Indian trumpet flower is an ideal plant with ornamental fruits and flowers. In china it is also known as Mu Hu Die, which means “wood butterfly” if translated literally. As a matter of fact, there this name much more often refers to its white butterfly-like seed instead of the plant itself. The reason is very simple: people there know it better as a Chinese herb rather than a tree since its seeds have been traditionally used for medicinal purpose. One of the most known medicinal uses for Indian trumpetflower today is that it protects throat. That’s to say, it is an amazing remedy for throat pain, throat irritation, globus hystericus, cough, pharyngitis, and even nasopharyngeal cancer. No wonder people tend to combine it with Chen Pi (Citrus Peel) or Pang Da Hai (Boat Sterculia Seed) to make tea once they suffer from discomfort in throat, hoarse voice, sore throat, or excessive phlegm. By the way, don’t confuse it with angel trumpet flower (Brugmansia, Datura, or Maurandya barclayana). As you can see, they share the same name trumpet flower.
What is Indian trumpet flower?
Since the main medicinal part of trumpet flower tree is the seeds, medicinally it refers to the dried mature seeds of Oroxylum indicum (L.) Vent. This is a tree in the family Bignoniaceae. As a result, other names of this plant and medicine include midnight horror, Broken bones plant, Indian calosanthes, oroxylum, tree of Damocles, kampong, Oroxylum Seeds, Semen Oroxyli Indici, Oroxylum indicum seed, Indian Trumpetflower Seed, Seed of Indian Trumpetflower, and so on. In China it is mainly produced in Yunnan, Guangxi, Guizhou, Fujian, Guangdong, and Sichuan. Ripe trumpet flower fruit is usually harvested in fall and winter. After that, expose the fruits to the sun until they crack, take the seeds out, dry them in the sun, and use it raw medicinally.
It is a large tree, from 7.5 to 12 meter in height. Bark is thick. Big opposite compound leaf is bipinnate or tripinnate, 40 to 160cm long, 20 to 80cm wide; leaflet blade is ovate or elliptic, 6 to 14cm long, 4.5 to 9cm wide, and with short pointed or acuminate apex, rounded or oblique base, entire margin, green upper surface, and pale green lower surface; petiole of leaflet is 5 to 10cm in length. Racemes are acrogenous; peduncle is about 30cm long; calyx is fleshy and bell-shaped; large corolla is bell-shaped, lavender, and with 5-lobed apex; stamens are 5 and slightly extend out of the corolla; large faceplate is fleshy; stigma is 2-lobed and in the shape of semi-circular clintheriform. Sagging capsule is flat, broad-linear, 30 to 90cm long and 5 to 8cm wide, and with mucronate apex, cuneate base, slightly curved boat-like margin, and a slightly protruding dorsal suture in the middle; woody fruit cracks along the ventral suture after ripe. Numerous seeds are thin, platy, and surrounded by translucent membranous wings. Flowering time is from July to August and fruit time is from October and December. Habitats are slopes, stream, valley or bushes at an altitude below 1 km.
Seeds mainly contain 20% fatty oil, in which 80.4% are oleic acid. In addition, it still contains benzoic acid, chrysin, oroxin A, B, baicalein, tetuin, oroxylin A, hispidulin, apigenin, scutellarein, baicalin, scutellarin, oroxindin, and more. And leaves contain baicalin, scutellarein, and scutellarin.
Trumpet flower health benefits
According to reports, this herb can be used for the treatment of other ailments besides of throat disorders. Here are some sample cases for your reference.
(1). 37 cases of gastric and duodenal ulcer were treated with the combination of oroxylum indicum seed, Pu Huang (Cattail Pollen), Wu Ling Zhi (Faeces Trogopterori), and Wu Zei Gu (Cuttlefish Bone). The result showed that the total effective rate was 97%;
(2). 36 cases of chronic pharyngitis in different syndromes were treated by the formula of oroxylum seeds, Tian Hua Fen (Trichosanthes Root), Jin Yin Hua (Honeysuckle Flower), Zi Su Zi (Perilla Fruit), Zhu Ru (Bamboo Shavings), etc. And the total effective rate was 80.56%;
(3). A variety of mental and neurological diseases were treated with Semen Oroxyli Indici and black fungus-based formulas. The results were satisfactory.
(4). In addition, oroxylum seed-based recipes have been used for the treatment of vocal cord polyp, globus hystericus, whooping cough, etc. As report goes, the therapeutic effect is very promising.
Modern pharmacological actions of oroxylum indicum
1. It can prevent and cure galactose cataract in rats;
2. It can stop and correct the metabolic disorders occurred during the forming process of cataract;
3. It has the effects of genotoxicity and cell proliferation activity on isolated gastric mucosa;
4. Baicalin contained in seed and bark can reduce inflammation, relieve allergies, induce the secretion of urine, promote the flow of bile from the gall bladder into the duodenum, and lower cholesterol;
5. Chrysin contained in seed and bark has cytotoxic activity on human nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) cells. And the median effective dose is 13mg/ml.
Sample oroxylum seed recipes on herbal remedies
The Chinese Materia Medica says that it is sweet and slightly bitter in flavor and slightly cold in properties. It goes to meridians of lung, liver, and stomach. Basic trumpet flower effects are relieving sore throat, moistening lung, soothing liver, harmonizing stomach, healing skin ulcer, and promoting tissue regeneration. Essential trumpet flower uses and indications include pharyngalgia, pharyngitis, hoarseness, cough, stomach ache caused by the attacking of hyperactive liver-qi and emotional depression, non-healing ruptured ulcers, and acute universal eczema. Recommended dosage is from 6 to 9 grams in decoction or 1.5 to 3 grams in powder.
1. Zhi Ke Tang Jiang (cough suppressant syrup) from Xian Dai Shi Yong Zhong Yao (Practical Applications of Modem Herbal Medicine). It is formulated with An Nan Zi (sterculia lychnophora), Jie Geng (Balloon Flower Root), Gan Cao (Licorice Root), Sang Bai Pi (Mulberry Root Bark), Kuan Dong Hua (Tussilago Farfara), and rock candy to treat acute bronchitis, whooping cough, and so on.
2. According to Gang Mu Shi Yi (Supplements to Compendium of Materia Medica), it is used alone in the form of powder to cure rib-side pain due to stagnated liver-qi.
Trumpet flower side effects and contraindications
Indian trumpet flower seed is considered a poison-free herb. That being said, it is with little side effects even in long-term medication. However, TCM wise patients of deficiency-cold in spleen and stomach should pay attention to the dose.
(1). Zhong Yi Yao Yan Jiu (Research of Chinese Medicine and Herbology), 1993; 3:28.
(2). Shi Zhen Guo Yi Guo Yao (Shizhen National Herbs and Medicine), 2000; 7:657.
(3). Yun Nan Zhong Yi Zhong Yao Za Zhi (Yunnan Journal of Chinese Medicine & Chinese Medicinals), 1997; 4:14.