Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna)
Arjuna is a well-known heart tonic and is used extensively is cardiac debility. It is best known for its special properties of strengthening the muscles of the heart. Both Caraka and Susruta have mentioned this plant in their Samhitas, but surprisingly, have not indicated its use for heart diseases. It was acarya Vagbhata who for the first time indicated arjuna, for its tremendous use in treating heart diseases,. Subsequently this was endorsed by Cakradatta and Bhavamisra. In ancient texts like Caraka Samhita, arjuna is categorized under pramehaghna antidiabetic and raktastambhaka- styptic i.e. arresting bleeding- groups. Later on, it was incorporated in hrdroganasaka ameliorating heart diseases, group in other texts. Arjuna, because of its beneficial properties of strengthening the muscles of the heart, has attracted modern research workers all over the world.
Arjuna tree is commonly found along the rivers and streams. It grows in Himalaya, Bengal and Madhya Pradesh in abundance. The tree is evergreen, 20-25 metres in height and has spreading branches. The bark is smooth, whitish outside and pinkish in colour on inner side. It flakes off in large, thin, flat pieces,. The leaves are ovate in shape, coriaceous and subopposite. The flowers are yellowish in colour, sessile, in short axillary spikes. The fruits are ovoid with 5-7 equal wings. The flowers bloom in autumn and the plant bears fruits in winter. The plant sheds its bark once in a year like the snake’s skin.
Terminalia Arjuna is its botanical name and it belongs to family Combretaceae. The bark contains arjunolic acid, tomentosic acid, sito-sterol, ellagic acid, (+) leucodelphinidin and a saponin isolated.
A glucoside-arjunetin-isolated from the bark (Indian J. Chem. 1970,8,722) A new flavone – arjunone- isolated from fruits along with cerasidin, sitosterol,friedelin, methyl oleanolate and gallic, ellagic and arjunic acids (Planta Med. 1979, 37, 183)
The bark is used in medicine, externally as well as internally. Arjuna is astringent in taste, pungent in the post digestive effect and very cold in potency. It alleviates the kapha and pitta dosas, but vitiates the vata dosa,. It has laghu (light) and ruksa (dry) attributes. Arjuna is a very effective heart tonic and its blood coagulating properties are extremely useful in arresting the bleeding. (Bhavaprakasa)
Arjuna can be used both, internally and externally. Its bark, ground to a paste with water, applied externally on the site of fractures, helps in their early healing. It is also recommended in traumatic injuries associated with oedema – swelling. The dressing of the wounds and ulcers, with the decoction of Arjuna bark, hastens healing and cleansing. Its juice effectively arrests the bleeding from the wounds. It can be used with great benefit as a complementary herb with sariva, lodhra, yastimadhu, manjistha, candana etc. in treating acne or pimples.
Internally used, Arjuna is the best known heart tonic. The decoction, by using milk, is effective in cardiac debility when given alongwith rock candy (Cakrapanidatta). It strengthens the muscles of the heart and improves its efficiency. It is benevolent in dilatation of the heart. The beneficial properties of Arjuna, in treating heart diseases, mentioned n samhitas have scraped just the tip of the eceberg. Elaborate scientific studies, in this regard, will enable us to use Arjuna to the fullest extent in future, Arjuna is used with great advantage in various problems like burning micturition, diabetes mellitus, diarrhea, dysentery and obesity, It effectively controls menorrhagia and leucorrhea, caused due to laxity of the uterus.
Arjunarista, a medicinal wine prepared from arjuna bark, dhataki (woodfordia fruiticosa) and manuka black raisins is the most popular formulation used to treat cardiac debility, convalescent patients, bleeding piles, diarrhea and leucorrhoea in the dosage 2-4 teaspoons twice a day (Bhaisajya Ratnavali)
Classical Ayuvedic Preparations
- Arjunarist (Parthadyarista)
- Arjuna ghrta
- Kakubhadi curna
- Devadarvyarista etc.