Shami or White Kutch is a medicinal plant found in various parts of India. The botanical name of this plant is Acacia polyacantha Willd. Shami or White Kutch is also known as saikanta in Bengali, gonharea in Oriya, chhikur in Hindi and samee or shami in Sanskrit. The plant is very important in the field of medicines. Ayurveda recommends it for the treatment of innumerable diseases like mental disorder, Schizophrenia, respiratory tract infection, excessive heat, herpes, loose motion, leucorrhoea etc. This plant is found in moist localities in West Bengal, Bihar and central India. In southern India, it is more common in thorn scrub and the dry deciduous forests of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
Description of Shami
Shami or White kutch is a medium-sized tree, with white-pubescent branches and whitish bark, exfoliating in papery flakes, and marked at intervals by darker horizontal patches. Leaves are bipinnate, flowers are sessile, pale yellow to nearly white in peduncled spikes, and fruits are flat, with a triangular beak at the apex, tapering at the base into a stalk. In northern and central India, flowers come out during the rainy season and fruits in winter and in Karnataka, flowers come out from March to June; fruits from August to February. The unique feature of Shami is that it can grow in very harsh climatic conditions, and in poor or degraded soil.
Medicinal Benefits of Shami
Shami or White kutch is known for its immense medicinal properties. Different parts of the plant are used for different medicinal purposes. The astringent bark and heartwood are used in Ayurveda as a substitute for Acacia catechu to treat leprosy, pruritis, wounds, bronchial asthma and stomatitis. A decoction of the ground bark is used as a gargle to relieve sore throat and toothache, and the dried, powdered bark is applied externally to promote healing of ulcers. An infusion of the tender leaves is used as an astringent and remedy for diarrhoea and dysentery. The extract of leaves is used to kill intestinal parasitic worms. The pods are used in the treatment of urino-genital diseases. The seeds are reported to have a hypoglycaemic effect.