Just like a golden opportunity comes once in a while and must be grabbed to get the most of it. Similarly, it is not often that Mother Nature bestows mankind with certain herbs and plants that are literally all-rounder and the answer to almost all health anomalies. One such spectacular plant coming from the heart of the Himalayas is Chir, commonly known as Chir Pine.
What Is Chir?
Chir or Chir Pine, that goes by the botanical name Pinus roxburghii Sarg, is a species of pine, belonging to the Pinaceae family. Although it is mostly planted in the gardens for its ornamental dry fruits or cones, but it is also extremely valuable due to its timber wood as they are largely used for various purposes such as constructing houses, making furniture, tea chests and even musical instruments.
Chir pine is an erect, oval-shaped large, evergreen tree that normally grows about 30–50 m (98–164 ft.) tall. The bark of the immature trees is usually dark-grey and deeply fissured, whereas that of older trees are generally red, turning light grey on the surface with exposure. Leaves of chir pine are needle-like, slender and distinctly yellowish green. Flowering season usually happens during February-April and are yellowish green before maturing, turning light reddish brown after the pollens are shed. Cones are usually ovoid, solitary as and green at first, then turning to glossy chestnut-brown on ripening. Seeds are long and are wind-dispersed.
The plant thrives well in a light well-drained sandy or gravelly loamy soil. It can also grow properly on calcareous soils and dislikes poorly drained moorland soils. Chir pines usually does not allow any vegetation to grow around it as it makes the soil more acidic through its fallen needles. Chir pines are usually native to Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh), Nepal and Bhutan, to Myanmar. It is also found in Tibet and Afghanistan through Pakistan.
Chir pines are found growing in different areas. Some of its common English names include Chir pine, Himalayan longleaf pine, Himalayan long needle pine, Indian chir pine, chir, chil, Indian long-leaf pine, Imodi pine, Cir pine, Himalaya long-leaved pine, Long-leaved Indian pine, Roxburgh’s pine, pine, Emodi Pine.
In the Indian subcontinent, it known as Behroza, Chil, Chir, Chir gond, Cir, Paribhadra, Payas, Saral in Hindi, Sarala gach, Saralagachcha in Bengali, Charalam salla in Malayalam, Cimai tteva taru, Shirsal, Simaidevadari in Tamil, and Sarala, Saralamu, in Telugu.
Ayurveda knows this plant by the following Sanskrit terminologies Sarala, Sarata drava, Shrivasa, and Saral.
Ayurveda, the holistic science of herbal remedies has extensively mentioned this plant time and gain in several ayurvedic scriptures and journals for various indications which include, Kasahara (Relieves cough, Shwasha (relieves breathing difficulties),Balya (improves muscle strength), Kantya (relieves sore throat), Deepana (enhances stomach fire), Pachana (helps in digestion), Rochana (stimulates appetite), Anulomana (improves breathing), Vamana (prevents nausea and vomiting), Asra Dagdharuk (remedies wounds and burns), Vishaha (antitoxic), Sangrahini (treats diarrhoea), Kustha (treats skin disorders), Varnya (improves complexion), Rasayani (rejuvenates the whole body), Vayasthapana (prevents ageing), Jvara (useful in fever), Amahara (treats indigestion), Dahahara (relieves burning sensation), Trutahara (relieves excessive thirst), Krimihara (relieves intestinal worms), Kanthya (improves voice), Arsha (treats piles), Krichra (treats painful micturition) and Pushtida (good for nutrition).
The major chemical constituents in chir pine are Turpentine usually obtained from the bark (20%), pinene, abietic acid. The essential oil from oleoresin contains chiefly alpha-and beta-pinene, carene and longifoline.
Imbued with this quarry of bioactive components exhibiting antibacterial, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, astringent, anti-ulcer, digestive, expectorant, hypolipidemic, hepatoprotective, diuretic and diaphoretic properties, Chir is quintessential in the treatment and management of respiratory issues like cough, cold, asthma, osteoarthritis, gastrointestinal problems, skin infections and other wounds and burns.
