Acacia catechu (Willd.)
Synonyms: Catechu nigrum, cutch, dark catechu
Description: This tree is indigenous to eastern India, Bangladesh and Burma.
Parts used: dried extract from the heartwood, occurring in commerce as black shining pieces or cakes.
Collection: The bark and sapwood are stripped from the felled tree and the heartwood cut into pieces and boiled with water. The decoction is then evaporated to a syrup and allowed to cool in moulds. The resulting dried mass is broken into irregular pieces.
Constituents: 20-35% tannins, mainly catechutannic acid; 2-10% acacatechin, quercetin and catechu-red.
Actions: Antiseptic, strong astringent
Indications: Chronic diarrhoea, dysentery, mucous colitis, as a douche in leucorrhoea, and as a mouthwash or gargle in gingivitis, stomatitis and pharyngitis.
Therapeutics and Pharmacology: Acacia is a useful remedy for arresting excessive mucous discharges and checking haemorrhages. It may be used as a douche for leucorrhoea or as a mouthwash or gargle for pharyngitis, laryngitis, gingivitis and stomatitis. Acacia has a very high tannin content and is therefore an excellent astringent for overcoming relaxation of the mucous membranes in general. Externally, it can be applied in the form of a powder to boils, ulcers and cutaneous eruptions as well as to spongy gums.
Combinations: It may be combined with Acorus, Mentha piperata, Filipendula, Agrimonia and Quercus in lower bowel conditions. It may be used with Commiphora and Hamamelis as a gargle for pharyngitis, tonsillitis or gingivitis.
Caution: Incompatible with alkalis, lime water, metallic salts and gelatin.
Preparation and Dosage: (thrice daily)
Regulatory status GSL
Dried extract: 0.3-2g or by infusion
Tincture: 1:5 in 45% alcohol, 2.5-5ml
Additional Comments: The resin from the heartwood of black catechu can be used to tan leather, and it also produces a brown dye. Pale catechu (Uncaria gambier Roxb.) may be used medicinally in the same way but is slightly less astringent.
BHMA 1983 British Herbal Pharmacopoeia, BHMA, Bournemouth.
Grieve, M. 1931 A Modern Herbal, (ed. C.F. Leyel 1985), London.
Hoffmann, D. 1990 The New Holistic Herbal, Second Edition, Element, Shaftesbury.
Lust, J. 1990 The Herb Book, Bantam, London.
Mills, S.Y. 1993 The A-Z of Modern Herbalism, Diamond Books, London.
Wren, R.C. 1988 Potter's New Cyclopaedia of Botanical Drugs and Preparations, C.W.Daniel, Saffron Walden.
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Last updated 27th November 2014 ęPurple Sage Botanicals