(Natural News) A study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine is mum about the banyan’s (Ficus benghalensis) spiritual benefits, but it does reveal that extracts from the tree’s roots have mind-boosting effects, are able to improve memory and relaxation, and can reduce anxiety and the occurrence of seizures.
The brain-related benefits of the banyan tree are not a recent discovery. Traditional medicine prescribes its parts, including the bark, buds, leaves, fruit, and even its latex for a wide array of neurological problems. These include insomnia, anxiety, and other nervous disorders. Past scientific inquiries about the mental benefits of the plant confirmed the ability to enhance certain aspects of cognition.
There have been attempts to study and prove other health claims related to the tree, including its ability to treat pain and inflammation, but scientists have, so far, yet to arrive on a promising outcome. The absence of any substantial literature on banyan’s neurological benefits prompted the researchers to look into the effects of its aqueous extracts on brain health and performance.
They divided mice into four groups: one positive control, one negative control, one receiving 100 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) of banyan extract, and a group receiving 200 mg/kg of banyan extract. The mice were put through a series of tests designed to gauge the extracts’ effects on memory, as well as sleep, muscle relaxation, seizures, and anxiety. (Related: Memory and sleep: Researchers finally discover why getting sufficient sleep dramatically boosts brain performance.)
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The researchers noted that the mice given 200 mg/kg of banyan extract demonstrated superior outcomes in all areas tested except for one – the mice in the 100 mg/kg of banyan extract displayed the largest delay in seizure onset. According to the scientists, these results were good indicators of banyan extract’s ability to improve memory, relax muscles, relieve anxiety, and modify seizures.
Fast facts about banyan trees
The banyan is a fascinating tree. It is a type of fig and although its fruits are not poisonous, they aren’t too edible for humans either. Here are other interesting facts about the banyan.
- It is the national tree of India – In fact, its significance goes beyond its status as the national tree. It is revered in the Hindu religion – it is said that Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu, stood beneath a banyan as he delivered the sermon in the Bhagavad Gita. It’s not unusual to find a banyan tree outside a temple.
- It is not the Bodhi tree – It was reportedly under the Bodhi tree that the Buddha sat, meditated, and gained enlightenment. Many sources present the banyan and the Bodhi tree as one and the same, but they are actually of different species (the Bodhi tree is Ficus religiosa). They do, however, belong to the same genus.
- It is one of the biggest trees on the planet – What the banyan lacks in height, it makes up for in the area it covers. Mature banyan trees grow aerial roots that hang down to the ground from their branches. With time, these roots grow in size and eventually become indistinguishable in appearance from the main trunk. A single banyan tree can be big enough to form its own grove of trees. The largest living specimen, found in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, covers 4.7 acres and can shelter about 20,000 people.
- It begins its life as something akin to a parasite – Banyan trees begin as an epiphyte, a plant that grows on other plants, usually another tree. As it grows, it chokes out the older plant until it grows big enough to take its predecessor’s place. This is why some banyan trees are hollow in the middle – the empty space is where the original tree stood before it died and rotted away. This earned the banyan the moniker “the strangler fig.”
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