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nagakeshara - Mesua ferrea Linn., Mesua nagassarium (Kosterm.)

nagakeshara :

nagakeshara : Mesua ferrea Linn., Mesua nagassarium (Kosterm.)
Nagakesar is well known plant famous for both medicinal and economical values. It is one common herb among chaturjata group. Nagkesar is slow growing tree well known for hardness and heaviness of its wood. Because of its graceful shape it is cultivated as ornamental tree. In ayurvedic medicine system this herb is famous for its medicinal values to treat fever, migraine, vomiting and urinary tract infections. Flowers are astringent and contain various oils and oleo resins. Flower oil is reddish or dark brown in color and stamens of flowers is called kesar. Main chemical compound present in this herb is meusol. Other chemical compounds available in this herb are mesuaferron, euxanthon, mesuaferrol, mesuagin, mammegin, mesuol, mammeuisin and bioflavin etc.

Heartwood of this herb is very strong and used in the construction of beams, flooring and furniture. Hard wood is used to construct rail lines. Seeds are powerhouse of energy and proteins. Flowers are used in stuffing pillows and used for many other purposes like dyes and cosmetics..

It is the national tree of Sri Lanka. It produces one of the hardest commercial deep dark red timber in the world.

Nagakesara though have no mentioning in Vedic literature is a widely mentioned drug in the Ayurvedic classics both in Brihattrayees and Laghutrayees. In Nighantukaala Nagakesara included in almost all Nighantus which mentions its prime importance and wide utility in therapeutics especially in disorders of GIT, skin and bleeding disorders. It has more than 20 synonyms. Modern literature mentions its considerable role in bleeding disorders and explanation regarding its morphological characters, habitat, chemical composition, characters and action. There is a need to study the position of Nagakesara in the crude drug market. It was found that there is a lot of confusion regarding the acceptance of genuine drug under the name Nagakesara. As there is scarcity and unavailability of Nagkeshara, also due to lack of awareness, instead of Nagkeshara, the Pratinidhidravya like Surpunnag, Punnag, Tamalpatra are used commonly. And gradually the use of real Nagkesara is diminished and the Ayurvedic Vaidya, teachers and students also understood the Pratinidhidravyas of it as real Nagkeshara

It is even described as one of the srestha (Best) herb of all the rest due to its positive effects over the human body. Nagkesar is a very famous Ayurvedic herb used in treating fever, vomiting, urinary tract disorders, migraine etc. It is one among Chaturjata group of herbs. It is used in powder form along with other spices, and is used in many herbal jams including Chyawanprash.

Taxonomical Classification

Kingdom: Plantae - Plants
Subkingdom: Streptophyta
Superdivision: Spermatophyta - Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida - Dicotyledons
Family: Guttiferae


Sanskrit: Nagpushp, nag, keshar, nagkeshar, champey, nagkijjlak, kanchannhay
English: Ironwood of Assam or Ceylon Ironwood, Indian Rose Chest Nut, Cobras saffron
Hindi: Naghas, Nogkesar
Urdu: Narmiksha
Telugu: Naga Kesaralu
Bengali: Nagesar
Marathi: Nagachampa, Nagakeshra
Oriya: Nageshvar
Tamil: Irul (இருள்) , Karunangu
Malayalam: Nagachempakam, Velluttachembagam
Kannada: Kanchana, Nagasampige ( ನಾಗಸಂಪಿಗೆ )
Punjabi: Nagachampa
Arabic: Narae-Kaisar
Assamese: Naboor, Nahor
Chinese: Tie li mu
German: Nagassamen
Burma: Thai name - Bunnak, Bhra na kaw Philippine name - Kaliuas
Persian: Naremushk, Nagakeshur
Greek: Malaysian name - Penaga; Italian name - Croco di cobra ; Russian name - Mezua zheleznaia;Malay name - Nagasari, Penaga Japanese name - Tagayasan

