Pipal, Ashwattha, Bo, Bodhi, Pimpalla, Pimpal, Jari, Arani, Ragi, Bodhidruma, Shuchidruma, Rukka Arayal, all are synonym for the holiest tree – Peepal. It is worshipped in India since dawn of civilization.
Pipal is the most sacred tree for Hindus since Vedic period. During Vedic times, it was known as Ashwattha. The literal meaning of this name is, one which does not remain same tomorrow (a=negation, Shwa means tomorrow in Sanskrit, and Tha means one that remain) like the ever-changing universe. It is the king among the trees. Ashwattha is abode of all gods. Its roots represent Brahma the Creator, branches Shiva the Destroyer and trunk Vishnu the Preserve.In Atharva Veda (Veda of Atharvan, magic charms), there is prayer to this tree as destroyer of enemies. In Rig Veda (Veda of hymns), whole universe is considered to be an Ashwattha tree with thousand branches.
Puran mention, Pipal as Kalpa Vriksa. In Bramha Puran and Padma Puran, there are stories in which Lord Vishnu hid in a Pipal tree while he was attacked by demons. According to Skanda Puran, worshipping Ashwattha destroys all misfortune. It is a tree beneath which Lord Vishnu was born. The Pipal is Swarup (actual form) of Bhagwan Vishnu. Mahabharata says, man who worships Aswattha daily, worships whole universe.
Cutting of a Pipal tree is strongly prohibited in Hinduism. As it is said to be the incarnation of a Brahman, and therefore cutting down a Peepal is considered a sin equivalent to assassination of a Brahmin. Padma Puran asserts, cutting Ashvattha tree brings misfortune.
Pipal has longest history of worship and it is worshipped even today as in the ancient times. As it a sacred tree, people place damaged idols, figures of god and goddess at its base. Doing Parikrama or circumambulation of Pipal daily destroys all kinds of inauspiciousness.
This tree is associated with spiritual understanding. Ashvattha is tree of life (Jivan Taru) and tree of knowledge (Bramha Taru). Pipal or Bo is the tree under which Prince Siddhartha sat in meditation and found enlightenment to become Buddha. Therefore it is also sacred to Buddhists and is planted beside temples.
The image of Pipal is also found on many seals and tablets found in Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa. A seal found at Mohenjo-Daro shows a deity/goddess with horned headdress and bangles on both arms, standing in a Pipal (sacred fig) tree and looking down on a kneeling worshiper. Also there is another seal from Mohenjo-Daro and a terra-cotta tablet discovered at Harappa shows a Pipal tree.
Pipal has great medicinal value as well. It is extensively used in Ayurveda. Every part of this tree is edible and offers numerous benefits. Peepal is used in treatment of various infections, healing of wounds, improve fertility and treat poisoning. The bark is astringent and fruits are laxative. Seeds are cooling, refrigerant, laxative and alterative.
The leaves are purgative and tonic. They are useful in constipation and jaundice. Their oral intake gives strength to heart and helps to control the palpitation. They are also given to treat feverish condition and arresting bleeding or secretion.
The bark of tree is sweet, cooling, astringent, aphrodisiac and used both externally and internally. The decoction of bark is useful in variety of diseases such as skin diseases, rheumatism, ulcers, and scabies. The dried bark is boiled in milk and taken as aphrodisiac.
Pipal fruits or figs are good for digestive system. The dried fig powder is given in case of asthma. Fruits are cooling, digestive, laxative and aphrodisiac. For asthma, dried and powdered fruits are taken with water for fifteen days.
Plant Description: Pipal is a large, deciduous, fast growing, glabrous tree with spreading branches often attaining a girth of 12-15 feet. It is epiphytic when young. Stem is buttressed near base, fairly cylindrical further up.
Leaves are more or less pendulous, broadly ovate, margin often repand, very long caudate, coriaceous, dark green and shining above, base coardate or truncate with 3 strong principal nerves and 2-4 weaker ones, looped within the margin, acumen many nerved; petiole slender; stipules linear subulate.
