Kokum – Garcinia indica Uses, Dose, Research, Side Effects

Kokum – Garcinia indica is an anti oxidant rich fruit used in the name of Vrikshamla in Ayurveda. Kokum butter juice, prepared from its fruits is a famous coolant summer juice widely used in South India. 

Botanical name – Garcinia indica Lin
Family- Guttiferae
Its fruits are green when unripe. Only ripe dark red coloured fruit is useful for medicinal purposes.

Garcinia indica
Garcinia indica

Vernacular names

Names in different languages:
Hindi name- Kokum, Kokam, Komal , Amlaveta, Vishambila
English name – Kokum butter tree, Wild mangosteem, Kokam Butter tree, Red mango, Mate mongosteen, Kokam batten tree, Mangosteen oil tree, Brindonia tallow tree
Bengali : Mahada
Bombay : Kokam, Amsul, Katambi, Bhirand
Kannada name – Dhupadamara, Murgala, Tittidika, Murgmahali, Murgala, Huli, Punarpuli.
Deccan name – kokam, Ratambi
Goa name – Brindao, Amsel. Ratainbasal, Brindoesiro
Gujarati name – Kokam, Ratamba ,Kokambel ,Birandel
Kashmiri name – Titidika
Konkani : Birondd, Ratambi, Birondi
Malayalam name – Punampuli
Marathi name – Amosole, Bhirand, Chirand, Katambi, Ratamba, Kokam
Portuguese name – Brindall
Tamil name – Murgal, Puli
Telugu name – Chinta
Tulu name – Punarpuli.

Video explanation

Sanskrit synonyms

Amlashaka, Chukramla, Amlapoora, Chudamla, Beejamla, Phalamla,Shreshtamla – sour tasting fruit
Raktapooraka – The dried fruit is red in colour and makes the water red when mixed
Tittidi phala, Tintideeka, Tittideeka
Mahiruha, Chukra

Systemic classification

Division – Angiospermae
Sub division – Dicotylydonae
Class – Polypetalae
Sub class – Thalamiflorae
Order – Guttiferales
Family – Guttiferae

Classical categorization

Charaka- Phala varga (Charaka Sutrasthana 27 ) Hrdya (Charaka Sutrasthana 4)
Raja Nighantu – Pippalyadi Varga, Panchamla Phala,
Kaiyadeva Nighantu – Aushadhi Varga
Dhanvantari Nighantu – Shatapushpadi Varga
Bhava Prakasha – Chaturamla, Panchamla, Amradi Phalavarga
Parushakadi varga – Sushrutha Samhitha
Pippalyadi varga – Raja Nighantu.

Habitat and distribution

It is reported to flourish well on the lower slopes of Niligiri hills, Singapore, China, Malabar, Malayasia, Maharastra,  Kerala. Tropical rain forests of Western ghats from Konkan southwards in Mysore, Coorg, Wynaad, North Kanara, Goa. It is often planted in the districts of Bombay state distributed in tropical Asia, Africa and Polynesia.
Found in western Ghats of India, Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Kokam butter leaves
Kokam butter leaves

Chemical composition

Garcinia indica chemical composition:
Leaves- L-Leucine
Heartwood- Cuxanthone, Volkensiflovone, Morelloflavone, Comboginol
Fruit – Garcinol, Isogarcinol, Comboginol.
Seed – Neutral lipids, glycolipids
(Reference: Illustrated Dravyaguna VIjnana, Vol. II, by Dr JLN Shastry)
Polyphenols have anti bacterial activity.

kokum butter
kokum butter
kokum butter tree
kokum butter tree

Medicinal properties

Kokum butter medicinal properties
Rasa (taste) – Amla (sour), Madhura – sweet
Guna (qualities) – Rooksha(dryness), Guru (heavy to digest)
Vipaka (taste conversion after digestion) – Amla (sour)
Veerya (potency) – Ushna (hot).
Because of its sourness, it is considered hot in potency. But when it is made into a juice with sugar candy powder and other coolant ingredients such as jaggery, it is useful as a coolant juice.

unripe fruit – Vatahara, Kaphapittakara
Ripe fruit – Kapha vatahara

It is unctuous, penetrating in nature, stimulates the digestive fire. Cures sever colicky pain, flatulence, constipation, It can even destroy the firmly established diseases and treats disorders caused due to vitiation of vata and kapha doshas.