Mentions / Gana

Anjanadi Gana (Sushruta Samhitha)
Eladi Gana (Sushruta Samhitha)
Karpuradi varga (Bhavaprakasha)
Pippalyadi Varga (Rajanighantu)
Priyangvadi Gana (Sushruta Samhitha)
Shatapushpadi Varga (Dhanvantari Nighantu)
Shatapushpadi Varga (Sodala Nighantu)


Synonyms in Ayurveda: kanaka, kesara, nagakeshara, kinjalka, campeya, nagakinjalka, kancan, suvarna, rukma, nagapushpa, ahipushpa, mahapushpa, hemahpushpaka, gaja, hema, nagakesara, Nagakeshara, Nagakesara, Nag keshar, Ahipushpa, Kanakahva, Ibha, kanchanahvaya, Nageeya, Kinjilka, Kesahara, Champeya, natam, Nagam, Nagarenuka, Panchabhuvayam, Phanipannagam, Rukmam, Suvarnam, Naga Kinjalka, Kanaka, Hemapushpa, Kanchana, Hema Kanchana – Golden yellow colored flower

Rasa: Kashaya Tikta
Guna: Laghu Ruksha Teeskhsna
Veerya: Ushna
Vipaka: Katu
Karma: Ama Pachana-Digestive, relieves Ama Dosha, Bastirogahara-useful in urinary tract disorders, Daurgandhyahara-relieves bad breath, excess sweating, Hrullasa-relieves nausea, Kandughna-useful in relieving pruritis (excessive itching), Kaphahara Kushtagna-useful in skin diseases, Pittahara Sheersharujahara-useful in headache, Trushnahara-Relieves thirst, Vatasrahara-useful in gout, Visarpahara-useful in herpes, Vishahara-Anti toxic,


It contains Mesuol, Mammeuisin, Mammegin, bioflavonone called Mesuaferrone A, etc.

Parts used for medicinal purpose

Flower, Fruit, Seed, Stamens, ,


Powder – 1- 3 grams in divided dose per day


अभावे नागपुष्पस्य पद्मकेशरमिष्यते ||१६५|| – Bhava Prakasha
Padmakeshara – stamen of lotus is used as substitute for Mesua ferrea.


  1. Laal Nagakeshara  – immature floral buds of Punnaga (Calophyllum inophyllum) & Sura punnaga (Mammea suriga)
  2. The unripe fruits of Cinnamomum wightii or Cinnamomum tamala are sold in the markets of Chennai, which is considered as an adulterant Malabar Nagakeshara
  3. Unripe fruits of Bhavya (Dillenia indica) is sold as Nagakeshara in Kerala.


Mesua ferrea Linn.
Mesua ferrea Linn. belonging to family Guttiferae is a source of Nagakesara. Useful part is stamen. It is a middle sized, glabrous tree, trunk is straight, erect smooth bark which is ash-coloured, young branches are twiggy, slender. Leaves are 7.5 - 12.5 by 2.5 - 3.8 cm oblong lanceolate, acute or acuminate, red when young, afterwards shinging above, glaucous and pruinose, beneath rounded or acute at the base and with close, inconspicuous nerves, petioles are 6-8 mm long. Flowers are very fragrant, 2.5 - 7.5 cm. in diameter, axillary or terminal, solitary or in pairs, subsessilemhunds, subglobose, bracts. Sepals are 4, orbicular, cupped, puberulous outside, presistent, the inner pair much longer than the outer, Petals are 4, pure white, Spreading, obovate undulate, with crisped and undulate margins, often torn. Stamens are verynumerous, golden yellow, much shorter than the petals, slightly united at the base into a fleshy ring, anthers are oblong. Style is twice as long as the stamens, stigma is peltate. Fruits are 2.5 - 3cm. long, ovoid with a conical point, surrounded by the enlarged sepals, pericarp is tough, semi-woody, at length 2-valved. Seeds are 1-4 angular, smooth, chestnut brown. Mesua ferrea Linn. is commonly distributed in mountains of East Himalaya and East Bengal, Assam, Tenasserim, Burma, Andamans, evergreen rain forests of North Karnataka, Western Ghats from South Karnataka to Travancore, upto 5,000 feet.

