There is probably no other Indian tree that holds as much importance for tribal India as Mahua. Also called the ‘Tree of life of tribal India’, it is closely entwined in the day to day life of Central Indian tribes. From food to animal fodder to fuel, almost every part of it can be utilised.

Mahua or Madhuca longifolia is a fast-growing tree that reaches up to a height of 12-15 m. It bears small fleshy flowers in the month of March-April that are usually pale white to yellowish in shade. These flowers are used for preparing one of the most famous drinks of Central India, Mahua wine. 

Mahua is loaded with active compounds that provide with tremendous medicinal and therapeutic value. From seasonal flu and fever to epilepsy, mahua is a one-stop solution to virtually every health problem. In fact, Ayurveda has regarded mahua as a universal formula.

Some basic facts about Mahua:

  • Scientific name: Madhuca longifolia
  • Family: Sapotaceae
  • Common names: Mahuwa, Mahua, Mahwa, Mohulo, Iluppai or ippa 
  • English name: Butternut tree
  • Parts used: Bark, seeds and flowers
  • Native region and geographical distribution: Mahua is a tropical tree belonging to India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Myanmar with its distribution widely spread across the states of Central and Northern India
  1. Nutrition value of mahua
  2. Mahua Nutrition facts
  3. Domestic and agricultural uses of mahua
  4. Mahua health benefits
  5. Mahua for stomach ulcers
  6. Mahua for dental problems
  7. Mahua for heart diseases
  8. Mahua for bronchitis
  9. Mahua for epilepsy
  10. Mahua benefits for skin
  11. Mahua for fever
  12. Mahua for diabetes
  13. Mahua for intestinal worms
  14. Mahua benefits for liver
  15. Other benefits of mahua
  16. Mahua recipe
  17. Side effects of mahua

Mahua seeds are highly rich in healthy fats, which adds a great value to its economic importance as it is commercially used to produce butter. Though every part of mahua may have a slightly different nutritional content, mentioned below is the nutritional value of Mahua seeds only.

Nutritional value of Madhuca longifolia seeds (whole) per 100 gram:

  • Total fats: 50-31%
  • Proteins: 16.9%
  • Carbohydrates: 22%
  • Total fibre: 3.2%

Mahua seeds are highly rich in healthy fats, which adds a great value to its economic importance as it is commercially used to produce butter. Though every part of mahua may have a slightly different nutritional content, mentioned below is the nutritional value of Mahua seeds only.

Nutritional value of Madhuca longifolia seeds (whole) per 100 gram:

  • Total fats: 50-31%
  • Proteins: 16.9%
  • Carbohydrates: 22%
  • Total fibre: 3.2%
  • Madhuca or buttercup seeds are conventionally used to obtain mahua butter, which is of wide industrial importance. It is used as a substitute for cocoa butter in cosmetics and pharmacies, as cooking oil, for making chocolates and in adulteration of ghee
  • Flour obtained from mahua seeds works as a seasonal substitute of cereal grains to make rotis and puris
  • Since mahua seeds are rich in fats, research studies have indicated their ability to work as a biofuel
  • Due to the presence of high amount of sugars, mahua flower is added as a sweetening agent in traditional Indian desserts such as barfi, kheer, halwa, and meethi puri. They are used for the production of cheap liquor and as a cattle feed, which helps to improve the health of cattle and increase milk production

Mahua tree is known to be a treasure of multiple medicinal properties, which can be used for the treatment for a large number of diseases. Flower extracts of Madhuca longifolia are used against heart diseases, leucorrhea, menorrhagia, polyuria, bronchitis, and tonsillitis. The bark of the tree is used for rheumatism, chronic bronchitis, diabetes mellitus, and bleeding. Mahua leaves are used as a medicine for rheumatism and haemorrhoids. Madhuca roots are highly effective against inflammation, diarrhoea and fever. Let us discuss some of the scientifically proven benefits of mahua plant in detail.

Stomach ulcers or gastric ulcers are a type of open sore that occur in the inner lining of the stomach or intestines. They are caused as a result of disruption of the mucous lining of the stomach due to overproduction of gastric juices. It is said that this mucus lining helps to protect the stomach from the digestive juices present inside it. Possessing significant anti-ulcer properties, mahua is reported to be very effective in providing relief from the distressing symptoms of peptic ulcers. It inhibits the secretion of histamine, a compound which controls acid production in stomach hence reducing the irritation caused by it and allowing the ulcer to heal.
Mahua also has a demulcent action, which means it forms a protective layer over the mucous membrane of the stomach, protecting it from the harmful effects of excess acid.

