Babool is a flowering tree native to the Indian subcontinent and has been recognised since ancient times due to its benefits for health. One of the major benefits of this tree is for your oral health as it helps to reduce the incidence of dental caries and bad breath. It thus finds traditional use as a toothbrush in some parts of India.

The beneficial effects of babool are not just confined to your mouth, as it also helps in the management of diabetes and cardiovascular disorders.

There are several other uses of this tree, which you will find in this article along with the side effects of babool. To understand its effects in greater detail, let’s first explore more about this tree and its parts.

Some basic facts about Babool (Thorny acacia)

Babool tree is 5 to 20 metres in length and has dark coloured branches and stem, which exude a gum. Mature tree bears characteristic thorns, which aid in its protection. Here is what you’d like to know about this tree:

  • Scientific name: Acacia nilotica or Vachellia nilotica
  • Family: Fabaceae
  • Common names: Babool, Babool ka ped
  • Native region and geographic distribution: Babool tree is believed to be native to the Indian subcontinent but also finds its origins in the lands of Egypt. It is now grown in Burma, South Africa, Zanzibar and Australia.
  • Parts used: Twigs, leaves, pods, branches, gum
  1. Health benefits of babool
  2. Side effects of gum arabic tree or babool plant

Babool has long been in use as a medicinal tree and this section will describe all of its health benefits:

  • For oral health: Babool helps to reduce the incidence of dental caries, periodontal disorders and prevents the accumulation of plaque. This is possible due to its antimicrobial actions, which suggest its use as a mouthwash or oral rinse.
  • For the skin: The use of babool caters to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and also caters to remove other signs of ageing on the skin, arising from sun exposure. Use of a babool cream can also improve the smoothness of skin by managing dryness and scaliness.
  • For diabetes: Babool leaves may aid in the management of blood sugar levels since they induce the secretion of insulin.
  • For the heart: Babool facilitates the lower of cholesterol levels and prevents platelet aggregation, thus, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disorders. It also has antioxidant actions, which is responsible for these effects.
  • For the liver: The antioxidant status of babool is also useful in the management of liver disorders arising due to oxidative stress and damage. Babool may help in reducing hepatotoxicity and hepatic cancer.
  • For cancer: The use of babool may assist in the treatment of cancer as it helps to reduce the number of tumour cells and inhibits its growth.

Babool for oral health

Oral health forms a major part of your overall health as your mouth harbours a great population of microorganisms, which comprise its natural flora. A disturbance balance of these microorganisms can lead to oral infections, which also have a tendency to spread to the bloodstream. Babool is one such natural substitute which can help to maintain your oral health and reduce the chances of oral infections. Due to its benefits on oral health, the twigs of babool tree have been traditionally used as a toothbrush in some parts of the country.

While it is not recommended to use babool as a toothbrush itself, it is important that you know about the benefits of this tree for your oral health. It has a strong antimicrobial action, which helps to prevent plaque formation (a thin film consisting of microorganisms) on the surface of teeth. Since it reduces the formation of plaque, it also has an anti-cariogenic potential, helping to reduce the incidence of dental caries or tooth cavity. Its particular actions have been found against Streptococcus mutans, which is majorly responsible for dental caries.

Other than S. mutans, it also has inhibitory actions against S. sanguis, which has been recognised to contribute to post-operative dental complications in individuals with valve disorders, where bacterial growth can lead to endocarditis. It also has an action against S. salivarius, which forms a part of the normal oral flora but can be pathogenic when it reaches the bloodstream. This can lead to severe sepsis and infections. These actions are evident when Acacia nilotica is used as a polyherbal formulation.

Studies have found that the use of babool as a polyherbal formulation can be effective against dental caries and periodontal diseases due to its antimicrobial actions. The use of babool is recommended as a mouthwash as a natural alternative to chlorhexidine. It can also be used as a post-operative oral rinse. However, you are advised to talk to your dentist about the correct use and dosage of babool.

Gum arabic for the skin

Who doesn’t like flawless and youthful skin? But, pollution and sun damage make it difficult to maintain that. Scientists have found that natural formulations are effective in improving skin health and may have anti-ageing effects. This has been attributed to the presence of antioxidant compounds in these formulations, which aid in the reduction of oxidative stress, the primary mechanism responsible for premature ageing of the skin.

