Black Catechu

This genus of 1,000 or more evergreen, semi-evergreen, or deciduous trees and shrubs occurs throughout dry tropical to warm temperate regions, especially of Africa and Australia. Wattles are popular as ornamental garden and landscape plants for warmer regions, or as elegant indoor plants under cover in areas with cold winters. Generally fast growing, they are shortlived but flower when young. The name Acacia may come from akakia, the Arabic name for the plant. Various wattles are cultivated for lumber. A number of species contain many valuable compounds, which are used in medicine, flavoring, perfumery, dyes, tanning, adhesives, and insecticides. The acidic leaves of several species, including A. concinna (soap pod), are used as a substitute for tamarind in chutneys. When boiled, the foliage and wood of A. catechu produces a bark brown, sticky substance known as "catechu", "cutch", or "cachou", which crystalizes on cooling. Acacia dealbata (silver wattle, mimosa) is a source of gum arabic, and the flowers yield "mimosa absolute", used in commercial food flavorings. Acacia farnesiana is widely grown for the perfume industry, mostly in the south of France. A substance known as "cassie absolute" is extracted from the flowers. Its violet fragrance is thought superior to violets. Leaves of the myrtle wattle (A. myrtifolia) have been used as a substitute for hops in brewing. Acacia nilotica (syn. A. arabica) is a source of gum arabic or Babul gum, used in the Middle East to make deserts, candy, perfumed water, and alcoholic drinks. Some 25 species of Acacia yield gum arabic, most important being A. senegal, source of the finest-quality resin, known as "Kordofan gum". Sudan produces 85 percent of the world's crop, which is collected from the wild. Elegant wattle (A. victoriae) is widely planted by the bush foods industry for its seeds, which are ground into a rich, dark flour, used in baking and as a coffee substitute, known as "wattlecino". Several desert species (such as A. ancistrocarpa and A. trachycarpa) are used by Australian Aboriginals to treat headaches - twigs and leaves being mashed in water. Infusions or decoctions of bark and roots of some W. Australian species, such as A bivenosa and A tetragonophylla, are used for coughs, colds and laryngitis.

Catechu is an extract made from the rust-colored inner wood of the Acacia catechu tree, which is native to India. It has strong astringent properties and is traditionally used to ease respiratory congestion, coughs, and sore throats. One of its constituents, taxifolin, has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidant properties.

Deciduous tree with shoots bearing hooked spines at the base, and bipinnate, featherly leaves, 7.5-15cm (3-6in) long. Pale yellow flowers appear in twos or threes, or in a short spike, in the axils in summer.

