Acacia catechu-Black Catechu
Names: Cutch, Dark Catechu, Mimosa catechu, cutch tree, black cutch,catchou
Habitat: India and Burma.
Description of Black catechu:
Black Catechu is a deciduous, thorny tree which grows up to 15 m (50 ft) in height. The plant is called khair in Hindi, and kachu in Malay, hence the name was Latinized to “catechu” in Linnaean taxonomy, as the type-species from which the extracts cutch and catechu are derived.
The heart of the tree after felling is used to make Black Catechu.
Please note that Pale Catechu is an extract made from the leaves and young shoots of Uncaria Gambier (Roxb.), a member of the order Rubiaceae, not an Acacia. It occurs in commerce in dark or pale-brown cubes with a dull, powdery fracture, or sometimes in lozenge form.
Black Catechu occurs in black, shining pieces or cakes.
Culivation of Black Catechu:
As it requires hot temperatures we have not included any cultivation or propagation notes.
Culinary uses of Black Catechu:
The tree’s seeds are a good source of protein. Kattha (catechu), an extract of its heartwood, is used as an ingredient to give red colour and typical flavour to paan. Paan, from the word pān in Hindi: पान, is an Indian and South East Asian tradition of chewing betel leaf (Piper betle) with areca nut and slaked lime paste.
Part Used: The heart of the tree after felling.
The powerful astringent may be used in chronic diarrhoea, dysentery and chronic catarrh. Useful for arresting excessive mucous discharge sand checking haemorrhages, it is also recommended as a local application for sore mouths and gums. Some research has shown Acacia catachu to be hypotensive in vivo and in vitro; its mechanism of action is thought to be bradykinin related and due to vasodilatation. In practice, however, there are many effective hypotensives that do not have the potential problem of constipation.
King’s Dispensatory describes it thus: Catechu possesses strong astringent properties. It is used for arresting mucous discharges when excessive, for removing relaxation or congestion of mucous membranes and for checking haemorrhages. In chronic diarrhoea, chronic catarrh, colliquative diarrhoea & chronic dysentery it has proved beneficial, especially when combined with opium. As a local application, it is a valuable agent for removing cynanche tonsillitis, aphthous ulcerations of the mouth, elongation of the uvula and relaxation and congestion of the mucous membrane of the fauces, especially of the kind to which public singers are subject; it is also useful in congestion, tenderness and sponginess of the gums, particularly when the result of mercurial ptyalism. The tincture of Catechu is often beneficial in fissure of the nipples, when applied twice a day with a fine hair pencil. An ointment composed of 4 ounces of Catechu, 9 drachms of alum, 4 ounces of white resin and 10 fluid ounces of olive oil, with a sufficient quantity of water, is in great repute in India as an application to ulcers. Chronic and phagedenic ulcers are frequently benefited by the application of Catechu to them. Chronic gonorrhoea, old gleets and fluor albus, as well as haemorrhage from the nose and other parts, have been cured by the local application of an aqueous solution of Catechu. Powdered Catechu may be given in a dose of from 5 to 20grains, or more, repeated as often as required; it may be administered in pill form, in syrup, or in gum mucilage. The dose of the tincture is from 20 minimsto 1/2 fluid ounce.
Preparations & Dosage of Black Catechu:
An infusion may be made with 0.3 – 2 g of the dried herb.
The tincture is 1:5 in 45% alcohol at a dose of between 2.5-5 ml.
In conditions of the colon it combines well with Calamus, Meadowsweet, Agrimony and Peppermint. As a mouth wash it combines well with Myrrh.
Esoteric uses of Black Catechu:
None known but if you know of a use for this herb please let us know!
- Tannins, catechin, phlobatannins including catechutanninc acid
- Flavonoids including quercitin, quercetrin, fisetin
- Miscellaneous; gums and resins, pigments.