Karanj – Pongamia pinnata

An Overview, Dermatological Uses, Side effects and Risk factors

Family: Leguminosae
Latin name: Pongamia pinnata
Charaka samhita: कण्डूघ्न, विरेचन, कटुकस्कन्ध, तिक्तस्कन्ध
Sushruta samhita: शिरोविरेचन, कफसंशमन
English name: Indian Beech
Hindi name: Karanj, Naktmaal, Ghritpur
Taste: Bitter, Pungent, Astringent
Nature: Hot
Parts used: Bark, Leaf, Seed, Flower

It is a deciduous tree that grows up to 13 M. It grows in humid, tropical and sub-tropical climates.

Phytochemical constituents:
Alkaloids, Demethoxy-kanugin, Saponins, Kaempferol, Kanugin, Karanjin, Pinnatin, Pongamol, Pongamin, Quercitin, Sitosterol, Fixed oil, Fatty acid.

Mode of action: 

  • Kapha Vata shamak & Pitta vardhak
  • Antiulcer
  • External application is Anti-inflammatory, Antiseptic, Antipruritic


  • Depurative, Blood purifier
  • Insecticidal, Sedative, Depressant
  • Anti-diabetic, Hypoglycaemic
  • Anthelmintic, Carminative

Pongam oil showed inhibitory effects on Bacillus anthracis, Bacillus mycoides, Bacillus pulilus, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas mangiferae, Salmonella typhi, Sarcina lutea, Staphylococcus albus, Staphylococcus aureus, and Xanthomonas campestris, but did not inhibit Shigella sp. (Chaurasia and Jain, 1978).

Therapeutic Benefits: 

  • External application in Inflammation, Ulcers and Skin diseases


  • Scabies, Itching


  • Leprosy
  • Acne
  • Apthous ulcers
  • Ringwom, Baldness
  • Sinusitis, Migraine, Nervouus disorders
  • Rheumatism, Muscle cramp
  • Hepatomegaly, Piles, Anal fistula, Ascaris
  • Anti-diabetic
  • Whooping cough
  • Leucorrhoea, Gonorrhoea

Side effects and Risk factors:

  • There isn’t enough information regarding its safety in Infants and Children. Karanj is used as Fish poison. So AVOID its oral intake in Infants and Children.
  • UNSAFE in Pregnancy as it is a Uterine stimulant.
  • If you are trying to have children, avoid using Karanj orally.
  • Monitor blood sugar level, as Karanj can lower blood sugar levels.
  • Stop using Karanj at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

​    – Dr Malika Ahuja

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