Botanical Name: Butea monosperma
Indian Name: Palas
Origin, Distribution and Composition
Butea, also known as "flame of the forest", is a well known tree of India. The scarlet and orange flowers of the tree make its name appropriate. Butea is a medium-sized tree, with compound leaves. The leaves fall in winter and flowers bloom in February-March in small but dense dusters generally on leafless branches, and the tree appears to be aflame. The fruits are flat pods, with a single seed in each fruit.
This herb is indigenous to India. The trade name butea, is based on the scientific name of the plant: The tree is found chiefly in the mixed or dry deciduous forests of Central and Western India.
The red'-coloured gum, called Bengal kino or butea gum, obtained from the tree, is rich in gallic and tannic acids. The seeds contain a yellow fixed oil called moodooga oil or kino-tree oil, small quantities of a resin and large quantities of a water soluble albuminoid. Fresh .seeds contain proteolytic and lipolytic enzymes. The flowers contain glucosides, butrin, butin and neteroside. A number of fatty acids have been isolated from the oil.
Healing Power and Curative Properties
The butea gum, the seeds and leaves of the tree have medicinal properties. The leaves of the tree are tonic and aphrodisiac. They are useful in arresting secretion or bleeding.
Diarrhoea and Dysentery
The gum of the tree is useful in the treatment of diarrhoea and dysentry. Its action is however mild, particularly suitable for children and women of delicate disposition. It is given in doses of 3 decigrams to 2 grams, with a few decigrams of aromatics. The leaves can be chewed orally during the ailment. Infusion or decoction of the gum as a rectal enema would yield instant relief. Fresh juice of the leaves is also useful in these diseases.
The seeds are administered internally, either in the form of powder or made into a paste with honey as an anthelmintic to kill intestinal worms. They are specially useful in the treatment of roundworms and tapeworms. Recent experiments have confirmed their effectiveness in eliminating round worms. About a gram of the seeds mixed with honey can be given thrice a day for 3 days to treat intestinal worms. On the fourth day, a dose of castor oil may be administered to evacuate the bowels.
The seeds are beneficial in the treatment of certain skin diseases. The seeds, ground and mixed with lemon juice, can be daubed on dhobi's itch-an eczema-type of skin disorder, characterized by itching. They can also be applied with gratifying results on ringworms. A hot poultice of the leaves can be applied to resolve boils, pimples, tumorous piles, ulcers and swellings. The crushed seeds can be used for killing maggots in wounds and sores.
The leaves of the tree are very useful in diabetes. They reduce blood sugar and are useful in glycosuria--that is, the presence of a large amount of glucose in urine.
The leaves are also beneficial in the treatment of leucorrhoea. Decoction or infusion of leaves should be used as a vaginal douche for this purpose.
The leaves are useful in congested and septic throat. A decoction of the leaves obtained by boiling them in water, should be used as a mouth-wash in the treatment of this disorder.
Retention of Urine
The leaves are useful in treating the difficulty of retention of urine. The pubic region should be fomented with the leaves in this disorder.