(Read more: Home remedies for acidity)

Mahua is considered highly beneficial for maintaining healthy gums and getting rid of tonsillitis. Traditionally, 4mL of liquid extract obtained from the bark of mahua tree mixed with 300 mL of water is used as a gargle to get relief from bleeding and spongy gums. The same preparation is also used to alleviate the symptoms of inflammatory conditions like acute tonsillitis and pharyngitis. Lab studies indicate that this is because of the antimicrobial properties of Madhuca longifolia bark, which is imparted to it in part due to the presence of active compounds known as triterpenoid saponins. 

(Read more: Bleeding gums causes)

Cardiovascular diseases, more commonly known as heart diseases claim a large number of deaths in the world every year. Mahua seeds, with their multiple pharmacological actions, not only help promote heart health but also are favourable for maintaining the overall health of the body.
Clinical studies have shown that the predominant presence of monounsaturated fatty acids, particularly oleic acid in mahua seeds help to reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL or bad cholesterol), which otherwise poses a high risk for coronary heart disease (CHD). In fact, mahua oil is considered as one of the best cooking oils, even better than palm oil or kokum butter. Switching your cooking oil yet?

Traditionally, distilled juice of mahua flowers along with a glass of milk is used to provide relief to people suffering from chronic bronchitis. Bronchitis is an inflammatory condition of airways, especially of bronchial tubes, which are responsible for carrying air into your lungs. It manifests in the form of coughing followed by wheezing and shortness of breath, which is caused by increased mucus production.
Flowers of Madhuca longifolia work as an expectorant to reduce the thickness of mucus secretions. They also help to increase mucus secretion, allowing its easy removal from the body.
Furthermore, being an antioxidant and inflammatory herb, it helps reduce the severity of the inflammation, promoting quick recovery.

(Read more: Home remedies to get rid of phlegm)

Epilepsy is a complex disorder, in which a person experiences fits due to abnormal brain activity. Despite the various drugs available for the treatment of epilepsy, tribal people continue to rely on natural ways for its management and mahua offers a great solution to this condition. Research studies report that methanolic extracts of Madhuca leaves increase the release of GABA, a neurotransmitter which counters the agitated neuronal activity in epilepsy patients. This not only delays the onset of seizures but also decreases their duration. 

Traditionally, mahua flower juice is used for the treatment of various skin conditions. Due to its oleating properties, this juice is especially effective against itching.
Mahua leaves when coated with sesame oil, heated over a fire and strapped over eczema affected skin help to provide symptomatic relief.
Animal studies indicate that mahua exhibits potent anti-inflammatory potential due to the presence of saponins and flavonoids in it. These compounds play an important role in the process of healing and wound repair.
Experimental studies using alcoholic extracts of Madhuca longifolia has also demonstrated its analgesic activity, which can be used for treating pain caused by wounds and burns.

Fever is often seen as the body’s response against infection, though it also leaves one with fatigue and weakness. Research studies have revealed that crude methanolic extracts of mahua bark show significant antipyretic, analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities, which ultimately exacerbates the symptoms of fever, inflammation and pain.
Since it is rich in nutritional compounds, you can also consume mahua seeds to promote quick recovery from fever.

Diabetes is a group of metabolic diseases reflecting the condition of hyperglycemia (increased glucose). If left untreated, it affects the functioning of the major organs of the body. Despite the presence of a wide range of drugs to cope with the symptoms of diabetes, modern medicine has still not been able to completely prevent the complications of this disease.
Experimental studies using extracts of bark of Madhuca tree suggest significant antidiabetic activity in animal models. Although the exact mechanism is not known it is revealed that these extracts help to decrease circulating levels of glucose in the body in a dose-dependent manner.
Another evidence suggests that Madhuca extracts are effective in reducing cholesterol levels in the body, which otherwise lead to insulin deficiency and high blood glucose levels. And finally, mahua has also been found to improve renal function in diabetic animal models, pointing to its possible applications in preventing diabetes-associated nephropathy.

