Madhuca, also known as butter tree, is a large deciduous tree, 20 metres in height with a spreading top. It has thick leathery leaves and small, fleshy, pale or dull white musk-scented flowers in dusters near the end of branches. Its fruits are fleshy, greenish" with brown and shining seeds.
The bark, Ieaves, flowers and seeds of the tree constitute the drug. The trade name, madhuca, is based on the Sanskrit name of the plant.
The tree is indigenous to the Central India. It is common in sub-mountainous regions of the Himalayas, and is, at certain places, a chief constituent of the forest vegetation.
The leaves of the tree contain alkaloid glucosidic saponin. The seeds contain a fatty oil. Recently a new sapogenin and basic acid have also been isolated from the seeds.
Madhuca is useful in arresting secretions or bleeding becalJ5( of its tannin content. The bark of the tree is an astringent and tonic. The flowers promote the removal of catarrhal matter and phlegm from the bronchial tubes. They also exercise a soothing! effect on the skin and mucous membranes. A spirit prepared from the flowers is considered to be nutritive and a tonic.
The flowers of the tree are effective in bronchitis and coughs. They should be given in doses of 30 grams with 250 n! of milk.
A decoction of the bark can be given internally in rheumatic diseases. The oil extracted from the seeds can also be applied locally on the affected area.
A decoction of the bark can also be taken in diabetes mellitus with beneficial results.
Madhuca oil extracted from the seeds has laxative properties. It helps cure piles by relieving chronic constipation.
Vapours of boiling madhuca leaves are useful in relieving the pain of orchitis or the inflammation of testicles.
Flowers of the tree are effective in increasing the flow d milk in nursing mothers. The seeds also have a similar propei1.
A lotion is made by mixing 4 ml of the liquid extract of the bark of the madhuca tree with 300 ml of water is an exccellent gargle for bleeding and spongy gums.
This lotion can also be used as a gargle in the treatment of acute and chronic tonsilitis and pharyngitis.
The leaves of madhuca are effective in the treatment of eczema. The leaves, smeared with sesame oil, warmed over a fire and bandaged on the affected parts provide relief. They should be changed after every 3 to 4 hours.
The ash of the leaves, mixed with ghee, is often used as a dressing for burns and scalds in the indigenous system of medicine. For the cure of itching, a paste of the bark is applied locally. The oil extracted from the seeds can also be applied locally in skin diseases.
The madhuca tree is a very important source of food for the Gonds and other tribes in Central and Western India. The flowers are eaten raw or cooked. They are also used for making alcohol, vinegar, syrups and jams. Madhuca oil is largely used in the manufacture of soaps, besides cooking.