Fruits of Bhallataka should be slightly crushed and kept inside a strong earthen jar smeared with ghee from inside. This earthen jar should then be kept inside a hole dug in the earth with its mouth covered with a mud plate and joint sealed with black coloured earth. Cow dung cakes should be heaped over the jar and ignited. Due to the heat, the svarasa (liquid fraction) of these fruits gets expressed and collects at the bottom of the earthen jar. Now, collect the liquid in a utensil. Add one eighth of its quantity of honey and double the quantity of ghee, and consume it.”
“By its use,” says Charaka, “a person lives for 100 years, free from old age. He remembers whatever he learns and is cured of all diseases. He acquires an unimpaired sexual potency and is blessed with progeny.”
“A robust physique, strong like iron, stability and sharpness of sensory organs, invincibility by other, exceedingly charming personality, mental happiness, enormous strength, bright complexion, exceedingly sound voice resembling that of a thunderous cloud and healthy offsprings, these are the outcome of this therapy,” it says.
This is what Charaka had to say in the beginning of the first century. If I had the wherewithal, I would quickly set up a small research project and try to prove the veracity of the above statement. In folklore and formal textbooks of Ayurveda, Bhallataka (Semecarpus anacardicm) has myriad uses besides being a powerful rasayana. Research in Ayurveda normally faithfully copies research in western medicine. Our misguided vaidyars start with mice and the effect of Bhallataka on mice and their memory and longevity. The Ayurvedists need to develop their own system of doing research by which they set up simple experiments to prove claims of rasayana. They don’t have to start from scratch. Two groups of subjects can be chosen and one group can be administered the rasayana and the other group can be given a placebo and the results can be analysed.
Claims that it can even cure specific types of cancer, are being analysed.But ask our ‘common man’ about Bhallataka and you will most likely draw a blank. He would know nothing about the herb or fruits although it has been long used in India for its mundane property of being able to mark clothes (and hence used by dhobis to identify their client’s clothes). The fruit has the ability to cure any kapha disorder of the human system. From relieving constipation to improving intelligence and digestion, Bhallataka is a versatile fruit.
In the rural areas, older people will talk about its properties. They will warn you not to stand under the tree as its fruits and resins can cause severe allergic reactions. However, Ayurvedists know how to purify the seeds. The seeds are cut in half with gloved hands and then kept covered in dry brick powder, which absorbs the strong pungent oil, eliminating its potential to cause burns and making it fit for medicinal purposes. When I first read about Bhallataka years ago, my first reaction was, “Why would I want too much of this fruit—it can cause itching—around me.” But that was before I learnt about the purification procedure, which is very effective. Most sceptics don’t even believe the vaidyars when they tell them that these procedures make a difference. But they do! Ask any person who has consumed Bhallataka rasayana and he or she will tell you. It is extremely useful in curing skin diseases and in maintaining that youthful look. So, do consult your vaidyars and check out if this medicine is for you. Yet another powerful drug from the Ayurvedic Pharmacopeia.