If there is something that the sedentary lifestyle has cursed humankind with, it’s getting diagnosed with some or the other chronic health problem owing to lack of physical activity, poor eating and sleeping habits. While gastrointestinal troubles and sleep disorders are common, people are also getting detected with Vata disorders, the common one being Arthritis.
Moreover, people suffering from body pain and inflammatory joints, get attracted to this inactive lifestyle to sidestep the intense pain and get stuck in it. Little do they realize that without essential body movements or workouts, the pain increases more, thus continuing the vicious cycle.
Even though certain lifestyle modifications, a well-balanced, nutritious diet, and sleep timings, might help one pacify the swelling, pain and inflammation, incorporating some home remedies and herbs into the daily lifestyle give one a surer shot to deal with this condition effectively. And much to our respite, Ayurveda, the traditional science of healing brings forth an absolute herb to manage Vata disorders like arthritis in the form of Gambhari.
What Is Gambhari?
Gambhari, popularly known as Beechwood is a well-known bitter tonic that is chiefly used for treating Vata and Pitta abnormalities. It is a fast-growing tree that has immense medicinal qualities and commercial uses. Prized for being one of the ten Dashamoolas (group of ten medicinal herbs), Gambhari is bestowed with extensive pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. Apart from remedying arthritis, the digestive quality of the herb makes it useful in case of gastrointestinal anomalies and being a powerful cardiotonic, it promotes heart functions.
How To Identify Gambhari?
A deciduous tree, Gambhari goes by the scientific name Gmelina arborea and belongs to the Verbinaceae family. Gambhari usually grows to a height of 12-30 meters and is found in semi-evergreen tropical forests. It thrives perfectly on moist, well-drained, fertile soil. The roots of the plant are cylindrical with an uneven surface composed of ridges and fissures. They are usually yellowish-brown when young turning into greyish brown on maturing. The bark is thin, smooth, and greyish yellow in colour and usually exfoliates into thin flakes, while the leaves are simple, opposite, heart-shaped and tapering towards the apex. Flowers are bisexual, having a reddish to a yellow hue, while fruits are oval drapes with an orangish-yellow tone. They have 1-2 seeds embedded within and usually give off a sweetish odour on maturing.
Although native to Asia, Gambhari is found widely distributed in India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.
Common Names Of Gambhari
Gambhari is one such medicinal plant that has found its way into different cultures. Some of its common regional names include:
English: Coomb tree, Cashmeri teak, Candhar Tree, Candahar tree, White Teak, Coomb Teak, and Gamari
Sanskrit: Kasmari, Bhadraparni, Kashmari, Kashmarya, Gambhari, Katphalah, Krishnavrintaka (black stalk), Kambari (of variegated color), Sarvato-Bhadra (auspicious in every quarter), and Shri-parni (fortune-leaved)
Hindi: Gamari, Gambari, Gambhar, Gamhar, Khammara, Kumar, Kumbhar, Sewan, Shewan, Shiwan, Gumbhar, Kambar, and Khambhari
Tamil: Kumishan, Gumadi, Cummi, and Kumizhan
Telugu: Gumudu, Pedda-gumudu, Gumar-tek, Pedda-gomru, Tagumuda, Peggummudu, and Peggummadi,
Assamese: Gamari, Gomari
Bengali: Gamar, Gumar, Gumbar, Gambhar
Kannada: Shivanimara, Shivane, Kumbala mara, Shewney, Kuli, Shivanigida, Shivani, and Kashmiri
Malayalam: Kumalu, Kumbil, Kumizhu, Kumizhu, Kumpil
Marathi: Shivan, Shewan
Punjabi: Gumhar, Kumhar
Gambhari is intrinsically blessed with a wide array of biochemical components in each part. While the root and root bark contain hentriacontanol, n-octacosanol and b-sitosterol, arboreal, iso arboreal, yellow viscid oil, gmelinol, and related lignans, the stem is enriched in lignans and some alkaloids. The leaves of Gambhari shows the presence of apigenin, quercetin, luteolin, hentriacontanol and betasitosterol, while fruits showcase components like gmelofuran, gmelinol, hentriacontanol, beta-sitosterol, butyric acid, tartaric acid, alkaloid, resin and saccharine.
Medicinal Properties Of The Respective Parts
Gambhari is an incredible ayurvedic plant that showcases immense medicinal values and are used for treating some condition or the other.
Stem Bark: Possesses galactagogue, laxative, anthelmintic, stomachic, and useful in the case of low milk supply, low appetite, hallucination, burning sensations, fevers, piles, abdominal pains, and urinary discharge.
Root: Having blood purifying, demulcent, tonic, stomachic, laxative, galactagogue, antibilious, and centrifuge qualities, Gambhari roots are used for the treatment of constipation, dyspepsia, hyperdipsia, hemorrhoids, cough, rheumatism, fever, heart diseases, nervous disorders, piles, burning sensation, and hallucination.
Leaf: The carminative and pain-relieving properties of the leaves help in treating stomach problems and headaches.
Flower: Having an acrid, astringent, bitter, taste, flowers of Gambhari help in leprosy, blood and skin diseases.
