KOKITAKSA (Astercantha longifolia)
The Sanskrit word kokilaksa literally means an eye of the cuckoo. The flowers of this plant resemble in the color of cuckoo’s eyes, hence the name. It has several synonyms in Ayurvedic texts like iksura, srngali, vajrakantaka, picchila, vajra, kokila etc. The great sage Caraka has categorized it as sukra sodhaka – that purifies seminal fluids
Kokilaksa grows throughout India, in plains, especially in marshy places. It is an erect, annual, growing 1-1.5 meters in height. The stems are sub quadrangular and numerous. The leaves are in verticals of 6 at a node, two very large, 10-15 cm in length and 1-2 cm in breadth, bearing 3 straight, sharp yellow spines in each axil. They are lanceolate, tapering at both ends. The flowers are bluish purple in color in axils of leaves, amidst spines. The fruits, oblong compressed capsules, with 4-8 seeds inside. The seeds are slimy to taste. The plant flowers during October to December. White flowered variety of kokilaksa is found rarely.
The botanical name of kokilaksa is Astercantha longifolia (synonym Hygrophilia auriculate) and it belongs to Acanthaceae family. The whole plantcontains lupeol, stigmasterol, an isoflavone glycoside, an alkaloid and small quantities of uncharacterized bases. From the seeds isolation of asterol I, II, III, and IV, asteracanthine and asteracanthicine have been reported. Also, amino acids histidine, lysine and phenyl-alanine have been detected in the seeds. The fresh flowers contain apigenin – 7 – 0 – glucoside. From the plant collected from Saharanpur, lupeol, betulin and stigmasterol isolated; betulin was found to be absent in aerial parts and stigmasterol in roots.
Kokilaksa is sweet and bitter in taste, sweet in the post digestive effect and has cold potency. It alleviates vata and pitta doshas and aggravates the kapha doshas. It possesses oily and slimy attributes. It is aphrodisiac and helps to prevent premature ejaculation. It is used in the diseases like urinary stones, rheumatoid arthritis, edema, thirst and gout.
The seeds, roots, ksara and the whole plant are used for medicinal purpose. Externally, the warmed paste of kokilaksa, dhupa and guggulu is applied on swollen `painful joints. Internally, the plant is used in vast range of diseases. In vata diseases like nervine debility, gout and rheumatoid arthritis, the seeds are used with great benefit. The seeds are keen stimulant to male genital system and are beneficial for the treatment of sexual debility, premature ejaculation, erectile failure and oligospermia. To prevent nocturnal emissions, the seeds of kokilaksa and lajjalu (Mimosa pudica) along with shatavari (Aparagus racemosus) and ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) roots, powdered together, are given along with milk, sugar and cardamom. The seeds bestow excellent results in urinary ailments like dysuria, urinary calculi and cystitis. In anasarca, generalized as swelling all over the body, the decoction of roots or panchanga ksara works well, when given along with cow’s urine. The leaves help to promote bile secretions and stimulate liver, hence, benevolent in hepatitis and liver diseases. The ksara is the best panacea for ascites and urinary stones. The whole plant juice reduces the burning sensation and quenches the thirst.
Classical Ayurvedic Preparations
- Paustika curna
- Kokilaksa ksara etc.