The trees of catechu or ‘katha’ as locally called, are found extensively in the regions of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. There are two varieties of catechu available in market viz. pale and dark.
Belonging to the family Leguminosea, the Latin name of catechu is Acacia catechu. The English name is Cutch tree while in Ayurvedic texts it is more often referred by the name Khadir i.e. that what combats a disease and brings stability in the body.
Katha is light and rough by nature and cold in potency. The taste is pungent and astringent, whereas the after taste is bitter. Chemically, there is presence of the component Catechin and Catechu tannic acid.
The bark of the tree is broken down in small pieces and boiled in water from which catechu or ‘ katha’ is derived. Both the bark and the derived catechu are used for medicinal purposes. Catechu tens to decrease the kapha or phlegm and pitta or heat humors of the body.
Skin Infection: as per Ayurveda, the prime usage of the drugs formulated with catechu is to treat a skin ailment. Thus m it is called ‘kushtghana’ i.e. anti leprosy. Not only is it believed to be an excellent blood purifier, but also tends to provide relief in a wide range of skin diseases. The local application of a paste made out of mixing the powder of catechu in water can be applied to ulcers, boils or itchy lesions on the skin for relief. This would benefit as antiseptic drug.
Tooth Disorders: A local massage of the powder of catechu is an effective cure for spongy and bleeding gums, mouth ulcers and gingivitis.
Vocal Distress: a small piece of Catechu is to be kept in mouth and sucked slowly. This is an effective lozenge for your vocal chords. You could also gargle with decoction prepared by boiling by boiling the same in water.
Anemia: There are some specific properties of the herb which makes if favorable for anemic patients. Catechu is a blood purifier; it tends to arrest blood loss and also causes an increase in ht blood hemoglobin. ½ to 1 gram of the powder of catechu mixed with honey taken for some days would help in improving the blood picture. Not only has this catechu also combated swelling and inflammation.
Chronic Fevers: being cold and pungent, catechu causes decrease in the heat of the body systems. Thus it works efficiently in chronic fevers. 50- 100 ml of the decoction prepared form boiling catechu can be taken twice a day, or ½ – 1 gms of powder can be taken mixed with honey.
Sore Throat: Catechu tends to cause decrease in phelgum or kapha body humour. Thus it is a useful throat remedy good for cough and cold. The prescribed dosage of catechu is to be taken twice mixed with honey.
Astringent: Being astringent, catechu over come relaxed mucous membranes. Thus, it is useful in treating maladies like pharyngitis and uterine prolapsed.