The flowers are hidden with the figs. Figs are axillary, geminate, sessile, depressed-globose, smooth, glabrous, dark purple when ripe. It is edible and sweet in taste. Figs look like the berries and ripe in month of May.
The Bark occurs in flat or slightly curved pieces, varying from 1.0-2.5 cm or more in thickness. The outer surface is brown or ash colored, surface is uneven due to exfoliation of cork and the inner surface is smooth and somewhat brownish, fracture and fibrous. Bark mainly contains tannins.
Seeds are dispersed by various birds. The seeds can even germinate on other trees. If Peepal is growing on other tree, it just rely on anchorage and does not take any nutrition from supporting tree. Pipal is not a parasitic tree. The nutrition is obtained from air, deposited material and rain.
It can be seen growing in temples, wastelands, on the walls of old buildings, in garden and roadsides.
- Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: All parts of the tree
- Plant type / Growth Habit: Tree
- Duration: Perennial
- Origin: Indigenous in the Himalayan forests.
- Distribution: Himalayan forests from west of Uttar Pradesh eastwards; Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, , southern circle of Madhya Pradesh and Burma, largely planted and run wild throughout India, rare in the arid regions of north-western India; also found in Bangladesh, China, Indochina, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka.
- Propagation: Seeds or through the cuttings
- Soil: any type of soil
- Flowering and fruiting: Almost throughout the year.
- Unani properties: Mizaj (Temperament) Cold2 Dry2. Unani medicine Kushta Sang Jarahat contain leaf of Peepal (Berg Peepal).
Vernacular names / Synonyms
- Scientific name: Ficus religiosa
- Sanskrit: Ashwatha, Ashvatha, Pippala, Acriyutavas, Bodhidruma, Chaityadru, Chaityavriksha, Chaladala, Chalapatra, Kshiradruma, Mangalya, Nagabandhu, Pavitraka, Pippala, Sevya, Shuchidruma, Shymala, Vipra, Vishala, Vriksha Raja
- Assamese: Ahant
- Bengali: Asvattha, Ashud, Ashvattha
- English: Pipal tree, Peepal tree, Sacred fig, Sacred Ficus
- Gujrati: Piplo, Jari, Piparo, Pipalo
- Hindi: Pipala, Pipal, pipli, pipar, Peepul
- Kannada: Arlo, Ranji, Basri, Ashvatthanara, Ashwatha, Ashwattha, Aralimara, Aralegida, Brahmadaru
- Malayalam: Arayal, Ashwatham, Bodhivriksham
- Marathi: Pipal, Pimpal, Pippal
- Oriya: Aswatha
- Punjabi: Pipal, Pippal
- Tamil: Ashwarthan, Arasamaram, Arasan, Arasu, Arara, Achuvattam,
- Telugu: Ravichettu
- Sinhalese: Bo gaha
Ficus religiosa – Pipal – Sacred Fig Complete Classification
- The botanical name of Peepal is Ficus religiosa. It belongs to plant family Moraceae. Below is given taxonomical classification of plant.
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Subkingdom: Tracheobionta
- Superdivision: Spermatophyta
- Division: Magnoliophyta
- Class: Magnoliopsida
- Subclass: Hamamelididae
- Superorder: Urticanae
- Order: Urticales
- Family: Moraceae – Mulberry family
- Genus: Ficus L. – fig
- Species: religiosa
- Urostigma religiosum
- Urostigma affine
How Pipal is different from other plants?
Pipal tree releases oxygen 24 hours and does nocturnal fixation of atmospheric CO2. This makes it different from other plants as most of plants release oxygen during day time in presence of sunlight but release CO2 at night.
The 24 hour release of O2 is possible in Peepal as it has ability to perform Crassulacean acid metabolism or CAM (named after Crassulacean family of succulent plants). CAM is an ecological adaptation of photosynthesis done in some plants growing in limited availability of water or CO2 (such as arid condition, as epiphyte) and involves nocturnal CO2 fixation done to maximize CO2 uptake.
