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Chironji – Uses, Benefits, Precautions, Side Effects & More!

By Dr Siddharth Gupta +2 more

Introduction 

Chironji – Most people know this name as an ingredient used for dressing the various sweet dishes cooked in their kitchen on special occasions. As it replaces the almonds, it is also called ‘cuddapah almond’. It is also known as chironji tree, almondette, calumpong nut, cheronjee, or hamilton mombin.

The fruit of the chironji tree bears a single edible seed, which is known as Chironji. The tree has leathery leaves with a blunt tip and rounded base, often identified by its crocodile bark with a red blaze.1 

A bowl of chironji seeds

It is a wild plant growing in the forests of north, central, and western India, mainly in the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. Almost all the parts of the tree are used in some or the other forms. Fruits are eaten raw; they taste a bit like sweet grapes.2  

Other Names of Chironji:

  • In Hindi, it is known as char, chironji, chiraunji, piyal, pra-savak, or priyal.
  • In Marathi, it is recognised as char, charoli, or piyal.
  • In Gujarati, it is called charoli.
  • The scientific name of this ingredient is ‘Buchanania lanzan’, which belongs to the family Anacardiaceae (cashew family).1

Nutritional Value of Chironji:

Chironji tastes pleasant, slightly acidic, and almost comparable to almonds.3Chironji is a valuable source of protein and fat with a relatively lower calories count.4 

Constituents Content 
Starch 12.1% 
Proteins 19 – 21.6 % 
Lipids/fats 59 % 
Fatty oil 34 – 47 % 
Vitamins and minerals 
Niacin 1.50 mg 
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) 0.69 mg 
Phosphorus 528 mg 
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 0.53 mg 
Calcium 279 mg 
Iron 8.5 mg 
Ascorbic acid/vitamin C 5.0 mg 
Moisture 3% 
Fibre 3.8% 
Table 1: Nutritional content in chironji (per single unit of the kernel)4  

In my practice, I have observed that it is worth considering the use of the methanolic extract of chironji leaves as a potential therapeutic agent for inflammatory conditions. The extract has shown significant anti-inflammatory activity, comparable to that of aspirin.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

Properties of Chironji: 

Various parts of the chironji tree may have properties such as :

  • It may have ant-diarrhoea properties
  • It may shoy ant-anaemia activity
  • It may demonstrate wounds healing properties
  • It may znti-weight gain (obesity)activity
  • It may have anti-immunity boosters properties.5-7 

Potential Uses of Chironji: 

Potential Uses of Chironji for Diarrhoea: 

Diarrhoea is a disease in which pitta dosha in the body is imbalanced, followed by Vata. The roots of the chironji plant may have a constipating property. The ethanolic extract of the powder of the roots may reduce the faecal output. It may also reduce the number of episodes of diarrhoea. In Ayurveda, it might balance the Pitta and Vata dosha, hence curing diarrhoea.5,6 However, more studies are needed to further validate these benefits of chironji.

Potential Uses of Chironji for Anaemia: 

The juice extracted from the seeds (methanolic extracts) of the charoli tree may have some effect on blood production from the bone marrow. It may thus, increase the red blood cell and white blood cell count, packed cell volume and the haemoglobin concentration of the blood. Therefore, it might be useful in treating anaemia.7 You must consult a doctor for treatment of anaemia.

Potential Uses of Chironji for Skin Problems: 

Acne, pimples or uneven skin tone are basically caused by the lack of moisture in the facial skin. Chironji seeds may have high a quantity of oils and fats, which function as a good moisturising agent. The oil can be applied locally to treat acne, pimples, and blemishes on the face. The chironji oil may be used to reduce the itching and redness in various skin diseases.6 

Dandruff, a major problem of the hair, is caused by the dryness of the scalp. The dried skin of the scalp comes out in the form of flakes, which then causes itching and redness of the skin. Chironji oil may provide moisture (lipid and fats) essential for the scalp, which, when applied to the scalp, may provide moisture and nutrients to the scalp and the hair.  

Chironji oil may balance the Pita and Vata dosh and treats dandruff, itching, and redness of the scalp. It is also mentioned in the literature that the priyala (Chironji) oil may help with grey hair.6 Wounds/ulcers may be caused due to the increase of Pitta dosh in the body. Leaves of the chironji tree may be pitta shamak (decrease the pitta dosh). The tree leaves are air-dried and then powdered to make a paste. The paste is applied to the skin that may benefit the wounds/cuts/ulcers/skin disorders.6,8,9 

You must consult a qualified dermatologist before trying any herb for its benefits for skin.