Fruits: The fruits of Gambhari have aphrodisiac, astringent, diuretic, and tonic qualities and are used for promoting hair growth, quenching excessive thirst, treating fever, ulcers, anemia, leprosy, and vaginal discharge.
Since ancient times, the use of Gambhari has been widely mentioned in several ayurvedic scriptures and textbooks by the sages. Some of its ayurvedic indications as mentioned in Charaka Samhita include:
- Amavata (relieves rheumatoid arthritis)
- Vedana (treats body pain)
- Sandhi shula (treats osteoarthritis)
- Kati prishtha shula (treats pain in the spinal column and lower back)
- Mamsagata Vata (relieves muscle pain and myalgia)
- Deepana (enhances stomach fire)
- Pachana (helps in digestion)
- Amahara (treats indigestion)
- Dahahara (relieves burning sensation)
- Rochana (stimulates appetite)
- Kasha hara (treats respiratory disorders)
- Shwasha (relieves breathing difficulties)
- Anulomana (improves breathing)
- Prameha (manages diabetes)
- Trutahara (relieves excessive thirst)
- Mehahara (treats urinary tract disorders)
- Gulmajit (useful in abdominal tumours)
- Vrushya (treats erectile dysfunction)
- Kantya (relieves sore throat)
- Hridaya (treats heart problems)
- Shonitasthapana (prevents bleeding)
- Kustha (treats skin disorders)
- Krimihara (relieves intestinal worms)
Health Benefits Of Gambhari
Relieves Pain And Inflammation
Gambhari innately retains powerful analgesic and anti-inflammatory qualities, which plays a significant role in curtailing joint and muscle pain, thereby lessening the chances of chronic autoimmune inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis (Amavata) and osteoarthritis (Sandhivata). This condition occurs due to the vitiation of Vata Doshas and causes intense pain, swelling, and immobility of joints. Additionally, it also reduces AMA (toxins) in the body and alleviates pain, stiffness, and inflammation associated with arthritis.
Treats Male Sexual Disorders
Thanks to the powerful Vrushya and spermatogenic properties and the presence of natural antioxidants, Gambhari is a blessing for treating sexual disorders in men. Right from treating erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, hypospermia (i.e., low volume of semen), asthenozoospermia (i.e., sperm motility), oligospermia (i.e., low sperm count), teratospermia (i.e., abnormal sperm shape) and enhancing spermatogenesis (i.e., sperm production), the wonder herb does it all. It also boosts the production of male hormones like testosterone and luteinizing hormone and promotes blood supply to the penile tissue that helps in inducing an erection. It also heightens virility and strength in men.
Valued for its terrific carminative and digestive traits, Gambhari confers an absolute solution for all digestive woes. Being a Pitta pacifier, it relieves the formation of gas in the alimentary canal and diminishes flatulence, bloating, constipation, and abdominal distension. Owing to the antacid quality, Gambhari is also used to curb the formation of excessive acids in the stomach thereby treating Agnimandya or indigestion, ulcer, gastritis and facilitating better absorption of nutrients in the body.
Battles Respiratory Issues
Gambhari showcases powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-biotic, and anti-asthmatic properties, that help in managing all sorts of respiratory agonies. It is extensively used for treating and managing the common cold, sore throat, cough, and flu symptoms. It also actively reduces phlegm deposits within the chest and nasal cavities, and thus promotes easy breathing.
Augments Cardiac Functioning
Gambhari is extremely beneficial in treating various heart ailments owing to its strong antioxidative nature. It fortifies the heart muscles and diminishes lipid build-up in the blood vessels. The cardiotonic property of the herb reduces the risk of heart attacks, heart blocks, blood clots, etc. Additionally, it also plays a crucial role in lowering the levels of cholesterol in the blood.
Effect On Doshas
Gambhari is revered with Tikta (i.e., bitter), Kashaya (i.e., astringent) and Madhura Rasa (i.e., sweet taste). It shows Guru Guna (i.e., heavy quality). It inherently characterizes Ushna Virya (i.e., cold potency) and Katu Vipaka (i.e., pungent metabolic taste). The tikta and heavy qualities of Gambhari helps pacifies vitiated Pitta (fire and air) and Vata doshas (i.e., air) whereas an excess of the herb may increase the Kapha Doshas (earth and water). Owing to the crucial properties and doshas, the herb has an optimistic 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).
Gambhari is widely found in the form of churna or powder, kashayam or decoction and tailam or oil. The beneficial medicinal dosage of this anti-inflammatory herb may vary from person to person based on their age, physical strength, digestive stability, and stringency of the condition. It is strongly advised to consult an ayurvedic doctor or practitioner before using any formulations containing Gambhari.
Churna/Powder: 2-3 gm alongside water, twice a day, or as recommended by the doctor.
Kashayam/ Decoction: 50-100 ml, or as recommended by the doctor.
The herb is highly effective in recommended therapeutic doses, but an excess of it can lead to stomach troubles.
There is no reliable information regarding the use of the powerful herb in pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, so women should avoid using this during pregnancy and lactation periods.
Gambhari, is a refined ayurvedic herb that has been used for ages for its powerful anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving and analgesic properties. Be it providing relief from joint and arthritic pain, promoting digestion, remedying muscle pain, combatting respiratory issues or uplifting heart functions, Gambhari does it all.