nut gall

Masikkai, quercus Infectoria, also called as nut gall, is a small tree from the oak family. It is native to Asia and Greece. The gall of the tree is called Masikkai. Gall is a cyst or tumor like overgrowth of the tissues of the tree which are normally spherical in shape, hard and bluish green. It is formed due to the leaking of the milk from the tree due to holes made by a particular variety of insect. The leaked milk encompasses the insect and becomes a gall. The galls harvested before the exit of the insect from the galls is stated to be of good medicinal value.

It has been in use in traditional medicine for centuries particularly in treatment of children. The unripe fruit is pungent and astringent and produces coolness. Its major constituent is tannins and small quantities of Gallic acid and ellagic acid. In dermatology, tannins are considered to be indispensable compounds. It has been established by many research studies that the galls, Masikkai has anti-viral, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-amoebic properties. It is also an antidote for venom and has pain relieving and skin lightening abilities.

In modern times quercus infectoria has been pharmalogically found to contain astringent, anaesthetic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties in it.

Masikkai is used in home remedies and also in pharmaceutical medicines for various ailments of people of all ages. It is widely used by women for muscle tightening particularly after delivery of a child.

However it comes handy as a home remedy for a number of health issues of children. Some of the major benefits of masikkai in the treatment of children are:

  • Tabes mesenterica: Masikkai cures tabes mesenterica in infants and children. It is caused by chronic inflammation of the lymphatic glands of the mesentery. Mesentery in turn is defined in the medical dictionary as ‘a layer of the peritoneum which attaches the abdominal viscera to the abdominal wall and conveys their blood vessels and nerves’. The disease can be expressed in simple terms as tuberculosis of the mesenteric glands in children which results in wasting of the body. Wasting of the body means involuntary loss of weight due to malnutrition.
  • Cures rectal prolapse: Masikkai decoction is used for washing the lower part of the large intestine to cure rectal prolapse due to diarrhea.
  • Treats phlegm: Masikkai boiled in water is distilled and 50ml of the liquid is consumed to cure indigestion and fever due to phlegm.
  • Oral health: Tooth powders are prepared in Ayurveda using masikkai an ingredient which is found to be useful in the treatment of pyorrhea in children. Such tooth powders made of masikkai, black salt and neem powder cure pyorrhea, gum infections and bleeding in the gums. Gargling of the galls are also useful in treating mouth and gum disorders. Masikkai is useful in treating yeast and bacterial infections.
  • Mouth ulcer: Due to its astringent property, masikkai paste is applied inside the mouth to cure mouth ulcers. The paste is prepared by rubbing the water soaked gall on a stone with some water. By applying the paste directly on the ulcer affected area quickly cures the ulcer.
  • Uraimarundhu, a medicine prepared with masikkai, nutmeg and vasambu is given to newborns to prevent them from falling sick. This is a widely administered home remedy as a preventive medicine in most of the southern parts of India.
  • IBS and diarrhea: The powder of the gall is given to children to cure all abdomen related disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and diarrhea.
  • Antiseptic: Water boiled with masikkai is used as an antiseptic wash material like Dettol.
    • Wounds are quickly cured by washing them in masikkai water due to the astringent and antiseptic properties in it. Washing of wounds with this water not only provides immediate cure but also prevent them from secondary infections.
  • A variety of salt extracted from this gall appearing as a mixture of white and yellow but astringent in taste, controls vomiting of blood or oozing of blood through feces.
  • Medicinal drink: Masikkai powder weighing 100 gm is boiled for about 10 minutes in one liter of water and then distilled. Such distilled liquid is consumed up to 50ml depending upon the age of the patient to cure indigestion, dysentery, diarrhea, chronic cough, black spots in the body and fever due to phlegm.
  • All types of fevers affecting children due to heat is cured by appropriate administration of masikkai products.

Over dose of masikkai or its products can cause nausea and emesis. (Emesis is involuntary or forcible expulsion of the contents in the stomach through the mouth like vomiting).

Kripa Sivasubramanian, MBA, earned her Master’s degree in Business. After a long stint in the Technology sector, she took up courses in natural medicine and yoga. Ms. Kripa is certified in Ayurvedic yoga for Dosha. She is also certified by Stanford University School of Medicine in Introduction to Food and Health.