Madhuca The Indian Butter Tree
The tree Madhuca longifolia is regarded as a boon by the tribal India as it is the highest source of income for them. The flower of this tree has the sweetest fragrance and oozes the sweetest honey among flowers. This flower is known as mahua in Hindi. In English, it is known as the Indian butter tree. This tree has immense potential for human health. It has been in medicinal use for centuries. Almost all parts of the tree have therapeutic use. The bark, flower, seeds and seed oil are used to cure many ailments.
The edible flowers are nutritive and are used as tonic, analgesic and diuretic. They are used as cooling agent and to treat pharyngitis and bronchitis. It has anti-inflammatory, anti- fungal and analgesic properties. They are cooked in various methods. Certain sweets and other items made out of the flowers have longer shelf life. Fresh flowers are very sweet to taste and can be consumed but they make you dizzy as they have alcoholic properties.
- Madhuca leaves are used in treatment of eczema. The leave are coated with Til/Sesame oil. In case of spongy and bleeding gums, four millilitre (ml) of the liquid bark extract is mixed with 300 ml of water is used as a gargle. Gargling with bark extract is also useful in acute tonsillitis (inflamed tonsils) and pharyngitis.
- The bark of Madhuca is known for its astringent and tonic properties. It is used externally in a variety of medicinal preparations to relieve itching, swellings, fractures and snake bites. In diarrhoea a cup of infusion of bark is taken orally twice a day. The twigs of the tree are used for brushing the teeth.
- The bark is known to possess anti-diabetic properties and can reduce blood sugar levels in diabetic patients.
- The powdered bark is mixed with long pepper and other ingredients to use as nasal drops for sinusitis and for epilepsy.
- Decoction of stem bark is used to cure skin disease, bleeding gums and ulcers.
- For scabies, the powdered bark is applied. The flower juice is also applied externally in skin diseases.
- The seed oil is edible and is used in cooking by the tribals. The seed oil massage is very effective remedy for reducing pain. The oil can be used to treat piles and is helpful in curing the chronic constipation. Refined oil is used in the preparation of cosmetics and candles.
- The flowers of the plant help in removing catarrhal as well as phlegm from the bronchial tubes. They work positively on the mucous membrane.
As general tonic the flowers work well. These flowers are fermented and liquor is made out of it, after a lengthy process. It is a local wine and prepared by them at home. The tribes of Southern states and Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh consume this liquor. The women folk collect the flowers and do a brisk business by selling them in the market. The seed cake is used to feed the animals and used as fertiliser too. The wood is used in the construction work. The tree is shelter to many birds and animals.
By Nibhanapudi Suguna