BASTARD MYROBALAN - INGREDIENT OF TRIPHALA ANCIENT HERBAL REMEDY WITH MODERN USES: HEALTH BENEFITS AND USES OF TERMINALIA BELERICA/BELLIRICA
This Bastard Myrobalan tree is native to the Indian subcontinent,
and Sri Lanka Malaya, and is a member of the Combretaceae family along with Terminalia arjuna (arjun or arjuna), Terminalia chebula (hareer), Terminalia catappa (the Indian almond tree) and the Indian gooseberry (amla) Embelica officinalis. This tree is shunned by people in northern who believe it is inhabited by demons. India
It is a deciduous tree which can grow to heights of 30 metres and produces rather unpleasant smelling flowers in May which give way to the fruits and their kernels which are both used in medicines. The fruits are used as laxatives when unripe like senna and jamalgota but as they ripen they have astringent properties and are used for diarrhoea. The unripe fruit is mixed with salt and long pepper for people suffering from constipation.
The dried powdered fruit forms a part of the medication called Triphala, which consists of powdered hareer and amla. This is used to cure many diseases in the Indian subcontinent and on
17th April, 2007 the BBC published an article “Indian herbal remedy cancer hope” as Triphala seems to be able to inhibit the growth of pancreatic cancer cells. However more research into its properties and mechanisms is needed before a cancer drug or treatment can be produced.
The fruits and kernels have shown in a few studies to inhibit the HIV/AIDS virus, have an anti-malarial effect, have antifungal properties and potent antioxidant ones. It can help with digestive problems and helps the heart and can lower fat levels and cholesterol. In
it is believed to be rejuvenating and increase longevity. It is also used for its purgative effects and to help the throat if hoarseness occurs and to help in spasms of the lungs and bronchial tubes. It is also used to expel stones which may gather in the organs. India
The oil from the seeds or the fruit is made into a paste and applied to painful joints and swellings, and the seed oil is also used for skin problems and on prematurely grey hair to make it black. Pieces of the fruit are baked then chewed for coughs and colds as well as sore throats and asthma. The powdered fruit is put on fresh wounds to staunch bleeding and promote rapid healing, while the fruit and its kernels are made into hair oil to promote hair growth and make hair black. It is also said to relieve pain and burning sensations.
A paste made of the fruit is sometimes put on the eyelids for conjunctivitis and is also used for other eye problems such as cataracts in other preparations. It is also given to relieve excessive thirst and vomiting, and as an expectorant. The raw fruit is used to stop piles bleeding. For coughs and bronchitis, the powdered fruit is mixed with honey to stop spasms.
A decoction of the fruit mixed with gur is believed to be an aphrodisiac and is given to men with erectile dysfunctions including impotence.
The kernels of the fruit have narcotic properties and dried, are used to achieve mind-altering states by some through inhalation of the smoke. The decoction of these is said to promote deep sleep.
Some Indian scientists from the Integral University at Lucknow, Firaj Alam et al have published a paper “herbal Medicine in Treatment of Heart Disease: Cardioprotective Activity of Terminalia belerica” which concludes that Terminalia belerica could be “an accessible and cheap traditional medicine source for treatment of cardiac disease in developing countries.” A new cardiac glycoside, bellericin has been discovered in the tree.
The tree contains oxalic acid and tannins in its various parts and pregnant and breast-feeding women should avoid using any part of this tree.
It is probable that science will once again catch up with traditional medicine in relation to the benefits that we could derive from this tree.