Chaulmoogra tree (Tuvaraka tree) stands up to 10 metres in the in height. The fissured bark is brown and pink in colour. Minute velvety hair grows on the bark, and the branches are round. Leaves are simple and alternate with stalks that are 0.7 – 2.2 cm long. Flowers grow solitary or in short cymes in axils of a leaf. They are white or greenish white in colour. Flowering season for this tree begins in January and goes on until April. Leaves are 8 – 23 cm by 4 – 10 cm oblong to elliptic – oblong. You have the tip as long pointed often falling off. The base is narrow, hairless, and papery. Further, it is margin toothed. You have 5 -7 secondary nerves pairs and the mid-rib remains raised.
Berry of Chaulmoogra is 6 – 10 cm in diameter, round, and woody. It has plenty of seeds and is black when young. As it ripens, you can see the colour change to tomentose. The fruits appear in the months of August and September. The fruits have a size of 10 cm, and the rind is thick and woody. Inside you see the fruit pulp and the seeds embedded in it. The seeds will number from 10 -16. The kernels will constitute two-thirds of the weight of the seed. This gives around 60% pale yellow oil.
The seeds are ovoid and irregular and measure about an inch or more in length and one inch in width. You do not have regular oils made of straight chain fatty acids. Rather, they have a cyclic group at the end of their chain. The skin of the seed is smooth, brittle, and gray. The kernel is dark and brown.
The oil of Hydnocarpus wightiana remains in a semisolid state at normal temperatures. It does not have any strong smell. Ethyl esters found use in treating patients in the early days of 1916. The markedly disagreeable symptoms of blocking off veins, irritating cough, swelling, and pain showed a decrease when patients used Sodium Hydnocarpus.
Collection of fruits from the trees took place with the help of a stick. Alternately, one could climb the tree to pluck the fruit. After peeling the fruits, they removed the seeds and washed them in water. To dehusk the seeds, they used mallets or a decorticator. Crushing takes place in the rotary and expeller. Then, you get the oil. The oil is pale green with a brown tinge.
Chemicals in Hydnocarpus: One got gorlic acid, chaulmoogric acid, and hydnocarpic acid other than the lower homologues of hydnocarpic acid along with a flavonolignan called hydnocarpin. The seed lipids are characterized by cyclopentene fatty acids. The main acid in the trunk – wood and root lipids were linoleic acid while those in the leaf lipid were stearic acid.
The Sanskrit name is Katu Kapittha, Tuvaraka, Turveraka, Tuvrak and Kushtavairi. People refer to it as the Jangli Almond or Jangli Badam, Calmogara and Chalmogra in Hindi. The common name is chaulmoogra. In English, we refer to this as the Soorty Oil Tree.
Botanical name and family
The chaulmoogra has the botanical name of Hydnocarpus Wightiana and Hydnocarpus laurifolia. The family name is Flacourtiaceae.
Geographical areas where chaulmoogra tree grows
You can find the chaulmoogra grow abundantly in the Western Ghats forests of India. You can see them on the coast from Maharashtra to Kerala planted on the roadsides in the hilly regions. You find it in the Indo-Malay region of South East Asia. It is also cultivated in Uganda, Nigeria, and Sri Lanka.
Medicinal uses of Hydnocarpus Wightiana for treating diseases
The seed from the chaulmoogra tree produces oil used to treat leprosy. This was before the time when we knew that leprosy was a bacterial disease. Therefore, now the treatment of leprosy has shifted to the use of multi-drug therapy (MDT) and after just one monthly dose, the people are no longer infectious.
This has been in use since the times of Charaka and Sushruta. While Charaka advocated the use of the decoction of the Hydnocarpus Wightiana seeds for vagina cleaning and paste for dispelling the foul smell through topical application, Sushruta advised the use of the oil of ripe fruits. This was to treat urinary diseases and for diabetic patients.
Treating leprosy with Hydnocarpus oil proves effective if the disease has not spread too much. You can decrease the size of the nodules, skin lesions, and an-aesthetic patches. You can give it under medical supervision, gradually increasing the dose. This will prevent any gastric irritation. To get better results, one can give intramuscular injections. One also gets good results with the sodium salts of the fatty acid.
For treating leprosy, Ethyl Hydnocarpus is preferred due to its therapeutic properties. Mainly this is because it is less irritating and spreads over a larger area. Test proved that the one could bring a strong check into effect for the growth of mycobacterium tuberculosis in various media.
Uses of the chaulmoogra oil: You can treat eczema kind of skin diseases. You can use internal and external applications to treat diseases such as rheumatism, scrofula, and for sprains and bruises. Due to its antibacterial properties, the Tuvaraka oil continues to be the choice of the people for treatment. People also use it for lip balm and massage oil.
For treating ringworm, one makes a preparation of chaulmoogra oil and Vaseline. Use it in the proportion 1:5 and mix well. Then, apply it on the ringworm. To treat leprosy, one uses the oil both internally and externally. For the external use, they mix the oil with neem oil. For the internal use, they give the patient 10 drops so he or she vomits. Then, they mix the oil with milk or butter and the patient has it twice a day. Over time, the initial 10 drops become 60 drops. The oil is emetic and a laxative. One should only take it according to how much they can possibly take.
The Hydnocarpus oil causes severe irritation when applied topically. People who drink the oil might symptoms such as coughing, visual disorders, muscle pain, headaches, kidney damage, central paralysis, and laryngospasm. The seeds contain glycoside and that makes them highly poisonous, so never ever use it without consulting an expert guidance.