaves /flower juice is blown up the nostrils. This causes a very copious discharge of fluid and thus gives relief in congestion.
Physical weakness, sexual debility, digestive problems
Prepare Gulkand of its flower and take regularly to cure weakness of any type.
Or dry its flower and grind to make powder. Take 1 spoon powder with equal amount Mishri and milk.
Poisonous insect bites, insect bite
Root paste is applied on affected body part.
The root bark of the red-flowered variety is made into a paste with water and applied.
As Nasya, few drops of flower juice are poured in nose.
Leaf paste is applied.
Sinusitis, rhinitis, migraine
The juice is extracted from the flower petal. Its 6 drops are used as nose drop. This is done once a day for three day.
Sprains and bruises
Crushed leaves are applied.
Bark paste with sugar is applied.
Bark decoction is given.
Ulcerative colitis, inflammation in intestine, piles
Extract Agastya leaves juice and take 3-4 spoonful empty stomach in morning and evening. Do not eat for an hour after taking the extract.
Flower extract is poured into the eyes.
The tender leaves, green fruit, and flowers are eaten.
Dosage of Sesbania grandiflora
- The flowers cane be taken in dose of 5-10 grams.
- The leaf juice can be taken orally in dose of 10-20ml.
- The bark decoction is take in dose of 50-100ml.
Contraindications, Interactions, Side-effects and Warnings Sesbania grandiflora
- Intake of this herbs may aggravate Vata and gas in few people.
- Overdose can cause diarrhea.
- The leaves of tree are considered contraceptive.
- It causes dryness.