The magic of bulu

by Namini Wijedasa
Bulu (Terminalia belerica) is called Beleric Myrobalan or Bedda Nut in English while its Sanskrit names are Bibhitaki or Bhaira. It is a tree which grows throughout Indian forests and plains. The parts used are fruit and seeds. Contrary to its name, bulu is not a nut.

Bulu is administered as an infusion, decoction, powder or paste, depending on the type of ailment.

There are two common varieties of bulu: the large, fleshy type and the small variety. Bulu vitiates all three humours — vatha, kapha and pitta.

Bulu is widely used in Ayurvedic remedies and there is a wealth of information on the Internet about its properties and benefits.

The Web site <www.holistic-online.com> notes that bulu is anthelmintic, antiseptic, astringent, expectorant, laxative, lithotriptic, rejuvenative and a tonic.

It is principally employed as a treatment for digestive and respiratory problems. The fruit also has antioxidant and antibacterial properties.

"Ayurveda recognises the utility of this herb for the treatment of ailments such as nausea, cold, vomiting, cough, bronchitis, catarrh, chronic diarrhoea, dysentery and eye disorders," the site explains..

It adds that bulu is used to treat laryngitis, headache, haemorrhoids, parasites, stones, kapha digestive disorders, urinary tract stones, stomach, liver disorders, gastro-intestinal tract diseases, poor appetite, sore throats and voice (mixed with honey or used as a gargle).

It is a brain and stomach tonic. Externally, it is used as an antiseptic lotion, paste for pitta swellings and eye diseases. Dried ripe fruit is used for the treatment of oedema and for ophthalmia in combination with honey .

The Web site <www.herbscancure.com> says that bulu "primarily supports the healthy formation of three bodily tissues — nutrient plasma (Rasa Dhatu), muscle (Mamsa Dhatu) and bone (Asthi Dhatu)."

Bulu is one of the three ingrients of the Triphala formula in Ayurveda — aralu (Indian Gallnut), bulu, nelli (Indian Gooseberry). "Triphala aids digestion and nourishes the body tissues, helps scrub the colon, and supports the action of other ingredients in any well-balanced formula," the Web site explains.

The Web site <www.herbscancure.com> has a wide variety of information about Triphala. According to the site, Triphala corrects constipation, cleanses and tonify the gastro intestinal tract; detoxifies the whole body and improves digestion and assimilation; reduces high blood pressure and hypertension as well as improves blood circulation. It acts as anti-viral, anti-bacterial, powerful anti-oxidant, and has anti-cancer and anti-allergy properties.

The site elaborates that Triphala is also helpful in liver disorders and acts as an expectorant. It is very effective in Irritable Bowel Syndrome and ulcerative colitis.

"Triphala is a powerful eye rejuvenator for treatment of conjunctivitis, progressive myopia, the early stages of glaucoma and cataracts," it reveals, adding that the combination of powders is highly anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and also stimulates bile-flow and peristalsis.

Bulu works on the lungs, heart and liver.

According to <www.herbscancure.com>, studies of the fruit found that it contains up to 35% oil and 40% protein. "The oil is used in soap-making and by the poorer classes as a substitute cooking oil for ghee," it observes.

"The sweet smelling oil is 35% palmitic, 24% oleic and 31% linoleic. Linoleic oil is an essential fatty acid important for increasing HDL cholesterol, associated with a healthy state and reducing LDL cholesterol, considered to indicate a higher-than-average risk for developing coronary-heart disease."

The site says that bulu targets imbalances associated with the kapha or mucus humour. It points out that Triphala is also widely taken for all eye diseases including the treatment of conjunctivitis, progressive myopia, the early stages of glaucoma and cataracts. For these conditions, it is taken daily both internally as well as externally as an eye wash.

"Steep one tablespoonful of the Triphala powder in an eight ounce glass of water overnight," it prescribes. In the morning, strain the infusion through a clean cloth. The resultant tea is used to sprinkle over the eyes or used in an eyewash in an eyecup that can be readily purchased at most drug stores."

"One can drink the remainder in one or two doses, morning and evening," it advises. "Taken in this way for at least three months, Triphala becomes an herbal eye tonic."

Dr. Lakshmi Senaratne, chief scientist (Ayurveda) at the Bandaranaike Memorial Ayurveda Research Institute, noted that bulu is used to treat leucoderma or vitiligo (sudu kabara in Sinhala) in combination with the herb Psoralea corylifolia. Grind seeds of Psoralea corylifolia with bulu stem juice and apply on the kabara.

Bulu seeds are effective treatment for renal calculi and is diuretic. For oedema and swelling, inflamed glands or boils, the fruit paste is applied externally. The seed oil is used in treatment of skin diseases and oedema, falling hair (applied on head) and sudu kabara.

For cold, cough, asthma and phlegm, chew a piece of the fruit. For cuts, apply bulu powder to stop bleeding. For conjunctivitis, apply bulu paste on eyelid.

Senaratne also had a simple remedy for chest pain: bulu with amukkara powder. Take equal quantities of both with jaggery and hot water.

For acute asthma, powder 10 grams of bulu and take with bee’s honey. To increase brain power, pour boiling water on bulu powder, steep overnight, strain and drink.

To reduce phlegm, take bulu with long pepper (thippili) and rock salt. Keep the mixture in the mouth.

To relieve disurea, renal calculi and burning sensation in the body, take bulu powder with bee’s honey. The dose is half-a-teaspoon, twice a day.

Senaratne observed that bulu seeds promote hair growth, prevents falling hair and early greying. Head can be washed with bulu.

To soothe the eyes, crush the fruits, immerse in water overnight and wash eyes with the strained liquid. For wounds, burn the fruit, mix ash with ghee and apply. The fruit, powdered finely, is used as tooth powder by sufferers of wasted gums, decaying teeth, ulcers in the gums and sore throat.