Agaru, Aquillaria Agallocha

Description of the plant

This is a big tree growing up to 60 to 80 feet and with thick stem of 3 to 4 ft diameter. It is native to South East Asia. The bark is papery thin and was sometimes used for writing like Betula utilis tree bark (Bhojpatra in Sanskrit). Leaves are thin like leather, shiny and up to 3 inches long. Flowers are white in color and fruit is 1 to 2 inches long, smooth and thin.

The bark sometimes gets infected with a fungus ( Phaeoacremonium parasitica ) in 7 to 8 % of the trees, which turns the bark from light brown to dark brown or black. This leads to a special fragrance unique to Aguru tree due to the presence of the oleoresin.

This infected part of the tree yields Agarwood oil, which is sold in various Arabian countries, China and Japan. This oil has high economic value as it is very expensive and the cost usually same as 24 carat Gold. The reason is cumbersome distillation process yielding only 30 ml oil from 100 kg of infected wood. The oil is known as Oud and is 100 % natural essential oil.

The fragrance is mainly because of various mix of sesquiterpenes and epoxides, which can also be used as pheromones to attract opposite gender.

General Information

There are about 17 species in the genus Aquillaria and 8 are known to produce Agar oil. Aquillaria agallocha is synonym for A.malaccensis, A.secundria.

Agarwood is famous for its role in making of incense sticks for various ceremonies. The wood is also used to make beautiful carvings and sculptures. In many countries of Southeast Asia, the Agarwood beads are made to keep oneself safe from evil spirits and bringing good luck.

Special Note about this plant

Agarwood Oil

Agarwood oil is obtained from the resin of the tree. The resin of the plant is called Gaharu. It is formed naturally as a result of reaction of the tree to the attack of fungus. Attacked trees spread a fragrant gum to protect the injured area, which gets hardened in the form of a resin. The hardened area contains the precious oil trapped within the Resin. The resin is processed to obtain the oil.

Habitat of the Plant

This tree is native to Southeast Asia and grows in China, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Eastern India, Thailand and Malaysia.

Classification

  • Angiosperms
  • Order - Malvales
  • Family - Thymelaeaceae

Names

  • Latin Name - Aquilaria agallocha
  • Sanskrit - Aguru, Loh, Krimij, Krimijagdh ( Because it's infected ), Krumija, Krimijagdha, Anaryaka, Vishvaroopakam, Pravara, Jongakam, ShreshtaVriksha, Vamshika
  • Hindi /Urdu - Agar
  • Bengali - Agoro gach
  • Europe - Agilawood, Eaglewood
  • Arabic & English - Agarwood, Oud, Oodh
  • Japan - Jinko
  • Chinese - Chenxiang
  • Cambodia - Chann Crassna
  • Indonesia / Malay - Gaharu
  • Laos - Mai Ketsana
  • Thailand - Mai Kritsana
  • Myanmar - Thit Mhwae

Ayurvedic Properties

Hindi / Sanskrit English
Rasa Katu, Tikta Taste Pungent, Bitter
Guna Laghu, Ruksha, Tikshna Physical Property Light, Dry, Sharp
Virya Ushna Potency Hot
Vipaka Katu Metabolic Property
(After Digestion)
Pungent

Effects on Doshas

It balances Vata and Kapha doshas.

Charak Samhita Sushrut Samhita
  • Sheet Prashaman - Herbs which Relieve Cold.
  • Shwashar - Herbs which are good for Asthma and breathlessness.
  • Shirovirechan - Herbs which are good for cleansing the head / Sinuses.
  • Tikta Skandh - Herbs which are bitter.
  • Eladi Gana, Saalsaradi Gana, Shleshm Snshaman

Rajnighantu

According to Raj Nighantu, there are 4 types of Agaru.

  1. Krisna Agaru
  2. Kaashth Agaru ( yellowish )
  3. Daaha Agaru
  4. Mangalya Agaru

The Mangalaya Agaru is considered as the best. The Agaru which is thick and heavy and which sinks down in water is considered as the best.

Ancient Verses about Agaru

Agaru, Aquillaria Agallocha, Verse, Agaru Verse
  1. External application of herbs like Rasna (Pluchea lanceolata) and Agaru ( Aquillaria agallocha)in the form of skin pack (lepa)s is very useful to combat coldness of body.
  2. Usually bitter herbs (Tikta rasa dravyas) are having cold potency (sheet virya). But there is an exception in case of bitter herbs like Ark (Calotropis procera), Agaru ( Aquillaria agallocha) and Guduchi (Tinospora cardifolia) which are having hot potency.

References

  1. The CHARAKA SAMHITA with elaborated Vidyotini Hindi Commentary by Pt. Kashinath Shastri and Dr. Gorakh Nath Chaturvedi : Twenty first edition 1995 : Chapter 25 of Sutrasthan; Yajja Purushiya Adhayaya; verse40, page no.468-469.
  2. The CHARAKA SAMHITA with elaborated Vidyotini Hindi Commentary by Pt. Kashinath Shastri and Dr. Gorakh Nath Chaturvedi: Twenty first edition 1995: Chapter 26 of Sutrasthan; Atreya Bhadra Kapiya Adhayaya; verses48-49,page no.509

Practical uses of Aquilaria agallocha

  1. The leaves of the tree are laxative in nature. A herbal tea from the leaves can be used for chronic constipation.
  2. Being Bitter, it is good for skin disorders. The bark is used as a tea to be used as a blood purifier.
  3. The paste made from tree bark is useful in many skin disorders like acne, eczema, edema, psoriasis.
  4. It is known for its heating effect. It is called "Sheet-Prashamnan" this means destroyer of cold. The paste of the bark is applied on the body to get rid of cold.
  5. The bark powder is used for Gout, Indigestion, General body weakness are also further indications.
  6. The bark paste can be applied locally on painful joints due to Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis. It is also useful to fight body odour, stimulant and as anti-inflammatory.  
  7. Many people chew the bark for getting rid of bad breath.
  8. The Agarwood oil is used in Asthma as well. 1-2 drops of oil are given orally, sprinkled on Beetle leaf and chewed.
  9. The smoke of Agarwood is also inhaled in cases of chronic sinusitis, rhinitis and allergic problems.
  10. It balances Vata + Kapha Doshas.

Ayurvedic Products from Aquilaria agallocha

  • Himsagar Thailam - An Ayurvedic preparation for various Vata disorders
  • Anu Thailam - An Ayurvedic oil for diseases of Ear, Nose and Throat
  • Arimedadi Thailam - An Ayurvedic oil for various skin disorders, mouth ulcers, piles.

Dosage

Agarwood Bark Powder - 3-6 grams.

Agarwood Oil - 1 to 4 drops.

Part used

Agar Oil, Agar resinous wood.

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