Bhallataka is a plant that is being considered as one of the most irritant poisons. But when used in a very judicious, the same plant is said to produce excellent medicinal benefits. This is well supported by the references that are present in the text Charaka Samhita. In the text there is a mention of 10 different preparations of Bhallataka which are to be administered as Rasayana. The botanical name of the plant is Semecarpus anacardium Linn and belongs to the family of Anacardiaceae. The name Semecarpus derived from Siemeion caros which refers to marking nut as the black juice of the nut were used to mark on cloth by washermen. The name anacaridum denotes the shape to be like that of the heart. This plant is commonly seen throughout India especially ascending upto an altitude of 1100 meters or 3300 feet.

PLANT DETAILS

BOTANICAL NAME

Semecarpus anacardium Linn

FAMILY

Anacardiaceae

NOMENCLATURE

VERNACULAR NAMES
  • Kannada – Cheru
  • Malayalam – Tenparaka, Cherukuru
  • Tamil – Tattamkottai
  • Telugu – Gudova, Nallajidi
  • Hindi – Bhilawa
  • English – Marking nut
SANSKRIT SYNONYMS
  • भल्लातक (Bhallataka), भल्ली (Bhalli)
  •  – The plant has an irritant sap and is with the Teekshnaguna (Penetrating) in nature
  • अरुष्का (Arushka), अरुष्कर (Arushkara) – The juice of the fruit cause blisters when it is touched by us.
  • अग्निका (Agnika) – Cause burns like that of fire.
  • अग्निमुखी (Agnimukhi) – The tip of the fruit is having a red colour giving a fire like tip.
  • शोफकृत्  (Shophakrit) – The sap is highly irritant and causes inflammation.
  • क्रिमिघ्न (Krimighna) – Has anthelminthic action.
  • रञ्जक (Ranjaka) – Has the ability to provide colour or dye. 
PLANT IMAGE
Bhallataka
Click image to enlarge
SAMHITA CLASSIFICATION
  • Charaka Samhita – कुष्ठघ्न (Kushtaghna), दीपनीय (Deepaneeya), मूत्रसंग्रहणीय (Mutrsangrahaneeya)
  • Sushruta Samhita – न्यग्रोधादि (Nyagrodhadi), मुस्तादि (Mustadi).
NIGHANTU CLASSIFICATION
  • Dhanvantari Nighantu – Chandanadi Varga, Upavisha
  • Bhavaprakasha Nighantu – Hareetakyadi Varga,
  • Raja Nighantu – Amradi Varga
  • Kaiyadeva Nighantu – Aushadhi Varga
BRIEF MORPHOLOGY

A medium sized tree with large leaves measuring 18-60cm length and 10-30cm breadth, simple, coriaceous, glabrous above, ashy grey and pubescent beneath, nerves prominent on both surfaces, Inflorescence is Panicles with greenish white subsessile flowers, female flowers have longer pedicels then male. Fruit is a drupe, ovoid or oblong, smooth and shining, black when ripe seated on a fleshy orange red-cup receptacle. 

PHARMACOGNOSY OF OFFICIAL PART
MACROSCOPY

YET TO BE COMPILED

MICROSCOPY

YET TO BE COMPILED

PART USED AND POSOLOGY
PART USED
फल (Fruits), तैल (Oil)
DOSE

चूर्ण (Powder) – 3 to 6 gms, तैल (Oil) – 10 to 20 drops

PHYTOCHEMISTRY

The nuts contain Bhilawanols, anacardiac acid, cardol, catechol, anacardol,  somecarpol, phenolic compounds, biflavanoids, sterols and glycosides. It also contains fixed oil or fat, proteins, carbohydrate, fibres, Calcium, iron, Phosphorous and Zinc.