Studies on gum arabic have found that the topical application of extracts from this tree helps in improving the texture of the skin. Bark extracts prepared as a cream formulation catered to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. It also helped in improving roughness and scaling of the skin, thereby causing your skin to be smooth. These effects were more pronounced in photoaged skin (ageing of the skin due to the sun).

(Read more: How to tighten the skin)

These effects have been attributed to the presence of phenolic compounds in the tree extracts, which assists in scavenging of reactive oxygen species. To utilise from this benefit, you can make the use of a polyherbal cream, which possesses extracts from the gum arabic tree. Before directly applying a sole composition of gum arabic to your skin, it is advisable that you talk to your doctor about its safety profile.

(Read: Home Remedies for Dry Skin)

Gum arabic as an antimicrobial

Gum arabic tree has antimicrobial activity and is thus helpful in the prevention of certain types of infections. In folk medicine, it is used for the management of several ailments like cough, cold, toothache and skin infections, while it has been suggested to have actions against E. coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Aspergillus niger and certain Streptococcus and Bacillus species. Further, it has immunomodulatory actions, which help in improving immunity and thereby protecting you from these infections.

(Read more: How to improve immunity)

Thorny acacia for diabetes management

Diabetes refers to a metabolic disorder in which blood glucose levels rise beyond the range of normal. Some studies have suggested the role of babool in the management of diabetes. It functions by stimulating pancreatic cells to release more insulin in the body, which can assist in the metabolism of carbohydrates, thereby reducing blood glucose levels.

Animal-based studies have found that the leaves of this tree have a hypoglycaemic (reduces blood glucose effect) effect. This was apparent by the reduction in blood glucose levels and an increase in the levels of insulin as divulged by test reports. Since there is no clear human evidence to support these claims, you are recommended to talk to your doctor before making the use of this tree for the management of diabetes.

Babool leaves for the heart

It is important to maintain good cardiac health in order to ensure the prevention of cardiovascular disorders. Some studies have suggested the role of babool in this relation. By helping in the management of diabetes, babool helps to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disorders. Further, it helps to reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), an excessive accumulation of which can have a detrimental effect on your heart.

(Read more: High cholesterol management)

Further, animal-based studies have found that the extracts from this tree help in reducing platelet aggregation. Platelet aggregation is responsible for clot formation, which may then lead to cardiac disorders like atherosclerosis. By preventing this occurrence, the use of babool may help to modify your risk. These benefits were observable in diabetic animal models, in whom, the administration of leaves helps to improve lipid profile and yield better test results in terms of platelet aggregation. However, this study lacks definitive human claims, so, these benefits are still being studied to determine the exact use.

myUpchar doctors after many years of research have created myUpchar Ayurveda Madhurodh Capsule by using 100% original and pure herbs of Ayurveda. This ayurvedic medicine has been recommended by our doctors to lakhs of people for diabetes with good results.
Sugar Tablet
₹699  ₹999  30% OFF

Thorny acacia for the liver

Oxidative stress and damage occurring from the aggressive activity of free radicals has a harmful effect on your body. Liver disease is one of the major health problems arising from this damage. It has been recognised that the administration of certain herbs and natural products having antioxidant actions can be helpful in the minimisation of this damage. A number of bioactive compounds have been isolated for the A. nilotica tree, which is suggestive of its oxidative potential and a possible hepatoprotective effect.

Studies on the tree have demonstrated that it helped to restore the levels of liver enzymes, which has been attributed for its protective actions. As liver health deteriorates, its potency of reducing free radical actions and tissue damage reduces. It has been found that treatment with this tree helped to reverse these actions. Extracts from this tree helped to improve the antioxidant status of the liver and prevented hepatotoxicity (liver damage).

(Read more: Symptoms of liver failure)

It was also suggested to have anti-inflammatory actions. These activities and the presence of certain bioactive compounds aid in the prevention of liver cancer (hepatocarcinogenesis), though the exact mechanism remains unclear.

Babul tree leaves for cancer

Cancer is a chronic disease, which is characterised by uninhibited growth of malignant cells in the body. If left untreated, these cells can spread to nearby and distant sites. Since antioxidant compounds help to control oxidative stress and damage, which is majorly responsible for cancer, it has been ascertained that these compounds can aid in the prevention and treatment of cancer. Due to its antioxidant potential, studies on babul tree have been convincing.