Therapeutic Benefits Of Chir
Combats Respiratory Issues
Sanctified with potent anti-inflammatory, anti-biotic, and anti-asthmatic properties, chir holds high significance in treating a host of respiratory troubles. It is extensively used for treating the common cold, sore throat, cough and flu symptoms. It also thins and loosens the rheum particles within the chest and nasal cavities and hence eases breathing and helps the body to get rid of mucus. It is also beneficial in treating bronchitis and asthmatic conditions.
Powder of the bark or the cold infusion prepared using the bark of the plant is used to treat cough and asthma.
Piles or Haemorrhoids are enlarged blood vessels that one can get inside or around your anus (the opening of your bottom). Because of the sedentary lifestyle in today’s times, this painful condition has become one of the most common issues developed due to chronic constipation. When Vata dosha becomes imbalanced in the body, constipation is created. These conditions often lead to Piles or mass formation near or inside the opening of the anus when ignored or untreated. Chir pine extensively helps to manage constipation effectively, thus preventing the formation of piles.
Relieves Pain And Inflammation
Enriched with strong analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving properties of the bio-active components, Chir pine makes for an extensive remedy from pain and inflammation in the case of arthritis and joint pain. It is also used to treat painful muscle spasms, sprains sore muscles, arthritic conditions, and other inflammatory situations. It also plays a pivotal role in managing Rheumatoid arthritis which is known as Amavata in Ayurveda, an ailment that stems due to the vitiation of Vata doshas and accumulation of Ama in the joints.
Decoction of Chir leaves can be applied on the affected area to reduce the symptoms of sprain like pain, swelling and redness due to its Vata balancing property.
Thanks to the mild carminative and digestive properties, Chir Pine offers an absolute solution for all digestive woes. When the food consumed is left undigested due to low digestive fire or mandagni, it results in the formation of toxic remains in the body due to improper digestion leading to indigestion. The antacid property of the herb prevents the formation of excessive acids in the stomach thereby treating indigestion, ulcer, gastritis and promoting better absorption of nutrients in the body. Additionally, it also vastly improves the peristaltic movements of the gut and helps in complete evacuation of stools and prevents the formation of Ama thus reducing flatulence, bloating, constipation, and abdominal distension.
For indigestion 2-3 g of bark powder is given with 2-3 g of pepper powder as part of treatment.
Facilitates Wound Healing
The host of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties of Chir pine plays a pivotal role in treating different types of ulcers like ulcerative colitis, peptic ulcer, canker sores or mouth ulcers, etc. The bioactive compounds in this tree cleanses wounds, help in wound contraction and closing, promotes tissue regeneration thus facilitating wound healing. Additionally, it also prevents growth of microbes thus reducing the risk of infection at the site of the wound
Effect On Doshas
Chir pine inherently portrays Kashaya (i.e., astringent), Katu (i.e., pungent) and Tikta (i.e., bitter) Rasa. It is blessed with Laghu (i.e., light), Snigdha (i.e., slimy or oily) and Tikshno (i.e., sharp) gunas. It has Ushna Virya (i.e., hot potency) and Katu Vipaka (pungent metabolic property). The bioactive ingredients in this bitter herb balances the Kapha (earth and water) doshas and Vata (air) doshas and often an excess of it can aggravate the Pitta (fire and air) doshas.
Owing to the intrinsic properties and doshas, Chir pine portrays a positive effect on the various Dhatus (i.e. body tissues) which are Rasa (i.e. Plasma), Rakta (i.e. Blood), Mamsa (i.e. Muscles), Asthi (i.e. Bones) and Shukra (i.e. Reproductive Fluids).
Chir is widely available in the form of churnas, kwaths, lehyams, thailams, and gutikas and even as resin oil. Owing to its bitter-astringent taste, one can consume it alongside honey or milk to mask the taste.
The accurate therapeutic dosage of the chir pine tree formulation may vary from person to person depending upon the age, severity, and condition of the patient. One must consult an ayurvedic doctor or practitioner, as he or she will thoroughly examine the indications and prescribe the effective dosage for a specific period of time.
Chir Side Effects
Thanks to the presence of potent bioactive components, the magical Chir pine tree showcase no recorded side effects when used in the correct proportion. It is extremely effective in normalising the aggravated levels of Kapha doshas and Vata doshas in the body. There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking chir pine formulation in case of pregnant or breast-feeding women, hence advice must be taken by a registered medical practitioner or ayurvedic doctors before using it.