Ochrocarpus longifolius
Benth & Hook It also belongs to family Guttiferrae. Part used is dried floral bud. Ochrocarpus longifolius Benth. & Hook is a big tree with very pretty and glossy foliage. Young shoots are slightly 4 gonous. Leaves are thickly coriaceous, 15-20 by 5-6.3cm, oblong, obtuse margins and prominent midrib, base is round, veins inconspicuous in fresh, but beautifully reticulate in dried specimens; petiole is 6 mm. long, stout. Tiny flowers are borne in clusters on the tree trunk and mature branches. Flowers have a very pleasant scent, which lasts even when the flowers dry up. The flowers appear in the hot weather and the fruits ripen during the rainy season. Flowers are numerous, in short fascicles on tubercles from the axils of fallen leaves; buds globose, apiculate, orange-red; pedicels 1.2-2 cm. long 2 valves, reflexed during flowering. Petals are 4, ovate-oblong, acute, thin, deciduous, white streaked with red. Stamens are many, sterile in the female flowers. Style is short, stout; stigma is broad, peltate. Fruits are 2.5 cm. long, obliquely ovoid, tipped by the hard, pointed style, 1-seeded. Ochrocarpus longifolius Benth. & Hook is commonly distributed in Western Ghats of the Konkan, Northern Kanara, Malabar and Coimbatore and cultivated in the Northern Circars[8],[9] The flowers of Lal Nagakesara are fragrant, sweet, cooling, analgesic, stomachic, aphrodisiac; pacifies Kapha, dispel biliousness; good in blood diseases, leprosy etc. It is a tonic for heart, is antispasmodic, diuretic and emmenagogue. It exhibits significant antiinflammatory and styptic activity. Main uses has been described in leucorrhoea and for controlling bleeding in menorrhagia and piles. Its use in menorrhagia may be due to its action on capillaries. Also useful in metrorrhagia, chronic dysentery with mucus, skin eruptions and haemoptysis.

Dillenia pentagyna Roxb. 
Dillenia pentagyna Roxb. belonging to family Dilleniaceae is a source of Malabar Nagakesara. The part used is dried fruit enclosed by calyces. It is a large deciduous tree grows up to 40 meters in height. Leaves are large, 1-2 ft, alternate, ovate-rhomboid, obtuse or acute. Flowers are yellowish, fragrant, 2-3 cm across, arise from the nodes of fallen leaves, on panicles. Fruits are 2.5 cm in diameter, globose which contain single seed. The flower-buds and young fruits have a pleasant, acid flavor and are eaten raw or cooked in south and central India. The ripe fruits are also eaten. Dillenia, named in honour of J. J. Dillenius (1684-1747), a noted botanist. Pentagyna in allusion to the flower having five styles.[11] Dillenia pentagyna Roxb. is distributed in Indo-Malaysian areas extending to tropical Australia; throughout India particularly in subtropical Himalayas, found in most places of Mizoram state, India. The plant pacifies vitiated Vata, Kapha, anal fistula, wounds, diabetes, diabetic carbuncle, neuritis, pleurisy, pneumonia, and burning sensation.

