Bead Tree, Chinaberry, China Tree, Persian Lilac, Pride of India, Maha Neem, Bakain, Bakarja, Bakayan, Betain, Deikna, Drek, Azad-darakht and Bakaen are the few synonyms for the tree Melia azedarach. It is an ornamental tree with multiple uses. It possesses important medicinal properties but these are not much appreciated in India by the people and are neglected in favor of the more well-known Neem.
Maha Nimba is used for therapeutic purpose in Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani System of Medicine. It has significant blood detoxifying and anthelmintic properties and is used in treatment of diseases of skin. The extract obtained from the bark and the fruit is used to kill parasitic roundworms. For nervous headache, a poultice made from the leaves and flowers is used. Like Neem, the leaves, bark and fruit are insect repellent. The oil obtained from the seed is used in rheumatism. For asthma, the Wood-extract is used. The fruit has narcotic qualities and large quantities are poisonous.
Melia azedarach & Azadirachta indica
Melia azedarach (Maha Nimba) looks similar to the tree Azadirachta indica (Neem). Both have compound leaves with narrow, serrate-edged leaflets terminating in long points though the Melia azedarach leaves are smaller in size and lack the curve and are sub-divided at the base into several pinnae bearing five or seven leaflets. Both the trees are native to India and belong to same plant genus Melia, a small genus consisting of 2 species i.e. azedarach and azadirachta.
The Sanskrit name of Melia azedarach is Maha Nimba whereas Azadirachta indica is known as Nimba. Both the trees can be easily seen in parks and along roadsides. Azadirachta indica has anti-inflammatory and antipyretic properties. Melia azedarach has an anthelmintic effect and used for worm infestation.
Melia azedarach has close affinity with Neem and much used as a substitute for Neem. Heart wood and seed oil of tree is used as a substitute for neem.
General Information of Bakayan Tree
Melia azedarach is found throughout India. It is found growing naturally in the sub Himalayan tracts upto 1800 m. It is a deciduous tree up reaching up to 45 m height. It has a spreading crown and sparsely branched limbs. The bark is smooth, greenish-brown when young and turn grey and fissured with age.
Bakayan Tree Botanical Description
Leaves: The leaves are up to 50 cm long, alternate, long-petioled, two or three times compound (odd-pinnate); the leaflets are dark green above and lighter green below, with serrate margins.
Flower: The flowers are small and fragrant, with five pale purple or lilac petals, growing in clusters. sepals 5-lobed, 1 cm long; petals 5-lobed, 0.9 cm long, pubescent; staminal tube deep purple blue, 0.5 cm long, 1 cm across.
Fruit: The fruit is a drupe, marble-sized, light yellow at maturity, hanging on the tree all winter, and gradually becoming wrinkled and almost white.
Bark: Comparatively thin, about 0.2 to 0.6 cm thick; outer surface black and rough being slightly fissured and exfoliating in small slightly woody pieces light and dark-grey to greyish-black in colour; inner bark made up of creamy layer alternating with whitish ones; fracture, fibrous; taste, extremely bitter.
The leaves fall in winters and the tree appears naked except for the bunches of cherry-like fruits which, when ripe and lusciously golden, attract bulbuls and other birds in large numbers.
- Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Root, Stembark, Flower, Leaf, Root, Bark, Fruit, Seed, Gum, Sap
- Plant type / Growth Habit: Tree
- Duration: Perennial
- Habitat: Wild in sub-Himalayan tract at 700-1000 m, cultivated and naturalized throughout India.
- Growth rate: Fast growing.
- Soil type: Deep, fertile, sandy loam soils support the best growth.
Bakayan Tree Common Names
- Scientific Name: Melia Azedarach
- Assamese: Khammaga
- Bengali: Ghoranim, Mahanim, Gora-Nim
- English: Persian Lilac, Chinaberry, Bead Tree, Bastard Cedar, Indian/Barbados/Cape Lilac, Bakain, Drek, Deikna
- Gujrati: Bakan Limado, Bakai Nimbu
- Hindi: Bakain, Drek, Deikna, Bakarja, Malla Nim
- Kannada: Kadu Bevu
- Malayalam: Malaveppu
- Marathi: Bakana Nimb
- Punjabi: Dharek, Bakain, Drek
- Sanskrit: Ramyaka, Dreka
- Tamil: Malaivembu, Mallay Vembu, Puvempu, Malaivembu
- Telugu: Turakavepa, Taraka Vepa
- Urdu: Maghz-E-Bakain, Bakaayan
- Filipino: Paraiso,Bagaluñga,Balagañgo
- French: Lilas Des Antilles, Lilas Des Indes ,Fleurs Lilas, Piment D’eau
- German: Zedarachßaum, Paternosterßaum
- Indonesia: Marambung, Mindi, Gringging
- Italian: Albero Dei Paternostri
- Javanese: Gringging
- Nepali: Bakena, Bakaina, Bakaino
- Trade Name: Persian Lilac
Scientific Classification Of Melia azedarach
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 of classification.
