The vivid orange Palash flowers that grow ubiquitously in numerous geographical terrains of India are indeed a beautiful floral wonder, being aptly titled “Flame Of The Forest”. However, this small deciduous tree, scientifically called Butea Monosperma and native to India, South-East Asian countries of Nepal, Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, is much more than just a pretty sight to behold, being a valuable creation of Mother Nature. Bestowed with umpteen medicinal traits and therapeutic bioactive components, Palash flowers, as well as the roots, leaves, seeds, fruits are a panacea to heal myriad health anomalies, such as treating stomach infections, alleviating diabetes symptoms, easing bowel movements and even boosting sexual functions.
Not surprisingly then, Palash has been mentioned in the ancient Ayurvedic manuscripts authored by Sushruta, Charaka as a rather powerful and important herb with medicinal, as well as religious and spiritual significance. In ancient times, when the students offered fruits to their Gurus or teachers to seek their blessings, they also placed Palash twigs as it was considered as auspicious sign. Also, in Hindu festivals, when praying to the Almighty, Palash flowers are used in the pooja ceremonies as a holy offering to invoke the blessings of God for good health, fortune and prosperity of all in the family. Palash is indeed a multifaceted herb, not only featuring prominently in holy rituals but also comprising myriad useful components in its plant parts of flowers, fruits, seeds, for promoting health and wellbeing.
The Butea Monosperma Plant:
The Butea monosperma is originally grown in all regions of India, thriving in the dry season being a deciduous tree. It grows up to a height of 15 meters, being short and sprouting at a slow pace. The dark green leaves are in pinnate shape, arranged as three leaflets arising from the stems. The flowers of Palash are vibrant orange in colour, with many wide petals, aligned in a cluster or raceme form and are edible, being very bitter. Upon budding, the fruit is a small pod with a sharp acerbic taste.
Common Names Of Palash:
The Palash flowers, bearing a dazzling orange-yellow shade and resembling a fire, provide the general term for the tree as Flame of the forest. Its other common English names include Bastard teak, Parrot tree, Butea gum and Sacred tree. In the several regional languages in India, Palash is known by distinct names in the local languages, in Hindi as Dhak, Palas, in Assamese as Bipornok, in Bengali as Polosha, in Gujarati as Khakara, Khakda, Khakhado, Khakhar, Khakar, Kesuda, in Oriya as Porasur, in Marathi as Palas, Dhak, Palas, and in Punjabi as Chichara.
In South India, the Palash tree is widely used not only for medicinal and holy purposes but also to serve food in the fresh green leaves. In these regions, Palash is called in Kannada as Muttagamara, Muttulu, in Malayalam as Pilacham, Palashin, in Tamil as Palashmaram, Chamata, Parasa and in Telugu as Modugai, Paladu, Chettu. The ancient Ayurvedic texts refer to Palash by various Sanskrit names of Vakrapushpa, Bhramavruksha, Raktapushpa, Yagnika, Samidha.
Ayurvedic Properties Of Palash:
Palash is bestowed with countless beneficial traits, as mentioned in the Ayurvedic scriptures of Sushruta Samhita, Charaka Samhita and Ashtanga Hridaya, which make it a powerful medicinal plant. These comprise anti-diarrheal, anthelmintic, anti-diabetic, anti-stress, hepatoprotective, antifungal, astringent, aphrodisiac, laxative, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities. The Palash flowers and leaves are diuretic, aphrodisiac, astringent and increase the flow of blood in the pelvic region. The seeds of the tree have purgative, diuretic to stimulate the production of urine and anthelmintic i.e. anti-parasitic properties. The seed powder is used in the case of intestinal parasites. Palash tree bark yields a gum which is known as kino, that houses astringent properties to treat haemorrhoids.
Palash/Butea Monosperma Benefits For Health:
Alleviates Diabetes Symptoms
Palash formulations can be taken regularly by those people who are strictly following a diet regime to lose weight, especially in the case of those with diabetes. Rich in dietary fibers that can be processed easily in the stomach, Palash helps in keeping one feeling full for longer, reducing cravings and assisting in burning fat at a quicker pace. It also improves insulin sensitivity by stimulating glucose absorption in muscle cells and thus lowering blood sugar levels in diabetics.