Callophyllum inophyllum Linn.
It belongs to family Guttiferrae and part used is bark and seed oil. Callophyllum inophyllum Linn. (Kamani) is a very handsome, small or middle-sized glabrous tree, with a crooked trunk; bark grey, smooth. Leaves are 10-18 by 7.5-10 cm. broadly elliptic, rounded at the apex, often emarginated, with waved margins and very close lateral nerves, giving a striate appearance to the blade; base acute; petioles are 9-15 mm. long, stout, flat. Flowers are 1.9-2.5 cm in diameter, pure white, fragrant, few-flowered racemes are 10-15 cm. long. Sepals are 4, ovate-orbicular, concave, reflexed. Petals are 4, oblong, obtuse, spreading. Stamens are numerous; filaments are united into 4-6 bundles. Style is long, twisted; Stigma large, mushroom-shaped. Fruits areglobose, 2-5-3.8 cm. diam, smooth, yellowish; pulp is scanty. It grows along coastal areas and adjacent lowland forests, although it occasionally occurs inland at higher elevations. Callophyllum inophyllum Linn. is distributed along the Eastern and Western coasts of the Peninsula, Burma, the Andamans and Malaya Peninsula, Ceylon, Eastern African Islands, Malaya, Australia, Polynesia. Bark is hot with a sharp taste; heals ulcers and inflammation of the eye; destroys "Kapha" and "Vata;" lessens appetite; astringent; improves the complexion. In Southern India, the oil of the seeds of the plant is used specifically for treating skin diseases. It is also applied topically in cases of rheumatism. The oil is useful in waterproofing cloth and is used as a varnish. In the old days an extract from the fruit was used to make a brown dye to colour cloth. The oil can also be used to make soap.

Cinnamomum tamala Fr-nees:
It is a small evergreen tree up to 1.4 m. girth and 7.5 m. high. Bark is dark brown or blackish, slightly rough. Leaves are opposite, sub opposite or alternate, 12.5-20 by 5-7.5 cm., ovate lanceolate or oblong, acuminate, the acumen often falcate, coriaceous, glabrous, scarcely shining above, glaucous beneath, 3-nerved from close above the base almost to the apex. Petiole 7.5-13mm. long. Flowers are 7.5 mm. long, pale yellowish, in axillary and terminal lax puberulous panicles 5-15 cm. long. Perianth- lobes 6, oblong, silky pubescent, breaking off transversely below the middle after flowering. Filaments are villous. Drupe is 13 mm. long, ovoid, fleshy, black, supported by the enlarged perianth-tube bearing the truncated perianth-lobes. It is distributed throughout tropical and subtropical Himalaya upto 3,000-7,800 ft. The leaf is bitter, sweetish; useful in vitiated Vata, scabies, diseases of the anus and rectum, piles, heat troubles, bad taste. The essential oil of the leaves is used as carminative, anti flatulent, diuretic and in cardiac diseases.


Beautiful evergreen tree of nagakesar grows up to height of 30mt in height, buttressed at base about 90cm in diameter. Pendulous leaves are 8-15cm long and are simple, narrow, lanceolate, opposite and dark grey to dark green in color. Bark of the tree is dark ash grey in color and branches are glabrous and slender. Flowers of the tree are bisexual about 4-7cm in diameter with four white petals and yellow stamen. Fruit is globose to ovoid capsule and fruit capsule contains 1-2 seeds that are dark brown in color. Cotyledon of the seeds is fleshy and oily. Flowering season is between March to July while fruits are seen during October to November. Hard wood of Mesua is dark deep red in color.

It is medium sized evergreen tree upto 13mm tall, often buttressed at the base with the trunk up to 90 cm in diameter.

Leaves: About 3 to 5 inches long, it is simple, narrow, ovate or egg shaped. It is dark green in color, with a whitish underside, the new growing leaves are red in color then slowly they turn into yellow color. Flowers are about 4 to 7.5 cm in diameter with four white petals and center of numerous yellow stamens.
Fruits: Fruits are oblong in shape they are about 2.5 to 5.0 cm long with persistent calyx.
Seeds: Seeds are 1 to 4 in number, dark brown in color, cotyledon is fleshy and oily.

Geographical distribution:

It is commonly found in eastern Himalayas, Bengal, Assam, Eastern and Western Ghats, Andaman Islands of India. It is a a native tree of Tropical Srilanka.

