Kamala Information, Medicinal Uses, Side-effects and More

Know details of Kamala tree(Mallotus philippensis) like it’s biological details, chemical constituents, importance in Ayurveda, health benefits and uses. Know how to use this tree to treat intestinal worms, constipation, flatulence, wounds, ulcers etc.

Kamala, Kameela, Kamcela, Spoonwood, Rottlera, Tinctoria all are synonyms of Mallotus philippensis. It is a medicinal tree due to presence of various phytochemicals. The leaves contain an alkaloid. The glands and hairs covering the fruit give rottlerin, mallotoxin and kamalin. A fixed oil, camul oil and a bitter glucoside is present in seeds. The bark has astringent action due to presence of tannin and applied as a poultices on cutaneous diseases.

Mallotus philippensis is useful in treatment of intestinal worms, constipation, flatulence, wounds, ulcers, cough, renal and vesical calculi, haemorrhages, poisonous affections, scabies, ringworm, herpes and other parasitic skin diseases.

By Vinayaraj (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The red powder obtained from the glands and hairs covering the fruit and seeds has anthelmintic action. The root paste is applied on rheumatism.

General Information

Plant Description:

A much branched, small tree, 5-6 m tall.

Bark: Slender branch bark is pale, and the younger branch is covered in rust-red matted hairs.

Leaves: Alternate, ovate-lanceolate, 8-22 x 3-8 cm, 3-nerved at base, glabrous above, pubescent and with numerous red glands beneath.

Flowers: Small; dioecious, males in erect terminal spikes forming elongated paniculate racemes; females solitary in short spikes, ovary covered with red glands. Flowers are covered by rust red matted hairs.

Fruits: Globose, 3-lobed, 8-10 mm in diameter, covered with bright red powder.

Seeds: Subglobose, black, 3-4 mm across.

Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Glandular hair of the fruit

Plant type / Growth Habit: Tree

Duration: Perennial

Distribution: Found throughout India, occasionally ascending to 1500 m in the outer Himalayas; Also found in Sri Lanka, Southern China, Myanmar, Thailand, and throughout Malaysia to Australia.

Habitat: Subtropical and tropical areas.

Vernacular names / Synonyms

  1. Scientific name: Mallotus philippensis (From Latin, Mallotus = woolly)
  2. Ayurvedic: Kampillaka, Kampilla, Kapila, Karkasha, Raktanga, Rechi, Kampilla, Raktaphala, Ranjaka, Rechanaka, Rechani, Rochana
  3. Bengali: Kamala, Kamalagundi
  4. English: Kamala tree, Monkey Face Tree, Dyers rottlera, Kamala dye tree, Monkey face tree, Orange kamala, red kamala, scarlet croton
  5. Gujrati: Kapilo
  6. Hindi: Kamala, Sindur, Rohini, Kambhal
  7. Kannada: Kampillaka, Kunkumadamara
  8. Malayalam: Sinduri, Manjana, Kuramatakku, Kampipala, Ponnagam
  9. Marathi: Shindur, Shendri, Kapila
  10. Punjabi: Kumila, Kamal, Kambal, Kamela
  11. Siddha: Kamela
  12. Tamil: Kapli, Kungumam, Kurangumanjanatti, Kamala, Manjanai, Kunkumam, Kamala
  13. Telugu: Kunkuma, Chendra-sinduri, Kapila, Vassuntagunda, Sundari, Vasanta, Kumkumamu
  14. Unani: Kamila

Scientific Classification

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 Kamala is Mallotus philippensis. It belongs to plant family Euphorbiaceae. Below is given taxonomical classification of plant.

  1. Kingdom: Plantae (comprising all living or extinct plants)
  2. Subkingdom: Tracheobionta (have lignified tissues or xylem for conducting water and minerals)
  3. Superdivision: Spermatophyta (produce seeds)
  4. Class: Magnoliopsida (flowering plant producing an embryo with paired cotyledons)
  5. Subclass: Rosidae
  6. Order: Euphorbiales
  7. Family: Euphorbiaceae – Spurge family
  8. Genus: Mallotus
  9. Species: philippensis

Synonyms

  1. Rottlera tinctoria Roxb.
  2. Rottlera aurantiaca Hook. & Arn.
  3. Rottlera philippinensis Scheff.
  4. Croton cascavilloides Rauesch.
  5. Croton philippensis

Constituents of Mallotus philippensis

Rottlerin, acetyl aleuritolic acid, α-amyrin, β-sitosterol, iso-allorottlerin, kamalin I & ii, lupeol and bergenin and tannins

Important Medicinal Properties

Mallotus philippensis is rich in medicinal properties. The understanding of these properties will help us to better utilize this herb. These also indicate the conditions in which we should avoid it.

Below is given medicinal properties along with the meaning.