It was found that extracts from this tree helped to reduce the number of tumour cells and had an antimutagenic effect. Leaves, flower, and gum all had this effect but the maximum anti-carcinogenic potential was contained in the leaves. Since these studies have been performed on animals, it is imperative that you talk to your doctor before using these leaves in any form.

Other benefits of babul tree

Babul tree has also been suggested to be useful in the management of dysentery, ulcers, leprosy and eye disorders. Its use has also been suggested as fodder for the pets.

Gum arabic tree or babul tree can have side effects when not used in the correct form or dosage. These side effects are as follows:

  • The ingestion of any parts of the babul tree can lead to digestive problems. Ingestion is harmful in many other ways and is thus not recommended.
  • Some individuals are also allergic to this plant due to the presence of gum or resin. They may develop an allergic reaction in the form of skin rashes or wheezing. (Read more: Allergy symptoms)

The most pronounced side effect of the gum arabic tree is that it can lead to infertility in men since it interferes the sperm development. It must thus be carefully used, only when prescribed.

Medicines / Products that contain Babool


  1. Sukhjinder Nijjer and Simon William Dubrey. Streptococcus sanguis endocarditis associated with colonic carcinoma. 2010; 2010: bcr09.2009.2311. PMID: 22347887
  2. Chandra Shekar BR, Nagarajappa R, Suma S, Thakur R. Herbal extracts in oral health care - A review of the current scenario and its future needs. 2015 Jul-Dec;9(18):87-92. PMID: 26392704
  3. Chandra Shekar, Ramesh Nagarajappa, Rupal Singh and Rupesh Thakur. Antimicrobial efficacy of Acacia nilotica, Murraya koenigii L. Sprengel, Eucalyptus hybrid, and Psidium guajava on primary plaque colonizers: An in vitro comparison between hot and cold extraction process. 2015 Mar-Apr; 19(2): 174–179. PMID: 26015668
  4. Nasibeh Roozbeh, Leili Darvish, and Fatemeh Abdi. Hypoglycemic effects of Acacia nilotica in type II diabetes: a research proposal. 2017; 10: 331. PMID: 28747209
  5. Asad M, Aslam M, Munir TA, Nadeem A. Effect of Acacia nilotica leaves extract on hyperglycaemia, lipid profile and platelet aggregation in streptozotocin induced diabetic rats.. 2011 Apr-Jun;23(2):3-7. PMID: 24800330
  6. Narayanan Kannan, Kunnathur Murugesan Sakthivel, and Chandrasekaran Guruvayoorappan. Protective Effect of Acacia nilotica (L.) against Acetaminophen-Induced Hepatocellular Damage in Wistar Rats. 2013; 2013: 987692. PMID: 23864853
  7. Meena PD, Kaushik P, Shukla S, Soni AK, Kumar M, Kumar A. Anticancer and antimutagenic properties of Acacia nilotica (Linn.) on 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene-induced skin papillomagenesis in Swiss albino mice.. 2006 Oct-Dec;7(4):627-32. PMID: 17250441
  8. Jadoon S, Karim S, Bin Asad MH, Akram MR, Khan AK, Malik A, Chen C, Murtaza G. Anti-Aging Potential of Phytoextract Loaded-Pharmaceutical Creams for Human Skin Cell Longetivity. 2015;2015:709628. PMID: 26448818
  9. Sharma AK, Kumar A, Yadav SK, Rahal A. Studies on Antimicrobial and Immunomodulatory Effects of Hot Aqueous Extract of Acacia nilotica L. Leaves against Common Veterinary Pathogens.. 2014;2014:747042. PMID: 24804150
  10. Arvind Kumar Sharma, Amit Kumar, Sharad Kumar Yadav, and Anu Rahal. Studies on Antimicrobial and Immunomodulatory Effects of Hot Aqueous Extract of Acacia nilotica L. Leaves against Common Veterinary Pathogens.. 2014; 2014: 747042. PMID: 24804150
  11. Auwal MS, Saka S, Mairiga IA, Sanda KA, Shuaibu A, Ibrahim A. Preliminary phytochemical and elemental analysis of aqueous and fractionated pod extracts of Acacia nilotica (Thorn mimosa).. 2014 Spring;5(2):95-100. PMID: 25568701
  12. Fanuel Lampiao. The Anti-fertility Effects of Acacia nilotica in Male Wistar Rats. 2013 Jan-Mar; 14(1): 39–42. PMID: 23926560
Read on app
Ask your health query from live doctors now!