Effect on Tridosha

Ripe fruit balances Vata and Kapha Dosha.
unripe fruit pacifies Vata dosha but increases Kapha and Pitta dosha.

kokum juice
kokum juice

Part used, dosage

Part used- Fruit, root bark, seed oil, tender leaves

Dosage –
Root bark decoction 40-80ml,
Fruit syrup 10-20ml,
Seed oil 3-5 drops.
Vrikshamla Swarasa – Juice extract – 5-10 ml.

Sanskrit verse

Garcinia indica uses

Uses

Garcinia indica uses:
Ruchikrut, Rochana – improves taste, relieves anorexia
Deepana – improves digestion strength
Sangrahi – absorbent, useful in diarrhoea, IBS
Grahi – absorbent, useful in diarrhoea, IBS

It is indicated in –
Kapha Arsha – Haemorrhoids of Kapha origin
Trushna – excessive thirst
Vataja Udara – Bloating, Flatulence
Hrudgada – Cardiac disorders – It is a very good cardiac tonic
Gulma – Tumours of the abdomen
Atisara – diarrhoea, dysentery
Vrana Dosha – Ulcers, infected wounds
Grahani – IBS, sprue, altering diarrhoea and constipation
Shoola – abdominal colic pain
Jantu – worm infestation

It is used in the preparation of fermented fruit wine product called as Raaga.

Ayurvedic medicines

Ayurvedic medicines with Garcinia indica as ingredient:
Hingvadi Churna – 
used in Ayurvedic treatment of indigestion, bloating and abdominal pain.
Yavanyadi Choornam – used in Ayurvedic treatment of respiratory diseases.

Research

Anti oxidant and hepato protective activity – Aqueous extract of fruit protects liver from Anti TB medication induced liver damage.
Anti oxidant activity
Anti bacterial activity against S. typhi

How to use kokum?

Its fruits are dried, soaked in water to prepare its juice – administered in a dose of 100 ml,  2 – 3 times a day.
Its fruit powder is also dried and consumed.
Its root bark is made into decoction and administered.
It is also available in Capsule form. Regular dose is – 1 capsule 2 times a day after food.
Its tender leaves are used in preparing Chutney (paste used along with dishes), which is administered for the treatment of gastritis and headache arising due to gastritis (bilious headache). Dose – 3 – 5 grams once or twice a day, before food.
Its tender leaves are crushed and administered along with buttermilk for headache and gastritis.

Kokum for throat infection and pain –
Kokum juice – 50 ml is mixed with quarter a teaspoon of ginger and a teaspoon of honey is added to it. This combination is consumed two times a day preferably before food to treat throat infection and voice hoarseness.

Side effects

Its sour fruits are not healthy for people with Kapha and Pitta imbalance.
There are no other side effects.
Kokum juice is generally considered as safe during pregnancy, lactation and for children.

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.

Literary review

Literary review of the plant Vriksamla
Since the earliest times fruits are the common and important items of a mans diet. In earlier times when man lived in forests he had to fill his belly with  fruits and tubers. The Indus valley civilization shows that  those people at Harappa & Mohenjudharo used some fruits. when we come to vedic period we see considerable increase in the number & variety of fruit.

The Vedas are regarded as the oldest books on the Earth. In yajurveda we find the use of fruits but vrikshamla is not mentioned there.

In Maurya Sanga Period one finds authentic data  about fruits in Koutilyas Arthashastra he mentioned Vrikshamla in Phalamla varga.

In samhita kala Caraka mentioned Vruksamla hradya varga later sushrutha included vrikshamla Parushakadi varga. Vagbhata also mentioned vrikshamla in several context . After the samhita kala in Nighantu kala Bhava Prakasha Nighantu mentionedVrikshmla under Aamradi phala varga and Vrikshamla is also mentioned under Panchamla and chaturamla by Haritakyadi varga.
Later in 19th century cocum butter is mentioned under rochana varga by P.V.Sharma in Dravya Guna Vijnana.

