MUSALI (Asparagus adscendens)
The ancient Ayurvedic Samhita mention two varieties of musali viz. white and black. The word musali, alone, denotes the white variety, which is commonly used. The white variety is called as Safeda Musali and the black one is known as Kali Musali, in national language – Hindi. Though the black variety is supposed to be superior in properties, both the varieties have, more or less, similar properties and used, hence, both are described together.
The plant grows in Western Himalayas upto 1800 meters elevation. The shrub is tall, thorny and erect. The stem smooth, round, strong and whitish in color. The rhizomes are 0.25-0.5 cm thick and white. The flowers in spikes of 2-5 cm length and are 4 cm in diameter. The fruits 6-8 mm in diameter and single seeded. The plant has few synonyms in Ayurvedic texts like sveta, dholi, godhapadi, bhutali etc.
The botanical name is Asparagus adscendens and it belongs to family Liliacea. Spirostanol glycosides (asparanin A and asparanin B) and two furostanol glycosides (asparoside A and B) have been isolated from the methanol extract of the fruits. Sarsasapogenin and dosogenin have also been reported. The protein content is significantly high in the root.
It is called as Talamuli in Sanskrit; Bhavamisra has described it as generally strength – giving and aphrodisiac. It is used in several drug formulations. It is found growing wild in sub-tropical Himalayas, from Kumaon eastwards, in Bengal and Assam. It also grows in the Western and Southern parts of India. It is a small perennial, having tuberous rootstock. The leaves are linear, lanceolate, 9-45 cm long and 1-3 cm broad. The frowers are bright yellow, 1-2 cm in diameter, with fine hair. The fruits, capsules. 1 cm long, quadrangular, curved, 1-4 seeded. The seeds are black, shiny, oblong, with sharp edges. The plant flowers during May to August.
The botanical name of black musali is Curculigo orchioides and it belongs to family Amaryllidaceae. Free sugars, mucilage, hemicellulose and other polysaccharides are present. Isolation and characterization of curculigine A, isolation and structure elucidation of a new orcinol glycoside A from rhizomes, sitosterol, hentriacontanol, stigmasterol, cycloartenol and sucrose also isolated . Detection of palmitic, oleic linolenic, arachidic, behenic acids in root oil by TLC-GC.
White musali is sweet in taste, sweet in the post digestive effect and has cold potency. It alleviated vata and pitta doshas, but aggravates the kapha dosha. It possesses heavy and slimy attributes. It has anabolic refuvenative, aphrodisiac properties and is used in general debility, burning sensation and pitta diseases.
Black musali is sweet and bitter in taste, sweet in the post digestive effect and has hot potency. It alleviates pitta and doshas. It possesses heavy and oily attributes. It is a rejuvenative, anabolic tonic and aphrodisiac in properties.
The rhizomes of white musali have great medicinal value. The fine powder of rhizomes cooked in milk, is given along with ghee, rock candy, cardamom, almond, cloves and tvak as a sex tonic. It is used as an aphrodisiac as well as to increase sperm count. The plain powder of rhizomes by itself is given in urinary calculi. The rhizomes mashed with milk, are used in burning sensation of the body, with great benefit. Musali nourishes all the seven dhatus (tissues), hence is commonly used as a rejuvenative.
The rhizomes of black musali have great medicinal value and are commonly used for diverse medicinal purpose. In leucorrhea and menorrhagia, the rhizome powder, buds of japa and rock candy are given together followed by a glass of milk. In general debility, the rhizome powder is given along with sugar and milk. The black musali is beneficial in erectile impotence and spermatorrhea. In burning sensation and fatigue, the rhizome powder is recommended with milk and sugar.
Classical Ayurvedic preparations
- White – Musalyadi yoga
- Musali paka etc.
- Black – Musali khanda curna.