Chalmogra is a tall evergreen tree with whitish wood. It has sharply-toothed, smooth and shining leaves, spherical fruits, about the size of an apple, with a rough thick brown rind. Within the fruit there are 10 to .20 angular seeds, embedded in I a scanty white pulp. The trade name chalmogra is based on the local name of the tree.
Chalmogra has been used in the Ayurvedic system of medicine for leprosy since many centuries. In ancient Buddhist literature the efficacy of raw chalmogra seeds in treating leprosy is mentioned. Records show that the oil extracted from its seeds has been used in the treatment of leprosy and other skin diseases since 1595. In the Makhzand-Adwiya, one of the oldest books on Mohammedan material medical, mention is made of the use of the seeds under the name of chalmogri.
By 1868, the curative effects of chalmogra were so well. known that it was made official in the Pharmacopoeia of India.
It was, however, not till 1904, when Fredrick B. Power and collaborators published in detail the chemistry of chalmogra oil, that the attention of the scientific world was drawn to this valuable drug. Experiments have proven its bactricidal properties.
The seeds of chalmogra yield fatty oil. The oil contains hydnocarpic acid, oleic acid and palmitic acid.
The oil from the seeds has medicinal properties. It is a tonic, useful in correcting disordered processes of nutrition and in restoring the normal function of the system. It is also a local stimulant.
The bark of the tree contains tannins, which are beneficial in the treatment of fevers.
The oil extracted from the seeds is useful in leprosy. It should be applied locally to the affected parts. Recently chalmogra has been recognised in the allopathic medicine as a valuable remedy for leprosy.
Chalmogra oil is a specific medicine for treating skin diseases. It is locally used in rheumatism and phthisis or tuberculosis. It is an effective dressing for scaly eruptions and chronic skin diseases, even those of syphilitic origin. A liniment made of equal parts of the oil and lime water is applied to scald heads, leprous ulcerations, rheumatic pains and scruf, or a scaly condition, on the head.
A paste of the seeds is a domestic remedy for wounds and certain skin diseases like eczema, ringworm and scabies. The infusion is used as a disinfectant for vaginal infection in gonorrhoea and foetid discharges, especially after childbirth.