Controversies

In Astanga Hridaya kosha this vrikshamla word used for Garcinia indica. The comentory on Dhanvanthri Nighantu Bhava Prakasha Nighantu as well as treatise like dravya guna vijnan same reference is seen.In Kerala Garcinia Cambogea used for vrikshamla. Since both have same property it is used depending on its availability. It is mentioned in Indian Medicinal plant by orient longum.The tuber of amlika is beneficial in grahani, arsha, madatyaya is laghu  not very ushna , kapha vatagna so acc to its above property instead vrikshamla amlika used. This is found only in Charaka. Chakrapani interprets it as a small plant found in Assam. It seems to be the plant mentioned as mahardraka by Bengali commentators in reference to vrikshamla. Tinthidika is found in all the 3 great samhithas of Ayurveda. It is  mentioned in amlaskanda of (cha vi 8/140) also along with other sour fruits (cha su 26/84) hence there is no doubt about its being one of the amlaphala. In charaka samhitha in phalavarga vrikshamla is described not thinthidika . in Sushrutha samhitha thinthidika is mentioned. On this basis it may be presumed that thinthidika vrikshamla are one Dalhan supported this But Amarakosha given both these as synonyms. Chakrapani interpreted vrikshamla as brahadamla or mahardraka Dalhana interpreted thinthidika of phalavarga as vrikshamla Chakrapani has not described vrikshamla in his Dravyaguna samgraha. Shivadas sen while commenting on thinthidika has interpreted it as mahardraka which comes to vrikshamla.
At last thinthidika – Rhus parviflora belongs to the family anacardiaceae. Vrikshamla – Garcinia indica belongs to the family Guttiferae so there is no doubt in their different identity.

34 thoughts on “Kokum – Garcinia indica Uses, Dose, Research, Side Effects”

  1. Is Garcenia Indica is different from Garcenia Combugia that we find in Himalaya drugs product Vrikshamla?

    Reply
  2. sir,
    this article is very good, my grandmother was used to give us kokam soaked water for external use for pitta gandhi. how to use kokam as cardiac tonic
    medha athavale

    Reply
  3. Is it beneficial for kidney function improvement? Can this be given to heart patients with early Chronic Kidney Disease?

    Reply
    • No madam, Kokum is used to treat sores, prevent infection, improve digestion, alleviate diarrhea and constipation and heal stomach ulcers. Kokum’s major active ingredient is garcinol, a substance that has antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It seems able to kill the H. pylori bacteria that cause ulcers, promote brain health.

      Reply
  4. Hello. You say “Its fruits are dried, soaked in water to prepare its juice – administered in a dose of 100 ml, 2 – 3 times a day.” What weight of Kokam (Kokum rind) should be soaked in what volume of water in order to use the 100 mls of the extract 2-3 times daily? Thank you.

    Reply
  5. Great article, Doctor. I bpught dried kokum fruits from the grocer. I soaked in water. But the water is not pink. So do you think that it is not real Kokum?

    Reply
    • Usually it yields red colour. I guess they have de-pigmented it. I am not sure. It may be of bad quality.

      Reply
  6. Thanks. Does it cause too much ushna like nose bleeds, palate and throat burning sensation, headaches, feverish, etc.

    Reply
      • In a span of 7 days, for 5 days, I used kokum instead of tamarind to make rasam and Sambhar. I have soaked 400 g of dried kokum in water and kept it in the fridge. So every day i use about 5 or 6 soaked pods and grind it with water and use it to make rasam or Sambhar. But suddenly, my right eye turned red, throat burning, nose bleeds, my tongue is aging sores, etc, etc. Ie. Ushna is aggravated. It has been 5 days of unabated problems due to Ushna aggravation. Even munching khus khus is not helpful. Why?

        Reply
    • Best way to preserve kokum juice is to add equal amount of sugar to it. stir well.

      This way, it can be preserved for 2 – 3 months time.
      This makes it concentrated. Whenever required, add equal amount of water to it, mix well and drink.

      Reply
  7. Please inform me whether kokam juice/water is beneficial for hyper acidity. if so, let me know the procedure to intake of it. and also let me know the store where i can get organic kokam.

    Reply
  8. Hello Dr Hebbar, Is it useful for skin infection? I heard from one of my family member that it is very good for skin infection? If so, then how to use it?

    Reply
  9. Hello Doctor,I read ur article and it is so informative.Doctor the other day I was listening to rujuta dwiekar (the famous dietician) she said apply kokum butter on the feet while sleeping u won’t snore anymore.Is this true and what is the science behind this wonderful application.

    Reply
    • I have not found such a reference. It could be based on the dietician’s experience. Please try and let us know.

      Reply
  10. Kokum is considered as a cooling drink in summers. So it’s potency should be hot or cold? I think the potency (virya) is cold. In your article it is written “Hot”. Please advise!

    Reply

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