Atibala (Abutilon indicum)
In ancient scriptures of Ayurveda, four different plants together called as Bala catustaya are bala, atibala , mahabala and nagabala. They are more or less similar in their properties but are entirely foru different plants. Of which bala and atibala are commonly used. The word atibala means, what gives excessive strength, owing to its strong tonic properties. Atibala is a stronger diuretic whereas bala is a more effective heart tonic. Bhavaprakasa and Kaiyadeva Nighantu mention all four balas to have similar properties. Vagabhata has mentioned atibala as samsamana – pacifies the vata dosa.
The plant grows throughout India and in Sri Lanka, at about an elevation of 1000-1, 500 metres. The perennial shrub grows 1.25-2 metres in height. The leaves are oblong, opposite, toothed, smooth and covered with fine white hair. The flowers are yellow, 2.5 cm in diameter. The fruits are round and have edges on the circumference like a seal, hence called mudra. There are two varieties of atibala, viz. big and small. The plant flowers in June and bears fruits in November.
The botanical name of atibala is Abutilon indicum and it belongs to family Malvaceae. The other, big variety is named as Abutilon hirtum. From the roots non – drying oil consisting of various fatty acids vix. Linoleic, oleic, stearic, palmitic. Lauric, myristic, caprylic, capric and unusual fatty acid having C17 carbon skeleton besides sitosterol, and amyrin from unsaponifiable matter is yielded. This oil showed significant analgestic activity. (Indian Drugs 2984, 22,69) . From the leaves amino acids, glucose, fructose and galactose have been isolated. Gossypetin-8 and 7 glucosides and cynidin – 3 – rutinoside is also isolated (Phytochemistry 1972. 11, 1518) Caryophyllene and its oxide, cineole, pinene, geraniol, gerany acetate, eudesmol, farnesol and borneol are identified in oil.
Atibala is sweet in taste , sweet in the post digestive effect and has cold potency . It alleviates vata and pitta dosa. It possesses oily , slimy and heavy attributes. It is mainly useful in gout, raktapitta and tuberculosis. (Bhavaprakasa Nighantu)
All the four balas, balacatustaya, have sweet taste, sweet post digestive effect and cold potency. They possess oily and slimy attributes and alleviate all the three dosas. Their chief properties are tonic ond oja vardhaka – augment ojas, the subtle essence of all vital fluids, responsible for health, harmony and spiritual growth. They are beneficial in treating gout, tuberculosis and raktapitta bleeding disorders. (Kaiyadeva Nighantu).
Atibala, is used externally, to alleviate the pain and swelling. Internally, the roots and seeds are used for medicinal purpose. In tuberculosis, with cavitation, atibala is valuable as it nourishes the mamsa dhatu (muscle tissue) and augments the strength. It also augments the seminal fluids and normalizes the sukra ksaya, which many a times is a cause of tuberculosis according to Ayurvedic concept. Atibala is salutary in raktapitta to arrest the bleeding tendencies. It is useful as an adjunct in vata diseases like paralysis, facial palsy, cervical spondylosis etc. The diuretic like property of the plant is useful in urinary disorders like dysuria. It sorks well as a uterine tonic as well as an aphrodisiac.
Classical Ayurvedic Proparations
- Atibala svarasa (juice)
- Atibala taila (oil)