Chironji, a nutty seed touted for its sweet and salty taste, is one such ingredient that is commonly found stacked in most Indian kitchen cabinets. Clad by the vernacular name “charoli”, the chironji seeds are often considered as a substitute for almonds and are used extensively for making delicious cuisines and mouth-watering sweets during many festivals. The holistic science of Ayurveda classifies this seed as an absolute remedy for several health conditions including headache, respiratory disorders, mouth ulcers, cough, skin rashes, infertility, and constipation. Be it the seeds or nuts, kernels, fruits, root, oil, or gum, each and every part of the chironji plant has immense therapeutic properties and is extensively used for formulating several traditional medicines.
What Is Chironji?
Chironji is a nutty seed that comes from the plant which goes by the botanical name Buchanania lanzan. This plant belongs to the Anacardiaceae family and is also known as Almondette tree. Although the chironji plant is native to India, it is also widely grown throughout Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, Laos, and Yunnan. The tree is naturally found growing in the tropical deciduous forests of Northern, Western and Central India.
Chironji is an evergreen tree of deciduous origin that grows to a height of 18 meters featuring a straight trunk and tomentose branches. The plant is found growing in semi-evergreen forests, open and dry forests, lowland forests, dry and moist deciduous forests. The plant can withstand adverse climatic conditions and usually thrives well on yellow sandy-loam soils.
The external surface of the plant is rough and grayish-brown, whereas the internal surface is reddish-brown and fibrous. Leaves are broad, oblong, pinnate and arranged alternately on the branches. Flowers are small, greenish-white in colour, followed by black drupes on fertilization. Fruits are initially green and turn to purplish-black as they mature, whereas seeds are small creamish-brown with dark spots.
Common Names Of Chironji
Chironji is known by different names in different parts of the world. Few of the common names include Chirauli nut, Chirauli nut tree, Narrow-leaved buchanania, Cheraunji nut tree, Chironji nut, Cuddapa almond, Broad-leaved bachanania, Cheronjee, Cuddapah almond, Calumpong nut, Buchanan’s Mango, Buchanania lanzan, Charoli Nut, Hamilton’s mombin, Hermit’s tree, Almondette tree, and Calumpang nut tree.
In the Indian sub-continent, it is known as Baruda, Priyala, Piyar, Charu, Achaar, Payala, Peirah, Perna, Payala, Chirka, Pra-savak, Char, Piyal, Chironji, Chiraunji, Charoli, Priyal, Kath bhilawa in Hindi, Chironji, Chirangi, Chowl, Satdhan, Sarop, in Bengali, Muungaappeezh, Mungapera, Moongapezhu, Nuramaram, Nooramaram, Nuramaram, Kalamavu, Mungapper, Priyalam, Munnapel, Padacheru, Mural, Nuruvei in Malayalam, Muolaima, Korka, Morala, Mudaima, Charam, Saraparuppu in Tamil and Saara chettu, Sara, Priyaluvu, Morichettu, Cara, Rajadanamu, Charumamidi, Sarapappu in Telugu.
Ayurveda knows Chironji as the following Sanskrit terms, which are Piyala, Prasavakh, Upavatth, Muni, Priyala, Char, Priyalam, Rajadana, Rajanadanha, and Akhatth.
Ayurvedic Indications Of Chironji
Time and again, chironji has been mentioned in several ayurvedic scriptures and journals for various indications which include Jvara (useful in fever), Kasahara (Relieves cough), Amahara (treats indigestion), Dahahara (relieves burning sensation), Mehahara (treats urinary tract disorders), Prameha (manages diabetes), Vayasthapana (prevents ageing), onitasthapana (prevents bleeding), Sangrahini (treats diarrhoea), Kustha (treats skin disorders), Kamala (prevents jaundice), Raktadoshahara (blood purifying), Vran Ropana (heals wounds), Shwasha (relieves breathing difficulties), Deepana (enhances stomach fire), Pachana (helps in digestion), Rochana (stimulates appetite), Anulomana (improves breathing), Vamana (prevents nausea and vomiting), Trutahara (relieves excessive thirst), Balya (improves muscle strength), Hikkanigrahana (controls hiccups), Kantya (relieves sore throat), Triptighno (relieves pseudo-satiation), and Vamanopaga (treats emesis) ShVarnya (improves complexion), Krimihara (relieves intestinal worms), Hridaya (treats heart problems), Kanthya (improves voice), Arsha (treats piles), and Krichra (treats painful micturition).
Nutritional Content of Chironji
Chironji seeds are a pretty good source of protein. With a relatively low-fat content and calorific value, these nutty seeds are a great addition to the daily diet. It has a pretty impressive fibre content which makes digestion easier. The host of healthful nutrients include vitamin B1, B2 and C as well as niacin. It also contains minerals like iron, calcium and phosphorus.
