Clearing Nut: Strychnos potatorum: Uses, Research, Side Effects

Kataka is called clearing nut because it purifies water instantly. Botanically, Strychnos potatorum, is a herb well known in Ayurvedic treatment of eye diseases, skin diseases, anorexia, diarrhea and renal calculi. 

Latin name- Strychnos potatorum Linn.
Family- Loganiaceae

Names in different languages:
Hindi name-Nirmali
English name- Clearing nut
Bengali name- Nirmali
Kannada name- Chetamperalu
Punjabi  name- Nirmali
Tamil name- Tetanakottai
Telugu name- Chillachettu

Sanskrit synonyms:
Ambu Prasadana Phala, Nirmali- Purifies the water
NetraVikara Jit, Chakshushya- Benefits the eyes
Payaha prasadi- cleanses the water
Tiktaphala -bitter taste
Chedaniya, Kata, Kataphala,

Morphology:
Kataka is a small, bushy tree found in South India and Eastern India. The tree has blackish trunk which is usually found cracked. The flowers are white, having good fragrance and found in clusters. The fruits are round with 0.5-0.7 inch in diameter and the seeds are hard, whitish colored.

Properties:
Rasa (Taste) – Madhura (Sweet), Kashaya (Astringent), Tikta (Bitter)
Guna (Qualities) – Laghu (Light for digestion), Vishada
Veerya (Potency) – Sheeta (Cold),
Vipaka – Madhura (Undergoes sweet taste after digestion)
Effect on Tridosha: Kaphavata shamaka (reduces vitiated kapha and vata dosha)
Prabhava (Special effect)- Chakshushya (Improves the vision)

Part used- Seed
Dosage- 1-3 g of seed powder

Chemical constituents of Strychnos potatorum
The seeds of kataka plant contain Mannogalactan. The seeds, leaves and trunk bark contain diabolin and acetyldiabolin. The seeds also contain brucine, strychnine, novacine, icajine, oleanolic acid and its glycoside. Leaves and bark gave isomotiol, stigmasterol, campesterol and sitosterol.

 

Uses of Kataka:

  • The seeds of kataka are put in water which contains dirt. The seeds will settle the dirt to the bottom of the vessel thereby giving a clear supernatant surface.
  • The seeds of Strychnos potatorum are rubbed in a clean stone and the paste is applied as collyrium (Anjana) to treat various eye diseases.
  • The powder of the seed is mixed with appropriate quantity of honey and applied over wound for better healing of it.
  • The paste of the root of Strychnos potatorum is applied over the skin area affected with eczema.
  • The powder of kataka seeds is given in a dose of 3-4 g to treat indigestion and diarrhea.
  • The decoction of the seeds is given in a dose of 40-50 ml to treat renal calculi and difficulty in micturition.
  • The decoction of the seeds of kataka with Curcuma longa (Haridra) helps in reducing and controlling the blood sugar level.
  • The decoction of the seed of kataka is useful to treat cases of poisoning.
  • The powder of the seed with honey or the decoction of the seed is consumed in a dose of 40-0 ml to treat jaundice, rhinitis and swelling due to anemia.

Medicinal uses as per Ayurveda:
Vikashi – Loosens joints (a quality of poison and alcohol)
Chedi – laxative
Chakshushya – useful in improving eye sight

Indicated in –
Trushna – Excessive thirst
Daha – Burning sensation
Visha – toxic conditions
Gulma – abdominal tumor, distension

Unripe fruit of clearing nut –
Raktapitta –Bleeding disorders such as nasal bleeding, heavy periods, etc  
Trushna – excessive thirst
Moha – delusion
Visha – Toxic conditions, poisoning
Vatakara – increases VataDosha
Chakshushya – improves vision, good for eyes, useful in eye disorders

Moderately ripe Kataka fruit-
Balances Kapha Pitta
Ruchikrut – improves taste, relieves anorexia
Durjara –hard to undergo digestion

Ripe fruit –
Vatakrut – increases VataDosha
Chardikara – causes vomiting
Picchila – Sticky, Slimy
Indicated in
Meha – diabetes, urinary tract disorders
Shopha  – inflammation
Pandu – anemia
Pratishyaya – runny nose, allergic rhinitis
Kamala – Jaundice, Liver diseases
Garavisha – chronic poisoning

Kataka Root is uesful in
skin diseases and non healing wounds

Adverse effects: Excessive use of Kataka (more than 5 g) may cause nausea and vomiting.

Ayurvedic medicines containing Kataka as ingredient:
Jambunishadi kwath: Jambunishadi Kwath is a proprietary Ayurvedic medicine used for the treatment of diabetes.

Niruryadi gulika: Niruryadi Gulika is an Ayurvedic medicine used in treating diabetes and its complications. It is in tablet form.

Mathala rasayana: Mathala Rasayanam is an Ayurvedic medicine in lehya form, used in digestive and respiratory diseases.

Kathakadiradi kashaya: Katakakhadiradi Kashayam is an Ayurvedic medicine used in treating diabetes and its complications like neuropathy. It is in herbal decoction form.

Dashamoolarishta: Dashmoolarishta is a liquid Ayurveda medicine, used in the treatment of anemia, after delivery care of mother, cold, cough, digestive disorders etc.

Coolmelon syrup: Coolmelon Syrup is a herbal syrup that cools the body heat reduces burning sensation.

Research articles related to Strychnos potatorum:
Anti- arthritic action: Both SPP and SPE at the specified dose level of 200 mg/kg, p.o. showed reduction in rat paw edema volume and it could significantly normalize the hematological and biochemical abnormalities in adjuvant induced arthritic rats in both developing and developed phases of FCA induced arthritis. Further the histo- pathological and radiological studies confirmed the anti- arthritic activity of SPP and SPE.

Anti- inflammatory action: The anti-inflammatory effect of seed powder [SPP I (100 mg/kg) and II (200 mg/kg) p.o.] and aqueous extract [SPE I (100 mg/kg) and II (200 mg/kg) p.o.] of Strychnos potatorum. Linn (Loganiaceae) seeds was studied in carrageenan-induced hind paw edema and cotton pellet granuloma models. Both SPP (I and II) and SPE (I and II) exhibited anti-inflammatory activity in acute and sub-acute inflammatory models, whereas SPE-II was found to possess maximum activity and its effect was also comparable with the standard drug diclofenac sodium (5 mg/kg, p.o.).

Anti- urolithiatic action: The pathogenesis of calcium oxalate stone formation is a multistep process and includes nucleation, crystal growth and crystal aggregation. The percent inhibition of turbidity increase with concentration of extract and methanol extract of seed showed maximum dissolution of calcium oxalate stones in vitro. The result of the present study proved that methanol extract of seed of S. potatorum L.f. can be used for the further pharmacopeia preparations.

Classical categorization:
Charaka- Vishagna mahakashaya
Sushrutha- Parushakadi gana
Vagbhata- Parushakadi gana
Bhavaprakasha- Amradi phala varga
Dhanvantari Nighantu- Chandanadi varga
Kaiyyadeva Nighantu- Oushadhi varga
Shodala Nighantu- Chandanadi varga
Raja Nighantu- Chandanadi varga

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Gentianales
Family: Loganiaceae
Genus: Strychnos
Species: S. potatorum

Author:
Dr.B.K.Prashanth M.D (Ayu), Ph.D
E mail: drprashanthbk@gmail.com


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