Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Tree of Life: Peepal (Ficus religious)

Peepal (Ficus religious) is a native to the Indian sub-continent. It is also found inhabiting Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tibet and China as well. It is a large deciduous tree with the wonderful wide spreading branches. Its bark is light gray and peels in patches. The leaves are cordate; fruits are small figs about 1 cm in diameter. It is one of the longest living trees. 

Peepal, Ficus religious
The Tree of Life- Peepal 
The peepal is the first-known depicted tree in India! A seal discovered at Mohenjodaro, one of the cities of the Indus Valley Civilisation (c. 3000 BC - 1700 BC), shows the peepal tree being worshipped in those days. During the Vedic period, its wood was used to make fire by friction. 

Hindus in India holds the great spiritual regard for the peepal tree, they regard it as the tree beneath which Lord Vishnu was born. The peepal is also sacred to Buddhists, because the Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment under it. Hence it is also called the Bodhi tree or 'tree of enlightenment'. Peepal is known by various names such as the Bo-Tree, Bodhi, Arani, Ashvattha, Bodhidruma, Beepul, Pipers, Pipalla, Pimpal, Sacred fig and Shuchidruma.

Peepal tree is of great medicinal value and is extensively used in Ayurveda. Almost all parts of the tree such as bark, leaves, shoots, fruit, seeds and latex are used for medicinal and therapeutic purposes. Some of the compounds found in the tree are steroids, tannins, flavonoids, saponins, terpenoids and cardiac glycosides. Other bio-chemicals include vitamin K1, bergapten, bergaptol, lanosterol, B-sitosterol, stigmasterol, lupen-3-one, B-sitosterol-d-glucoside, leucocyanidin-3-0-B-D-glucopyrancoside, leucopelargondin-3-0-B-D-glucopyranoside, lupeol, lupeol acetate, leucopelargonidin-3-0-A-L-rhamnopyranoside, ceryl behenate, A-amyrin acetate, leucoanthocyanidin, leucoanthocyanin, stigmasterol, campestrol, isofucosterol, tannic acid, A-amyrin, arginine, serine, aspartic acid, glycine, threonine, proline, alanine, methionine, valine, tyrosine, tryptophan, isoleucine and leucine, etc.

Peepal, Ficus religious
Owing to its active components, Peepal is believed to cure diseases such as diarrhea, dysentery, hemorrhoids, gonorrhea, gastrohelcosis, neuralgia and inflammations. Its leaves serve as a wonderful laxative as well as tonic for the body. It is especially useful for patients suffering from jaundice. It helps to control the excessive amount of urine released during jaundice. Peepal leaf is also considered valuable in the treatment of various kinds of skin disorders and heart diseases.

Peepal leaves are of great use in getting rid of mumps, boils and keep a check on pus formation. The leaves are also used as the ear drops as well as for healing the wounds. The bark of the tree is useful in inflammations and glandular swelling of the neck. Its root is beneficial in curing stomatitis, ulcers as well as gout. The roots of the plant are chewed to prevent gum diseases. The powered fruit is taken for Asthma. Its seeds have proved useful in treating urinary troubles.

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