Constituents of Ficus religiosa
Leaves contain crude protein 13.99, ether extract 2.71, crude fiber 22.36, N-free extract 46.02, total ash 15.06, lime 4.64, and phosphorus 0.52 %. Campestrol, stigmasterol, isofucosterol, α-amyrin, lupeol, tannic acid, arginine, serine, aspartic acid, glycine, threonine, alanine, proline, tryptophan, tryosine, methionine, valine, isoleucine, leucine, nnonacosane, n-hentricontanen, hexa-cosanol and n-octacosan are also present.
Alanine, threonine, tyrosine are present in seeds.
Dried fruits contain moisture 9.9, albuminoids 7.9, fatty matter 5.3, carbohydrates 34.9, ash 8.3, silica 1.85, phosphorus 0.69 and coloring matter 7.5 %. Fruits also contain 4.9% protein having the essential amino acids, isoleucine and phenylalanine.
Bark contain saponins, flavonoids, steroids, terpenoids, cardiac glycosides, phytosterolin, bergapten, bergaptol, lanosterol, Beta-sitosterol, Vitamin K, n-octacosanol, methyl oleanolate, stigmasterol, lupen-3-one and tannins (5%).
In latex a serine protease, named religiosin is present.
Ayurvedic Properties and Action
Ayurvedic name of Pipal tree is Ashwatha and Pippala. The bark of tree is used in preparation of Ayurvedic formulations Nyagrodhadi kvatha, Nyagrodhadi churna, Nalpamaradi taila, Chandanasava, Sarivadyasava, Varadi Guggulu, Karappan Kashayam, Mukkachengalyadi Gulika and Brihat Marma Gutika.
The bark is astringent in taste (Rasa), pungent after digestion (Vipaka), and is cool in effect (Virya). It is Sheet Virya or Cool in potency and subdues Pitta (Bile). As it is drying, it balances Kapha or phlegm. It gives nourishment to body and steadiness and supports building of body fluids.
The decoction prepared from the bark is used in treatment of Vatarakta (gout), Raktapitta (bleeding disorders), Vrana (wound), Yoni dosha (diseases of vagina) and Prameha (urinary disorders).
Properties of Pipal Bark
- Rasa (taste on tongue): Kashaya (Astringent)
- Guna (Pharmacological Action): Guru (Heavy), Ruksha (Dry),
- Virya (Action): Shita (Cooling)
- Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Katu (Pungent)
Action / Karma
- Kaphahara: Pacifies Kapha Dosha
- Pittahara: Pacifies Pitta Dosha
- Varnya: Promotes complexion
Important Medicinal Properties
Ficus religiosa is rich in medicinal properties. Below is given medicinal properties of bark of the tree along with the meaning.
- Anti-inflammatory: Reducing inflammation by acting on body mechanisms.
- Anti–dysenteric: Relieving or preventing dysentery.
- Antiseptic: Capable of preventing infection by inhibiting the growth of infectious agents.
- Antioxidant: Neutralize the oxidant effect of free radicals and other substances.
- Antirheumatic: Alleviating or preventing rheumatism.
- Anthelmintic: Antiparasitic, expel parasitic worms (helminths) and other internal parasites from the body.
- Antimicrobial: Active against microbes.
- Antibacterial: Active against bacteria.
- Antigastroduodenal ulcer: prevent ulcer formation.
- Hypoglycemic: Reducing level of the sugar glucose in the blood.
- Laxative: Tending to stimulate or facilitate evacuation of the bowels.
- Tonic: Restore or improve health or well-being.
Peepal – Ficus religiosa Medicinal Uses
Sacred Peepal is highly esteemed medicinal tree. It is found everywhere in India and used by people in treatment of innumerable health conditions. The roots, leaves, tender shoots, latex and bark, all are full of medicinal properties. The bark and leaves are used as astringent, hemostatic, anti-inflammatory and laxative.
The paste of the powdered bark is a good absorbent for burn injuries and inflammatory swellings. Leaves and tender shoots have laxative properties and are also recommended for wounds and skin diseases. The leaves are used to treat constipation. Fruits are laxative and digestive. The dried fruit pulverized and taken in water cures asthma. Seeds are cooling and laxative. For neuralgia, inflammations and hemorrhages latex is used. Decoction of the bark if taken in honey subdues Vata rakta.
