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Butea frondosa is a species of Butea native to tropical and sub-tropical parts of the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia. It is also known as Butea monosperma. It is a medium sized dry season-deciduous tree, growing to 15 m tall. It is a slow growing tree. The leaves are pinnate, with an 8–16 cm petiole and three leaflets, each leaflet 10–20 cm long. The flowers are 2.5 cm long, bright orange-red, and produced in racemes up to 15 cm long. The fruit is a pod 15–20 cm long and 4–5 cm broad.
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Botanical Names
Butea frondosa
Indian Names
Sanskrit : Kimshuk, Palas Hindi : Dhaka, Palash Marathi : Palas Telugu : Moduga chettu; Tamil : Paras; Kannada : Muttuga; Malayalam : Plash Gujarati : Kesundo
Chemical Constituents
Phytochemical investigations of the dried flowers of Butea frondosa revealed the presence of atleast seven flavones and flavanoid constituents including butrine and isobutrine and also four free amino acids. The main constituent of the flower is butrin, butein and butin. It also contains flavonoids and steroids. Studies have proved that isobutrin slowly change to butrin on drying. Other than these in flowers, coreopsin, isocoreopsin, sulphurein (glycoside) and other two with monospermoside and isomonospermoside structures are also identified. Roots contain glucose, glycine, glucosides and aromatic compounds. Tetramers of leucocynidin are isolated from gum and stem bark. Seed contains oil. The bright color of the flower is attributed to the presence of chakones and aurones. Phenolic constituents isolated from the bark has shown potential as an anti asthamatic agent in estrogenic activity in mice. Alcoholic extract of the seeds showed significant anti implantation and anti ovulatory activity. Butrin and isobutrin has proved to have antihepatotoxic activity.
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
The Butea frondosa bark is reported to possess astringent, bitter, pungent, alliterative, aphrodisiac and anti-helmintic properties. Leaves are astringent, tonic, diuretic, and aphrodisiac in action and flowers are reported to possess astringent, diuretic, depurative, aphrodisiac and tonic properties. Butea frondosa commonly known as palas has been indicated in the ayurvedic system of medicine to be useful in the treatment of eye diseases and disorders. The flowers have been screened for their anti-fertility activity and the seeds have been examined for their anti-helmintic effects. Mycotoxic activity of leaves has been reported in scientific literatures. Scientists have examined the ocular anti-inflammatory activity of the roots and leaves of the plant. In the carrageenan-induced rat paw oedema, the aqueous extract of Butea frondosa leaves showed anti-inflammatory activity.
Health Benefits
The plant Butea frondosa has been indicated in the Indian system of medicine as a plant augmenting memory and as a rejuvenator. The effect of oral administration of the aqueous and alcoholic extracts of the leaves was assessed on stress, cognitive function, and anxiety in albino rats. The aqueous extract of palas leaves provides protection against stress-induced gastric lesions while both the alcoholic as well as the aqueous extract normalizes the white blood cell count. It is concluded that the aqueous and alcoholic extract of B. frondosa possesses anti stress and weak nootropic activity. The fresh juice is said to be useful for the treatment of ulcers and for congested sore throat. The plant gum is a powerful astringent given internally for diarrhea and dysentery, phthisis and hemorrhage from stomach and the bladder. Bark is useful in tumors, bleeding piles and ulcers. The decoction is useful in cold, cough, fever. Leaves can be used to cure boils, pimples, and tumor hemorrhoids and piles. Flowers are used as emmenagogue and to reduce swellings. It is also very effective in leprosy, leucorrhea and gout.
Research References
S.A. Mengi and S.G. Deshpande Anti-inflammatory activity of Butea frondosa leaves Fitoterapia 1999 70(5):521-522 Razdan M. K., Kapila K. and Bhide N. K. Antifertility effect and some pharmacological actions of Butea frondosa seed extracts. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 1969 13(4):239-49. S. A. Mengi, S. G. Deshpande Evaluation of ocular anti-inflammatory activity of Butea frondosa 1995 27(2):116-119