Chemical Constituents Of Chironji
The fruits and seeds of the Chironji plant also contain a bulk of essential oils and bioactive constituents like flavonoids, galactosides, 8-cineole, camphene, myrcene, triglycerides, sabinene, Y-terpinene and tannins. The presence of such an exemplary combination of constituents offers incredible benefits in the cosmetic, therapeutic and food industry.
The seed kernel in Chironji consists of about 50-52% of oil which is usually extracted by the cold compression method. While the oil can be used as a substitute for almond or olive oil for cooking purposes, the whole kernel can be used as sweet-meats. The oil extracted from the fruits generally goes by the name ‘char’ and has incredible medicinal uses including treating skin diseases. It can also be used as an expectorant and tonic.
Parts Of Chironji And Its Specific Uses
The entire Chironji tree holds a special position in both Ayurveda and modern medicines. Each and every part possesses therapeutic qualities and is extensively used for treating numerous conditions. The leaves portray digestive, cooling, expectorant, aphrodisiac properties and are hence used in the treatment of constipation, flatulence, seminal weakness, cold, cough, bronchitis, skin diseases and burning sensation in the body. The latex or gum exuding from the tree is useful in loose motions whereas consumption of the seed powder gives strength. The powdered seed kernel can be applied topically on skin diseases to cure itching, spots and blemishes on the face and the oil is applied on glandular swellings on the neck to reduce pain and inflammation.
Therapeutic Benefits Of Chironji
Aids In Digestion
Owing to the excellent digestive qualities, the seed powder promotes digestion. The anti-flatulent and astringent properties of the seed powder reduce the formation of gas in the alimentary canal, thus reducing bloating, flatulence, and abdominal distension. The abundance of fibre in the Chironji seed powder makes this a potent remedy for constipation and other digestive issues. The antacid property of the seed also prevents the formation of excessive acids in the stomach thereby treating indigestion, ulcer, gastritis and helps in promoting better absorption of nutrients in the body. Also Read: 5 Herbs For A Healthy Digestive System
Just a few drops of the seed oil when added to the oral rehydration solution, or ORS, is pivotal in treating diarrhoea and loose motion.
Thanks to the array of antioxidants, Chironji offers several folk remedies for improving the immune system, fighting microbes and shielding the body against various infections. It also portrays the presence of strong anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and antifungal properties, which is extremely effective in preventing infections like fever, common cold, sore throat, and other respiratory anomalies. Also Read: Top 8 Ayurvedic Formulations That Can Bolster Your Immunity
Enhances Cardiac Functioning
The extensive heart-healthy properties of Chironji plays a pivotal role in treating a host of heart anomalies. The juice extracted from the Chironji leaves has a strong expectorant, aphrodisiac, and purgative properties. Measured intake of the seed powder holds high significance in strengthening the heart muscles, lowering cholesterol levels in the blood and preventing lipid build-up, which in turn reduces the risk of atherosclerosis, heart blocks, heart attacks, blood clots, etc. Also Read: Top 10 Superfoods For A Healthy Heart
Treats Wounds And Ulcers
The anti-inflammatory and anti-ulcer properties of chironji leaves hold high significance in treating different types of ulcers like ulcerative colitis, peptic ulcer, canker sores or mouth ulcers, etc. The bioactive compounds in the seed powder promote tissue regeneration, facilitates wound healing whereas the juice extracted from the leaves is also used for dressing wounds.
Owing to the detoxifying properties of the Chironji seeds, the powder is extremely beneficial in purifying the blood. By cleansing the blood, it improves blood circulation and also helps to remove the toxins and stress hormone from the bloodstream.
Enhances Skin Quality
Blessed with antioxidant properties, Chironji is a boon to achieve spotless radiant skin. It helps in shielding the skin from oxidative radical damage due to the harmful UVA and UVB rays, and hence reduces the risk of the various signs of aging like wrinkles, spots, fine lines, dark circles, etc. The potent anti-inflammatory properties also reduce allergic conditions like acne, pimples, zits and prevent various other skin infections. Additionally, the exfoliative properties of the powdered seed kernels also help in removing dry and dead skin cells and cleaning clogged pores, thereby cleansing the skin as well as removing the facial hair.
DIY Chironji Face Packs:
As a Face-Pack: Ground the chironji seeds by adding some gulab jal into a paste-like consistency. Apply this paste all over the face till it dries and then remove the pack with cool water. Using it daily for a week bestows one with a glowing, crystal clear complexion.
As a Scrub: Ground the chironji seeds and orange peel into a coarse powder. Add some milk and a few drops of honey and make a paste of it. Apply this on the face and gently scrub in circular motions for 15 minutes. Doing it on alternative days reduces wrinkles and pigmentation and offers a rejuvenated skin within a fortnight.
For Atopic dermatitis or Weeping eczema: Mix 100 grams of Chironji kernel powder and 15 grams of borax along with rose water to make a paste. Apply it on the affected part once a day to treat dermatitis condition.
