Latakaranja is one of the herbs mentioned in all Ayurvedic texts and has been freely used all over India since centuries. Traditionally, it is used in post partum period, as it is a uterine stimulant, to cleanse the uterus. It also alleviates the fever, edema and abdominal pain during this period. It has numerous synonyms like duhsparsa "difficult to touch, kantaki karanja 'having prickles; vajra bijaka "having hard seeds, kanta phala "has fruits covered with prickles etc.
It grows throughout India up to 800 meters elevation. It is a large straggling, very thorny shrub. The branches are armed with hooks and straight, hard, yellow prickles. The leaves, 3 cm long are bipinnate, stipules foliaceous. Pinnae 7 pairs, leaflets 3-8. The flowers pale yellow in color, in supra-axillary racemes at the top. The fruits ae inflated pods, covered with prickles, 6 cm long, 1-2 seeds per pod. The seeds are globular, hard, bluish grey with a smooth shiny surface. The plant flowers in June and fruits in November.
The botanical name of latakaranja is Caesalpinia crista and it belongs to family Caesalipiniaceae. In the chemical composition of it seeds, the bitter principles bonducin and natin are found. Other constituents like linolic acid, fatty acids, setasitosterol, linolenic acids and other 13 types of diterpenoids are also found. From the seeds, and caesapin is isolated. Bonducellin and (+) ononitol also have been isolated. Percentage of nut-oil yield is 60-80, kernel yield is 20%, bonducellin isolated and its structure established. A new diterpene, caesalpin isolated from seed kernels and its structure determined.
Latakaranja is pungent, bitter and astringent in taste, pungent in the post digestive effect and has hot potency. It alleviates kapha and vata doshas. It possesses light, dry and sharp attributes. It is useful in the diseases like liver disorders, splenic diseases, edema, diseases of vata, worms etc.
The seeds root "bark and the leaves are used for medicinal purpose. The herb is used both, internally as well as externally, externally, the paste of its leaves applied, serves to relieve the pain and edema. The massage with its seed-oil particularly helps in rheumatic disorders and arthritis. The wounds and ulcers should be dressed with the paste of its seed mashed in water. On traumatic swellings, the lukewarm paste of the leaves of latakaranja, arka and errand is applied with benefit. In abdominal flatulence, the paste of its seeds mashed in water, eases the problem. On testicular swelling due to hydrocele, the thick paste of its seed is applied. It also works well in traumatic swelling of the testes.