All plants are useful to humanity but some plants are more useful than the others. Since time immemorial, most plants have been used for both medicinal and culinary purposes. However, it is amazing to identify certain plants that are not only used for medicinal and culinary purposes but most importantly for construction purposes due to their durability. One of such plants that offer these three remarkable benefits is Teak.
Teak is botanically known as Tectona grandis Linn and belongs to the family of Lamiaceae. It is a tropical plant distinguished by its tough hardwood, high quality, durability, stability and strong resistance to harsh weather conditions. Teak is a large deciduous tree that has similar features with the iroko tree. It is also known as Nagpur teak, Burmese teak, sagwan or thekka (තේක්ක) by Sri Lankans.
Teak is originally from the Asian countries such as Laos, Bangladesh, Indonesia, India, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Myanmar before spreading to other parts of the world such as the Caribbean and Africa. It is one of the most popular and highly valued timber in the world due to its durability, resistance and texture. The word “teak” is coined from Tamil word known as “tekku” (தேக்கு). The tree grows between 30 to 36 metres tall with light brown bark and it bears acuminate papery leaves that have hairs on the lower surface.
Teak also bears tiny, fragrant white flowers that are densely clustered into panicles at the end of the branches. The flower is monoecious in nature because it contains both the male and female reproductive organs together. The wood emits leathery smell as soon as it is freshly cut or milled. Teak is an excellent source of flavonoids, carbohydrate, alkaloids, saponins, tannins and proteins.
Furthermore, studies reveal that the teak plant contains anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, antidiabetic, anti-ulcerogenic, antibacterial, analgesic, antioxidant, anti-diuretic, hypoglycemic, antiasthmatic, antifungal, antitumor, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. As a result, the extracts from the entire parts of the teak plant are useful for treating hyperacidity, bronchitis, leprosy, biliousness, diabetes and dysentery.
One significant phytoconstituent found in Tectona grandis is Juglone, which is a crystalline substance ( C10H6O3 ) that resembles quinone. Studies reveal that the entire parts of the teak plant are useful for both culinary, medicinal and construction purposes. Some remarkable benefits of teak are discussed below;
18 Remarkable Benefits of Teak
Teak leaves are used for preparing assorted dishes such as soup, stew or gudeg. Gudeg is a local Javanese cuisine from Indonesia, Yogyakarta and Central Java. This dish is usually prepared from tender unripe jackfruit cooked with coconut water, coconut milk and palm sugar for a couple of hours.
Teak contains antiasthmatic properties and as such, both the leaves, stems and barks of this plant can be used for preparing herbal medicines for preventing and treating asthma attacks. Goswami et al., (2010) screened various extracts of Tectona grandis Linn barks for antiasthmatic properties by using various in-vivo animal models such as clonidine-induced catalepsy in mice, haloperidol-induced catalepsy in mice, milk-induced leucocytosis and eosinophilia. The results of the study showed that the teak bark extract showed significant anti-asthmatic effects.
Teak contains anthelmintic properties and as such it is effective for destroying parasitic worms. Gururaj et al., (2011) investigated the ethanolic extract of teak fruits to ascertain their anthelmintic properties. They used Indian earthworm Pheretima posthuma as a test worm. The experiment was carried out by determining the time of paralysis and the time of death of the worms against the standard reference drug piperazine citrate.
The results showed that the crude ethanolic extract of Teak fruits exhibits significant effects at 50mg/ml against piperazine citrate. Furthermore, the bark of the teak plant can be used for preparing herbal medicines for destroying parasitic worms.
Teak leaves are cooling in nature thus can act as an anti-inflammatory agent for reducing the inflammation of the skin. The leaves can be decocted or squeezed and used for preparing herbal medicines for treating skin diseases. The leaves can also help to tackle pruritus, which is a skin condition marked by severe itching of the skin.
The wood can be used for treating leucoderma, which is a cutaneous condition with localised loss of skin pigmentation that may occur after a series of inflammatory skin conditions, post-dermabrasion, burns or intralesional steroid injections have taken place. Leucoderma skin condition is mainly a cosmetic problem thus it is neither contagious or infectious. The oil extracted from teak flowers can be used for treating scabies. Scabies is a contagious skin disease symptomized by the itching of skin with small raised red spots, caused by the itch mite.