Pipal is effective in asthma, diabetes, diarrhea, boils, spermatorrhoea, gonorrhea, leucorrhea, skin diseases, cracked feet, anal fistula, aphthous sores, menorrhagia, nervous disorders, metrorrhagia, blood dysentery, bleeding piles, hematuria and hemorrhages. Studies show the aqueous extract of the bark has an antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli.
In Homeopathy, Ficus religiosa Remedy is available. This remedy is OTC medicine without any side-effect and used for abnormally heavy or prolonged bleeding (Menorrhagia), pain during periods, hematemesis and hemoptysis. The pellets are taken orally in dose of 4-6 pellets.
Below is given home remedies using various parts of Pipal tree. These remedies are time-tested, easy to do and does not pose any health risk.
- Young shoot tip ground and boiled in milk is given.
Aphrodisiac, small pox, mouth ulcers, rashes, urticaria, Night fall (nocturnal emission)
- Decoction of bark is given.
- The fruits are cooked in milk and given to improve libido.
- Mix equal part of fruit powder and bark powder. Intake of this powder gives relief in Asthma. Or
- Fruit powder is taken with honey. Or
- A decoction of the bark is administered in whooping cough and asthma. Or
- Mix the powdered bark with rice pudding. Take it in the early morning.
Aphthous ulcers / Aphthous stomatitis
- Aphthous ulcers is defines as condition of formation of benign and non-contagious mouth ulcers (aphthae) in otherwise healthy person. It is known as Munha Ke chhale in Hindi.
- For this condition, the powdered root-bark of tree is rubbed with honey on aphthous sores.
- 5-10 gm. of fine powder of tender leaves is taken twice a day with milk.
Boils, cut an d burn
- Its bark has great healing properties, you can apply paste of Peepal bark on boils, cut and burn to treat them. Or
- For burns, boil crushed leaves in coconut oil and apply topically. Or
- The dried bark powder is dusted on burns.
- Dried leaf powder is mixed with water and taken orally to get relief from body pain.
Burning sensation, foul taste, thirst, biliousness, diseases of the heart
- Earing ripe fruits is helpful.
- Fruits of Peepal are full of nutrition. They can treat male and female infertility. Fruits can also be used by drying them and making powder. Or
- Bark decoction + Milk in equal amount, is taken during menstruation.
- In Tripura, Pipal leaves are used to prevent pregnancy.
- Ficus religiosa leaves paste + Dioscorea bulbifera whole plant paste is mixed in equal amount. Then tablets containing 1-2 tea spoon mixture are prepared. One tablet is taken twice a day till commencement of next menstrual cycle.
- Fruits have laxative action and their intake give relief in constipation.
Tonic (Rasayan), Chronic diseases, chronic cough, paralysis
- For improving vital fluids in the body, the leaves of Peepal tree are boiled in milk and taken daily.
- For this purpose on first day, three small Pipal leaves are boiled in one cup milk + one cup water. This is filtered and taken. On second day, 6 (3+3) leaves are cooked in same way and taken. The leaves are increased by three till 30 leaves. Then from 30, the number of leaves are decreased by three till dose of 3 leaves is reached.
Chronic urticaria / Sheet Pitta
- The decoction of barks of Ficus religiosa + Ficus microcarpa + Ficus racemosa + Ficus benghalensis is given.
- Doing toothbrush with fresh twigs of Peepal is very good for teeth and mouth. Or
- Bark decoction is used as gargle in toothache. Or
- The juice of the bark used as mouthwash strengthens gums and gives relief in toothache.
- Tender leaf cooked in milk is given.
- Fruits and bark are prescribed in diabetes.
- Peepal leaf latex / milk can be applied in eyes.
Epistaxis, Nose bleed
- In case of bleeding nose, put some drops of Peepal leaves juice. It will provide instant relief.
Gastro intestinal disorders
- Bark decoction is given for three months.
- Decoction of bark is given.
- Root of Nymphaea rubra and stilt roots of Ficus religiosa are ground to make paste. This paste is rolled in form of pills and one pill is taken once a day during menstruation.
