Chironji – Most people know this name as an ingredient used for dressing the various sweet dishes cooked in their kitchen on special occasions. As it replaces the almonds, it is also called ‘cuddapah almond’. It is also known as chironji tree, almondette, calumpong nut, cheronjee, or hamilton mombin.

The fruit of the chironji tree bears a single edible seed, which is known as Chironji. The tree has leathery leaves with a blunt tip and rounded base, often identified by its crocodile bark with a red blaze.

It is a wild plant growing in the forests of north, central, and western India, mainly in the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. Almost all the parts of the tree are used in some or the other forms. Fruits are eaten raw; they taste a bit like sweet grapes.

Other Names of Chironji:

  • In Hindi, it is known as char, chironji, chiraunji, piyal, pra-savak, or priyal.
  • In Marathi, it is recognised as char, charoli, or piyal.
  • In Gujarati, it is called charoli.
  • The scientific name of this ingredient is ‘Buchanania lanzan’, which belongs to the family Anacardiaceae (cashew family).

Nutritional Value of Chironji:

Chironji tastes pleasant, slightly acidic, and almost comparable to almonds. Chironji is a valuable source of protein and fat with a relatively lower calories count.

Constituents Content 
Starch 12.1% 
Proteins 19 – 21.6 % 
Lipids/fats 59 % 
Fatty oil 34 – 47 % 
Vitamins and minerals 
Niacin 1.50 mg 
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) 0.69 mg 
Phosphorus 528 mg 
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 0.53 mg 
Calcium 279 mg 
Iron 8.5 mg 
Ascorbic acid/vitamin C 5.0 mg 
Moisture 3% 
Fibre 3.8% 

Table 1: Nutritional content in chironji (per single unit of the kernel)

Therapeutic Uses of Chironji: 

Various parts of the chironji tree are used in ayurvedic medicines to treat diarrhoea, anaemia, wounds, skin problems, hair problems, cough, cold, fever, rheumatic pains, cardiac (heart) weakness, excessive weight gain (obesity), stress etc. Chironji seeds are power-packed foods thus also used as immunity boosters.

Benefits of Chironji: 

Benefits of Chironji to Treat Diarrhoea: 

  • Diarrhoea is a disease in which pitta dosha in the body is imbalanced, followed by Vata.
  • The roots of the plant have a constipating property. The ethanolic extract of the powder of the roots reduces the faecal output. It also reduces the number of episodes of diarrhoea.
  • In Ayurveda, it balances the Pitta and Vata dosha, hence curing diarrhoea.

Benefits of Chironji to Treat Anaemia: 

  • The juice extracted from the seeds (methanolic extracts) of the charoli tree has a direct effect on blood production from the bone marrow.
  • It increases the red blood cell and white blood cell count, packed cell volume and the haemoglobin concentration of the blood. Thus, it is useful in treating anaemia.

Benefits of Chironji for Treating Skin Problems: 

  • Acne, pimples or uneven skin tone are basically caused by the lack of moisture in the facial skin. Chiroli seeds have high a quantity of oils and fats, which function as a good moisturising agent. The oil can be applied locally to treat acne, pimples, and blemishes on the face. The oil is used to reduce the itching and redness in various skin diseases.
  • Dandruff, a major problem of the hair, is caused by the dryness of the scalp. The dried skin of the scalp comes out in the form of flakes, which then causes itching and redness of the skin. Chironji oil is full of moisture (lipid and fats) essential for the scalp, which, when applied to the scalp, provides moisture and nutrients to the scalp and the hair.  
  • Chironji oil balances the Pita and Vata dosh and treats dandruff, itching, and redness of the scalp. It is also mentioned in the literature that the priyala (Chironji) oil relieves grey hair.
  • Wounds/ulcers are caused due to the increase of Pitta dosh in the body. Leaves of the chironji tree are meant to be pitta shamak (decrease the pitta dosh). The tree leaves are air-dried and then powdered to make a paste. The paste is applied to the skin to heal the wounds/cuts/ulcers/skin disorders.

Benefits of Chironji in Treating Cardiac Weakness: 

In Charak Samhita, it’s mentioned that the charoli seeds act as a cardiac tonic and are beneficial for the heart as they balance Vata and Pita Dosha.