The bark can be used for treating leprosy. It is worthy to note that leprosy is a contagious disease that affects the skin, nerves and mucous membranes by causing discoloration and lumps on the skin. In severe cases, leprosy can lead to permanent disfigurement and deformities.
Teak contains diuretic properties and as such, it is useful for preparing herbal remedies for increasing the passage of urine. Phalphale (2013) evaluated the aqueous extract of teak in other to ascertain its diuretic effects. The study showed that the aqueous extract of Tectona grandis in three doses exhibit diuresis at the various time interval and there was a significant increase in urinary Na+, and Cl- excretion.
Teak contains anti-oxidizing properties thus it is effective for inhibiting the deleterious effects of free radicals in the body. Ramachandrana et al., (2011) revealed that the phenolic compounds of teak leaves, such as tectoquinone, quercitine, ellagic acid and gallic acid are great antioxidizing agents.
Wound Healing Properties
According to Majumdar et al., (2007), the frontal leaves of teak can be prepared herbally and used for treating and healing wounds, especially scald or burn wound. These researchers evaluated the effect of a hydrochloric extract of teak on experimentally induced wounds in rats. The models selected for the study were burn wound, excision wound, dead space wound and incision wound. An appropriate gel formulation was chosen for the application using cellophane membrane penetration.
In the burn wound and excision wound models, the animals treated with teak leaf extract showed a significant reduction in the period of wound contraction 50% and epithelisation (the process of covering an exposed or stripped surface with epithelium). A significant increase in the breaking strength was observed in the incision wound model.
Furthermore, an oral treatment of Tectona grandis leaf extract produced a significant increase in the dry weight, breaking strength and hydroxyproline content of the granulation tissue in dead space wound. These researchers concluded that the oral (250 mg and 500 mg/kg body weight) or topical (5% and 10% gel formulation) application of teak leaf extract exhibit wound healing effects.
Supports Hair Growth
According to Ragasa et al., (2008), the oil extracted from teak flowers can be applied on hair for promoting hair growth. Furthermore, Jaybhaye et al., (2009) reported that teak seeds are traditionally prepared and used as hair tonic especially in the Indian system of medicine. A study was carried out to evaluate the petroleum ether extract of teak seeds and its effect on hair growth in albino mice. The 5.00% and 10.00% extracts added into simple ointment base were topically applied on the shaved denuded skin of albino mice.
The time needed for initiation of hair growth and for the completion of hair growth cycle was recorded against minoxidil 2.00% solution as a positive control. Interestingly, the hair growth initiation time was significantly reduced to half when treated with the extracts compared to control animals. The study showed that the treatment was successful in producing a high quantity of hair follicles in anagenic phase than the standard minoxidil.
Astiti and Suprapta (2012) tested the antifungal activity of the teak leaf extract against A. phaeospermum. The air-dried leaves of teak were extracted using methanol and was evaporated in a rotary evaporator. The antifungal activity of the leaf extract was tested based on well diffusion method on potato dextrose agar (PDA).
Sterile distilled water containing 0.2% Tween-80 was used as a solvent and as the control. The results showed that the teak leaf extract at a concentration as low as 0.5% (w/v) significantly suppressed the growth of A. phaeospermum by 81.4%, with minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of 0.4 % (w/v). Therefore the leaf extract significantly inhibited the fungal radial growth, sporulation and total biomass.
Teak wood can be used for preparing herbal tonic that can be taken as a laxative. Due to the laxative properties of teak wood, it tends to stimulate and facilitate the evacuation of faecal matters from the bowel.
Studies reveal that the bark of the teak wood can be decocted and used for curing diabetes due to its antidiabetic properties.
Treatment of Haemoptysis
Teak leaves can be used for treating haemoptysis. Haemoptysis is a health condition marked by the coughing up of blood.
Treatment of Gastrointestinal Disorders
Teak wood can be decocted and used for treating gastrointestinal disorders such as dysentery, stomach ache, piles and constipation.
Treatment of Headache
Studies reveal that the oil extracted from teak wood can be applied on the forehead for relieving headache. This is attributed to the analgesic properties of this plant.
Treatment of Anuria
The roots of the teak plant can be decocted and used for treating anuria. Anuria is a health condition marked by the failure of the kidneys to produce urine.