Common Name:
Black Catechu
Other Names:
Catechu, Catechu Wood Extract, Cutch
Botanical Name:
Acacia catechu
Native Location:
SE Asia, India
Well-drained, neutral to acid soil in full sun. No regular pruning is required. To keep pot plants bushy, pinch out side shoots. To control size, cut back hard after flowering, removing two-thirds of the main growths. Wattles dislike disturbance, forming long taproots that are sensitive to damage. Repot and transplant only when necessary; trees may take a year to recover. Prone to spider mite and root mealybug when grown under cover. Tortrix moth caterpillars may damage the leaves and new shoots. Acacia species are noxious weeds in part of Australia, where sale and introduction are illegal.
By seed sown in spring at 21°C (70°F): seedshave hard coats, which should be nicked and soaked in water for 24 hours before sowing; by semi-ripe cutting of lateral shoots in late summer 16-18°C (61-64°F).
Bark and leaves (A. catechu) are cut as required for use in infusions and powders. Flowers (A. farnesiana) are picked as they open and are dried for use in infusions and baths, or distilled for oil. Seeds and pods are collected when ripe and pressed for oil. Resin (A. senegal) is scraped from the trunk and branches in the winter, after the rainy season, as it oozes from the bark; incisions are sometimes made to increase the quantity. Unhealthy trees are the best source of resin, which is processed into powder or dissolved in water.
Up to 25m (80ft)
Up to 15m (50ft)
Min. 7°C (45°F)
Parts Used:
Heartwood, Leaves, young shoots, bark.
A bittersweet, antiseptic, astringent herb that checks bleeding and discharges.
Medicinal Uses:
Internally for dysentary, chronic diarrhea, and chronic mucus. Externally for nose bleeds, hemorrhoids, skin eruptions, bed sores, mouth ulcers, sore throats, and dental infections. Combines well with Acorus calamus (see Sweetflag), Agrimonia Eupatoria (see Agrimony), Filipendula ulmaria (see Meadowsweet), Mentha x. piperita (see Peppermint), and Quercus robur (see Oak), for lower bowel conditions; and with Comniphora spp. (see myrrh) and Hamamelis virginiana (see witch hazel) as a gargle for oral and dental infections. In India, catechu is used as one of the ingredients of paan, a digestive made with betel nuts or leaves.
To treat diabetes, hypertension, diarrhea, and mouth ulcers; as a contraceptive.
Typical Dose:
A typical dose of catechu may range from 0.3 to 2 gm of dried extract.
Possible Side Effects:
Catechu's side effects include low blood pressure, low blood sugar, and constipation.
Drug Interactions:
Taking catechu with these drugs may increase the risk of hypotension (excessively low blood pressure):
Acebutolol, (Novo-Acebutolol, Sectral) Amlodipine, (Norvasc) Atenolol, (Apo-Atenol, Tenormin) Benazepril, (Lotensin)
Betaxolol, (Betoptic S, Kerlone) Bisoprolol, (Monocor, Zebeta) Bumetanide, (Bumex, Burinex) Candesartan, (Atacand)
Captopril, (Capoten, Novo-Captopril) Carteolol, (Cartrol, Ocupress) Carvedilol, (Coreg) Chlorothiazide, (Diuril)
Chlorthalidone, (Apo-Chlorthalidone, Thalitone) Clonidine, (Catapres, Duraclon) Diazoxide, (Hyperstat, Proglycem) Diltiazem, (Cardizem, Tiazac)
Doxazosin, (Alti-Doxazosin, Cardura) Enalapril, (Vasotec) Eplerenone, (Inspra) Eprosartan, (Teveten)
Esmolol, (Brevibloc) Felodipine, (Plendil, Renedil) Fenoldopam, (Corlopam) Fosinopril, (Monopril)
Furosemide, (Apo-Furosemide, Lasix) Guanabenz, (Wytensin) Guanadrel, (Hylorel) Guanfacine, (Tenex)
Hydralazine, (Apresoline, Novo-Hylazin) Hydrochlorothiazide, (Apo-Hydro, Microzide) Hydrochlorothiazide and Triamterene, (Dyazide, Maxzide) Indapamide, (Lozol, Nu-Indapamide)
Irbesartan, (Avapro) Isradipine, (DynaCirc) Labetalol, (Normodyne, Trandate) Lisinopril, (Prinivil, Zestril)
Losartan, (Cozaar) Mecamylamine, (Inversine) Mefruside, (Baycaron) Methyclothiazide, (Aquatensin, Enduron)
Methyldopa, (Apo-Methyldopa, Nu-Medopa) Metolazone, (Mykrox, Zaroxolyn) Metoprolol, (Betaloc, Lopressor) Minoxidil, (Loniten, Rogaine)
Moexipril, (Univasc) Nadolol, (Apo-Nadol, Corgard) Nicardipine, (Cardene) Nifedipine, (Adalat CC, Procardia)
Nisoldipine, (Sular) Nitroglycerin, (Minitran, Nitro-Dur) Nitroprusside, (Nipride, Nitropress) Olmesartan, (Benicar)
Oxprenolol, (Slow-Trasicor, Trasicor) Perindopril Erbumine, (Aceon, Coversyl) Phenoxybenzamine, (Dibenzyline) Phentolamine, (Regitine, Rogitine)
Pindolol, (Apo-Pindol, Novo-Pindol) Polythiazide, (Renese) Prazosin, (Minipress, Nu-Prazo) Propranolol, (Inderal, InnoPran XL)
Quinapril, (Accupril) Ramipril, (Altace) Reserpine, (Reserpine) Spironolactone, (Aldactone, Novo-Spiroton)
Telmisartan, (Micardis) Terazosin, (Alti-Terazosin, Hytrin) Timolol, (Betimol, Timoptic) Torsemide, (Demadex)
Trandolapril, (Mavik) Triamterene, (Dyrenium) Trichlormethiazide, (Metatensin, Naqua) Valsartan, (Diovan)
Verapamil, (Calan, Isoptin SR)
Taking catechu with these drugs may reduce the absorption of the drug:
Ferric Gluconate, (Ferrlecit) Ferrous Fumarate, (Femiron, Feostat) Ferrous Gluconate, (Fergon, Novo-Ferrogluc)
Ferrous Sulfate, (Feratab, Fer-Iron) Ferrous Sulfate and Ascorbic Acid, (Fero-Grad 500, Vitelle Irospan) Iron-Dextran Complex, (Dexferrum, INFeD)
Polysaccharide-Iron Complex, (Hytinic, Niferex)
Taing catechu with these drugs may increase the risk of constipation:
Atropine, (Isopto Atripine, Sal-Tropine) Benztropine, (Apo-Benztropine, Cogentin) Clidinium and Chlordiazepoxide, (Apo-Chlorax, Librax) Cyclopentolate, (Cyclogyl, Cylate)
Dicyclomine, (Bentyl, Lomine) Glycopyrrolate, (Robinul, Robinul Forte) Homatropine, (Isopto Homatropine) Hyoscyamine, (Hyosine, Levsin)
Hyoscyamine, Atropine, Scopolamine and Phenobarbital, (Donnatal, Donnatal Extentabs) Ipratropium, (Atrovent, Nu-Iprotropium) Oxitropium, (Oxivent, Tersigat) Prifinium, (Padrin, Riabel)
Procyclidine, (Kemadrin, Procyclid) Propantheline, (Propanthel) Scopolamine, (Scopace, Transderm Scop) Tiotropium, (Spiriva)
Tolterodine, (Detrol, Detrol LA)
Trihexyphenidyl, (Artane)
Trimethobenzamide, (Tigan)
Culinary Uses:
Distilled with vodka to make Blavod (black vodka).
Economic Uses:
Important locally for lumber and fuel wood. The bark is used in tanning and as a source of khaki dye.
Encyclopedia of Herbs by Deni Brown Copyright © 1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited Pp 97-98
The Essential Herb-Drug-Vitamin Interaction Guide by Geo. T. Grossberg,MD and Barry Fox,PhD Copyright ©2007 Barry Fox,PhD pp.132-134