Native to an area from China through Southeast Asia to the Indian subcontinent, Bauhinia Variegata, commonly known as Kanchanar in India is a small to medium-sized deciduous tree usually 10–12 metres in height. Kanchanar is commonly known around the world as mountain ebony or orchid tree (due to its flower‘s resemblance to that of an orchid flower.) Kanchanar is known around the Indian subcontinent for its medicinal properties and is utilized in Ayurvedic medicines since ancient times. Due to its rich antioxidants and anticancer properties, Kanchanar is not only used as medicine but is incorporated into foods as well. It is popularly used as a cooking ingredient in many recipes. The buds of the plant are prepared as a traditional kanchanar curry, along with yoghurt, onions and native spices. Kanchanar buds are also eaten as a stir-fried vegetable and used to make pickle in many parts of the Indian sub-continent.
All parts of the plant including leaves, flower buds, flower, stem, bark, seeds and roots possess medicinal benefits. According to Ayurveda, Kanchanar is effective in treating wounds due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and is a rich source of vitamin C and trace minerals. Kanchanar is also potent in treating certain health anomalies like coughs, indigestion, haemorrhoids, and thyroid disorders and is also effective in slowing down the growth of cancerous cells and maintaining blood sugar in diabetes. The tonic, alterative, anthelmintic, and astringent properties which are mostly found in the bark and buds of the tree are effective in treating, scrofula, leprosy, ulcer and other skin diseases.
Health Benefits of Kanchanar
Kanchanar bark mixed with Guggulu (sap or gum resin of the Commiphora Mukul tree) and other items has been a popular decoction for ages. This decoction is widely utilized in Ayurvedic medicine as it promotes the functioning of the lymphatic system and in getting rid of toxins. It is also known to be an effective Ayurvedic remedy for treating hypothyroidism, hormonal imbalance, PCOS and joint pains. The various advantages and health benefits of Kanchanar are elaborated below:
1. Treats Hypothyroidism: The Kanchanar Guggulu is an astounding ayurvedic formulation which is an effective agent for hypothyroidism as it helps in maintaining the secretion of thyroid hormones. It is believed that Kanchanar removes the Kapha from the body regulating the functioning of the thyroid gland and improve thyroid imbalance. It also enhances the functions of the gland in reducing the swelling caused due to goitre.
2. Regulates Menstrual Cycles: Hormonal imbalance leading to an irregular menstrual cycle, also commonly known as PCOS is very common issues among women these days. A decoction of the Kanchanar is very effective in stimulating the hormonal balance and in regulating the circulation of blood throughout menstruation.
3. Purifies the Blood: The bitter flowers of Kanchanar are believed to be effective in blood purification. Kanchanar Guggulu in particular is a great ayurvedic formulation that helps in lowering cholesterol level, purifying blood and regulates blood flow and also rid the body from blood toxins.
4. Anti-cancerous: Regular consumption of the decoction of the flowers and stem of the Kanchanar plant is believed to slow down the spread of cancerous cells. It shrinks the cancerous cells from growing making them undergo apoptosis.
5. Regulates Blood Sugar: The rich anti-diabetic and antihyperglycemic compounds found in the plant aids in controlling insulin mechanism in the body. It also helps in lowering the rising blood glucose levels and brings it under control. Therefore, Kanchanar helps in diminishing diabetes symptoms and regulating blood sugar levels.
6. Aids in Digestion: Kanchanar flowers, in particular, helps in strengthening the digestive system. A mix of Kanchanar and ginger is believed to be a tremendous effect on the digestive system. Additionally, it also is an effective medicine for deworming and in fighting unwanted parasites found in the intestines. Kanchanar Guggulu is also a great formulation to boost metabolism and weight loss.
7. Cures Swollen Lymph Nodes: Enlarged lymph nodes usually caused due to viral or bacterial infection can be treated with Kanchanar Guggulu. The anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties of the formulation make it a potent ayurvedic medicine for swollen lymph node treatment.
From culinary ingredients to potent herbal medicine, Kanchanar is indeed a wondrous and versatile herb. However, although generally safe when taken in moderate amount, one should consider the supervision of a physician or any ayurvedic specialist. Kanchanar or nay of its product is not recommended for pregnant and lactating women as it possesses hormone-influencing properties. Side effects including stomach problems, diarrhoea, skin rashes or allergies may appear in people who are sensitive.