The botanical name of Bakayin is Melia azedarach Linn. It belongs to plant family Meliaceage. 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)
- Division: Magnoliophyta (flowering plants)
- Class: Magnoliopsida (flowering plant producing an embryo with paired cotyledons)
- Subclass: Rosidae
- Order: Sapindales
- Family: Meliaceae – Mahogany family
- Genus: Melia L.
- Species: Melia azedarach L.
- Melia semperrirens Sw.
- Melia bukayun Royle.
Nimba and Mahanimba, are two different trees belonging to same family, Meliaceae. Botanical name of Neem is Azadirachta indica A. Juss; Melia azadirachta L.; Melia indica (A. juss) Bandis.
Constituents of Bakayan Tree Ayurveda
Quercitrin, rutin and tetranortriterpenoids, salanin and vilasinin are present in leaves. Quercetin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and help to reduce inflammation.
Rutin is a flavonol glycoside comprised of quercetin and rutinose found in many plants. Rutin has antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, β-amyloid oligomer-reducing, antimicrobial, antifungal, neuroprotective and anti-allergic activities.
The fruit of Melia azedarach contains the alkaloid azaridine, a resin, meliotannic acid and benzoic acid, oil, glucose, hydrocarbons and proteins. The bitter constituents are present exclusively in the pericarp, not in the kernel of the fruit.
The bakayan tree heartwood contains bakayanin a lactone, bakalactone.
The fixed oil extracted from the bakayan tree seed contains butyric, valeric, stearic, palmitic, oleic, linoleic, arachidic, liquoceric, unsaturated resinous acids and margosline.
The bark of bakayan tree contains the alkaloid paraisine. Inner bark is extremely bitter nauseous but not astringent and contain yellowish-white resin and exhibits anthelmintic activity. The outer bark is astringent, and contains tannins.
Unani Medicine containing Bakayin Tree
HABB-E-MUSAFFI-E-KHOON (Berg Bakayin, Leaf)
Ayurvedic Medicines containing Bakayan tree
- Brihat Manjishthadi Kvatha
- Divya Arshakalpa Vati
- Durvadi taila
- Jatyadi ghrita
- Maha Vishagarbha Taila
- Nimbadi Taila
Melia azedarach (Mahanimba) in Ayurveda
Melia azedarach is known as Maha nimba, Nimbaraka, Karmuka, Visa mustika, Ramyaka, Girika, Udreka, Kshira and Kesha Mushtika, Arista, Brihannimba and Parvatanimba in Sanskrit. The bark of tree is considered astringent, bitter, and pungent in taste (Rasa), pungent after digestion (Vipaka), and is cool in effect (Virya).
- Rasa (taste on tongue): Kashaya (Astringent), Katu (Pungent), Tikta (Bitter)
- Guna (Pharmacological Action): Ruksha (Dry),
- Virya (Action): Shita (Cooling)
- Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Katu (Pungent)
Ayurvedic Actions / Karma
- Grahi: Inspissants; stomachic, digestive and heating qualities dry the fluids of the body.
- Kasahara: Removes cough.
- Pittahara: Pacifies Pitta Dosha.
- Raktadoshahar: blood purifying.
The bark of tree is used in Ayurveda for treatment of following conditions:
- Asthma (Shvasa)
- Hallucination (Bhrama)
- Malaria (Visham jvara)
- Nausea (Hrillasa)
- Piles (Arsha)
- Rat poisoning (Mushaka Visha)
- Skin diseases (Kushtha)
- Tumor (Gulma)
- Urinary diseases (Prameha)
- Vomiting (Chardi)
Maha nimba is exceedingly constipative, astringent, unctuous and cooling.