Potential Uses of Chironji for Cardiac Weakness: 

In Charak Samhita, it’s mentioned that the charonji seeds may help as a cardiac tonic and may be beneficial for the heart as they balance Vata and Pita Dosha.6 Heart conditions are serious and must be diagnosed and treated by a doctor. Therefore, kindly consult a doctor.

Potential Uses of Chironji in Reducing Stress: 

Chironji is very nutritious as it is rich in proteins and dietary fibre and low in calories. Due to this property of the plant, it may help with strength to the body, relieves tiredness, and improves immunity. The methanolic properties of chironji may be found to be protective against stress-causing factors.5 You must consult a doctor for stress related problems.

Potential Uses of Chironji in Weight Loss: 

Chironji seeds are power-packed with proteins, vitamins and oils. Also, they are low in calories. Due to this property of chironji seeds, they may be included in the diet chart of people with obesity (a disorder in which a person has excessive body fat).

The digestion of the seed takes time as it is guru (heavy), as per the literature. Thus, it may keep one fuller for a longer time and aids in weight loss.6,9 You must consult a nutritionist before making any changes in your diet.

Potential Uses of Chironji in Treating Diabetes: 

Research has been conducted on animals in whom the methanol extracts of chironji seeds were administered. Administration of the methanol extracts of Chironji produced antidiabetic, antihyperlipidemic and antioxidant effects in the test animals.

Thus, it can be inferred that it may also have the some effect on humans. Further research on humans is required, which may help the physicians to recommend Chironji leaves as a medicine for diabetes.10  Diabetes is a condition that is serious and must be diagnosed and treated by a doctor therefore, kindly consult a doctor.

Potential Uses of fruits of Chironji:  

Fruits of the chironji tree are eaten raw in some tribal states of India. The fruits, when taken orally, may have a coolant effect, thus relieving thirst and helping to maintain good oral hygiene.

Fruits are laxatives (substances that help empty the bowels) in nature. They may be helpful to reduce fever. The fruit is even beneficial in relieving burning sensations in the eyes, cough, and fever due to its cooling properties.6 

Also Read: Sesame Seeds – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & Precautions

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

Over the years, I have observed that the extract of the seeds may have positive effects on memory. It appears to reduce transfer latency and increase step-down latency, indicating improved memory acquisition and retention. Additionally, it seems to reduce the activity of acetylcholine esterase, an enzyme associated with memory function.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

How to Use Chironji? 

According to ayurvedic literature, Priyala balances the Vata and Pitta Dosha in the body. It is combined with other ingredients to form the following three formulations as mentioned in the ayurvedic literature: 

  • Chandanadi Taila 
  • Ashoka Ghrita 
  • Pugakhand11 

Various parts of Chironji can be used: 

  • Chironji Seed: The kernel (seed) of the chironji fruit is used as a dry fruit in place of cashew and almonds.  
  • Chironji oil (kernel oil): It can be used as a substitute for almond oil or olive oil. Bark, fruits, leaves, nuts, and kernels are used in various medicinal preparations.  
  • Chironji Tree Gum: The gum is also extracted from the tree’s bark, powder of roots and dried leaves and is used for medical purposes.2 

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: Safed Musli – Benefits, Nutritional Value, Side Effects & Precautions

Side Effects of Chironji

Before using chironji or other herbal remedies, you need to talk to your healthcare provider about its possible side effects and limitations. It will help you avoid unwanted side effects.

In my practice, I have come across information suggesting that the chironji may have anti-snake venom activity. The extracts derived from its fruits and bark may be used for the management of snake bites.

Dr. Smita barode, BAMS

Precautions to Take With Chironji: 

  • Since the seeds are full of oils, they can be hard to digest when taken in an excessive amount, thus causing indigestion.11  
  • Seeds are also coolant and constipating in nature. If taken in an increased amount, they can cause constipation.11 

Interactions With Other Drugs:  

There is no known interaction between the chironji kernel/seeds and other products or medicines.  

However, research on animals has shown it to be antidiabetic, anti-hyperlipidaemic and antioxidant. Thus, if one takes any medicine for diabetes, they should take the chironji seeds in lesser quantities.10 

Also Read: Chandraprabha Vati: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & Precautions

Frequently Asked Questions: 

1) How to Eat Chironji?  

