Friday, March 25, 2016

Is it a myth?

Is it a myth?

Peepal, ashwattha, bodhi tree, fical religiosa is a Holy tree for Hindus. In Bhagvad Gita Shri Krishna says, I am the Peepal tree amongst the trees. Sadhus, Sanyasis do meditation under the Peepal tree. Bhagwan Buddha attained enlightenment while in meditation underneath the bodhi tree. Women do circumambulation and tie thread around the tree and give water for the long life of their husbands as the tree live long. It is used as traditional medicine for treating disorders including diabetes, asthma, diarrhea, etc. 

Now some people say that Peepal gives oxygen in night. Therefore, ancient India gave importance to the tree. Some say, it is a myth, as it also breathes out carbon dioxide like other plants.

All living cells including plants, undertake respiration, inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Therefore, trees also inhale O² and exhale CO² like us 24x7. But what makes the difference, is the photosynthesis. 

Green plants can undertake photosynthesis in presence of Sunlight. The energy supplied by the Sunlight is trapped through the chlorophyll. In this reactions, O², CO², H²O and Cellulose (biomass) are generated. Oxygen is a product of C cycle. During day time both the processes, respiration and photosynthesis, chemically opposite reactions takes place. But the rate of photosynthesis is higher than the respiration, therefore, there is a net gain of O² in the atmosphere. 

While in night, only respiration is taking place. In absence of the Sunlight, no photosynthesis takes place, therefore no O² is produce. Then how could Peepal gives O² in nights? Is it a myth?

Botanists have identified two cycles for photosynthesis: c3 cycle and c4 cycle. The c3 cycle plants do photosynthesis in day time only and therefore produce O² in day time. In nights, they exhale CO². Sleeping under a tree in night is injurious to health. Some people see bhoot-pret in night in some trees (imali, rayan, etc) because of the over dose of CO². The birds go into silence during night. All creatures go to sleep in night because the O² level in the atmosphere goes down. 

But there are plants and species that operates c4 cycle. They do photosynthesis in night too. In absence of Sun energy, they either use the photorespiration energy or may be the moon light to perform photosynthesis in night. Therefore, some claims that they produce oxygen as a product in night too. However, botanists disagree with an argument that in absence of Sun energy (686 Kcal), it is impossible to formulate 6O² molecules.

There are around 7600 plants species (3% of the total) use C4 carbon fixation on earth. Pipal tree is one of the c4 plant, fix the carbon in night through Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM) and thus release oxygen in the night also. Wheat, rice, maize, millet, sugarcane, etc, food crops and many (46%) grass species (darbh) are c4 plants and therefore releases oxygen 24 hours, may be in less quantity. 

What a wisdom of our ancient Rishis! They had used their 6 senses more. They used to sleep less and think more. Therefore they have identified trees and plants which were beneficial to human health. They promoted them through religion so that our best friends survive with us and help us.

We the moderns are losing our senses day by day, and become the dependents of machines.

25 March 2016


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