Kalijiri, Ban jira, Vanyajiraka, Somraji, Bitter cumin are few common names of the seeds of a plant, Centratherum anthelminticum. The word anthelminticum in scientific name, clearly suggests the medicinal usage of plant, which is to treat parasites.
Due to hot, sharp, bitter taste and strong bad odour, Kalijiri is not used in preparation of food but mainly as medicine. In Ayurveda, they are especially used in treatment of intestinal parasites and diseases of skin. They are also used in treatment of fever, cough and diarrhea.
In India, the seeds of three plants are known as Kalajiri or Black cumin viz. Nigella sativa (Ranunculaceae), Bunium persicum (Umbelliferae) and Centratherum anthelminticum (Asteraceae).
Also, there are two species of plant which are known as Somraji, one is Psoralea corylifolia and other is Centratherum anthelminticum. Both are used in treatment of skin diseases and leukoderma. In Bengal, mainly Centratherum anthelminticum is referred as Somraji or Bakuchi / Babchi.
Centratherum anthelminticum (L.) Kuntze (Fam. Asteraceae) Synonym Vernonia anthelmintica, is found throughout India up to 1850 meter. It is naturally found in Himalaya and Khasi hills. It is often cultivated for medicinal purpose.
It is a tall, robust, branched, glandular-pubescent annual plant reaching height of 2-3 feet. Leaves are membranous, lanceolate or ovate-lanceolate, coarsely serrate and 5-9 cm in length and 2.5-3.2 cm in breath. The leaves are covered with hairs. Inflorescence is many, subcorymbos and in cluster. Flower head bear 30-40 minute purplish flowers. Fruits of plant are called achenes. The seeds of plant are 3 to 5 mm long and 1 to 2 mm in diameter. They are blackish-brown to black in colour and taste bitter. The plant bear seeds in May to June.
The botanical name of Kaliziri / Purple Flea-bane / Achenes is Centratherum anthelminticum. It belongs to plant family Asteraceae. Below is given taxonomical classification of plant.
- Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
- Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
- Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
- Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
- Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
- Subclass: Asteridae
- Order: Asterales
- Family: Asteraceae – Aster family
- Genus: Centratherum Cass. – centratherum
- Species: Centratherum anthelminticum
Synonym: Vernonia anthelmintica Willd.
- Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Seeds
- Plant type: Herb
- Distribution: Throughout India up to 2000 min the Himalayas and Khasi Hills.
- Habitat: Himalayas and Khasi Hills
- Flowering: Rainy season
- Fruiting: Spring season
- Main disease for which it is used: leukoderma and other chronic skin diseases.
Common names/Synonyms / Names in other languages
- Latin name: Centratherum anthelminticum (Willd.) Kuntze
- Ayurvedic: Vanyajiraka, Aranya-Jiraka, Aranyajirakah, Kaalijiri, Karjiri, Brihatpali, Vanajiraka, Somaraji (Psoralea corylifolia is also refered as Somaraji)
- Siddha: Kaattu seerakam
- Unani: Kali zeeri, Kamoon barri
- Folk: Ban jira
- Bengali: Somaraaj, Babchi (Psoralea corylifolia is also equated with Babchi / Bavchi)
- Gujrati: Kaaleejeeree, Kadavijeeree, Kadvo-jiri
- Punjabi: Bukoki, Kakshama, Kala-zira, Kali-ziri, Malwa-bakchi, Malwabakshi
- Hindi: Kaalijeeree, Karajiri, Soharaai, Bakchi, Bakshi, Buckshi
- Kannada: Kaadujeerage, Kaarijirige, Kadu-jirage
- Malayalam: Krimishatru, Kattujirakam
- Marathi: Kadujire
- Telugu: Adavijilakaroa, Garetikamma
- Tamil: Kaattuchirakam, Chittilai, Kaattu Chirakam
- English: Stone wart, Purple Fleabane, Achenes, Bitter cumin, Black cumin
- Arabic, Persian: Atarilal, Itrilal, Karoune-bari
Constituents of Centratherum anthelminticum
The major classes of chemical constituent present are glycosides, carbohydrates, phenolic compounds and tannins, flavanoids, proteins, saponins, sterols, lipids and fats.
The seeds contain about 14.7% carbohydrates, 21.4% fat, 22.5% protein, 29.3% fiber and 4.9% moisture. The seeds contain fatty acids viz. linoleic acid (50 %), palmitic acid, palmitoleic acid, stearic acid, and oleic acid.
The main active principle of seeds is Delta-7-avenasterol. They also contain demanolide lactone, vernasterol, Sterols, avenasterol and vernosterol, a bitter principle, essential oil, resins and fixed oil consisting of myristic, palmitic, stearic, oleic, linoleic and vernolic acids.
The seeds contain fixed oil 18% and volatile oil 0.02%.
Ayurvedic Properties and Action
Kali zeeri is astringent, bitter, and pungent in taste (Rasa), pungent after digestion (Vipaka), and is hot in effect (Virya). Kali zeeri is an Ushna Virya herb. Ushna Virya or hot potency herb, subdues Vata (Wind) and Kapha (Mucus) and increases Pitta (Bile). It has property of digestion, vomiting and purging, and gives feeling of lightness.