Teak leaves contain haemostatic properties thus can be squeezed and applied on a cut skin to stop bleeding.
Treatment of Bronchitis
Mohammad (2011) reports that teak flowers are useful for curing bronchitis. Bronchitis is the inflammation of the mucous membrane in the bronchial tubes, which causes bronchospasm and coughing.
Uses of Teak Wood
Teak wood is popularly used for manufacturing teak furniture such as teak wood outdoor furniture, teak wood patio furniture, teak patio table, teak flooring. Teak wood furniture is always a popular choice due to the durability and strong resistance of the wood. Teak wood is also used for framing, carving doors and window frames, building boats, planking or for manufacturing cutting boards, flooring, countertops and as a veneer for indoor furnishings.
Qualities of Teak Wood
Teak wood is very strong and highly durable, which means that it is long-lasting thus can withstand wear, pressure, or damage. Teak wood is marked by its high density and as such does not easily get damaged or decay. Teak wood can also withstand water, moisture and adverse weather conditions. Teak wood furniture can last for a very long period of time, therefore if you don’t want to keep wasting money on cheap soft furniture, always buy teak wood furniture as it can last for even more than hundred years.
Teak wood furniture is very easy to clean and maintain.
Strong Resistance to Insects and Termites Attacks
Teak contains powerful oils that give the wood a very high resistance to insects, fungi and termites attacks.
Teak wood is distinguished by its rich golden-brown colour, which gives it an attractive appearance and outlook.
Supports the Ecosystem
Teak plant supports our ecosystem by beautifying the environment, aerating the atmosphere and preventing erosion.
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DISCLAIMER This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnosis and treatments. Remember to always consult your healthcare provider before making any health-related decisions or for counselling, guidance and treatment about a specific medical condition.
1] Astiti N. P. A. and Suprapta D. N. (2012), Antifungal activity of Teak(Tectona grandis L.F) against Arthrinium Phaeospermum (Corda) M.B. Ellis, The cause of wood decay on albizia Falcataria (L.) Fosberg.J Int Soc Southeast Asian Agr Science, 18 Suppl 1: pp. 62-69.
2] Goswami D. V., Sonawane L. L., Nirmal S. A. and Patil M. J. (2010), Evaluation of antiasthmatic activity of Tectona grandis linn. bark. International Journal of Pharm Science Res.; 1 Suppl 1: 10-16.
3] Gururaj M. P., Joshi H., Bhat I. K., Satyanarayana D. and Shastry C. S. (2011) Anthelmintic activity of Tectona Grandis Linn. Fruits. International Res Journal of pharmacy; 2(1): 219-221.
4] Jaybhaye D., Varma S., Gagne N., Bonde V., Gite A. and Bhosle D. (2010) Effect of Tectona grandis Linn. seeds on hair growth activity of albino mice. International Journal of Ayurveda Res. 1(3): pp. 163-166.
5] Majumdar M., Nayeem N., Kamath J. V. and Asad M. (2007), Evaluation of Tectona grandis leaves for wound healing activity. Pak Journal of Pharm Science, 20 Suppl 2: pp. 120-124.
6] Mohammad A. (2011) In Vivo analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect of Tectona grandis linn. stem bark extract. Malaysian Journal of Pharm Science, 9 Suppl 1: pp. 1-11.
7] Phalphale S. G., Gawai Ashish, Biyani K. R., Shete R. V., Kore K. J., Chaudhari S. R. and Magar Samadhan. (2013), Evaluation of Diuretic activity of Tectona grandis linn. in rats. World Journal Pharm Pharm Science; 2 Suppl 1: 245-252.
8] Pixabay (2016), Images from pixabay
9] Ragasa C. Y., Lapina M. C., Lee J. J., Mandia E. H. and Rideout J. A. (2008), Secondary metabolites from Tectona philippinensis, Nat Prod Res., 22 Suppl 9, 820-824.
10] Ramachandrana, S., Rajasekaran, A., and Kumar, K. T. (2011), Antidiabetic, antihyperlipidemic and antioxidant potential of methanol extract of Tectona grandis flowers in streptozotocin induced diabetic rats. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine, 4 (8), pp. 624-631.