Psoralea corylifolia

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Psoralea corylifolia
Psoralea corylifolia - Agri-Horticultural Society of India - Alipore - Kolkata 2013-01-05 2282.JPG
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Psoralea
Species: P. corylifolia
Binomial name
Psoralea corylifolia
  • Cullen corylifolium (L.) Medik.
  • Lotodes corylifolia (L.) Kuntze
  • Lotodes corylifolium (L.) Kuntze
  • Psoralea patersoniae Schönl.
  • Trifolium unifolium Forssk.

Psoralea corylifolia (Babchi) is an important plant in the Indian Ayurveda and Tamil Siddha systems of medicine, and also Chinese medicine. The seeds of this plant contain a variety of coumarins including psoralen. The seeds have a variety of traditional medicinal uses, but the specific role (if any) of psoralen in these uses is unknown.


Psoralea corylifolia grows 50–90 cm tall and is an annual plant. It has pale-purple flowers in short, condensed, axillary spikes. Its corolla is pale purple. Flowers one-seeded fruits. The most distinctive feature is the occurrence of minute brown glands which are immersed in surface tissue on all parts of the plant which give it a distinctive and pleasant fragrance.[1]

Habitat and distribution[edit]

P, corylifolia is native to India and Sri Lanka, and was occasionally cultivated in Arabia for its supposed medicinal properties.[2]


Psoralea is from the Greek 'psoraleos' meaning 'scabby' and refers to the appearance given to the plants by the small glands which cover them; corylifolia comes form the similarity of the leaves to those of Corylus, a genus of trees in the northern regions of the world and common in Sweden, the home of Linnaeus, the author of the species.[3]

Chemical constituents[edit]

P. corylifolia extract contains a number of chemical compounds including flavonoids (neobavaisoflavone, isobavachalcone, bavachalcone, bavachinin, bavachin, corylin, corylifol, corylifolin and 6-prenylnaringenin), coumarins (psoralidin, psoralen, isopsoralen and angelicin) and meroterpenes (bakuchiol and 3-hydroxybakuchiol).[4]

Very high concentrations genistein have been found in the leaves of Psoralea corylifolia.[5]

Use in traditional Chinese medicine[edit]

P. corylifolia L., or Bu Gu Zhi in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is an herb used to tonify the kidneys, particularly kidney yang and essence. It is used for helping the healing of bone fractures, for lower back and knee pain, impotence, bed wetting, hair loss, and vitiligo.[6]


  1. ^ G. Miller, Anthony; Morris, Miranda (1988). Plants of Dhofar. Oman. pp. 174–5. ISBN 071570808-2.
  2. ^ G. Miller, Anthony; Morris, Miranda (1988). Plants of Dhofar. Oman. pp. 174–5. ISBN 071570808-2.
  3. ^ G. Miller, Anthony; Morris, Miranda (1988). Plants of Dhofar. Oman. pp. 174–5. ISBN 071570808-2.
  4. ^ Zhao LH, Huang CY, Shan Z, Xiang BG, Mei LH (2005). "Fingerprint analysis of Psoralea corylifolia by HLPC and LC-MS". J Chromatogr B. 821: 67–74. doi:10.1016/j.jchromb.2005.04.008.
  5. ^ Kaufman, PB; Duke, JA; Brielmann, H; Boik, J; Hoyt, JE (1997). "A comparative survey of leguminous plants as sources of the isoflavones, genistein and daidzein: Implications for human nutrition and health". Journal of alternative and complementary medicine. 3 (1): 7–12. doi:10.1089/acm.1997.3.7. PMID 9395689.
  6. ^ Cheng, Xia (2001). Easy Comprehension of Traditional Chinese Medicine: Chinese Materia Medica, Canadian Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine, p343.