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Shalmali, Silk Cotton Tree – Ayurveda Use, Formulations, Home Remedies

Shalmali is one of the very useful Ayurvedic herb, used since thousands of years. Its botanical name is Salmalia malabarica. Bombax ciba and bombax malabaricum are also its synonyms. It belongs to bombocaceae family.

Synonyms: Kantakadya (has thorns), Picchila, Mocha, Moharasa (Gum), Raktapushpa (red flower), Sthirayu.

English name: Silk Cotton tree
Hindi: Semal

Classical categorization:
Pureesha Virajaniya – Group of herbs that Imparts natural colour to faeces
Shonitasthapana – Group of herbs  that checks bleeding, Improves blood quality and quantity.
Vedanasthapana –  Analgesic group of herbs.
Kashayaskanda ­– Astringent group of herbs.

Sushruta – Priyangvadi 

History: In Rigveda, shalmali wood is used to prepare chariot during marriage rituals.

Part used: Flower, gum, stem bark, petiole, peduncle and prickles / thorns

Thorns are pounded with milk and the paste is applied over pimples.
Its gum exudates is called as Mocharasa, which is used in many Ayurvedic formulations. It is styptic and hemostatic.

Bombax malabaricum is a large deciduous tree with prickles.

Major chemical constituent: Gum exudates contains gallic and tannic acids.
Bark, root, bark seed contains lupeopl.  Flowers contain hentriacontane and gossypol.

Medicinal properties:

Rasa – kashaya – astringent taste
Guna (qualities) – Laghu (light to digest), Snigdha (unctuous, oilyness)
Vipaka – taste conversion after digestion – Madhura (sweet)
Veerya  – sheeta – Cold potency

1. Shalmali root, bark and flower are –
Sheetala – coolant, snigdha (unctuous),
Shukravardhini – improves sperm / semen
Shleshmavardhini – increases kapha.
Its flowers and exudates (Mocharasa) are grahi – absorbants and styptic.
Flower of Shalmali is Grahi (absorbent, useful in diarrhoea) and used in treating Raktapitta – bleeding disorders (Charaka Sutrasthana 27)

2. Shalmali root and stem bark are –
sheetala (coolant),
svadu (sweet in taste and after digestion),
shleshmala – increases Kapha,
brihmani – improves nourishment of the body,
vrushya – aphrodisiac,
snigdha – unctuous,
pittasranashani – relieves Pitta and bleeding disorders.

Shalmali flower is
Svadu – sweet
Ruksha – dry
Tikta – bitter
Hima – coolant,
Guru (heavy to digest)
Kashaya – astringent
Vatala – Increases Vata
Grahi – absorbant
Kaphapittasrajit – decreases Kapha and bleeding disorders.

Shalmali Niryasa – Sarjarasa
Sheetala – coolant
Snigdha (unctuous, oilyness)
Grahi – absorbant
Vrushya – aphrodisiac
Kashaya – Astringent
Pravahikahara – relieves diarrhoea
Atisarahara – Relieves dysentery and diarrhoea
Amanut – Relieves ‘Ama” – a state of indigestion at stomach and tissue level
Kaphahara – balances kapha
Pittasranut – Relieves bleeding disorders
Dahanut – relieves burning sensation

Another herb called Kootashalmali is mentioned as the lower variant of the plant Shalmali.

Research:  Phytochemical investigation, Aphrodisiac activity

Important preparations: Shalmali Ghrita, Chandanasava, Himasagara Tailam


Dr JV Hebbar B.A.M.S, MD (Ayu), is an Ayurveda Doctor. Click here to consult Dr Hebbar
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