Amongst plenteous power-laden ayurvedic natural wonders that play an important part in a holistic approach to health and wellness, one fabulous well-known herb that Ayurveda has bestowed us with is Nagkesar or Nag Champa. A part of the Chatrujata group of herbs, Nagkesar goes by the botanical name Mesua ferrea which belongs to the family of Guttiferae.

Native to tropical parts of Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Philippines, and Malaysia, it is a national tree of Sri Lanka, the state tree of Mizoram, and the state flower of Tripura. In Indian terrain, it is found in Kerala, Tamil Naidu, Assam, and in the rain forests of Konkan and Karnataka. An ornamental tree with immense medicinal benefits, the parts of Nagkesar that are utilised for various Ayurvedic preparations for ages include its root, bark, leaves, seeds, flowers, and wood. The plant is loaded with anti-convulsant, anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer, wound healing, antivenom, disinfectant, as well as diuretic benefits. It is a powerful medicine to treat ailments such as leucorrhoea, bronchitis, bleeding, migraines, and gastrointestinal and urinary tract disorders. Considered one of the best pain-relieving oils in the world derived from its bark and seeds, incidentally, the tree also provides one of the sturdiest dark red timbers in the world.

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Nagkesar Benefits

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Indigenous Names Of Nagkesar

This herbal plant is known by many interesting names in English such as Cobra's Saffron, Ironwood of Assam, Indian Rose Chestnut, and Ceylon Ironwood. Various vernacular names for this powerful plant are:

  • Hindi- Nagkesara, Pila Nagkesar
  • Gujrati- Sachunagakeshara, Nagchampa, Pilunagkesar
  • Sanskrit- Kesara, Nagapuspa, Naga, Hema, Gajakesara
  • Urdu-Narmushk, Nagkesar
  • Punjabi-Nageswar
  • Assamese-Negeshvar, Nahar
  • Bengali- Nageshvara, Nagesar
  • Kannada-Nagsampige, Nagakesari, Kanchana
  • Malayalam-Nangaa, Nauga, Peri, Veluthapala, Nagppu, Nagappovu
  • Marathi-Nagkesara
  • Oriya-Nageswar
  • Tamil-Naugu, Naugaliral, Nagachampakam, Sirunagappu,
  • Telugu-Nagachampakamu

How To Identify Nagkesar Plant

Nagkesar is a small to the medium-sized evergreen tree and a beautiful flowering indigenous herbal verdure often also adored for its ornamental value. Nagkesar tree grows up to 13 m tall with a wide trunk spreading up to 90 cm in diameter. The tree is recognised all over the world for producing a very hard, and sturdy quality wood. The leaves are narrow, oblong, and deep dark green with an underside that appears whitish. The younger lot of leaves are in hues of yellowish pink.  Nagkesar flowers are pearl white and yellow and they bloom after about three to five years of planting. The fragrant white flowers ooze a fabulous fragrance. Its yellow-colored stamens extracts are used in making perfumes and astringents.

Phytoconstituents

Nagakesar is replete with various biochemical components such as essential oil, fatty acids, and oleoresin. Mammeisin is its main chemical constituent which is obtained from the seeds, while stamens provide two novel flavanones mesuaferrone-A and mesuaferrol-B. It also contains mesuaxanthofle A and B, sitosterol, leucoanthocyanidin and ferruol A and B, coumarins, xanthones, pyranoxanthones, flavonoids, terpenoids and steroids.

Ayurvedic Properties of Nagkesar

Owing to its powerful ayurvedic actions, Nagkesar plant showcases immense medicinal value hence is used for treating chronic health conditions.  It has Kashaya (Astringent), Katu (Pungent), and Tikta (Bitter) rasa, and the guna or pharmacological action of this herb is found to be Laghu (Light). The potency is considered to be Virya (absolutely hot).

Medicinal Properties Of The Respective Parts

Nagkesar plant being astringent, hot, harsh, aromatic, ulcerative, and emollient in its medicinal course has been used as a home remedy since ancient times to heal wounds, promote blood flow, treat skin woes, and a lot more. Every part has potent benefits to treat many chronic health anomalies. Either alone or in conjunction with other herbal remedies, the following parts of this plant are used to treat a variety of conditions.

Flower And Stamens: Nagkesar florets and flowers contain anti-bacterial, anti-fungal properties and astringent properties which help in curing blood and skin diseases. The flower extracts are very effective in the treatment of bleeding piles.

Seed oil: Essential oil from resin exuding from Nagkesar bark and seeds is applied to relieve pain and inflammation. Kernels of Nagkesar are made into a paste and topically applied to treat eczema and various skin eruptions.

Roots: The root of this plant is known to be a very effective antidote for snake bites and scorpion poison. Root extracts are also used in herbal tonics for the management of bronchitis and gastritis or stomach inflammation.

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Stem Bark: The bark of Nagkesar possesses a laxative and stomachic effect which helps in curing low appetite problems, burning sensations in the stomach, piles, abdominal pains, and problems of urinary and vaginal discharge.