Remedies Pain And Inflammation
The abundance of anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic properties of the bioactive ingredients in Chironji makes it the ultimate choice for providing relief from pain and inflammation due to arthritis. It is also extremely effective against rheumatoid arthritis which is known as Amavata in Ayurveda. Amavata occurs due to the vitiation of Vata doshas and the accumulation of Ama in the joints. It also provides instant relief from burning sensations in various parts of the body.
A mixture of the latex of chironji tree and milk when consumed regularly provides relief from pain and inflammation.
In recent times, a sedentary lifestyle including an unhealthy diet, lack of playtime, or hereditary factors is some of the reasons that lead to diabetes. This incredible seed showcases strong anti-diabetic property which plays an essential role in pacifying the blood sugar levels in the body. The β-pancreatic cells, which helps in the production of insulin become extremely active on the consumption of the seed powder or leaf extract. It also helps to reduce the breakdown of starch into glucose which in turn leads to low blood glucose levels in the body and maintains a balanced diabetic reading. Also Read: Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
Improves Cognitive Functioning
The adaptogenic and brain-boosting properties of Chironji offers a traditional remedy to increase the functioning of the brain. The presence of bioactive components prevents the breakdown of the brain chemicals needed for memory hence enhancing memory capacity, concentration, focus, calmness, alertness of an individual. Being a brain tonic and stimulator, chironji formulations have also reported improved memory, reasoning, problem-solving, and other cognitive abilities. Also Read: Shankhpushpi: Benefits, Uses, Dosage, Formulations, and Side Effects
Enhances Fertility And Libido
Chironji offers a one-shot traditional remedy for boosting libido and improving fertility in men. It showcases strong aphrodisiac properties that not only helps in reducing mental stress and anxiety but also stimulates the production of testosterone that increases fertility and libido. It plays a key role in increasing virility and stamina in men.
A nutritious drink made from combining powdered chironji and warm milk when consumed before sleeping has been known to increase blood circulation in the genitals which thereby improves the production of reproductive hormones in both male and female.
Remedies Respiratory Troubles
The presence of potent expectorant, anti-inflammatory, anti-biotic, and anti-asthmatic properties in chironji seed powder plays a significant role in treating several respiratory troubles like the common cold, cough and flu symptoms. Accumulation of catarrh particles in the nasal passage and chest get removed easily on using chironji seeds. It is also beneficial in treating bronchitis and asthmatic conditions. Daily intake of this seed powder fortifies the lung tissues and augments lung health.
These sweet and salty, nutty seeds can either be consumed raw or by slightly roasting. The seed powder is used in many regions for thickening savory sauces and flavoring batters or stewed into rich, meaty kormas. The seed powder has also found to be useful in making various sweets and smoothies and also added in some gourmet meals to enhance the taste.
Effect On Doshas:
Chironji is blessed with Madhura Rasa (i.e. sweet taste) and Guru (i.e. heavy) and Snigdha (i.e. unctuous or oily quality) and Sara Guna (i.e. mobile quality). It intrinsically portrays Shita Virya (i.e. cold potency) and Madhura Vipaka (i.e. sweet metabolic taste). Being heavy and oily, it pacifies the Pitta (fire and air) doshas and Vata (air) doshas whereas an excess of it can aggravate the Kapha (earth and water) doshas. Owing to the intrinsic properties and doshas, Chironji has 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). Also Read: Introduction To Ayurveda: Learn About Vata, Pitta And Kapha Doshas
The ayurvedic properties help in portraying the following main prabhabs on the body which are, Tridoshahara (i.e. corrects the imbalance of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha), Vrushya (aphrodisiac), Trushna (excessive thirst), Brumhana (nutritious quality) and Balya (improves strength and immunity).
The efficacious therapeutic dosage of Chironji may vary from person to person depending upon the age, body strength, effects on appetite, severity, and condition of the patient. It is strictly recommended to consult an ayurvedic doctor or practitioner as he or she would evaluate the patient’s indications and prescribe an effective dose for a specific period.
Decoction prepared from leaves: 20 – 80 ml per day
Powdered seeds, nuts or kernels: 3 – 20 grams per day
Chironji gum/latex: 500 mg – 1 gm per day
Chironji root powder: 3 – 5 grams per day
Chironji Side Effects:
Although it is considered safe when consumed in measured quantities as per the instructions of an ayurvedic doctor or practitioner. The seed powder of Chironji can reduce the appetite if consumed in bulk quantity without the doctor’s consent. Other side effects of chironji seed powder or oil include constipation and excessive urination.
Chironji, which is known for its nutty flavour and sweet and salty taste is blessed with a myriad of health benefits. Thanks to the goodness of the essential bio-active ingredients, it is widely used for regulating diabetes, managing cough and cold, remedying sore throat, treating digestive anomalies, enhancing cardiac functioning, preventing skin infections, promoting digestion, diminishing urinary problems and many more.