One of the essential requirements for the rapid economic growth of a nation is to develop its own natural resources. Fortunately, India is blessed with abundant natural resources. Forest products and medicinal plants form an important group of valuable resources. For fully utilizing this important group which is one of the biggest wealth of India, we should have the essential basic scientific knowledge about them. It is, therefore, natural for scientists engaged in this arena to work hard for the study of various different parts of the Herbs, which are used as food and medicine since man has been on earth.
Ayurveda recognizes the use of Acacia Catechu heartwood extract powder known as CATECHIN or KATHA which has powerful astringent and anti-oxidant properties. The water extract of Khair heartwood contains mainly Katha (catechin) and Cutch (catechu tannic acid). Katha is used in the preparation of Paan. It is a principal ingredient in the preparation of Paan alongwith other ingredients which include Betel leaf, slaked lime, areca nut and occasionally tobacco. When combined with slaked lime or chuna in Paan, katha gives the red colouration on chewing.
Chewing Paan has been an integral part of culture of many South Asian countries.
Cutch, the other product found in the heartwood, is used largely as a tanning material and as a preservative purposes of fishing nets to impart them long life
Catechin Manufacturing Process
Bark and sapwood of Khair tree are removed from the wood by means of hand axes.The log is cut into Billets by means of saw machine. The heart wood billets are converted in the form of chips by means of chipping machine. The chips are boiled with water in autoclaves by live steam for complete extraction. The water extracts obtained are filtered through filter press and concentrated in the evaporator to the desired thickness. The concentrated juice is cooled to room temperature and stored in cold room for 15 days at low temperature for crystallization and after that filtered to remove cutch as a by-product. The cake is then plated, cut into required sizes and kept in drying chamber at low temperature for drying. It is then finally dried at ambient temperature and packed in boxes of varying capacity, but usually 20 kg boxes.
The following figure depicts the processing steps involved in procuring Catechin from the Khair Tree.
The finished product can be in powder or biscuit form and has higher catechin content as compared to the initial raw product. By using specific processes, the catechin content can be varied depending upon the requirement and the nature of catechin use. Catechin enriched to 90% is used for therapeutic purposes. It gives excellent results in curing dental, oral and throat infections and used as an astringent for reducing oozing from chronic ulcers and wounds.
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The contributing writer, Dr. R. B. Singh is Ph. D. in Organic Chemistry with more than 40 years of consulting industrial experience in Pharmaceutical & Phytochemicals. He is associated with many Indian based companies manufacturing catechin and other pharmaceutical products. For any queries on the subject, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.