In Ayurveda, Kalijiri is used in treatment of pain, asthma, gulma, hiccups, fever, cough, parasites, skin diseases, retention of urine, vitiation of blood, wound, eczema, and leucoderma.
- Rasa (taste on tongue): Kashaya (Astringent), Katu (Pungent), Tikta (Bitter)
- Guna (Pharmacological Action): Laghu (Light), Tikshna (Sharp)
- Virya (Action): Ushna (Heating)
- Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Katu (Pungent)
Karma / Action
- Jantunashak (Kills parasites)
- Deepana (promote appetite but do not aid in digesting undigested food)
- Kaphahar (Remover of the Humor of Kapha)
- Vatahar (Balances Vata)
- Mutral (diuretic)
- Stambhana or constipators have drying, astringent and cooling qualities. They are easy to digest and increase the air.
- Vaman karak: causes vomiting.
- Charmrog nashak: Cures skin diseases.
Famous Ayurvedic medicines containing Centratherum anthelminticum
- Madhusnuhi Rasayan for Skin diseases
- Divya Kayakalp Kwath for Skin and Obesity
- Divya Madhunashini Vati for Diabetes
Important Medicinal Properties
Kalijiri is rich in medicinal properties. The understanding of these properties will help us to better utilize this herb. It has a good anthelmintic property and used for the treatment of various skin infections. It is used traditionally to cure skin diseases, asthma, kidney troubles, cough and to remove blood from liver.
Below is given medicinal properties along with the meaning.
- Antimicrobial: active against microbes.
- Antidiabetic: controls blood sugar level.
- Anthelmintic: antiparasitic, expel parasitic worms (helminths) and other internal parasites from the body.
- Astringents: Constrict tissues; styptic.
- Anti-inflammatory: Reducing inflammation by acting on body mechanisms.
- Antiseptic: Capable of preventing infection by inhibiting the growth of infectious agents.
- Antioxidant: neutralize the oxidant effect of free radicals and other substances.
- Antiulcer: tending to prevent or heal ulcers.
- Diuretic: Promoting excretion of urine/agent that increases the amount of urine excreted.
- Digestive: digestant.
- Hypotensive: Reduces blood pressure.
- Insecticide: Kills insects.
- Stomachic: stimulates gastric activity.
- Smooth muscle relaxant
Scientific study show the seeds are effective against:
- Escherischia coli (Gram-negative bacteria, causes diarrhea, urinary tract infections, respiratory illness and pneumonia etc.)
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa (Gram-negative bacteria, cause disease)
- Trichoderma piluliferum (fungus)
Benefits of Kalijiri when used as medicine
- It has significant anthelmintic action.
- It is used since time immemorial to treat skin diseases.
- It detoxifies blood.
- It reduces blood sugar and blood pressure.
- It has diuretic (increase the rate of urine flow) action.
- It stimulates insulin secretion.
- It may help to weight loss.
- It is astringent to the bowels and helps in diarrhea.
- It cures ulcer.
- It reduces cough due to antiphlegmatic action.
- It has antifialarial action and helps in filaria.
- It is a good source of antioxidants.
Medicinal uses of Kalijiri
Kalijiri is specifically used in Ayurveda for treatment of skin diseases. It has anthelmintic action and used against threadworm, roundworm, earthworm and tapeworm. Topically, it is used to cure lice, inflammation and skin diseases.
Chronic skin disease, Psoriasis
Kalijiri seeds + black pepper / black sesame seeds are taken in equal amount and ground. The prepared powder is taken in dose of 4 gram daily, once a day in the morning with water after sweating by sun or exercise. This should be taken daily for one year.
The infusion of seeds is given.
Diuretic, tonic, stimulating gastric activity
Infusion of seed is used.
The plant roasted in a room, or plant powder sprinkled in room is used to expel fleas.
Powder of dried seeds is taken in dose of 1-3 grams empty stomach for five days.
Kalijiri powder 4 part + Peeli Hartaal 1 part, is ground to make paste in Gau mutra (Cow Urine) and applied topically on affected skin area.
Loss of appetite
Kalijiri seeds + Ajwain, are taken in equal amount and crushed. This s taken to cure loss of appetite.
The bruised seeds are ground into a paste and mixed with lime juice and applied.
The seed powder is taken with til seeds.
The seeds are used in treatment of malaria.
Paralysis of the legs
The paste of seeds is applied.
The seed powder is taken with castor oil (laxative).
Take seeds of plant. Ground them to make powder.
3 gram of this powder is taken with Old Gur / Jaggery twice a day.
Dosage of Centratherum anthelminticum
- The seed powder is taken in dose of 1-3 grams.
- Caution, Side effects, Warning
- It is a very hot potency medicine.
- Do not use in pregnancy.
- Seeds show anti-implantation activity in rats.
- In excess, it is harmful for intestine.
- It can cause cramps in abdomen and vomiting.
- Internal intake should be taken carefully.
If internal intake causes side-effects, then take Cow milk / fresh Amla juice or Amla Murraba.