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Common names: Castor oil plant, Palm of Christ.
Common Hindi name: Eranda.
Plant: Fast-growing, suckering perennial shrub which can reach the size of a small tree (around 12 m).
Leaves: 15-45cm long. Glossy, palmate, with 5–12 deep lobes and toothed margins. Their colour varies from dark green, sometimes with a reddish tinge, to dark reddish purple or bronze.
Flowers: The male flowers are yellowish-green with prominent creamy stamens and are carried in ovoid spikes up to 15 cm long; the female flowers, borne at the tips of the spikes, have prominent red stigmas.
Fruits: Spiny seed pods are more showy than the flowers.
Although castor is probably indigenous to the southeastern Mediterranean region and Eastern Africa, today it is widespread throughout tropical regions. Castor establishes itself easily as an apparently "native" plant and can often be found on wasteland.
Castor seed is the source of castor oil, which has a wide variety of uses.
Castor seeds have been found in Egyptian tombs dating back to 4000 BC. Herodotus and other Greek travelers have noted the use of castor seed oil for lighting and body anointments. The use of castor seed oil in India has been documented since 2000 BC for use in lamps and in local medicine as a laxative, purgative, and cathartic in Unani, Ayurvedic and other ethnomedical systems. Castor seed and urin have also been used in China for centuries, mainly prescribed in local medicine for internal use or use in dressings.
The common name, Palm of Christ, derives from castor oil's ability to heal wounds and cure ailments.
The seeds, seed oil, leave and the roots of eranda have great medicinal value. The plant is equally useful, both internally as well as externally.
Externally, eranda is effectively used in the diseases of vata associated with pain and swellings. For this purpose, the seed oil massage or fomentation with its hot leaves relieves the symptoms in the diseases like arthritis, sciatica, rheumatism, gout, mastitis and skin diseases. The leaves or the pulp of the seeds, made hot and applied on abdomen relieve the flatulence. The massage with eranda oil purifies the breast milk in mothers. Eranda oil also acts as a cleansing agent for the eyes. It cleans the eyes and facilitates the removal of any foreign bodies in the eyes. It is also beneficial in conjunctivitis. Eranda oil massages soothens the dry and coarse skin.
Internally, eranda is used as a potent drug in treating diseases of vata viz. arthritis, sciatica, facial palsy, paralysis, bodyache, tremors, headache etc. The drugs commonly used to treat these conditions contain eranda and guggulu. The preparations Simhanada guggulu and sadanga guggulu work well in alleviating these ailments. As a purgative, eranda oil is seldom given by itself because of its unpleasant taste. It is usually given with the decoction of sunthi or triphala or with tea, in the dosage 10 to 50 ml. depending on the constitution and grade of constipation. The decoction of eranda seeds, guduci and vasa, mixed with eranda oil, is a very effective remedy for raktapitta.
Hepatitis can be effectively treated with the fresh juice of eranda leaves and sugar. The juice alleviates pitta and acts as a cholegogue also. In chronic arthritis and rheumatic conditions, the decoction of eranda roots, rasna roots and sunthi rhizomes is the best panacea to alleviate vata and pain. Guggulu and eranda is the best combination for the same. Eranda oil works well as a palliative treatment, given with the milk, in inguino – scrotal hernia. In ascites, eranda oil works well, with the decoction of dasamulas. Eranda oil relieves constipation and increases the appetite, hence is effective in treating piles. It is also beneficial in cough, colds and asthma due to vitiation of kapha and vata dosas. It alleviates the cardiac pain and lumbago, caused due to aggravation of vata. The tender leaves of eranda ground in water are given orally and the pulp of its leaves is applied locally, in cases of serpent bite. The same remedy is effective in opium and vatsanabha intoxication. Eranda oil, by its hot, unctuous, heavy and laxative attributes, effectively alleviates vata dosa and hence remains the drug of choice in vata diseases.
For flower view, please click here.
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