Benefits of Chironji in Reducing Stress: 

  • Chironji is very nutritious as it is rich in proteins and dietary fibre and low in calories.
  • Due to this property of the plant, it provides strength to the body, relieves tiredness, and improves immunity.
  • The methanolic properties of chironji are found to be protective against stress-causing factors.

Benefits of Chironji in Weight Loss: 

  • Chironji seeds are power-packed with proteins, vitamins and oils. Also, they are low in calories.
  • Due to this property of chironji seeds, they are included in the diet chart of people with obesity (a disorder in which a person has excessive body fat).
  • The digestion of the seed takes time as it is guru (heavy), as per the literature. Thus, it keeps one fuller for a longer time and aids in weight loss. 

Benefits of Chironji in Treating Diabetes: 

  • Research has been conducted on animals in whom the methanol extracts of chironji seeds were administered.
  • Administration of the methanol extracts of Chironji produced antidiabetic, antihyperlipidemic and antioxidant effects in the test animals. Thus, it can be inferred that it may also have the same effect on humans. Further research on humans is required, which may help the physicians to recommend Chironji leaves as a medicine for diabetes.

Benefits of fruits of Chironji: 

  • Fruits of the chironji tree are eaten raw in some tribal states of India.
  • The fruits, when taken orally, are proven to have a coolant effect, thus relieving thirst and helping to maintain good oral hygiene.
  • Fruits are laxatives (substances that help empty the bowels) in nature.
  • They are used to reduce fever.
  • The fruit is even beneficial in relieving burning sensations in the eyes, cough, and fever due to its cooling properties.

How to Use Chironji? 

According to ayurvedic literature, Priyala balances the Vata and Pitta Dosha in the body. It is combined with other ingredients to form the following three formulations as mentioned in the ayurvedic literature: 

  • Chandanadi Taila 
  • Ashoka Ghrita 
  • Pugakhand

Various parts of Chironji can be used: 

  • Chironji Seed: The kernel (seed) of the chironji fruit is used as a dry fruit in place of cashew and almonds.  
  • Chironji oil (kernel oil): It can be used as a substitute for almond oil or olive oil. Bark, fruits, leaves, nuts, and kernels are used in various medicinal preparations.  
  • Chironji Tree Gum: The gum is also extracted from the tree’s bark, powder of roots and dried leaves and is used for medical purposes.

Precautions to Take With Chironji: 

  • Since the seeds are full of oils, they can be hard to digest when taken in an excessive amount, thus causing indigestion.  
  • Seeds are also coolant and constipating in nature. If taken in an increased amount, they can cause constipation.

Interactions With Other Drugs:  

There is no known interaction between the chironji kernel/seeds and other products or medicines.  

However, research on animals has shown it to be antidiabetic, anti-hyperlipidaemic and antioxidant. Thus, if one takes any medicine for diabetes, they should take the chironji seeds in lesser quantities.

Frequently Asked Questions: 

1) How to Eat Chironji?  

Chironji fruit is harvested in early summers from April to May. The outer skin of the fruit turns black when it is ripe. The fruit is then de-skinned, and seed is extracted from it. The seed’s outer covering is removed to get a kernel that is eaten raw, or it can be roasted to enhance the flavours. It may be used as an alternative to various dry fruits in different sweets.

2) How to Apply Chironji on the Face? 

The oil extracted from kernels is applied to skin diseases. It is also used to remove spots and blemishes from the face.

3) What are Chironji Seeds? 

The chironji tree has a single seed-bearing fruit, which is known as chironji seed. 

4) Can we Eat Chironji During Pregnancy? 

Yes, we can eat chironji during pregnancy. It is very nutritious and gives strength to the mother and the foetus.

5) Can we Eat Chironji Raw? 

Yes, we can eat chironji raw, or it can be roasted to enhance the flavours. 

6) How to Make Chironji Powder? 

Leaves of the chironji tree are dried and then crushed to make a powder. 

7) Is Chironji Good for Skin? 

Yes, chironji oil is good for the skin as it moisturises skin.

8) Is Chironji Good for the Face? 

Yes, chironji oil is applied on the face to treat blemishes and spots on the skin.

9) Is Chironji Keto-Friendly? 

Yes, chironji is a power food packed with proteins, vitamins, and oils. It is very low on calories. Thus, it is keto-friendly.

10) Is Charoli Good for Health? 

Yes, charoli is incredibly good for health. It helps the body by strengthening and boosting immunity. It has an anti anaemic effect (due to the direct influence on blood production) and acts as a supertonic.

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