Improving breast milk
- Tender shoot tips (20-25) are ground in milk and taken empty stomach in the morning.
Increases memory, to strengthen nervous system, as a brain tonic, in mental confusion
- The powder of Pipal bark is taken with milk and sugar.
- Boil 2–3 tender leaves in about 100 ml milk until the milk condenses. Add sugar according to taste and take.
- In case of jaundice extract juice of 3-4 soft leaves. Mix this juice in water and add some refined sugar. Give this for 2 time a day for 4-5 days. Or
- Take bark of Pipal + Moringa Moringa oleifera, pound and get extract. Take this in dose of 2 ml, twice a day for one week.
- Mix equal proportions of pulp of fruit and sugar. Take it orally along with milk.
- Daily eat 4-20 fruits for one month.
- Take fresh bark Ficus religiosa + Butea monosperma, pound to get extract. Take in dose of 2ml extract twice a day for 2-3 weeks.
- Fresh juice and latex of Peepal leaves are good moisturiser. Apply on dry skin it will moisturise and nourish skin.
- The bark of Pipal is crushed to get the extract and taken in dose of 2 ml twice a day for one month. Or
- Pipal bark + Bad Ficus bengalensis bark + Pakar Ficus rumphii bark (all bark in equal quantity) + Gudhal Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 1 Flower, pound to get extract. Take 5 ml of this extract twice a day for 2-3 weeks. Or
- Take Pipal leaf + Kali mirch 5 + one fruit of Karela, pound and make paste. Take 5 gram paste twice a day for one week.
- The leaves and young shoots are used.
- Bark decoction is given.
- Pipal roots + Jalpihri Commelina longifolia roots, are dried and powdered. It is taken in dose of 5 grams with honey for one month.
- Apply the latex on the infected part topically.
- Leaf cooked with rice is given.
- The paste of tender roots or bark is applied topically.
Sexual weakness, weakness of nerves
- The decoction of bark is used.
Sexual dysfunction (low sex drive, impotence, erectile dysfunction, ejaculatory problems)
- Boil tender twigs (half kilogram) in water (4 liters) till the quantity of water is reduced to 500 ml.
- Cool and filter this decoction. Add sugar (2 kg). Take 30 g of this daily with milk, butter and sugar candy.
- Take latex of Pipal + Bad Ficus bengalensis + Khirni, on batasa (made from sugar). Take 2 Batasha twice a day for one month.
- Boil bark in milk and taken. Or take young bud.
- Fresh twig is chewed as toothbrush.
- The decoction of leaf is given.
To promotes fertility in women
- The powdered bark and fruits are taken with water.
Urinary disorders, vaginal discharges
- The decoction of bark is administered. 10 gm of bark is boiled in half liter water and when it remains 1/4th it is filtered.
- This filtrate should be taken twice a day.
- The root-bark of tree is sprinkled over unhealthy ulcers to improve their condition and promote granulation.
Uterine tonic, leucorrhoea
- The dried fruits are eaten.
Wounds and ulcers
- The bark decoction is used to wash wounds and ulcers. Or
- Leaves are used to cover wounds. Or
- Sprinkle fine powder of bark on wound.
- The fruits of tree are crushed and given to cattle in dose of 250 grams for improving chances of pregnancy.
- The bark decoction is given to animal for expulsion of placenta after child birth.
- In case of dysuria and hematuria in buffalo, extract of about 5 kg leaves is given orally.
It is an important host-plant of lac insect (Laccifer communis, Laccifer fici, and Laccifer lacca) for the summer brood. Lac is produced on Pipal in Assam, Madhya Pradesh Bengal, Punjab, Hyderabad (Deccan) etc.
Dosage of Ficus religiosa
- 10-20 grams of bark is used in preparation of decoction. The decoction is prepared by, boiling 10 or 20 gm of bark in half liter water and when it remains 1/4th it is filtered. This filtrate should be taken twice a day.
- 5-10 grams of fruits can be eaten.
- 5-10 grams of tender leaves are taken for medicinal purpose.
Contraindications, Interactions, Side-effects and Warnings
- Pipal is not a toxic tree.
- It is safe to take Pipal in any form.