Important Medicinal Properties Melia azedarach
Melia azedarach is rich in medicinal properties. The Rootbark & Fruit are considered astringent, tonic, antiperiodic. The Stembark is bitter, tonic, astringent, antiperiodic, vermifuge and the Fruit is purgative, emollient and anthelmintic. Leaf has discutient and anthelmintic action. Seed Oil is stimulant, insecticide and antiseptic.
Below is given medicinal properties along with the meaning.
- Abortifacient: Induces abortion.
- Analgesic: Acting to relieve pain.
- Anthelmintic: Antiparasitic, expel parasitic worms (helminths) and other internal parasites from the body. Aqueous and alcoholic extracts of leaves showed significant anthelmintic activity against tapeworms and hookworms, the aqueous extract being more effective.
- Anti-asthmatic: Treat or prevent asthma attacks.
- Antibacterial: Seed Oil show antibacterial action.
- Antifertility: It has been reported that sperm motility and daily sperm production was significantly reduced in rats fed with Melia azedarach.
- Antilithic: Preventing the formation of calculi or promoting their dissolution.
- Antiseptic: Antiseptic: Capable of preventing infection by inhibiting the growth of infectious agents.
- Antispasmodic: Relieve spasm of involuntary muscle.
- Anti-viral: Effective against viruses.
- Astringents: Constrict tissues; styptic.
- Emetic: Causes vomiting.
- Emmenagogue: Stimulates or increases menstrual flow.
- Insecticidal: The ethanolic extract of drupes was tested for its anthelmintic activity against the tapeworm Taenia solium (Cestoda) and the earthworm Pheretima posthuma (Annelida) using Piperazine phosphate as the standard drug. The extract was found active against both the tapeworm and the earthworm tested.
- Narcotic: In moderate doses dulls the senses, relieves pain, and induces profound sleep but in excessive doses causes stupor, coma, or convulsions.
- Poison: Fruits are poisonous to humans if eaten in large quantity.
Medicinal Uses of Melia azedarach
Melia azedarach is used traditionally to treat various ailments such as piles, mouth ulcer, skin problems, dandruff, gout, inflammation etc. The root and the bark are used as an anthelmintic, vermifuge, cathartic, emetic and for intermittent fevers and dysentery. For increased frequency and turbidity of urine, skin diseases, nausea, emesis, asthma, gastroenteritis, giddiness and vertigo, the dried stem bark is used. A decoction of the leaf is an anthelmintic, astringent and emetic.
Ascariasis (parasitic roundworm)
An infusion of the bark is effective against ascariasis.
An aqueous extract of the heartwood relieves asthmatic attacks.
Apply its leaves juice in hair roots.
Eczema, ring worms, itching on skin, burns
Extract Fresh leaves juice and apply on affected areas. Do this for few days.
Take root, pound to make paste. 5 gm paste with honey twice in a day, is taken for 5 days.
Boil leaves of Bakayan and apply on affected joints to get relief from pain.
A decoction of the leaf is given to relieve hernia.
Bark paste is applied for joint pain.
Kidney problem, increased uric acid, serum creatinine
Prepare decoction of Bakayan bark and drink twice a day.
A paste of the flowers is applied on the head to destroy lice.
Leprosy and scrofulous ulcers
Poultices of the bark is applied.
Menstruation related problems, uterus problem
For menstruation related problems (Irregular menses, heavy menses), extract fresh juice of its leaves and drink 5ml twice a day.
Mouth ulcer, gum problem, bad breath
Take bark of Mahanimba (Melia azedarach) and boil in water. Add alum and gargle with this to cure mouth ulcers.
Or boil leaves in water and use this as mouth wash. This is very helpful in gingivitis.
Extract leaves juice (5 ml) and drink thrice a day. Or
Take bark, cut in pieces and put in a container till night then filter and get filtrate. Take 10 ml twice in a day for one month or take bark of the plant, dry and make powder. Take 5 gm powder with old gur twice a day for ten days.
Removal of internal parasites in Animals
About 25 -30 gm leaves of Melia azedarach is given to the animal once in a day upto 3 days for removal of internal parasites. Excess quantity is poisonous.
Rheumatism, chronic syphilitic sores, indolent ulcers
The oil contains sulphur in organic combination and is useful in skin diseases and rheumatism.
Scabies, carbuncles and abscess, wounds
Leaves paste of Melia azedarach is used to cure wounds, scabies, carbuncles and abscess.
