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Sal Tree – Uses, Benefits & More!

By Dr Anuja Bodhare +2 more

Introduction:  

Sal is revered as a holy tree and is known as the ‘House of Tribal Goddess’.1 Shorea robusta Gaertn. belongs to the Dipterocarpaceae family and is widely known as sal or shala tree. Sal is a deciduous tree with a trunk diameter of up to five metres and a height of roughly 50 metres. Sal is widely distributed in India, Bhutan and Nepal. In India, the species is spread from Himachal Pradesh to Assam, West Bengal, Tripura, Orissa and Bihar, eastern districts of Madhya Pradesh ranging further to the Eastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh.2 

Sal has a dark-brown bark and clean, cylindrical, straight stems. The leaves are broadly oval at the base, tapering into a long point at the apex. Sal has yellowish-white flowers grouped in massive terminal or axillary, racemose panicles (a loose branching cluster of flowers). Fruits are about 1.3 to 1.5 cm long with a diameter of about 1 cm and encircled by calyx segments extended into five uneven wings.1  

Sal Trees in Forest

Properties of Sal Tree:  

The leaves and bark are used to treat leprosy, wounds, ulcers, cough, gonorrhoea, headache, diarrhoea, and vaginal discharges. The plant resin has astringent, carminative and stomachic properties. This medicinal herb has been used in Ayurveda for various purposes for centuries.2  

There are as follows:  

  • It may show anti-inflammatory activity  
  • It may have antimicrobial activity  
  • It may have analgesic (pain-relieving) property3  
  • It may show antioxidant activity2  
  • It may have antiulcer property
  • It may have antidiabetic blood sugar lowering activity  
  • It may possess wound healing activity  
  • It may show anti-obesity effect
  • It may demonstrate immunomodulatory property.3  

Did you know due to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties present in sal tree (Shorea robusta Gaertn) bark, it might aid in the reduction of pain and swelling in arthritis and joint disorder.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Potential Uses of Sal Tree:  

Potential Uses of Sal for Healing Wounds:  

The bioactive chemicals present in sal tree may aid in cleansing wounds, and it might accelerate wound healing and contraction.4  This effect of sal tree compounds need further studies to validate the claim.

Potential Uses of Sal for Treating Stomach Problems Such as:  

  • Ulcers: 

The anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties of the sal tree might be beneficial in treating ulcers such as peptic ulcers.5  The studies may seem to be insufficient to validate the extent to which it can benefit human health.

  • Diarrhoea: 

Sal tree’s antibacterial and anti-diarrhoeal qualities may be used to remove bacteria that cause diarrhoea and other intestinal ailments from the intestines. Sal tree may help to reduce the frequency of stools.6  Consult a doctor for proper advice.

  • Indigestion: 

Due to its carminative and digestive properties, the sal tree may be very beneficial for all digestive problems. The anti-flatulent function reduces flatulence and bloating, preventing gas from forming in the alimentary canal further studies are needed to add scientific evidence for this effect of sal tree.2  

Benefits of Sal in Reducing Pain and Inflammation: 

Sal tree’s bioactive components may have potent analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, which may provide relief from pain and inflammation.7  However, the actual benefits of sal tree compounds in humans needs further studies to establish.

Benefits of Sal in Weight loss: 

Sal tree may help to manage the weight of an obese person more quickly due to the presence of flavonoids, fibre and anti-obesity effects. The hydro-alcoholic leaves extract of the sal tree may be a potential drug that can help maintain healthy body weight by potentially showing some effect on the disturbed lipid profile.8  Consult your doctor or nutritionist before adding anything in your diet for weight loss benefits.

Also Read: 10 Home Remedies for Weight Loss

Benefits of Sal in Treating Respiratory Problems: 

Sal tree may be beneficial for respiratory disorders because of its significant anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It may often used to treat cough.2  However, further studies may be needed to further establish this benefit of sal tree.

Benefits of Sal in Boosting Immunity: 

The sal tree’s antioxidant properties help enhance the immune system, combat germs and protect the body from numerous illnesses. It also exhibits powerful antibacterial properties.2,3,9

Though there are studies that show the benefits of sal tree in various conditions, but these are insufficient and there is a need of further studies to establish the true extent of benefits of sal tree on human health.    

In Udala (Mayurbhanj), the stems of the Sal tree (Shorea robusta Gaertn) are sold as toothbrushes. The tender and soft twigs are ideal as toothbrushes as they might have anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects in the oral cavity and might aid in maintaining oral health.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Also Read: Nutmeg – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & Precautions

How to Use Sal Tree? 

