Peepal or Ashwatha tree is of great importance in Ayurveda. It is believed to cure diseases such as gonorrhoea, haemorrhoids, diarrhoea, dysentery, gastrohelcosis, neuralgia and inflammations. Peepal tree is of religious importance also in India. According to Indian mythology, it is believed that lord Vishnu was born under the tree and it is his favourite tree.
Quick facts about Peepal or Ficus religiosa Linn
- Sanskrit name: Ashwatha, Pippala
- English name: Peepal tree, Sacred fig
- Hindi or common name: Pipal, pipli, pipar
- Scientific name: Ficus religiosa Linn
- Rasa: Kashaya
- Guna: Guru, Ruksha
- Viyra: Seeta
- Vipaka: Katu
- Dosha: Reduces Kapha and Pitta and balances Vata
- Karma: Varnya, Kaphapittavinashi, Sangrahi, Bhagnasandhanakara, Mutrala
Peepal tree is native to the Indian sub-continent. It can also be seen in Tibet and China as well. It is a large evergreen tree which can reach heights up to 30 meters. The trunk of the tree can be up to 3 meters in diameter. The leaves are shaped cordate and the fruits are small figs which are just about 1 cm in diameter.
Almost all parts of the tree such as bark, leaves, shoots, fruit, seeds and latex are used for medicinal purposes. Some of the chemicals found in Peepal tree include tannins, saponins, flavonoids, steroids, terpenoids and cardiac glycosides. Other bio-chemicals include bergapten, bergaptol, lanosterol, B-sitosterol, stigmasterol, lupen-3-one, B-sitosterol-d-glucoside, vitamin K1, leucocyanidin-3-0-B-D-glucopyrancoside, leucopelargondin-3-0-B-D-glucopyranoside, leucopelargonidin-3-0-A-L-rhamnopyranoside, lupeol, ceryl behenate, lupeol acetate, A-amyrin acetate, leucoanthocyanidin, leucoanthocyanin, campestrol, stigmasterol, isofucosterol, A-amyrin, tannic acid, arginine, serine, aspartic acid, glycine, threonine, alanine, proline, tryptophan, tyrosine, methionine, valine, isoleucine and leucine, etc.
- Controls diabetes: In India, diabetes is a disease of serious concern because of the fact that increasingly many people are being diagnosed of this disease. Studies are shedding light on the possible use of peepal extracts in diabetes. Diabetes induced rats showed a significant drop in the blood glucose levels after being administered with peepal extracts. Apart from glucose levels, even cholesterol levels had also been controlled.
- Anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties: The leaf extracts of peepal contain anti-inflammatory as well as analgesic properties which are effective in controlling rheumatic pains and arthritis.
- Anti-convulsant properties: Studies on peepal fruit extracts indicate that they possess convulsion preventive properties. This was tested on lab rats which were given electric shocks along with picrotoxin and pentylenetetrazol chemicals. Final results showed that peepal fruit extracts had reduced convulsions resulting from the electrical shocks and chemicals. The extracts were also helpful in inducing deep sleep on the subjects.
- Anti-microbial properties: The leaf extracts of Peepal were studied for their anti-microbial properties. Studies showed control of various bacteria and fungi such as Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Candida albicans and Aspergillus niger.
- Wound healing properties: The leaf extracts of Peepal showed wound healing properties. Wounds like excision and incision wounds healed faster when test subjects were given the leaf extracts compared to test subjects which were not given any medicine.
- Helpful in amnesia: In behaviour controlled environments for amnesia induced rats, fig extracts of peepal were investigated for their possible role in improving the memory of the subjects. Results showed significant improvement in rats which were given fig extracts, suggesting a positive relationship between amnesia control and peepal figs.
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- Asvattha, The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India, Part 1, Vol 1, pp 21.
- Warrier, Nambiar, Ramankutty, 2004, Indian Medicinal Plants: A Compendium of 500 Species, Volume 3, Pp 38, Orient Longman Pvt Ltd, Hyderabad, India.
- Makhija, Sharma, Khamar, 2010, Phytochemistry and Pharmacological properties of Ficus religiosa: an overview, Scholars Research Library Annals of Biological Research, Vol 1, Iss 4, pp 171-180.
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