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Bhallataka: Marking Nut Uses, Qualities, Purification, Side Effects

Bhallataka is one of the most powerful and fast acting Ayurvedic herbs. It is used extensively in piles, skin diseases, etc. Its botanical name is Semecarpus anacardium. It belongs to Anacardaceae family (Amra Kula). Since it is very hot in potency, it is used only after purification procedures.

Vernacular names, Sanskrit synonyms

Names in different languages:
Hindi name – Bhilawa, belatak, bhela, bhilava
English name – Marking nut, Ink nuts
Tamil name –  cenkottai, arutkaram, ceraankottai, erimuki, sengottai, seraangottai.
Kannada name – aginimukhi, bhallataka,chera, gerkayi,kerubija.
Malayalam name – alakkuceru, cera, cerkkotta, shengotta, thenkotta.
Urdu name – baladur, bhilanvana.
Persian name – biladur.
Arab name -beladin, hab-el-kalb.
Telugu name -bhallaathaki, gudova,jeedi, thummeda maamidi, shenta, simidi.
Marathi name – bibba, bibha, bibo, bibwa.


The word semecarpus in greek means simeion – marking/tracing, carpus in Greek means nut, Anacardium means – like cardium i.e heart shaped marking nut.

Classical categorization

Charaka –
Deepaneeya – Group of herbs that promotes digestion,
Bhedaniya – group of herbs that cause mild purgation,
Kushtaghna – group of herbs that are useful in skin diseases
Mutrasangrahaneeya – group of herbs that cause urine retention.
Sushruta and Vagbhata – Nyagrodhadi, Mustadi gana.
Bh. pr . Ni – Hareetakyadi varga


Common in hotter parts of India.


Susruta and Nighanu Ratnakara
Bhallataka and Nadi Bhallataka


Medium sized tree up to 30 – 50 feet height.

Bark – Grey in colour and exudes an irritant secretions on incising
Leaves – Simple, obovate – oblong, ashy grey
Inflorescence – Compound panicle
Flowers – Small, greenish yellow with long flower stalk
Fruits – drupaceous nut, Heart shaped, Green when raw and turned to black on ripening. Fruits are attached to fleshy orange coloured receptacle which is edible
Seeds – Pendulous

Medicinal properties

Rasa (taste) – Katu (pungent), Tikta (Bitter), Kashaya (Astringent)
Guna (qualities) – Laghu (light to digest), Teekshna (piercing), Snigdha (Unctuous)
Vipaka – Madhura – undergoes sweet taste conversion after digestion.
Veerya – Ushna – hot in potency

Pharmacological Action

Anti cancerous
Anti bacterial
Cardiac depressant
Anti Allergic
Anti Arthritic
Anti inflammatory

Dose (Matra)

Taila – 10 – 20 drops
Ksirapaka – 30 ml

Fatal dose

More than 10 g

Fatal period

12 -24 hours

Side effects

In higher doses Bhallataka will cause
Blisters on tongue and throat
Increased Thirst and sweats
Heart burn
Renal failure
Gastro intestinal tract infetion

Phyto constituents

Nuts contain – Bhilawanol, Bio flavanoids, Anacardic acid

Purification of Bhallataka

Bhallataka Shodhana –
Because it is very hot in nature, its mere skin contact may cause boils. To reduce its hot potency and toxicity, it is subjected to purification procedure.

Ripe seeds of Bhallataka are taken, and put into water. Only those which sink are used for purification and the rest are discarded.
The seed is cut into two and kept immersed in dry brick powder for sometime. During this time, the dry brick powder absorbs all the strong pungent oil of Bhallatak, reducing its pungency and making it usable for medicinal purposes.

Therapeutic uses

There is no Kapha imbalance disease, no constipation, which can’t be cured by Bhallataka. It improves intelligence and promotes digestion.

Khadira seeds help to treat all skin diseases. Similarly, all hemorrhoids can be well treated using Bhallataka.

In case of cerebral infarction, Bhallataka is used. 

Bhallatak fruit qualities

After ripening, it is
Svadupaka rasa – sweet in taste.
Laghu – light to digest
Kashaya – astringent
Pachana – helps in digestion
Snigdha – unctuous
Teekshna – piercing
Ushna – hot
Chedana – has cutting, slicing effect
Bhedi – induces purgation.
Medhya – improves intelligence
Vahnikara – promotes digestion
Kaphavatahara -balances Kapha and Vata
Vranahara – induces quick wound healing
Udarahara – useful in ascites
Kushta – useful in skin diseases
Arshahara – useful in piles
Grahani – Useful in malabsorption syndrome
Gulma – Useful in gaseous distention of abdomen
Shopha -Relieves inflammation
Anaha – relieves bloating
Jwara – useful in fever
Krimi- useful in worm infestation.

Bhallataka seed kernel

is sweet, aphrodisiac,
Bruhmani – nutritious, balances Vata Dosha and Pitta Dosha
Bark is good for hair and improves digestion.

Bhallataka and cancer

There are many Ayurvedic formulations that are prepared with Bhallataka, used in cancer treatment. As of now, there is no specific lead that is got to prove its efficacy beyond doubt. Nevertheless, Marking nut is one of the potential herb having scope against cancer.

How to counter side effects of Bhallatak? 

For its allergic reactions like rash, itching and swelling, the antidotes used externally are coconut oil, rala ointment, ghee, coriander leaves pulp or butter mixed with musta (Cyperus rotundus) – A cream is prepared and administered. Coconut and sesame seed also beneficial to eradiate the side effects.

Milk medicated with bhallataka or bhallataka modaka mitigates the skin diseases like scabies, eczema, ringworm infestations.

