Banyan, a large shade giving tree, is the national tree of India. The name originates from the word Banya (merchants in Hindi) who travelled around the country and took shelter under the tree during hot sunny days. While there are several therapeutic properties of the tree’s produce, its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties are most recognized amongst Ayurveda followers. In India, banyan tree is believed to be very sacred and there are many mythological references about this tree. Buddha is believed to have enlightened meditating under banyan tree at Bodhgaya.
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Quick facts about Banyan or Ficus benghalensis Linn
- Common or hindi name: Bargad
- English name: Banyan
- Sanskrit name: Vata, Sriksha, Bahupada, Skandaja
- Scientific name: Ficusbengalensis Linn
- Rasa: Kasaya
- Guna: Guru, Ruksa
- Virya: Sita
- Vipaka: Katu
- Karma: Dahaghna, mutrasangrahaniya, stambhana, varnya, vranapaha, kaphapittajita, yonidosahrt
Banyan tree belongs to Ficus family and it originated in India and can grow in hot tropical climates prevalent in most parts of India. The tree has roots growing on the outside which turn thicker into woods and spread out wider in the region over the years. This helps in aiding moisture intake. The tree can grow for a few hundred years and in the process spread its roots over acres of land.
In Ayurveda, the bark and milky of the tree are used as ingredients in medicine. Some of the active chemical constituents found in the bark and milky juice include phytosterolin, ketones, flavonoids, flavonols, sterols, oentacylic triterpenes, triterpenoids, furocoumarin, tiglic acid ester and other esters.
- Ayurvedic medicine: The juice and fruits are useful as externally applied medicines for cuts, bruises, sores and ulcers. Banyan fruit and juice are used in rheumatism, lumbago, tooth and gum aches. They can also be taken internally to cure diarrhoea and dysentery.
- Anti-inflammatory properties: Tests have shown that the sap from banyan when applied locally on rheumatic patients, showed significant improvement. The effect was similar to that of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.
- Control of cholesterol: The bark of banyan is useful in controlling cholesterol. Studies have shown that banyan bark can control cholesterol to a significant extent. It decreases LDL or bad cholesterol while HDL or good cholesterol levels are maintained.
- Antibacterial properties: According to one study, banyan bark and juice possess anti-bacterial properties to a significant extent.
- Improves immune system: Research on banyan says that taking banyan bark and juice on a regular basis will improve the immune function of the body and helps fight against disease causing microorganisms.
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1. Nyagrodha, The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India. Part 1, Vol 1, pp 118.
2. Khare, 2007, Indian Medicinal Plants: An Illustrated Dictionary. Springer Science + Business Media, New York, The USA. pp 217.
3. Panda, 2005, Herbs Cultivation and Medicinal Uses, pp 294. National Institute of Industrial Research.