Psoralea corylifolia Lin

Vernacular Name of Psoralea corylifolia.
  • Sanskrit – Bakuchi, kushthanashini, sugnadhakantak;
  • Hindi – Babchi, bavanchi, bukchi;
  • Bengali – Bavachi, kakuch, latakasturi;
  • Marati – Babachi, bavachya;
  • Gujarathi – Babchi, bavchi;
  • Telugu – Baavanchalu, bapunga, bawuchee;
  • Tamil - Kaarboka arisi, karporgam;
  • Kannada - bavanchigida, karbekhiga;
  • Malayalam – Karpokkari, kaurkoalari;
  • Oriya – Bakuchi;

An erect annual, 30-10 cm. high, found almost throughout India. Leaves broadly-elliptic, incisodentate: flowers yellow or bluish purple, in dense axillary, long-peduncled heads; pods small, 3.5 – 4.5 mmx2.0 – 3.0 mm., ovoid-obling, somewhat compressed, mucronate, dark chocolate to almost black; seed one, smooth, adhering to the pericarp.

The Fabaceae plant, Psoralea corylifolia L., is a medicinal plant widely distributed in India, China, and South-eastern Asian countries. Dried seeds of P. corylifolia L. are a rich source of flavonoids and meroterpenes such as bakuchiol, psoralen, etc., possessing a wide range of pharmacological activities (antimicrobial, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, cytotoxic, and inhibiting nitric oxide (NO) production). It grows throughout the plains of India, especially in the semiarid regions of Rajasthan and eastern districts of Punjab, adjoining Uttar Pradesh. It is also found throughout India in Himalayas, Dehradun, and Karnataka [1,5]. This plant is also widely distributed in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world, especially China and southern Africa.

The active fraction isolated from fruits, seeds, and roots possesses antibacterial, anti-oxidative, and immunomodulatory properties. Major chemical constituents are psoralen, bakuchiol, bakuchicin, and minor phytoconstituents angelicin, psoralidin, bavachromanol, 7-O-methylbavachin, psoralidin oxide. Seed oil contains glycerides of oleic acid, steric acid, palmitic acid, myristic acid, myristoleic acid, lenoleic acid,along with stigmasterol and b-sitosterol.

P. corylifolia is reported to be grown in central part of India, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh and to some extent in Rajasthan and the eastern districts of Punjab adjoining Uttar Pradesh for its seeds. The plant grows on any average soil. Seed are sown in March-April in lines, 30 cm. apart, at the rate of 7kg. per hectare. The plant flowers during rains and seeds mature in November. Under proper care, the plants may continue to grow for 5-7 years (Luthra & Suri, Spec, Bull., Dep. Agric. Punjab, 1936, 14: Luthra, J.Asiat. Soc, Sci., 1956-57,22, 6I). The fruits (seeds)* of P. corylifolia consist of a sticky oily pericarp (c.12% of the seed), a hard seed coat and kernel. They are odourless,but on chewing they emit a pungent odour, and have a bitter, unpleasant, and acrid taste. The seeds contain an essential oil (0.05%), anonvolatile terpenoid oil, a dark brown resin (8.6%), a pigment (probably a hydroxyflavone), a monoterpenoid phenol named bakuchiol (C 18 H 24 O,b.p/0.7 mm. i45-470 ) a brown fixed oil (c.10%) raffinose, and coumarin compounds, viz. psoralen (identical with ficusin; C 11 H 6 O 3, m.p 161-62 0 ) isopsoralen (Identical with angelicin; m.p141-420 ), psoralidin (C 16 H 14 O 4, m.p 315 0 decomp.), isopsoralidin (C 16 H 14 O 4 , m.p 283-84 0 ), and corylifolin (C 17 H 18 O 3 , m.p. 183 0 ).

The seeds are used in indigenous medicine laxative, aphrodisiac, anthelmintic, diuretic and diaphoretic in febrile conditions. They have been specially recommended in the treatment of leukoderma, leprosy, psoriasis and inflammatory diseases of the skin, and are prescribed both for oral administration and for local external application in the form of a paste or ointment. The use of seeds in the treatment of leprosy has been abandoned (Chopra, 1958, 391; Mukerji, J. Sci. industry. Res., 1956, 15A (50m suppl., I).

The seeds are used locally in the preparation of certain types of medicated oils and incense preparations. The roots useful in the caries of teeth. Leaves are used in diarrhoea (Krishna & Badhwar, J.sci. industr . Res., 1949, 8 (2), suppl., 159; Cooke, I, 342; Kirt. & Basu, I 718).

The seed cake left behind after the removal of the fixed oil is rich in nitrogen (6.7%) and minirals (7.8%) and is stated to be suitable as a feed or manure (Seshadri & Venkatarao, loc. cit.)