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Leaves: The carminative and pain-relieving properties of the leaves help in treating headaches, sore eyes, and burning sensations in the feet. The paste of Nagkesar leaves is applied to the head and chest to manage common cold and cough

Ayurvedic Indications Of Nagkesar

Since the ancient ages, Nagkesar is one of the most recognized therapeutic plants that is mentioned time and again in several texts and scriptures illustrating the excellent qualities of this magnificent herbal plant for various indications which include:

  • Kusthahara- Treats skin disorders
  • Pachanahara- Helps in digestion
  • Amahara- Treats indigestion
  • Javarhara- Useful in fever
  • Trutahara- Relieves excessive thirst
  • Dahahara- Relieves burning sensation
  • Visarpahara- Helpful in herp
  • Sheersharujhahara- Useful in headache
  • Chardihara- Relieves vomiting
  • Mehahara- Treats urinary tract disorder
  • Hikkanigrahana- Controls hiccups

Health Benefits Of Nagkesar

Treats Leukorrhea

Leucorrhoea is the flow of a whitish, yellowish, or greenish discharge from the vagina. While it is considered normal in adolescents and adults, sometimes it could be due to infections from bacteria, yeast, or other microorganisms. Nagakesar has been found useful to improve Agni (digestive fire) and combat this uncomfortable problem that could be painful and itchy at times.

Cures Chronic Piles

Bleeding piles or haemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels that can occur around the anus. This makes defecating difficult and is accompanied by bleeding stools. This causes an imbalance in pitta dosha. Nagkesar helps to create a balance in the body’s heat by pacifying pitta dosha by shrinking pile lumps, decreasing inflammation, reducing pain, and controlling anal bleeding.

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Treats Skin Diseases

Nagkesar is used to prevent the symptoms of skin diseases like hives and psoriasis. Nagkesar oil has a curative property and is extremely effective to treat skin infections, scabies, and wounds besides soothing inflammation due to its anti-inflammatory properties. The flower extracts of Nagkesar are used as an astringent as they contain antiseptic and disinfecting properties that reduce skin eruption. Nagkesar taken with sandalwood can be made into a paste and used on the skin to fade away the dark spots on the face and to get glowing skin.

Alleviates Joint Pain

Joint pain is a common problem as we grow old leading to weak bones and osteo arthritis. Arthritis occurs due to an imbalance in Vata dosha and the gathering of Ama (toxins) in the joints. Anti-arthritis benefits of Nagkesar powder alleviate joint pain. The topical application of essential oil from extracts from Nagkesar seeds also aids quick relief from all arthritis-related pains.

Keeps Headaches And Migraines At Bay

Nagkesar helps to reduce stress-induced headaches by relaxing tensed muscles. It also helps to manage migraines and various forms of discomforting headaches.

Treats Asthma

Nagkesar is also used in reducing asthmatic troubles. The hot potency of this herb has the property of expelling phlegm and curing breathing distress which helps to reduce the symptoms of asthma.

Aids Relief From Excessive Menstruation Bleeding

Excessive bleeding during menstruation is a very common problem that women face. Menstrual bleeding on the higher side is not generally a cause of concern, but excessive bleeding causes weakness, and discomfort and leads to further problems in the later stages. This problem is also known as menorrhagia. Nagkesar consists of hemostatic properties that help to cure excessive bleeding problems and provide long-term relief from many forms of menstrual diseases. 

Combats Cough and Respiratory Anomalies

Nagkesar can effectively expel mucus from the body. This helps to get rid of unwanted bacteria-ridden phlegm thus treating chronic cough and respiratory issues. Its anti-inflammatory benefits are also beneficial in reducing inflammation of the lungs.

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Effect On Doshas

Nagkesar pacifies all the three doshas- Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. It has an astringent and bitter taste and a hot potency. It is also blessed with Katu and Tikta rasas which are bitter and pungent tastes respectively, besides Laghu or light Guna and the ushna virya which is its hot potency. These power-laden pacifying properties of Vata, and Pitta (fire and air) doshas as well as Kapha (earth and water) doshas in the body are a boon in curing diseases related to these abnormalities.

Dosage

It is extremely necessary to consult an ayurvedic doctor or practitioner for the correct dosage of this herb depending upon particular conditions. However, in general dosage of Nagkesar for adults is:

  • Nagkesar Powder:  1/2 to 1 teaspoon once or twice a day
  • Nagkesar Oil: 5 to 10 drops can be applied once a day
  • Nagkesar Powder Application: 1 teaspoon of powder can be applied with normal water or rose water

Side Effects of Nagkesar

Nagkesar can be safely taken with other herbal medicines and vitamins, and there are no known side effects of this herb, however, it is safe to seek medical advice in case of some underlying disease.

Precautions

Nagkesar must be taken under the supervision of a medical doctor in situations like pregnant women should not consume Nagkesar as it is hot in potency. For breastfeeding women, despite the herb being safe, consulting a doctor is a must before consuming Nagkesar.

Conclusion

Nagkesar has been recognised as one of the prominent herbs in Ayurvedic science since time immemorial for its extensive therapeutic uses. With an array of amazing healing benefits to cure piles, vaginal yeast infection, treat fever, reduce joint pain, protect the heart from cardiovascular disease, enhance digestion, and augment skin health, it is indeed a rich source of many flavonoids with potent analgesic, hemostatic, antibacterial, anti-fungal, antimalarial, anti-arthritic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antivenom properties that boosts over health and wellbeing.