Common Name: Khair, Kattha
English Name: Black Catechu
Botanical Name: Acacia catechu Wild
Description: Acacia catechu Willd, locally known as Khair, is a medium sized deciduous tree with crooked and forked trunk. It is found growing in both natural and plantation forms in most of the parts of country up to an elevation of 1300m above mean sea level. In India, there are 3 varities of A. catechu namely, Catechu, Catechuoides and Sundra. Catechu is commercially used to obtain Katha (a concentrated filtered extract) in North India. is widely used in Ayurveda for many diseases and mainly for skin diseases. Most of the people in Kerala use boiled Khadira water (karingali water) for drinking purpose. The heartwood of Khadira is used in melancholia, conjunctivits, haemaptysis, catarrah, cough, pruritus, leprosy, leucoderma, skin diseases, helminthiasis, norexia, diarrhea, dysentery, foul ulcers and wounds, haemoptysis, haematemesis, haemorrages, fever, anaemia, diabetes and pharyngodynia.
Chemical Composition: The important chemical constituents reported in the heartwood are catechin, catechutannic acid, epicatechin, catechin tetramer, dicatechin, gallocatechin, kaempferol, taxifolin, isorhamnetin, (+) afzelechinn, L‐arabinose, D‐galactose, D‐rhamnose and aldobiuronic acid3. The medicinal properties of Acacia catechu may be due to the antioxidant properties of these constituents.
Properties: Catechins have significant antioxidant and antimicrobial effects . Acacia catechu extract has been used for treating fever, leucorrhoea, piles . Acacia catechu extract is useful for arresting excessive mucous discharges. Because of its rich catechins content, it isused as a mouthwash or gargle for pharyngitis,laryngitis, gingivitis and stomatitis. It is reported that catechins of Acacia catechu has hepatoprotective, antipyretic and digestive properties . Acacia catechu is used in the treatment of diarrhoea and throat infection because the catechin present in it imparts astringent activity. There is a great use of Acacia catechu in dermatology and sore throat. Now a days antimycotic, hypoglycaemic activity has also been reported. Phenols or polyphenols are the natural chemicals which are found in Acacia catechu. Phenolic compounds have similar basic structural chemistry as that of aromatic compounds and they contain a basic phenolic ring. They are also found in citrus fruits, chocolate and in many other plants. They have an astringent effect and are widely used in tanning of lathers. They are also used in cancer treatment, dermatological disorders and possess anti-microbial activity. One of the most important feature of these compounds is their anti-oxidant effect.
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