Shalmali, Silk Cotton Tree: Ayurveda Use, Medicines, Home Remedies

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

Synonyms

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

Vernacular names

Assamese – Tula-goch, Simul, Himila, Himolu, Simolu
Bengali – Roktosimul, Katseori, Shimul
English – Kapok tree, Red Cotton Tree, Indian bombax, Red silk cotton tree, Silk Cotton, Malabar Semul, Silk Cotton Tree
Gujarati – Safed Shimalo HinShimal, Simal
Hindi – Shimbal, Semal, Simul, Semur, Simal, Rakta Senbal, Simal, Semar Kanda, Shembal, Kaantisenbal,  Semul  
Kannada -Proparte, Booraga, Sauri, Burla, Kemphuburuga, Kempuburuga, Burga, Pula, Booragada Mara
Malayalam – Kandilavu, Unnamurikku, Ilav, Puula, Panjimaram, Poorani, Mocha, Mullilavu, Ellavu, Illavu, Elavu, Pichila, Mulalilav, Poola, Pulamaram, Poola, Ilavu
Manipuri – Tera
Marathi – Saanvari, Saanvar, Shaalmali, Saura, Shembalsavari
Oriya – Similikonta
Tamil – Mullilavu, Ilavu Maram, Mull Ilavu, Pulai, Mullilavu, Puulaa, Purani, Ilavu, Elava Maram, Moul Elavou, Malai Elavam
Telugu – Buruga

Morphology, Distribution

Salmalia malabarica is a tall deciduous tree. Old trees are often buttressed. Trunk is straight and there are numerous conical prickles on branches and trunk.  Leaves  are digitate and arranged alternately. Leaflets are 5-7 in number, oblanceolate in shape and glabrous. Flowers are large, red or sometimes white in color, present near the end of branches either solitary or in cluster. Fruit is a woody cylindrical capsule enclosing numerous, smooth, dark brown seeds which are embedded in white silky fibers.

Distribution

Salmalia malabarica is grown mainly in Southern China, India and Northern Australia

Classical categorization, History

Charaka
Pureesha Virajaniya – Group of herbs that imparts natural color to feces
Shonitasthapana – Group of herbs that check bleeding, improves blood quality and quantity.
Vedanasthapana –  Analgesic group of herbs.
Kashayaskanda ­– Astringent group of herbs.
Sushruta – Priyangvadi

History: In Rigveda, Shalmali wood was used to prepare chariots during marriage rituals.

Part used, Dose

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

Dosage

Stem bark powder – 5 – 10 grams
Flower, Root bark powder – 3 – 5 grams

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

Bombax malabaricum is a large deciduous tree with prickles.

Major chemical constituents

Gum exudates contains gallic and tannic acids.
Bark, root bark, seed contains lupeol.  Flowers contain hentriacontane and gossypol.

Pharmacological activities

Bombax_ceiba possesses antioxidant, antimicrobial, anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, immunemodulatory, hypotensive, hypolipidemic, antihyperglycemic, and analgesic activities.

Medicinal properties

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

Root, bark, flowers

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 – absorbents and styptic.
Flower of Shalmali is Grahi (absorbent, useful in diarrhea) and used in treating Raktapitta – bleeding disorders (Charaka Sutrasthana 27)

Root and stem bark

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.

Flower

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. The curry made with shalmali flowers and added with ghee and rock salt helps to cure pradra.

Shalmali Niryasa – Sarjarasa

Sheetala – coolant
Snigdha (unctuous, oiliness)
Grahi – absorbent
Vrushya – aphrodisiac
Kashaya – Astringent
Pravahikahara – relieves diarrhea
Atisarahara – Relieves dysentery and diarrhea
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.

Remedies

  1. In blood dysentery, decoction of shalmali stem bark is given mixing along with curd.
  2. Paste of bark is applied externally to treat boils, acne, pimples.
  3. In tenesmus, enema prepared with petioles or exudation of shalmali boiled in milk and added with ghee is given. (Charaka Siddhi sthana 10/36)
  4. Shalmali petioles are kept overnight in cold water. Next day morning this cold infusion is consumed adding with licorice and honey. (Shushrutha uttara sthana 40/98)
  5. In spleenomegaly, shalmali flowers are well steamed, kept overnight and then it is consumed mixing with rajika powder. (Bhavaprakasha Nighantu 33/18)
  6. Shalmali thorns are powdered and made paste with milk. This is applied on freckles and pimples.
  7. Its bark along with milk is used as aphrodisiac.
  8. Salmali flowers cooked with ghee and rock salt is used to check bleeding.(Bhavaprakasha Nighantu 9/51)
  9. Shalmali bark paste is applied over feet relieves burning sensation. This paste is also used to destroy guinea worm.

Interaction with medicines, supplements

Can this be used while taking Homeopathic medicine?
Yes. This product does not react with homeopathic medicine.

Can this medicine be continued while taking supplements like multivitamin tablets, Omega 3 fatty acids etc?
Yes. Generally, this product goes well with most of the dietary supplements. However, if you are taking more than one product per day, please consult your doctor for an opinion.

With western medicines
Seek your doctor’s advice if you are taking this product along with other western (allopathic / modern) medicines. Some Ayurvedic herbs can interact with modern medicine.
If both Ayurvedic and allopathic medicines are advised together, then it is best to take Allopathic medicine first, wait for 30 minutes and then take the Ayurvedic medicine.

Research, Ayurvedic medicines

Research:  
Phytochemical investigations – A study was done to investigate phytochemicals and biological studies of extract of Bombax malabaricum flowers.

Important preparations: Shalmali Ghrita, Chandanasava, Himasagara Tailam

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