Having negligible cholesterol content and high in potassium, Palash can be safely consumed in a diet regularly for promoting heart health. The flower and leaf extracts can be effortlessly added to many standard homemade Indian dishes, as it improves the circulation of blood to and from the heart, lessening force between blood vessel walls, lowering high blood pressure and ensuring optimal functioning of cardiac muscles.
Detoxifies The Kidneys
Palash stimulates the normal elimination of body wastes via the excretory system in the body. It boosts the secretion of fluids within the kidneys, promptly getting rid of accumulated toxins and at the same time, guaranteeing proper hydration of the internal organs in the body. Palash leaf juice supports the routine tasks of kidneys and bladder.
Enhances Digestive System
Palash has a significant fiber content and carminative properties, which helps to prevent instances of constipation, bloating and cramping of the stomach, upon ingestion of a heavy meal. Moreover, its laxative nature regulates bowel movements, thereby easing any discomfort experienced in the gut.
Strengthens Respiratory Processes
Palash has an intrinsic expectorant quality, which implies that it can readily loosen any excess phlegm or mucus secretions and remove them from the respiratory tract. This immensely benefits lung function and also prevents any allergies and breathing difficulties.
Naturally Moisturizes Skin
Palash has innate content of the smoothening or emollient Vitamin E, that also has antioxidant properties. The extract from the leaves and flowers, when applied on sunburns and rashes, pacifies the aggravated and dried up regions of the skin, leaving it soft and completely moisturized.
Combats Skin Infections
The residue derived from Palash leaves has astringent traits. This helps in neutralizing the highly enflamed spots on skin. It also efficiently reduces any boils, pus or carbuncles on the areas of the skin affected by allergies, fungal infections, environmental pollutants and sun rays.
Promotes Hair Growth
Palash has a multitude of phytonutrients which provide nourishment and vigour to the hair strands. Moreover, when applied as a gel of leaf or flower paste, it penetrates deep into the layers of the scalp and protects follicles, thereby maintaining the thickness and stability of hair. Palash is an ideal natural option if you are looking to gain long and strong hair. Also Read: 7 Incredible Hair Growth Tips For Healthy, Long And Lustrous Tresses
Tackles Excessive Dandruff
Palash has potent chemicals that can reduce the intensity of flakiness and dandruff on the scalp of hair. It can also shelter the roots of the hair strands, known as follicles, from the dirt and fungus particles that trigger dandruff. Palash leaf paste or gel, when applied routinely to itchy and peeling scalp and dry hair, can significantly revamp the appearance of dull hair, giving it an incredible sheen.
Extract of palash flowers and leaves, when prepared and applied in instances of severe hair fall, invigorated the blood circulation and nerve function in the scalp, promoting rapid hair growth. Alopecia is characterized by prominent bald spots and excessive hair loss, and the high carotene content in palash extract counters these factors, to reduce constant hair fall and enhance the strength and smoothness of hair.
The phytonutrients or plant compounds in Palash have an inherent temperature reducing potential. The leaves, when rubbed on a person suffering from high fever, provides immediate relief, reducing body temperature and symptoms of fatigue. Moreover, since normal metabolism is affected during fevers, palash leaves also expel excess water and salts from the body, in order to help maintain ideal electrolyte balance.
The leaves of palash contain substances called cucurbitacins, which play the crucial role of boosting the defense system and liver function in the body. In addition, palash leaves also contain remarkable amounts of Vitamin C, which adds to the defense function and antioxidant capacity in those suffering from jaundice. The ayurvedic remedy comprises crushing the leaves of palash and consuming it twice a day in warm water, to treat jaundice.
Remedies Heart Ailments
Palash extract is considered as one of the best remedies for cardiac ailments such as palpitations, irregular heartbeats, chest pain, high blood pressure and coronary heart disease. In traditional Indian medicine, a dose of two cups of palash extract is given to those suffering from heart problems, to promote blood circulation and ameliorate the difficulties in performing normal day to day activities.
