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Monday, February 27, 2012


The teak tree is renowned for its durable wood which can be used for almost any purpose, including in the construction industry, for furniture, flooring, ships’ decks, and because it is resistant to the wood-boring mollusc, the shipworm, it is used for piers and jetties too. It has quinones in its sawdust which are resistant to fungi making it ideal for many purposes in tropical conditions.
  It has its origins in south and south-east Asia, but is now cultivated in many parts of the world for its timber. It is a member of the mint or Lamiaceae family and so is related to the Chaste Tree and Fragrant Premna, as well as herbs, marjoram, basil, Holy basil, oregano, savory, thyme, lavender, lemon balm, bugle, motherwort, self-heal, wall germander, cat nip, ground ivy, Jupiter’s sage and hyssop and a whole host of other plants. As one of the verbenas (some botanists classify this as a member of the Verbenaceae family) it is allied with vervain (Verbena officinalis) and lemon verbena.
  Teak trees can grow to heights of forty metres and have white through to cream flowers which are followed by pale yellow fruit which are about 1 or 2 centimetres in diameter and covered with star-shaped hairs.
  It is cultivated now throughout the tropics and has its uses in traditional systems of medicine in countries where it grows. Virtually every part of the teak tree has medicinal uses, and medical science has shown that the leaves have antibacterial, anti-ulcer and antifungal properties. In Ayurdeva the wood is considered a laxative, a sedative for the uterus, good for piles, dysentery and leucoderma. In folk medicine the roots are used for urinary tract problems, the flowers for bronchitis, nausea and urinary tract problems too. The bark has been used to treat diabetes, and an extract of the bark has been found to have insulin resistance in mice.
  In other parts of Asia a decoction of the fresh or dried leaves is used for menstrual problems and haemorrhages, as well as a gargle for sore throats. A plaster made from the powdered wood is applied to headaches which cause nausea, and too disperse swellings which are caused by inflammation, perhaps caused by rheumatism for example. The powdered wood is used internally to get rid of intestinal parasites, and, made into a paste with water, it is used on swollen eyelids and also for acute dermatitis and other skin irritation. In India the charred wood is soaked in poppy juice and made into a paste for swollen eyelids. Flowers and seeds have diuretic properties while the oil from the fruit seeds is used to stimulate hair growth and soothe irritated skin.
  Dyes are produced from the root bark and young leaves and this is used for paper products, matting and cloth. The dyes may be yellow-brown or red-brown. Dye from the leaves alone is used for dying cloth especially wool and cotton. In Java, Indonesia, the sawdust is burnt as incense.
  The leaves are edible and can be filled with jackfruit and other ingredients and steamed, and are combined with jackfruit in other ways to make desserts in southern India and in parts of Indonesia too.
  Research is ongoing to attempt to prove that there are scientific bases for the tree’s use in traditional systems of medicine.


  1. Fascinating! Would you please post your sources for the medical uses?

  2. I use teak for my outdoor wood furniture, but had no idea it had health benefits. Thanks for the great post!


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