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erbal Medicine Materia Medica

Black Catechu

© David L. Hoffmann BSc (Hons), MNIMH

Acacia catechu


Names: Cutch, Dark Catechu.

Habitat: India and Burma.


Part Used: Extract from leaves and young shoots.


  • Tannins, catechin, phlobatannins including catechutanninc acid
  • Flavonoids including quercitin, quercetrin, fisetin
  • Miscellaneous; gums and resins, pigments.
Actions: Astringent.

Indications: 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 tonsillaris, 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: 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.

About The Author
Whilst working in conservation and lecturing in ecology and the eco-crisis for the University of Wales, David Hoffman became convinced that to heal the world, to embrace planetary......more
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