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Kamala

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  • Botanical: Mallotus philippensis
  • Family: Euphorbiaceae
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Kamala

Botanical

Mallotus philippensis

Family

Euphorbiaceae

Known as

Glandulae Rottelerae. Kamcela. Spoonwood. Röttlera tinctoria.

Old Use

medical, industry

Parts Used

fruit

Aroma

fruity

Medicinal

abdominal pain, diarrhea, tapeworms

Stomach & Intestinal

abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, liver weakness, indigestion, intestinal parasites, tapeworms

Properties

carminative, emmenagogue

Description

It is 20 to 30 feet high, trunk 3 or 4 feet in diameter, branches slender with pale bark, the younger ones covered with dense ferruginous tomentosum; leaves alternate, articulate petioles, 1 to 2 inches long; rusty tomentose, blade 3 to 6 inches long, ovate with two obscure glands at base, entire, coriaceous, upper surface glabrous, veins very prominent on under surface, flowers dioecious. Males three together in the axils of small bracts arranged in longer much-branched axillary branches to the females, both densely covered with ferrugineous tomentosum, flowering November to January. From the surface of the trilobed capsules of the plant, which are about the size of peas, a red mealy powder is obtained; this consists of minute glands and hairs coloured brick or madder red, nearly odourless and tasteless; it is much used by the Hindu silk dyers, who obtain from it by boiling in carbonate of soda, a durable flame colour of great beauty. The capsules are ripe February and March, when the red powder is brushed off and collected for sale; no other preparation is necessary to preserve it.

Properties & Uses

The root of the tree is used in dyeing, and for cutaneous eruptions, also used by the Arabs internally for leprosy and in solution to remove freckles and pustules. In this country it has been successfully used for an eruption in children known as wildfire, the powder is rubbed over the affected part with moist lint. Its greatest use, however, is in the use of tapeworm, being safer and more certain than other cures; the worm is passed whole and generally dead. The dose of Karmala for a robust person is 3 drachms, but only half that quantity for anyone of enfeebled health; the fluid extract is milder and acts with more certainty. Kamala acts quickly and actively as a purgative, and often causes much griping and nausea, but seldom vomiting. It may be given in water mucilage or syrup; the worm is usually expelled at the third or fourth stool; if it fails to act, the dose is repeated after four hours, or a dose of castor oil is given. Kamala is largely used in India externally for cutaneous troubles, and is most effective for scabies. It has been successfully employed in herpetic ringworm (a disease very prevalent there), and as a taenifuge it has been used with good results, on the Continent, combined with Kousso and known as Kama-kosin.

Other use

Kamala is insoluble in cold water and boiling water has little effect on it. The resin is the most active constituent, and is dissolved by ether, chloroform, alcohol or benzol. When exposed to a flame it explodes with a flash resembling Lycopodium.

Cautions

none known

Distribution

It occurs in south east Asia, as well as Afghanistan and Australia. The southern most limit of natural distribution is Mount Keira, south of Sydney. The species name refers to the type specimen being collected in the Philippines, where it is known as Banato.

Constituents

Rottlerin, yellow and red resins, wax, and a yellow crystalline substance, tannic acid, gum, and volatile oil.

For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.