Eases Joint Pain
Being an effective anti-inflammatory, palash juice actually reduces bone and muscle pain and heals joint disorders such as arthritis, osteoporosis, gout and fractures. In addition, it is packed with the three essential bone-fortifying minerals namely calcium, magnesium and phosphorous, which in turn increases bone mass and helps regain flexible movement in muscles and joints.
Being a powerhouse of vitamin C and a host of flavonoids and carotenes, palash is a potent agent to boost immune system function in situations of illnesses. Since function of organs is below the optimum during disease, consuming palash decoction instills vitamin C to blood cells, which is subsequently transported to other organs to recover their peak functioning levels. It also helps to recuperate from tiredness.
The thyroid hormone levels tend to fluctuate and rise above the normal range in some people, causing hyperthyroidism. Palash is profuse in iodine content, which is vital to reduce elevated thyroid hormone levels, as well as zinc, which plays a central role in facilitating enzyme function for optimizing thyroid concentrations.
The prominent neuroprotective antioxidant content in palash bark juice is very beneficial in monitoring brain functions and allowing the unobstructed conduction of nerve impulses. Hence, during instances of insomnia or severe lack of sleep, having a glass of palash bark juice can lessen the activity of neurotransmitters and promote sleep.
Effect On Doshas By Palash:
The bright-hued saffron flowers of Palash, as well as the fruits, seeds, roots, leaves of the Butea Monosperma are considered vital herbs in the ancient practice of Ayurveda with potent antidotal qualities. The age-old scriptures of Sushruta Samhita and Charaka Samhita enlist numerous distinct features of Palash flowers and plant derivatives on the doshas of the body. This beneficial herb possesses Gunas or qualities of a dry texture i.e. Rooksha, being Laghu i.e. light to digest. Palash has a Katu (pungent) Rasa or taste, also being Kashaya (astringent) and Tikta (bitter). The flowers have a unique Madhura Vipaka, meaning a sweet taste after assimilation. While the fruits have an Ushna Veerya i.e. hot potency, the Palash flowers portray a soothing cooling effect or Sheeta Veerya on the body. The three energy elements or doshas of the body – Vata, Pitta, Kapha are present in varying amounts in the different organs and are impeded in times of illness. Palash flowers are rather useful in balancing Kapha and Pitta doshas, while the fruits are known to rectify the problems of Vata and Kapha doshas.
The recommended dosage of Palash formulations for safe ingestion in the body on a daily basis for adults are:
1 – 2 tsp of Palash Churna with warm water and honey after meals
10 – 20 ml of leaf juice
50 – 100 ml of bark decoction
3 – 6 grams of flower powder
3 – 6 grams of seed extracts
1 – 3 grams of gum resin
These concentrations of Palash infusions are generally safe and effective when consumed along with the regular diet. However, it is advised to consult with a certified Ayurvedic practitioner prior to ingesting Palash formulations, in order to ensure taking only the required dose and avert any side effects from excess consumption.
When giving to children, it is recommended to serve very small portions of Palash extracts along with warm milk and jaggery or honey, to facilitate smooth digestion.
Topical application of Palash pastes on the skin can be done in moderate amounts after making sure that no allergic reactions occur.
Side Effects Of Palash:
Palash is generally well-tolerated by most individuals, when taken as powders, pastes, decoctions, in the correct dose. Nevertheless, it is advised to avoid consuming Palash formulations regularly for a prolonged period of time, since it hampers kidney functions.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take Palash in any form as it could influence the reproductive and lactating hormones.
Moreover, for people with sensitive skin and very dry scalp, Palash paste preparations trigger allergies, rashes and hence must not be used.
Palash, clad by the scientific nomenclature Butea Monosperma, is truly an invaluable gift from Mother Nature and the time-tested system of Ayurveda, to enhance overall health. Packed with strong antioxidants, phytonutrients and anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and aphrodisiac traits, Palash plant extracts aid in mitigating numerous health anomalies such as skin infections, joint pain and low sex drive. The best way to reap the superb benefits of the Palash plant is by taking the herbal formulations in the right dosage, to steer clear of any side effects and uplift wellbeing.