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Nagkesar

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Mesua ferrea, generally known as Nagkesar in India. It is a species in the family Calophyllaceae. It is native to tropical Sri Lanka but also cultivated in Assam, southern Nepal, Indochina, and the Malay Peninsula. It is a tall tree reaching up to 100 feet tall, often buttressed at the base with a trunk up to 2 meters in diameter. It has simple, narrow, oblong, dark green leaves 7–15 cm long, with a whitish underside; the emerging young leaves are red to yellowish pink and drooping. The flowers are 4–7.5 cm diameter, with four white petals and a center of numerous yellow stamens.
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Botanical Names
Mesua ferrea
Indian Names
Sanskrit : Champeryah, Nagkesara, Nagapushpa Hindi : Gajapushpam, Nagakesara Bengali : Nagesar Kannada : Nagasampige Malayalam : Nagachampakam, Veila Marathi : Nagchampa Tamil : Cheru-nagapu, Sirunagappoo, Veilutta-champakam Telugu : Nagakesara
Chemical Constituents
The flowers of Mesua ferrea contain a yellow-colored highly fragrant essential oil, the stamens specifically containing mesuanic acid, amyrin, amyrin, sitosterol, and the biflavonoids mesuaferrone A and B. Researchers have also isolated a group of xanthones from M. ferrea, including euxanthone, dehydrocycloguanadin, jacareubin, and mesuaxanthones A and B. The seed contains the coumarin mesaugin, the lactones mesuol, mesuone, and mammeisin, as well as a fixed oil comprised of oleic, stearic, palmatic and linoleic acids (1).
Pesticide Limits
A limit for pesticide is one of the major issues in standardization of medicinal plants and products in view of the worldwide widespread use of pesticides in cultivated plants. The presence of pesticides in extracts increase the health risk by many folds. The pesticides can be extremely irritant on skin as well as in the internal organs hence it is essential to monitor its concentration as a part of GMP. Various analytical methods for the quantitative determination of pesticides by gas chromatography coupled with mass-spectrophotometer are in use. Konark Research Foundation (KRF), a NABL certified lab is well equipped with the latest technology and instruments and monitors the pesticide limit as part of its GMP.
Chromatographic Profile
From the pharmacopoeial perspective, a better quality control of raw material can be achieved by specifying quantitative test procedure for the determination of the range or a minimum content of the active ingredient or marker substances. A chromatographic finger profile represents qualitative/ quantitative determination of various components present in a complex plant extract, irrespective whether or not their exact identity is known. Thin layer chromatographic technique is the simplest and least expensive method that provides plenty of information on the composition of raw herbs and its preparation. For quantitative analysis of active ingredients or marker substances with simultaneous separation and detection High Pressure liquid chromatography is the best technique. We use the latest model of HPLC for all its analysis.
Limits of Impurities
A test requirement for foreign organic matter would ensure the extent of contamination of extraneous matters such as filth and other parts of botanicals not covered by the definition of the herbal drug. Since sand and soil are predictable contaminants of botanicals, test requirements for ‘total ash’, water soluble ash’, ‘acid soluble ash’, residue on ignition and sulphated ash would be expected to limit such contaminants. Test requirement for heavy metals in botanical raw material are probably more relevant for parts of plants growing under ground than for the aerial parts of the plant. The presence of high levels of minerals interacts with the final product there by affecting its keeping quality.