रसपञ्चक कर्म PROPERTIES AND USES AS PER AYURVEDA
गुण (Properties)
  • रस (Rasa) – मधुर (Madhura), कषाय (Kashaya).
  • गुण (Guna) – लघु (Laghu), स्निग्ध (Snigdha), तीक्ष्ण (Teekshna)
  • वीर्य (Veerya) – उष्ण (Ushna)
  • विपाक (Vipaka) – मधुर (Madhura)
  • प्रभाव – None
कर्म & प्रयोग (Action & Indications)
  • दोषकर्म (Doshakarma) – कफवातशामक (Kaphavatashamaka), पित्तसंशोधक (Pittasamshodhaka).
  • धातुकर्म & मलकर्म (Dhatukarma and Malakarma)  – Main actions – शुक्रल, कुष्ठघ्न, कृमिघ्न, दीपन, ज्वरघ्न, रसायन, व्रणरोपण  (Shukrala, Kustaghna, Krimighna, Deepana, Jwaraghna, Rasayana, Vranaropana) 
  • Other Actions – त्वच्य, स्वेदजनन, भेदन, अर्शोघ्न, केश्य, शीतप्रशमन, विषघ्न & हृदयोत्तेजक (Twachya, Swedajanana, Bhedana, Arshoghna, Keshya, Sheetaprashamana, Vishaghna & Hridayottejaka)
  • प्रयोग (Prayoga)  – Mainly कुष्ठ, उदर, आनाह, अर्श, ग्रहणी, गुल्म, ज्वर, श्वित्र, वन्हिमान्द्य, कृमि & व्रण (Kushta, Udara, Anaha, Arhsa, Grahani, Jwara, Shwitra, Vanhimandya, Krimi & Vrana), also useful in  कास, श्वास, अपस्मार, नाडीदौर्बल्य, अर्श, सर्पदंष्ट्र, etc (Kasa, Shwasa, Apasmara, Nadidaurbalya, Arsha, Sarpadamshtra, etc)
AYURVEDIC FORMULATIONS
CLASSICAL
  1. अमृतभल्लातक
  2. भल्लातकादि लेप
  3. भल्लातक घृत
  4. भल्लातक तैल
  5. नरसिंह घृत
PROPRIETARY
  1.  
  2.  
AGRONOMY
ENVIRONMENT

YET TO BE COMPILED

CULTIVATION

YET TO BE COMPILED

HARVESTING

YET TO BE COMPILED

STORAGE

YET TO BE COMPILED

VARIETIES AND SUBSTITUTES OR ADULTERANTS
VARIETIES

NONE MENTIONED

ADULTERANTS

NONE MENTIONED

SUBSTITUTES

YET TO BE COMPILED

TOXICITY
TOXIC SYMPTOMS

The toxic symptoms include: 

  • Pruritis or intense itching.
  • Burning sensation of anus if taken internally of the region which comes in contact. 
  • Excessive perspiration. 
  • Increased Thirst.
  • Reduced quantity of urine. 
  • Burning micturation
ANTIDOTE
  • The use of Bhallataka should be stopped immediately.
  • Apply sesamum oil or coconut oil or ghee.
शोधन or PURIFICATION METHOD
  • The fruits are taken and bruised by removing the thalamus part. This is kept in Brick powder for 1 week. Then the same is removed and again immersed in Cow’s urine for 7 days. This is then followed by cow’s milk for 7 days. Each day the brick powder, and the liquids are replaced everyday. Later the fruits are cleaned thoroughly by rubbing it. Then it is boiled with milk to completely the process of purification.
THERAPEUTIC USES

EXTERNAL USES –

The juice of the fruit is applied over the affected areas to treat rheumatism, sprains, leprotic nodules to relieved pain. Juice of the fruit is applied over the region of the snake bite. Haemorrhoids are made dry and fall off when exposed to the incense smoke made from the plant. The nut is applied over a painful region to relieve the same. 

INTERNAL USES – 

About 10-20 drops of oil is given internally with milk to treat hookworm and piles. A tablet made by mixing Hareetaki, Krishna jeeraka and Jaggery is given to treat spleenic disorders. The nuts are given internally after being boiled in milk and buttermilk as a vermifuge and also to treat Asthma. The drops oil obtained from one nut is given internally with milk to treat cough. 

CONTRAINDICATIONS – 

The oil from the nut is a powerful irritant and causes vesicles or boils when it comes in contact with the skin. During the use of the formulations containing this plant one should avoid those substances that increase or vitiate Pitta Dosha, exposure to sunlight, fire, etc. Instead the person should be on milk-diet, ghee mixed rice, take cold measures, apply ghee on the buccal mucosa to protect it from the adverse effects. 

CONTROVERSY (IF PRESENT)

YET TO BE COMPILED

LIST OF RESEARCH STUDIES
  1. Semalty, M., Semalty, A., Badola, A., Joshi, G. P., & Rawat, M. S. (2010). Semecarpus anacardium Linn.: A review. Pharmacognosy reviews4(7), 88–94. https://doi.org/10.4103/0973-7847.65328
  2. Rajakrishnan R, Samuel D, Lekshmi R. Analytical standards of fruits of Bhallthaka- Semecarpus anacardium Linn. J Ayu Herb Med 2016;2(1):20-25.
  3. Mishra Sanjeeb Kumar, Thiwari Prashanth, Sahu Pratap Kumar. Pharmacology, Phytochemistry and Toxicology of Semecarpus anacardium. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences Review and Research, Jan-Feb 2017; 42 (2), 25-31.
  4. Pratap Kumar Sahu and Prashant Tiwari (November 5th 2020). Impact of Shodhana on Semecarpus anacardium Nuts, Alternative Medicine – Update, Muhammad Akram, IntechOpen, DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.94189. Available from: https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/73945

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