Mesua is native to tropical regions of Sri Lanka. Mesua is mainly found in wet tropical region of India and Sri Lanka. It grows up to altitude of 1500mt in Eastern and Western Ghats in India. In Assam it is easily available and it is also called iron wood of Assam. It is also found in Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Philippines and Malaysia. It also grows in various parts of Tamil Nadu, Travancore and Andaman islands.

General Use:

Mesua is astringent in taste with hot potency. This herb is light and dry and it helps in digestion. It is used to cure fever, itching, thirst, sweating, vomiting, relieves nausea, bad odor of mouth and leprosy. It is used to pacify kapha and pitta dosha and very effective herb to treat poisoning.

Seed oil is applied externally to relieve pain and inflammation.

Therapeutic Uses:

  • Nagakesar is a versatile herb with anti-inflammatory properties and used to treat various ailments. Its flowers also contain medicinal oil that is also beneficial for various disorders.
  • This herb is used to improve digestive fire and helps to reduce the harmful effects of ama (toxins). It is also beneficial to treat disorders of digestive system and worm infestation.
  • Flower stem has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. Flower buds are used in the treatment of diarrhea and dysentery.
  • This herb is hemostatic in nature and it act as blocking agent for bleeding. It is very beneficial herb for treating bleeding piles and menstrual bleeding.
  • Poultice of leaves are applied on head and chest to treat cold and cough.
  • Seed oil is used to reduce inflammation and to cure rheumatism.
  • It is also used for treating skin related disorders like burning sensation, itching, scabies and leprosy.
  • Being a cardiac tonic and it is very effective in cardiac debility.
  • This herb is aphrodisiac and used in the treatment of menorrhagia.
  • Paste of flowers is used externally to cure excessive sweating and it is also used as deodorant for bad odors.
  • Fresh flowers are very beneficial for cough, excessive thirst, perspiration and indigestion.
  • Root of this herb is used as best antidote for snake bite poisoning.
  • Ripe and unripe fruits are best used for gastric troubles.
  • Flowers are used to treat asthma and impotency.
  • It is used to pacify kapha and pitta dosha.

Systemic Use:

Nagkesar is Mostly Referred in Bleeding Disorders
All the bleeding disorders occurs due to the Pitta (heat) imbalance, NAGKESAR is mostly indicated in the bleeding disorders like piles, menorrhagia, metrorrhagia & epistaxis because it pacifies the Pitta that maintains the heat imbalance.
Piles (Arsh) are vascular structures in the anal canal which gets swollen and inflamed and the patient feels difficult to defecate with continuous throbbing (pin pricking ) pain along with bleeding stools. Nagkesar reduces swelling and shrinks pile mass, eradicate pain and stops bleeding. Fresh flowers of this tree are used to treat bleeding piles.
Menorrhagia is termed as excessive bleeding during menses. Nagkesar cures excessive bleeding. It acts as aphrodisiac and haemostatic. Its main action is on the blood capillaries, due to its kashaya ras (astringent) and sheet virya (cool nature).
Metrorrhagia means uterine bleeding at irregular intervals. Nagkesar due to its kashaya ras (astringent) or sheet virya (cool) helps to improve the conditions.


Its anti-convulsant and anti inflammatory activities have been studied.
Traditionally, it is also used in leucorrhoea and bleeding disorders.

Toxicity studies:

There are no known side effects with this herb.
It is safe to use this during lactation and in children. Seek medical advice for usage during pregnancy.

Ayurvedic Formulations:

Common Ayurvedic Formulations of nagakeshara with their Indications
Vilwadi Lehyam
Brahma Rasayana
Shringarabhra Rasa - used in the treatment of respiratory and digestive disorders
Mahanarayana Thailam - one of the best pain relieving oil
Drakshasava - used in the treatment of diseases related to respiratory and digestive track
Puga Khanda - used in the treatment of vomiting, gastritis, dyspepsia, abdominal colic pain, dizziness
Gulgulwasavam - used in the treatment of diseases pertaining to liver and spleen

KEY WORDS: Nagkesar

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