  1. Anthelmintic: Antiparasitic, expel parasitic worms (helminths) and other internal parasites from the body.
  2. Antibacterial: Active against bacteria.
  3. Anticancer: Active against cancer.
  4. Antifertility: Reduces fertility
  5. Antifilarial: Tending to destroy filarial worms or to inhibit their growth
  6. Antifungal: Fungicide or fungistatic used to treat and prevent mycoses such as athlete’s foot, ringworm, candidiasis.
  7. Anti-inflammatory: Reducing inflammation by acting on body mechanisms.
  8. Antimicrobial: Active against microbes.
  9. Antispasmodic: Used to relieve spasm of involuntary muscle.
  10. Cardiacdepressant: Depresses the rate or force of contractions of the heart.
  11. Hemostatic: Checking blood flow.
  12. Hypoglycemic: Reducing level of the sugar glucose in the blood.
  13. Purgative: Strongly laxative in effect
  14. Stimulant: Raises levels of physiological or nervous activity in the body
  15. Wound healing: heals wounds.

Ayurvedic Properties and Action

Mallotus philippensis is known as Kapila, Raktaphala Kurangumanjal, Sindooram due to its orange-brown or yellowish-brown colour fruits. The crude drug is obtained as a glandular pubescence from the exterior of fruits. It is pungent in taste (Rasa), pungent after digestion (Vipaka), and is hot in effect (Virya).

It 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. It is considered bad for sperms and fetus.

  • Rasa (taste on tongue): Katu (Pungent)
  • Guna (Pharmacological Action): Laghu (Light), Tikshna (Sharp), Ruksha (Dry)
  • Virya (Action): Ushna (Heating)
  • Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Katu (Pungent)

It is pungent in both the initial and post-digestive tastes (Rasa and Vipaka). It gives relief in Vata and Kapha and increases pitta. It is carminative, antiemetic and thermogenic. It is useful in indigestion, low appetite, nausea and piles.

Ayurvedic Action

  1. Ashmaribhedana: Gives relief in stones.
  2. Deepan: Increase appetite.
  3. Garbha Nirodhaka: Contraceptive.
  4. Krimighna: Cures all the signs, symptoms and complications created by external and internal worms.
  5. Kushthaghna: Removes blood impurities.
  6. Raktashodhaka: Blood purifier.
  7. Rechana: Purgative.
  8. Twakdoshahara: Gives relief in skin diseases.
  9. Vranaropana: Wound healing.
  10. Vranashodhana: Wound cleaning.

Mallotus philippensis is active against thread worms, tapeworms, hook worms, round worms and earth worms. Krimighatini Vati which is used in treatment of intestinal parasite contains Mallotus philippensis.

Chief Indications

  1. Alopecia totalis / Khalitya
  2. Bleeding disorders / Raktapitta
  3. Bloating, flatulence, gas / Adhmana
  4. Constipation / Vibandha
  5. Cough / Kasa
  6. Diseases due to vitiation of blood / Raktavikara
  7. Inflammation / Shotha,
  8. Intestinal parasites / Krimi
  9. Itching / Kandu
  10. Leprosy / Kushtha
  11. Pain / Shoola
  12. Poisoning / Visha
  13. Scabies / Pama
  14. Stones / Ashmari
  15. Urinary diseases / Prameha
  16. Wounds / Vrana

Medicinal Uses of Mallotus philippensis

This medicinal tree mainly used in treatment of intestinal parasite due to its purgative and anthelmintic properties. It is used to treat tape worm infestations (ascarides, rectal worms) and constipation. It is given internally for calculi of bladders and kidney, leprosy, and wounds. Kamala is applied externally for parasitic skin diseases and wound infections.

1- Baldness

Raughan Kamila is mixed with hair oil and massaged on scalp.

2- Cold

The oil prepared from the leaf is used.

3- Intestinal Parasites

In case of roundworm, giardia and hookworm, 1-3 gram of powder obtained from the hairs covering the fruit is given in single dose for 2 days.

4- Insect bites

Young fruit ground and mixed with honey is applied.

5- Rheumatism

A decoction of bark is given.

6- Weeping eczema, herpes, scabies, ringworm and ulcers

In Unani, Raughan Kamila is prescribed for topical use.

OR

All parts of the tree can be applied externally to treat parasitic infections of the skin.

7- Other Uses

  • The capsule yields a dye which gives a permanent, rich, flame colour. It is used for dyeing silk and wool bright orange.
  • A red dye has been extracted from the roots.
  • The wood of tree is used for making tool handles, match boxes etc.
  • Leaves are used as fodder for cattle.
  • It is used as a host plant for lac insects.

Dosage of Mallotus philippensis

The dried powder of glands and hairs covering the fruit, is given in dose of 2–15 grams (adults) and 1.5–3 g (children).

Contraindications, Interactions, Side-effects and Warnings Mallotus philippensis

Hazards and/or side effects not known for proper therapeutic dosages.

Large doses may cause colic, cramping, diarrhoea, GI distress, and nausea.

It may cause mild nausea, occasional vomiting and loose motions.

Rottlerin has antifertility effects in female. According to the study done in rats, extract reduces serum FSH and LH levels, probably by affecting hypothalamic/pituitary axis. This reduced level may affect follicular development, quality of ovulated eggs, corpus luteum formation, estrus cycle, and maintenance of pregnancy in rats.

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