Acacia Nilotica (Acacia Arabica, Vachellia Nilotica) Gum Arabic Tree (Babul, Kikar)
The accepted scientific name of Acacia Nilotica is Vachellia Nilotica. Acacia Nilotica, Acacia Arabica, and Mimosa Nilotica are accepted as synonyms of Vachellia Nilotica. Its common name is Gum Arabic Tree and it is called Babul and Kikar in Hindi.
Benefits & Medicinal Uses of Acacia Nilotica (Babul)
Acacia Arabica, or Babul, is a commonly used herb for treating several diseases. It can help in the treatment of gingivitis, cavity formation in the tooth and high cholesterol. This herb is known for the strong medicinal properties it possesses, which help in the management of a range of disorders as given below:
Acacia Arabica is known to produce an anti-gingivitis effect. Hence, it is commonly used in the preparation of toothpaste. It has been found that the regular use of toothpaste containing this herb can help to strengthen the teeth and also prevent gum diseases. The anti-gingivitis and anti-plaque properties of Acacia Arabica were studied during research that involved sixty patients with gingivitis. The patients were randomly grouped into a test group who were given the Acacia Arabica-containing toothpaste and a control group who were given regular toothpaste. The plaque index and gingival index of these patients were evaluated at the end of 28 days. The study indicated that the test group patients who used a toothpaste containing Babul had a lower plaque index, and gingival index. Even the bleeding on the probing index was lower in the patients in this group. This study proves the efficacy of Acacia Arabica in the management of gingivitis. It can reduce their risk of this disease and also provide relief from its symptoms such as pain while eating, bleeding from the gums and swelling. (1)
Cavity in the teeth
Acacia Arabica acts as an antiplaque agent for the teeth. This property of the herb can be beneficial in the prevention of cavity formation. Cavities are formed in the teeth due to a decay resulting from the plaques deposited on them. A plaque is a soft and sticky film built up on the teeth. It contains bacteria, which cause infection and damage to the enamel of the teeth. Over a period of time, it results in the breakdown of the enamel, eventually resulting in the formation of a hole or a cavity in the surface of the tooth. This can be prevented by inhibiting the deposition of plaques on the teeth. Regular brushing of teeth using a toothpaste containing Babul can help to remove the plaque and prevent the cavity formation.
The antiplaque properties of this herb were proved in a blind crossover trial. During the study, the antiplaque potential of Babul was compared with a sugar-free gum. At the end of the first trial, the mean plaque and gingival scores were found to be reduced slightly after 7 days of using Babul as compared to the use of sugar-free gum. At the end of the second trial, the daily photographic assessment of the erythrosine-stained plaque showed significantly lower mean plaque and gingival scores in the Acacia gum users compared to the sugar-free gum users. This study implies the presence of constituents in Acacia gum that inhibit the deposition of plaque. Hence, the regular use of Acacia Arabica is recommended for preventing cavities in teeth. (2)
The study investigating the effect of Acacia Arabica on the blood glucose levels has shown encouraging results. It is believed that this herb may benefit the diabetic patients in controlling their blood sugar levels. The antidiabetic properties of this herb were proved in research conducted on alloxan diabetic rabbits.
During research, the normal and alloxan-diabetic rabbits were administered the powdered seeds of Babul and the roots of Caralluma Edulis. Their blood sugar levels were estimated once before the study and four times after the administration of the plant suspension at the intervals of 2 hours. It was found that Acacia Arabica exerted a strong hypoglycemic effect in the normal rabbits though the effect was not too significant in the alloxan diabetic rabbits. This study concluded that Acacia Arabica can be useful in the prevention of diabetes. It is believed to work by stimulating the release of insulin from the beta cells in the pancreas. Hence, it can be used in the management of type 1 diabetes that occurs due to the reduced secretion of insulin by the pancreas. (3)
This herb also helps in the treatment of type 2 diabetes that occurs due to the resistance of the body’s cells to insulin making it less effective. Acacia Arabia has been shown to reduce insulin resistance of the body’s tissues thereby making them more receptive to this hormone. This helps to reduce the blood sugar levels. (4)
Acacia Arabica can be used in the treatment of hypercholesterolemia. It can help to reduce the levels of cholesterol and reduce the risk of life-threatening diseases such as myocardial infarction and cerebrovascular stroke. The antihyperlipidemic action of this plant was confirmed during a study conducted in the streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. The study showed that Acacia Arabia exerted significant antilipidemic action that helped to reduce the levels of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. There was a rise in the level of HDL cholesterol, which could be beneficial for the patients at a risk of heart diseases. This herb also reduced the triglyceride levels. These actions of Acacia Arabia prove the usefulness of this herb in the management of hypercholesterolemia. (5)
A study evaluating the effects of Acacia Arabica on the protease activities and growth of periodontopathic bacteria have shown encouraging results. It has shown to possess strong antibacterial activity against the strains of a range of microorganisms including actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans, porphyromonas gingivalis, capnocytophaga spp., treponema denticola and prevotella intermedia. The action of Acacia gum against the periodontal pathogens and the associated enzymes prove the clinical value of this herb in the treatment of infections. It can be used to prevent infections in the oral cavity, especially the tooth and the gums. (6)
Acacia Arabica can be used as a homeostatic and antibacterial agent to assist in the rapid healing of wounds. The biopolymers present in Acacia Arabica can be potential materials that can be used for wound dressing. The gum of Acacia plant can be used to soothe the skin rashes, inflammation, soreness, and burns. The homeostatic action of the biopolymers in this herb hastens the blood coagulation. They can also help to shorten the prothrombin time and the partial thromboplastin time. Additionally, they also produce an antibacterial activity against the organisms known to infect the wounds. This can help in the faster repair of the affected tissues. (7)