Chironji fruit is harvested in early summers from April to May. The outer skin of the fruit turns black when it is ripe. The fruit is then de-skinned, and seed is extracted from it. The seed’s outer covering is removed to get a kernel that is eaten raw, or it can be roasted to enhance the flavours. It may be used as an alternative to various dry fruits in different sweets.12 Your Ayurvedic physician will prescribe you the form and dose as per your requirement.

2) How to Apply Chironji on the Face? 

The oil extracted from kernels is applied to skin diseases. It is also used to remove spots and blemishes from the face.5 You must consult your dermatologist before applying anything on your skin.

3) What are Chironji Seeds? 

The chironji tree has a single seed-bearing fruit, which is known as chironji seed.3 

4) Can we Eat Chironji During Pregnancy? 

We can eat chironji during pregnancy with precautions. It is very nutritious and gives strength to the mother and the foetus.11 

5) Can we Eat Chironji Raw? 

Yes, we can eat chironji raw, or it can be roasted to enhance the flavours.4 

6) How to Make Chironji Powder? 

Leaves of the chironji tree are dried and then crushed to make a powder.13 

7) Is Chironji Good for the Face? 

Yes, chironji oil is applied on the face to treat blemishes and spots on the skin.6 

8) Is Chironji Keto-Friendly? 

Yes, chironji is a power food packed with proteins, vitamins, and oils. It is very low on calories. Thus, it is keto-friendly.5 

9) Is Charoli Good for Health? 

Chironji is incredibly good for health. It may help the body by strengthening and boosting immunity. It has an anti-anaemic effect (due to the direct influence on blood production) and may act as a supertonic but you must follow instructions and guidance given by your doctor.4,7

Also Read: Ginko Biloba – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & Precautions

References 

  1. http://www.flowersofindia.net/catalog/slides/Chironji%20Tree.html 
  1. Prasad, S., 2020. Chironji (Buchanania lanzan): A Retreating Valuable Resource of Central India. International Journal of Bioresource Science, 7(1). 
  1. [Internet]. Niftem.ac.in. 2022. Available from: http://niftem.ac.in/newsite/wp-content/themes/niftm/assets/pmfme/learning_material/chironjiwriteup.pdf  
  1. Neeraj, Bisht V, Purwar S. Chironji (Buchanania lanzan) Wonder Tree: Nutritional and Therapeutic Values [Internet]. Ijcmas.com. 2020. Available from: https://www.ijcmas.com/abstractview.php?ID=16270&vol=9-2-2020&SNo=349  
  1. Patil R, Rothe s. Buchanania Lanzan: An Enormous Medicinal Value [Internet]. Ijariie.com. 2017 [cited 4 January 2022]. Available from: http://ijariie.com/AdminUploadPdf/BUCHANANIA_LANZAN__An_enourmous_medicinal_value_ijariie3832.pdf 
  1. Charak samhita 27/291 
  1. Singh M, Kumar Das B, Patidar P. The effect of methanolic extract of Buchanania lanzan Spreng seeds on hematological indices. 2016. 
  1. Shushruta samhita; 46/156 
  1. Shushruta sathan 46/205 
  1. Sushma N, Smitha P, Gopal Y, Vinay R, Reddy N, Mohan M et al. Antidiabetic, Antihyperlipidemic and Antioxidant Activities of Buchanania lanzan Spreng Methanol Leaf Extract in Streptozotocin-Induced Types I and II Diabetic Rats. Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research. 2013;12(2). 
  1. Chironji – Buchanania lanzan Uses, Dose, Side Effects [Internet]. Easy Ayurveda. 2022 [cited 3 January 2022]. Available from: https://www.easyayurveda.com/2015/09/03/chironji-buchanania-lanzan-uses-dose-side-effects/  
  1. Malik, S.K., Chaudhury, R., Panwar, N.S. et al. Genetic resources of Chironji (Buchanania lanzan Spreng.): a socio-economically important tree species of central Indian tribal population. Genet Resour Crop Evol 59, 615–623 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10722-012-9801-2  
  1. Rajput B, Gupta D, Kumar S, Singh K, Tiwari C. Buchanania lanzan Spreng (Chironji): A vulnerable multipurpose tree species in Vindhyan region. Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry [Internet]. 2018 [cited 3 January 2022];7(5):833 – 836. Available from: https://www.phytojournal.com/archives/2018/vol7issue5/PartO/7-5-86-414.pdf 

Also Read: Munakka – Benefits, Side Effects & Precautions

Disclaimer:

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