Vat Vriksha (Ficus bengalensis)

This tree which is commonly known as bargad in Hindi and banyan tree in English is the national tree of India. It belongs to family Moraceae and Nyagrodhadi gana in Ayurveda. The tree is also known as Kalpavriksha, which means “wish fulfilling tree” because it has immense medicinal properties and is associated with longevity. This tree is worshiped in Hinduism and Buddhism.

Plant description: This tree is an epiphyte (grows on another plant when its seed germinates in a crack or crevice of a host tree or on a building). Its propagating roots grow downwards as aerial roots. When aerial roots reach the ground, they grow into woody trunks. Tree is very large, fast growing, evergreen, up to 3.0 meters, with spreading branches and many aerial roots.

Ayurvedic pharmacology: Guna- Guru, Ruksha; Rasa- Kashay; Vipaaka- Katu; Virya- Sheeta

Chemical composition: Bark has tanins. Other chemical constituents found in the plant include phytosterolin, ketones, flavonoids, flavonols, sterols, pentacylic triterpenes, triterpenoids, furocoumarin, and tiglic acid esters.

Therapeutically useful parts: Bark, leaves, leaf buds, fruits and latex.

Therapeutic uses: Paste of aerial roots is used for skin ulcers and joint swellings. Latex from tree bark is used to remove skin moles and in toothache. Fruit and its juice are used internally in rheumatism and lumbago. Taking banyan bark and juice regularly improves the immunity. Latex is given with milk to stop bleeding from piles, in ulcerative colitis and dysentery. Dried root powder with milk is also beneficial in the treatment of female and male sterility and leucorrhea. Decoction of bark, fruit and latex is used in Diabetes.

Doses: Bark decoction 50-100 ml; powder- 3-6 grams; latex- 5-10 drops.

Precaution: The latex is safe usually but can sometimes be an irritant to skin and eyes for especially sensitive people.

Dr. Pratibha Mamgain
Dept. of Ayurvedic Medicine