As a nervine tonic, it is beneficial in the diseases due to vata, like sciatica, paralysis, facial palsy, epilepsy, rheumatic conditions and also as a brain tonic.

The combination, bhallatak, haritaki, tila (sesame seeds) powders with jaggery, awards excellent results in chronic rheumatic disorders.

Parpataka kashaya or Palashamool kashaya subsides the poisonous effects caused by Bhallataka seeds or oil. – Vaidya Sara Sangraha – Parishishta

If you are suffering with blisters due to exposure to bhallataka oil, then eating plenty of grated coconut helps to cool down the burning sensation and also to heal the blisters fast.

Collection of  fruits of Bhallataka

Reference: Charaka Samita Chikitsa 1.2/13
The fruits

  • which are not damaged,
  • free from physical defects,
  • full of Rasa (taste),
  • having full size,
  • ripe in potency (veerya) and
  • which resemble ripe fruits of Jambu (Jamun fruit)

Time when it is to be collected:
In the months of Suchi or Jyestha (May-June) and Shukra or Ashadha (June-July)
It is stored for 4 months inside a heap of Yava – Barley (Hordeum vulgare) or Masha (Black gram)

Method of Administration of Bhallatak Rasayan

  • Is done in the month of Sahas or Agrahayana (November-December) or Sahasya, i.e Pushya  (December-January),
  • It is administered to a patient after his body has been smeared with cooling, unctuous and sweet herbs. (This is because, Bhallataka is very hot in nature and may cause excessive burning sensation in the patient).
  • In the beginning, 10 fruits of Bhallataka should be well boiled in 8 parts of water.
  • After boiling, when 1/8th of water remains, it is filtered, added with milk and given to the patient after his mouth has been smeared with ghee.
  • Ten fruits should be added every day by one fruit till the number becomes thirty and thereafter, it should be decreased by one fruit per day till it reaches the original number – ten.
  • It should not be further increased because thirty fruits of Bhallataka is the maximum dose.
  • Following this procedure, one thousand Bhallatakas can be administered.

Pathya – Recommended diet

  • After digestion, the person should take the rice of Shali or Shashtika along with milk and ghee.
  • After administration for a few days, the person should take milk only twice per day. (Milk acts as a coolant and will take away the hot effect of Bhallatak).

By the use of this recipe, one lives for one hundred years and gains such other excellent results as are described in paragraph 4, 5 and 6 above.[13]

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.

Ayurvedic medicines with Bhallataka

Bhallataka Rasayana – useful in skin diseases and as anti aging medicine.
Amrita Bhallataka Ghrita – Useful in skin diseases and hemorrhoids.
Sanjivani Vati – useful in poisoning and fever.
De Pile Tablet – Used in the treatment of hemorrhoids.

Sanskrit synonyms:
Arushkara – produces wounds, merely by skin contact
Shophakrut – causes inflammation on skin contact
Dhanurbija – Fruits are obliquely ovoid
Tailabija – Fruits as oily contents
Bhalli – The juice of Bhallataka is very corrosive
Bhedana – Bhallataka alleviate Arbuda
Ranjaka – Juice cause redness to the skin
Vira vriksha – Potent plant
Agnika, Agnimukha – as hot as fire
bhutanashana, Krimighna – kills microbes
Kshatakshataru, prithakabija, shailabeeja,
sphotahetu, shophakrit – exposure to its volatile oils can cause blisters, swelling and inflammation. 
vahninama, virataru.

Sthanika Karma (Systemic Action)

External Application – Can cause skin blisters, Anti poisonous. External application of its paste in vaginal area cause abortion. Fumigation with bhallataka seed is indicated in Hemerrhoids
Internal administration-
Nervous system- Nervous strengthening, and promote intellect (Medhya). Indicated in Epilepsy, Sciatica, Hemiplegia, etc. In Sciatica bhallataka processed with milk can be given.
Digestive System – Digestive, carminative, liver stimulant, Anti helminthic. Indicated in abdominal distension, constipation, phantom tumor, mal absorption syndrome, hook worm infestation. Best medicine for Hemorrhoid’s (Sushkarsas), Correct blood circulation of liver.
Circulatory System – Stimulate heart, Beneficial in edema, enlargement of lymph nodes etc.
Respiratory system – Helps to eliminate kapha dosha, indicated in cough, breathing disorders etc.
Excretory System – Initially it increases urine production, later when it starts acting on kidney it reduces production of urine, further increase of dose can leads to hematuria. Indicated in diabetes patients
Reproductive system – Aphrodisiac, stimulate nerves of male genital organs, improve semen quantity. indicated in dysmenorrhea.
Satmikarana – Indicated in Obesity as it cause Medodhatu soshana (Scraping action on fat tissue)
Tvak (Skin) – Indicated in all types of skin diseases, Rheumatic skin lesions, leukoderma.
Tapakrama – Indicated in fever, stimulate sweat production
Satmikarana – Strengthening the body, indicated in Mamsarbuda (swelling related to muscles)
Pliha – Indicated in splenomegaly along with Black cumin, chebulic myrobalan and jaggery

Contra indication

Administration of Bhallataka is contra indicated in kids, pregnant ladies, old age, people of pitta body constitution

Pathya (diet during bhallataka intake)

Should not take hot, spicy, sour, salty foods. Avoid excess heat, sun exposure, hot weather etc.
Should not take kakarashtaka groups of herbs mentioned in Ayurveda text books.
Can take milk, ghee, sugar,, coconut, sesame etc.

Poisonous effect (lakshanas)of Bhallataka

Consumption of un purified bhallataka or over dosage can cause excess sweating, thirst, itching and burning sensation over anal region. Reduce urine production, or discolored / bloody urine. Swelling / itching over body

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