Karanja (Pongamia pinnata) Herb Ayurvedic Overview

Karanja (Pongamia pinnata)

Karanja (Pongamia pinnata) is a medium-sizedglabrous tree with a short bole and spreading crown and found almost throughout India up to an altitude of 1200 m. It has a crooked trunk, having 50–80 cm in diameter, with grey-brown bark, which is smooth or vertically fissured. The flowering of Karanja generally starts after 3-4 years with small clusters of white, pink, and purple.

Karanja (Pongamia pinnata) is widely used in managing constipation as it helps to improve gut motility and has a laxative property. Also, it is beneficial for piles because it is rich in astringent and anti-inflammatory properties. According to Ayurveda, Karanja oil effectively manages boils and eczema as well as heals wounds due to its Ropan (healing) and antimicrobial property. The paste of Karanja leaves can be applied on wounds and cuts to help promote healing.

Karanja (Pongamia pinnata) is a medicinal herb mainly used for skin disorders. All parts of the Karanja tree (roots, flowers, leaves, bark) are used for medicinal purposes. It is widely used in managing constipation as it helps to improve gut motility and has a laxative property. It might also be used for piles due to its astringent and anti-inflammatory properties.

According to Ayurveda, Karanja oil is mainly applied on the skin to manage boils and eczema as well as heal wounds due to its Ropan (healing) and antimicrobial property. The paste of its leaves can also be applied on cuts and wounds to help promote healing. Karanja Oil is also useful in arthritis due to its anti-inflammatory activity. Regularly bathing with Karanja leaf infusion helps to manage pain and inflammation.

Scientific Classification of Karanja (Pongamia pinnata):

  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Phylum: Spermatophyta
  • Subphylum: Angiospermae
  • Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Order: Fabales
  • Family: Fabaceae
  • Subfamily: Faboideae
  • Genus: Pongamia
  • Species: Pongamia pinnata

Karanja (Pongamia pinnata) Synonyms:

  • Sanskrit: Karanjaka, Naktamala, Naktahva, Ghrtakaranja
  • Assamese: Korach
  • Bengali: Nata Karanja, Dahara Karanja
  •  English: Smooth leaved pongamia
  • Gujrati: Kanajo, Karanji
  • Hindi: Dithouri, Karuaini
  • Kannada: Honge, Hulagilu
  •  Kashmiri: Kath
  • Malayalam: Avittal, Ungu, Unu, Pungu
  • Marathi: Karanja
  •  Oriya: Karnja
  • Punjabi: Karanj
  • Tamil: Pungan, Pongana
  • Telugu: Lamiga, Kanuga
  •  Urdu: Karanj

Karanja (Pongamia pinnata) Description:

Karanja (Pongamia pinnata)a) Macroscopic: The Seed of karanja is usually one and rarely two, and it is in elliptic or reniform shape having 1.7-2.0 cm long and 1.2-1.8 cm broad. It is wrinkled with reddish leathery testa. The micropylar ends of cotyledons are slightly depressed while another side semi-circular in shape.

b) Microscopic: The transverse section of seed shows testa and is composed of a layer of palisade like the outer epidermis. It is filled with brown pigment and covered externally with a thick cuticle. A few layers of spongy parenchyma having large intercellular spaces. The parenchyma cells containing brown pigment, and the cotyledons are composed of the outer layer of the epidermis with cylindrical cells. Externally it is covered with a thin cuticle, epidermis followed by rectangular to polygonal cells of mesophyll, filled with globules, also present scattered in this region.

Identity, Purity, and Strength of Karanja (Pongamia pinnata):

  • Foreign matter                                       Not more than 2 percent,                                         Appendix                2.2.2.
  • Total Ash                                               Not more than 10 percent,                                        Appendix                2.2.3.
  • Acid-insoluble ash                                Not more than 1 percent,                                           Appendix                2.2.4.
  • Alcohol-soluble extractive                    Not less than 7 percent,                                            Appendix                 2.2.6.
  • Water-soluble extractive                      Not less than 28 percent,                                           Appendix                 2.2.7.

Chemical Constituents of Karanja (Pongamia pinnata):

The Flavones and their derivatives are the most common compounds isolated from Pongamia pinnata. Other than this, methylenedioxy flavones, furano flavones, chromeno flavones, glycosidated flavones, glycosidated isoflavones, isofuranoflavone, prenylated isoflavones, flavones with modified rings such as coumestan, rotenoids, and pterocarpans, and a diflavone have been isolated from this plant.

The seeds of Karanja contain 27-30% dark-colored fixed oil known as Pongamia oil. Also, it is rich in kanugin, ovalitenone, ionchocarpin, karanjin, pongal, gamatin, etc.

Ayurvedic Properties and Action of Karanja (Pongamia pinnata):

  • Rasa: Katu, Kshaya
  • Guna: Laghu
  • Virya: Sheeta
  • Vipaka: Katu
  • Karma: Vishaghana, Sandhaniya, Grahi, Garbhasthapan

Ayurvedic Formulations made by Karanja (Pongamia pinnata):

Karanja Taila, Vilwadi Gulika, Somaraji Tailam, Maha Manjishthadi Kshayam

Therapeutic Uses of Karanja (Pongamia pinnata):

The main therapeutic uses of Karanja (Pongamia pinnata) are Arshahara, Kushtajit, Krumihara, Shothahara, Vranahara, Krumihara, Gulmahara, Udavartahara, Raktapitta, Visarpa.

Dose of Karanja (Pongamia pinnata):

3-6 gm of the drug in powder form.


Ayurvedic Pharmacopeia of India.


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