Various parts of the sal tree can be used. Your doctor will prescribe you the appropriate form based on your individual need. 

  • Sal tree powder 
  • Sal leaves  
  • Sal bark paste  
  • Sal tree bark decoction 
  • Sal tree seed oil 
  • Sal tree resin 
  • Sal tree wood10 

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking any herbal supplements. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an Ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor.  

Also Read: Jatamansi – Uses, Benefits & Precautions

Frequently Asked Questions:  

1) What are Chemicals Present in the Sal Tree? 

Steroids, ursolic acid, shoreaphenol, terpenoids, α-amyrenone, hopeaphenol, and friedelin are chemical constituents of the sal tree.2 

2) Where is Sal Tree Found? 

Sal is widely distributed in India, Bhutan and Nepal. In India, the species is distributed from Himachal Pradesh to Assam, Tripura, West Bengal, Orissa and Bihar and, eastern districts of Madhya Pradesh. It is also found in the Eastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh.2 

3) Is the Sal Tree used for The Treatment of Chronic Pain? 

Sal may relieve pain due to its antinociceptive (effictive in reducing pain) and anti-inflammatory properties.7  You must consult your doctor for advice on the benefits of any herb for pain.

4) How is Sal Tree Helpful for Gastric Ulcers Treatment? 

The components of the sal tree, ursolic acid and amyrin, may have gastroprotective effects. It may protect the stomach mucosa by acting as an antioxidant, stimulating mucus synthesis or maintaining prostaglandin contents of gastric mucosa at higher levels.5  You must consult a doctor for serious medical conditions before consuming herbs for its benefits.

5) How Does Sal Tree Relieve the Pain of Burns? 

The resin from the sal tree may help relieve pain due to its analgesic property.7    However, you are advised to talk to a doctor and follow their advice if you are suffering from any burns or injuries.

Also Read: Multani Mitti – Uses & Benefits

References: 

  1. Marandi RR, Britto SJ, Soreng PK. Phytochemical profiling, antibacterial screening and antioxidant properties of the sacred tree (Shorea robusta gaertn.) of Jharkhand. Int J Pharm Sci Res. 2016 Jul 1;7(7):2874.  
  1. Soni RK, Dixit V, Irchhaiya R, et al. A review update on Shorea robusta Gaertn f. (Sal). J Drug Delivery Ther. 2013; 3(6): 127-132. 
  1. Merish S, Tamizhamuthu M, Thomas M, et al. Review of Shorea robusta with special reference to Traditional Siddha Medicine. RRJPP, 2 (1) 2014.  
  1. Wani TA, Chandrashekara HH, Kumar D, et al. Wound healing activity of ethanolic extract of Shorea robusta Gaertn, f. resin. Ind J Exp Biol 2012; 50: 277-281. 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22611916/

  1. Muthu S, Nagarajan A, Palanisamy B. Antiulcerogenic effect of resin from Shorea robusta Gaertn. f. on experimentally induced ulcer models. Int J Pharm Pharm Sci 2013; 5(1): 269-272. 
  1. Murthy KSR, Lakshmi N, Ramulu DR. Biological activity and phytochemical screening of the oleoresin of Shorea robusta Gaertn. f. Trop Subtrop Agroeco 2011; 14: 787-791. 

http://www.scielo.org.mx/pdf/tsa/v14n3/v14n3a28.pdf 

  1. Wani TA, Kumar D, Prasad R, et al. Analgesic activity of the ethanolic extract of Shorea robusta resin in experimental animals. Indian J pharmacol 2012; 44: 493-499. 

https://www.ijp-online.com/ printarticle.asp? issn=0253-7613; year = 2012; volume = 44; issue = 4; spage = 493; epage = 499; aulast = Wani 

  1. Supriya K, Kotagiri S, Swamy VBM, et al. Anti-Obesity activity of Shorea robusta G. leaves extract on monosodium glutamate induced obesity in albino rats. Res J Pharma Biol Chem Sci 2012; 3(3): 555-565. 

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/286204259_Antiobesity_activity_of_shorea_Robusta_G_leaves_extract_on_monosodium_glutamate_induced_obesity_in_albino_rats

  1. Kalaiselvan A, Gokulakrishnan K. Bark extract of Shorea robusta on modulation of immune response in rats. Int J Recent Scienti Res 2012; 3(8): 693 -697. 

http://recentscientific.com/sites/default/files/Download_261.pdf 

  1. Sandeep Rout. Sal (Shorea robusta): a timber tree species. Annual report-newsletter 2019-2020. 

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/345181207_Sal_Shorea_robusta_a_timber_tree_species

Also Read: Wheatgrass – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & Precautions

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The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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