Microbial Limits
If the raw herbs are to be used directly without boiling in water prior to consumption, restrictive limits on microbial contaminants are required for pathogens such as Salmonella sp. Enterobacter and E. coli which are causative agent for various gastrointestinal diseases. A lower level of yeasts and molds and a limit on total aerobes are considered appropriate in plant material for topical use. The presence of aflatoxins detected by chemical means is generally independent of the number of viable molds that are detected using microbiological methods. Aflatoxins in microgram quantity are capable of giving serious hypersensitivity reactions which can be extremely harmful to human health
Pharmacology
Many parts of Mesua ferrea possess medicinal properties. The flowers are acrid, anodyne, digestive, constipating, and stomachache in nature. They are useful in conditions like asthma, leprosy, cough, fever, vomiting and impotency. The seed oil is considered to be very useful in conditions like vata and skin diseases. Mesuol and measuone two phyto-constituents of Nagkesar showed antibiotic activity. Other pharmacological activities reported are antifungal, antihelminthic, hypotensive, antispasmodic, antianaphylactic, antiasthamatic, anti inflammatory and insecticidal etc (2). Ethanolic extract of whole plant showed antibacterial activity. The antibacterial efficacy of the methanol extract of whole flowers of Mesua ferrea was studied against various strains of bacteria. It could inhibit a large number of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria as against vibrios and Escherichia coli. In in vivo tests it offered significant protection to Swiss strain of albino mice when challenged with virulent strain Sulmonella typhimurium ATCC 6539 (3).
Health Benefits
The plant Mesua ferrea, commonly known as Nagkesar in India, used in traditional medicine for several indications such as rheumatism, cough, dysentery, vomiting, sore throat, fever, itch, etc. from the time immemorial. Fats and oils are very important indigenous raw materials for many purposes especially for edible and non edible purposes. The physico-chemical properties of fats or oils are directly related to their glyceride composition and chemical constitution. Various parts of the plant are used medicinally in India, Pakistan, Indochina and Malaya. The flowers are said to be astringent, stomachic, expectorant and useful in bleeding piles, the flower buds are used in dysentry. The unripe fruits are aromatic and sudorific. The bark is said to have similar properties. Leaves and flowers are used in the treatment of snake-bite and scorpion sting. The oil is used in soap making, and medicinally as an embrocation in rheumatism and in the treatment of itch (4, 5). Dried flowers are used for bleeding hemorrhoids and dysentery with mucus. Fresh flowers are useful remedy for itching, nausea, erysipelas, bleeding piles, metrorrhagea, menorrhagea, excessive thirst, and sweating. Oil from the seeds is used for sores, scabies, wounds, and rheumatism. The intraperitoneal and oral administration xanthones isolated from Nagakeshara exhibited an anti-inflammatory activity in rats subjected to carrageenin-induced hind paw edema, cotton pellet granuloma and granuloma pouch techniques (6).
Research References
1. M. Abu S., M. Abbas A., F. I. Sohel, G. R. M. Astaq Mohal Khan and Mst. SarminaYeasmin1 PHYSICO-CHEMICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF MESUA FERREA SEED OIL AND NUTRITIONAL COMPOSITION OF ITS SEED AND LEAVES Bull. Chem. Soc. Ethiop. 2004, 18(2):157-166. 2. Wiratchanee M., Vithoon V., Wanna C., Arunporn I. and Kesara Na-B. Cytotoxic activity of Thai medicinal plants against human cholangiocarcinoma, laryngeal and hepatocarcinoma cells in vitro. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2010, 10:55 3. C. Roshy J., Ilanchezhian R., Patgiri B. and Harish C. R. Pharmacognostical Study of Nagkeshara (Mesua ferrea Linn.)- An Ingredient in Vyaghihareetaki Avaleha. IJRAP 2010, 1(2):264-272. 4. Ahmed I. A., Mohamed E. S. M., Suleyman A. M., Jamal I. D., Mikail M. A. Extraction and Antibacterial Activity of Nahar (Mesua ferrea) Seed Kernels’ Oil. ACT-Biotechnology Research Communications 2011 1(1):28-32 ACT-Biotechnology Research Communications 1:1 (2011):28-32 5.Chakraborty D. P., Purkayashta M. and Bose P. K. On the Antibiotic Properties of Some Constituents of Mesua Ferrea. 25(1):1-4 6. M. Abbas A., M. Abu Sayeed., Bhuiyan M. S. A., Sohel F. I. and Samina Y. Antimicrobial Screening of Cassia fistula and Mesuam ferea. 2004 J. Med. Sci., 4(1):24-29