Take roots bark (10 gm) and Nirgundi leaves (5-7) in water (400 ml) and prepare decoction till water reduces to one fourth. Filter and drink twice a day.
Skin diseases, blood purification
- Prepare decoction of Bakayan bark (10 gm) in water (200 ml) till volume reduces to 50 ml. Filter and drink twice a day.
- The fruit paste is applied externally on skin allergy.
- Leaf, seeds, bark and root boiled in oil are applied for treating skin disease.
Vaginal and uterus infection
Boil leaves in water and wash private parts to cure infection.
Visham jwar, Recurrent Fever, Malaria
For chronic fever, take bark (5 gm), Tulsi leaves (7) and boil in water (200 ml) till water reduces to one fourth. Filter and drink twice a day. Or
Extract its leaves juice and take 5 ml twice a day for a week.
Dosage of Melia azedarach
- The recommended dosage of bark is 5-10 grams for decoction. 5 g leaf per 500 g water for is used for parasites.
- The powdered root can be used in dose of 1-2 g.
- The powdered fruits can be used in dose of 1-2 g.
- The seed powder can be used in dose of 1-3 g.
Other Uses of Bakayan Tree
The beads (stones) are made into rosaries by the monks in the monasteries. They are worn as a necklace to avert contagious diseases.
Leaves are lopped for fodder and are highly nutritious.
The wood resembles mahogany and is used to manufacture agricultural implements, furniture, plywood, boxes, poles, tool handles. It is used in cabinet making and in construction because of its resistance to termites.
Contraindications, Interactions, Side-effects and Warnings Melia azedarach
Please note, though the fruits, seeds are used for medicinal purpose in Ayurveda, it is advisable not to eat the seeds. Caution is also required to use other parts of the tree.
Sushruta prescribed the fruits internally in indigestion, colic and intestinal catarrh. The seeds are also given for urinary disorders. Seeds were taken with adjuvants like rice-water and Ghrita. In case of Piles, the seeds are given along with rock salt, the roots of Plumbago zeylanica, the seeds of Holarrhena antidysenterica, barley divested of husk, the seeds of Pongamia glabra (Dahar karanja).
The bark and young flowers are less toxic than the berries, and the fresh leaves are harmless.
7-8 seeds prove toxic for adults and for the children the dose is even lower. In certain parts of the world poisoning in man and animals especially in hogs, due to the eating of the drupes has been reported.
The fruits are considered poisonous to both man and animals. Large amount can be toxic and symptom of poisoning (loss of appetite, vomiting, constipation or diarrhoea, bloody faeces, stomach pain) appear few hours after intake.
No specific chemical or pharmacological antidotes of tree are known, hence Treatment the treatment can only be symptomatic.
- It is unsafe to use Bakayan in pregnancy. It is contraindicated in pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- It promotes onset of periods.
- It may cause mouth burning, blood vomiting, production of abnormally small amounts of urine etc.
- It exhibits antifertility effects in both men and women.
- It reduces male fertility by decreasing the daily production of sperms and sperm motility.
The root bark or stem bark, oral intake reduces the chances of pregnancy in woman by decreasing the chances of implantation and resorption.
The stem bark and root bark may cause temporary side effects (human melia azedarach poisoning) such as headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, pain in abdomen etc.
Overdose of root bark or stem bark may cause diarrhoea, vomiting, pain in abdomen, respiratory paralysis, tachycardia (rapid heart rate), blue coloration of the lips, muscle weakness, ptosis (drooping or falling of the upper eyelid), increased liver enzymes etc.
In case of severe overdose, there can be gastrointestinal bleeding, jaundice, enlargement of spleen, increased liver enzymes, hepatitis, respiratory and circulatory failure.
In the month of March and April, the tree produces milky secretion. During this time, ONLY the tender leaves can be used for medicinal purpose.
Melia azedarach may cause skin allergy.
Oil must not be used internally.
IN AYURVEDA, THERE ARE MANY TOXIC PLANTS OF GREAT MEDICINAL IMPORTANCE SUCH AS AAK, KANER, ATIVISH, DHATURA, RATTI, LANGLI, ETC.
BAKAIN IS ALSO A TOXIC PLANT AND NEED TO USED CAREFULLY FOR INTERNAL USE. ALL THE ABOVE MENTIONED MEDICINAL USES ARE BASED ON AYURVEDA AND FOLK USES.