Bauhinia racemose (bidhi pata)
Bauhinia racemosa, commonly known as the bidi leaf tree, is a rare medicinal species of flowering shrub with religious significance. It is a small crooked tree with drooping branches that grows 3–5 metres (10–16 ft) tall and flowers between February and May. It is native to tropical Southeast Asia.In Maharashtrian families it is customary to exchange leaves of the Aapta tree on the Hindu festive day of Dussehra. An act known as exchanging Gold—pointing to the special significance of the plant on that particular day. This is also why the tree is often referred to as Sonpatta (literal translation: leaves of gold).
The leaves are used in the production of beedi, a thin Indian cigarette. Bauhinia racemosa is not familiarly known in Asian countries due to its limited existence and lack of medicinal information. It is commonly used as a medicine, ornamental plant, fence plant, and fodder for livestock since ancient times. It is also used as a landfill tree to avoid soil erosion of the forest.
In South India, people cultivate this plant in their premises in order to protect themselves from the effects of thunder. In this review, the various research prospects of this plant have been analyzed and are summarized. The aim of this review is to provide the traditional uses, phytochemicals and pharmacological activities of B. racemosa, and to highlight the current pharmacological developments of this medicinal plant.
The B. racemosa has immense therapeutic potential for treating diseases with both traditional and pharmacological applications. But many traditional uses of B. racemosa have not been validated by current investigations in the aspects of pharmaceutical. Until now, research on phyto-constituents from B. racemosa has not been done in an extensive way. Hence, the identified phytochemicals of B. racemosa should also be subjected to pharmacological studies to illuminate the biological mechanisms of these unreported secondary metabolites for the prevention of diseases or microbial infections and other health disorders of human and animal races.
Bauhinia racemosa Lam is a small, crooked, bushy, deciduous tree that can grow under very difficult climatic environments with drooping branches. This species is commonly found across India, which grows in the western Himalayas, in Ceylon, China, and Timor, to an altitude of 1650 m from sea level. It is widely used to fill blank areas of the forest land, since it prevents soil erosion. The matured leaves of B. racemosa are used for making Beedi (Indian cigarettes), whereas the young leaves are used as greens (side dish) by the Tamilians (Tamil Nadu, India). The bark and leaves of B. racemosa are sweetish and acrid, used as a refrigerant, astringent, in the treatment of headache, fever, skin diseases, blood diseases, dysentery, and diarrhea. A decoction of the bark is recommended as a useful wash for ulcers.
In ayurveda, the plant is commonly used for the treatment of initial stage of cancer. A large number of studies have confirmed that B. racemosa has a wide range of pharmacological effects, including antitumor activity, anti-inflammatory activity, analgesic effect, antipyretic, anti- hyper-glycemic activity, hepato-protective activity, antimicrobial activities, antiulcer activity, antihistaminic effect, anxiolytic activity, and anti-HIV activity. The medical value of this plant attracts more attention of the people due to the complications of health issues. With the advent of chemical composition and pharmacological research, the clinical application of Bauhinia racemosa has been expanded. In addition, this plant product is cheap and widely available on earth, which has useful clinical applications and drug development prospects as well.
Hence, a growing number of researchers have dedicated their spare time to this wonderful plant in the last few decades, from botany to phytochemistry and pharmacology. The phytochemical studies have identified more than 37 chemicals from B. racemosa, including Phenolics, Flavonoids, Saponins, Glycosides, Terpenoids, Steroids, Propanoids, Coumarin, lipids, Alkaloids, and Tannins. However, minimal numbers of articles have reviewed the comprehensive research of B. racemosa. The available record reveals that there is only a concise review of its phytochemistry and pharmacology, which may not be enough for researchers to completely understand this plant. Researchers have identified several new chemical components from B. racemosa and should perform more in-depth analyses of its pharmacological activities. This paper reviews the traditional uses, botany, phytochemistry, and pharmacological characteristics of B. racemosa in a precise form that helps to recognize readers to a stronger and deeper understanding of this medicinal plant and also provide thorough information for better research and development of B. racemosa. The extracts of leaves and bark have shown analgesic, anti-pyretic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, and anti-helmintic efficacy.
In South India, the plant is traditionally known as idithangi, aaththi maram, and thathagi. It is also called Banraj in Bengali, Kachnal in Hindi, Aapta in Kannada, Kosundra in Punjabi, Arampaali in Malayalam, Asundro in Gujrati, Sona in Marathi, Yugmapatra in Sanskrit, Arechettu in Telugu, and Kachnaar in Unani around various parts of India.
B. racemosa has been used for medicinal purposes since ancient times; hence, it has a long history with therapeutic purposes in South India. Parts of this plant, such as whole, stem bark, leaves, and bark, are used for diabetes, stomach pain, piles, and intestinal ulcers by different ethnic groups in South India. In addition, parts of the plant are documented as traditional medicines for dysentery, diarrhea, malaria, influenza, epilepsy, vomiting, edema, constipation, gastric, dyspepsia, and convalescents in various parts of India. These ethnobotanical uses have been documented with the help of various ethnic people (Table 1). In addition, it has abundant protein values; hence, the leaves of B. racemosa are also given as fodder for animals to secrete more quantities of milk. We can give up to 4 to 5 kg of leaves for cow and 11/2 to 2 kg for a goat. Leaves and seeds consist of 8.9 ± 0.88 and 0.63 ± 0.98% of proteins respectively.
Pharmacological descriptions of the metabolites and its market price
The secondary metabolites of B. racemosa such as β-sitosterol, β-amyrin, kaempferol, rutin, quercetin, catechin, eicosanoic acid, -epiafzelechin, -epicatechin, protocatechuic acid, octacosanol, scopoletin, and scopolin are also found in other medicinal plants as well. Previous studies have indicated that such molecules have a wide range of pharmacological potential for human health complications. Due to the pharmacological properties of these compounds, they are marketed at as high prices in the market as seen in Table 4. These compounds are naturally present in medicinal plants like B. racemosa. We can take those comprising metabolites as food or decoction, even though we cannot consume them directly. If so, we can avoid the expenses and ignore the adverse effects as well.