Worm infections are one of the most common helminth infections in the world. Though they mainly affect the poor and deprived communities, active cases are also found in developed countries too. They usually increase the risk of anaemia and intestinal disorders. So it is important to treat the condition at the earliest.
Mahua, being called as the all in one tree, is an excellent remedy for these parasitic infections. Both methanolic and ethanolic extracts of Madhuca longifolia have been proven to show potent anti-helminthic activity among the presence of other plant extracts.
Lab studies suggest that methanolic extracts of mahua, when administered at a dose of 60 mg/ml renders toxicity and paralyses or kills worms. Though, in the absence of clinical studies, not much can be said about its effect on the human body.

Liver is one of the most important organs of the body. Not only does it help in digestion but also it detoxifies the body, helping maintain overall health. True to its name, mahua is an elixir to the liver too. As a hepatoprotective agent, it reinforces the walls of the liver, preventing the release of harmful chemicals like Serum glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase (SGOT) and Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) in blood. Since both these chemicals are used as markers to detect liver damage, their absence from the bloodstream is an indication of a healthy liver.
Furthermore, the antioxidant nature of mahua has been suggested to help cope with liver cell death in hepatitis (inflammation of the liver). Thus providing relief from hepatitis symptoms and slowing down the progression of the disease.

  • Administration of fresh juice obtained from the flowers of mahua tree has been known to provide relief from sinusitis, headache, pitta dosha, and burning sensation of eyes 
  • Mahua leaves have been used traditionally to increase milk production in lactating mothers
  • Drinking 30-40 mL mixture of dried flowers of mahua boiled along with milk helps to deal with weakness of nerves and neuromuscular diseases
  • Fresh juice obtained from the flowers of mahua tree, when given in a dose of  20-25 mL helps to reduce hiccups, hypertension and cough 
  • Flowers of mahua, when consumed with milk rich in sugar in doses of 30 mL can help to deal with low sperm count, premature ejaculation and inappropriate milk production during lactation period. The bark powder also helps to improve reproductive vigour and vitality
  • A cold extract prepared from the flowers or bark of mahua tree, when given in a dose of 30-40 ml, helps to treat burning micturition and burning sensation in the body.
  • A decoction prepared from the barks of mahua and taken in a dose of 30-40 mL is used to treat diarrhoea and irritable bowel’s disease
  • A thick concentrated liquor (decoction) obtained by boiling the bark of mahua tree is used traditionally to treat rheumatism.
  • The oil obtained from the seeds of mahua is used as a topical application to get relief from the inflammation and pain caused due to rheumatoid arthritis.

Kolaiya ki sabzi: Kolaiya ki sabzi is a famous recipe among the villages of Central India including the states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. It is made from the fruits of mahua tree. Here is how to prepare it:

Ingredients

  • Kolaiya- 500 g (peeled, deseeded, chopped)
  • Gram flour- 50 g
  • Chopped onion- one (medium-sized)
  • Chopped tomato- one (medium-sized)
  • Crushed ginger- one teaspoon & garlic paste
  • Green chillies-two 
  • Asafetida- ¼ teaspoon
  • Cumin seeds- ½ teaspoon
  • Coriander powder- 2 teaspoons
  • Turmeric powder- 1 teaspoon
  • Red chilli powder- 1 teaspoon
  • Salt as per taste
  • Mustard oil- 1 tablespoon

Procedure 

  • Take a frying pan and add 3 teaspoons of oil into it
  • Heat the oil and add asafetida and cumin seeds
  • Slowly, add chopped onion, green chillies and ginger-garlic paste into the pan
  • Fry the mixture till it turns a golden shade of brown
  • Add chopped tomatoes and fry again to allow the vegetables to soften
  • Add coriander, turmeric and red chilli powder to the mixture
  • Fry again for a minute
  • Add kolaiya and mix properly
  • Cover the pan with a lid and cook on a low flame for 15 minutes with constant stirring
  • Add a spoon full of butter on the top and enjoy
  • Animal studies suggest that regular use of mahua may lead to infertility
  • Since it is hypoglycemic in nature (reduces blood sugar levels), mahua may interfere with anti-diabetic drugs. If you are taking such medicines or have inherently low blood sugar levels, it is best to avoid mahua or check in with your doctor before taking it in any form
  • Mahua seeds have been found to possess immunosuppressive properties (suppresses the function of immune system). Do not take mahua if you suffer from an autoimmune disease or are taking immunosuppressant drugs
और पढ़ें ...

References

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