Vernacular Names of Karanji
Karanji is a large deciduous tree which is found mainly in the deciduous forests in India. The other name by which this medicinal plant is known in various other languages in India are kanjho and waola in Gujarati, kaladri, rasbija, nilavahi, tapasi and thavasai in Kannada, papara, vavli and vavala in Marathi, chirabil-vah and putikaranjah in Sanskrit language, chirhol, chilbil and kanju in Hindi, aval and nettaval in Malayalam, nauli, pedanevili, nemali and thapasi in Telugu, arjan, papri, khulen and rajain in Punjabi, aya, kanci, ayil, tambachi and vellaya in Tamil language, etc. Karanji is native to tropical Asia from northern and peninsular India to Myanmar (Burma), Sri Lanka and Indochina. This medicinal plant is most commonly found in deciduous forests at an altitude of about 600 meters in the sub-Himalayan hills, Assam, Bihar and also in the southern and western regions of peninsular India.
Description of Karanji Plant
Karanji is a large and spreading deciduous tree which is up to 18 meters in height, with grey, pustular bark that is smooth when young, exfoliating in corky scales on older trees. The leaves of this tree are alternate, elliptic-ovate, 8 to 13 centimeters long and 3.2 to 6.3 centimeters wide, glabrous, margins entire, apex acute or acuminate, base rounded or cordate, main nerves 5 to 7 pairs; petioles of this tree are 0.6 to 2.5 centimeters long; stipules lanceolate. The flowers of this Indian medicinal plant are generally male and hermaphrodite mixed, small, greenish-yellow to brownish, pubescent, borne in short racemes or fascicles at the scars of fallen leaves; sepals are often 4, pubescent, 1.5 to 2.5 millimeters long. Fruits of Karanji are orbicular samara, 2.5 centimeters in diameter, with membranous, reticulately veined wings and with flat seed. The crushed bark and leaves of this tree emit an unpleasant odour. The fruit and flowering season of this tree are between the months of February and May in central India's deciduous forest regions.
Taxonomy of Karanji
Cultivation of Karanji
The plant is commonly cultivated by the transplantation of nursery-raised seedlings. In the nursery, seedlings are raised by sowing seeds in lines about 12 to 20?cm apart. Transplantation is done when the seedlings are 10?cm in length at spacing of 22.5 × 22.5?cm. The seedlings are kept in the transplant beds for two years and then planted in the season of monsoon. Fresh seeds are also sown directly at the rate of 2 seeds per stake on the lines of 3?m apart. Continuous watering is required in both cases.
Use of Karanji in Ayurveda
In Ayurveda the leaves and bark of this medicinal plant are used for various medicinal purposes. These are used for treating oedema, Leprosy or Kushta Roga, diabetes and a number of skin diseases, intestinal disorders, dyspepsia or agnimandya, piles and sprue. The mucilaginous juice secreted from the boiled bark is reported to be used as an external application in order to provide relief from rheumatic swellings; the bark is dried and powdered and applied for the same purpose. The stem bark paste and seeds are used externally in order to treat scabies and the latter for ringworm. Among the tribal inhabitants in the southern parts of Bihar, the stem bark paste is also applied around boils to promote suppuration. The inhabitants of tribal community in western Maharashtra use the leaves of Karanji boiled in coconut oil as an external application for various wounds. Among tribal women in the Surguja District or eastern parts of Madhya Pradesh, the fruit pulp, pounded with black salt is used for the treatment of menstrual disorders.
Indigestion healed by Karanji: Karanji helps to manage indigestion. According to Ayurveda, indigestion means the state of an incomplete process of digestion. The main reason for indigestion is aggravated Kapha that causes Agnimandya (weak digestive fire). Karanji helps to improve Agni due to its Ushna (hot) potency and digests food easily. It can be taken as doses of one-fourth to half teaspoon in a powdered form with water after meals twice a day.
Loss of Appetite Healed by Karanji: Karanji helps to improve appetite when it is made a part of the daily diet. In Ayurveda, loss of appetite is due to Agnimandya (weak digestion). It is caused by an aggravation of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha doshas leading to incomplete digestion of food. This causes insufficient secretion of gastric juice in the stomach resulting in loss of appetite. Karanji stimulates digestion and improves appetite due to its Deepan (appetizer) property. It can be taken one-fourth to half teaspoon in powdered form with water after meals twice a day to improve appetite.
Osteoarthritis healed by Karanji: According to Ayurveda, osteoarthritis occurs due to an aggravation of Vata dosha and is known as Sandhivata. It causes pain, swelling and difficulty in moving. Karanji has Vata balancing property and gives relief from the symptoms of osteoarthritis like pain and swelling in the joints. It can be taken with water after meals twice a day to get relief from the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Cough and Cold healed by Karanji: Karanji is useful to manage cough and cold especially whopping cough. This is due to its Kapha balancing property. Karanji powder helps to melt thick mucus due to its Ushna (hot) potency. It also helps to expel out from the lungs thus giving relief from cough. It can be taken by mixing with honey after meals twice a day.
Karanji also cures Skin disorders, Piles Mass, Arthritis, Joint Pain, Ulcer and Wounds. It is used in pharmaceutical industries for its pharmacological properties promoting Antibacterial, Antifungal, Anti-Inflammatory, Antihelminthic, Antioxidant, Antidiabetic, Antidiarrhoeal, Adaptogenic, Anticancer, Wound Healing, Antiulcer, Analgesic, Hepatoprotective, Mosquito Larvicidal, Antiemetic, CNS Depressant and Hypolipidemic activities.