Bala (Sida cordifolia)
In Ayurvedic texts, bala is from a group of four herbs, alacatustaya (See atibala). Maharsi Caraka has categorized bala as brmhaniya – a bulk promoting herb and as balya – tonic and prajasthapana – which promotes reproduction. (Caraka Samhita, Sutra, A-4) , Acarya Vagbhata and Susruta have cited it as vata samsamana – pacifies the vata dosa., Caraka has also mentioned it as a rejuvenative (rasayana) to muscle tissue (mamsa dhatu) and muscular system (mamsavaha srotasa) (Caraka Samhita, Cikitsa, A 1-3) . Bala is more effective as a heart tonic, whereas atibala is a stronger diuretic. Amongst four balas vix. Bala, atibala, mahabala and nagabala, the first two are commonly used. The Sanskrit word bala literally means the strength, hence, that wjocj bestpws stremgth is a tonic in general, and a rejuvenative for all kinds of vata disorders.
Bala grows well throughout the plains of India, especially, in damp climate. The shrub grows upto 0.75 – 1.5 metres in height. The roots and the stem being stout and strong, the plant bears the name bala. The leaves ar 2.5-7 cm long and 2.5-5 cm broad, with 7-9 veins. They are heart shaped, serrate and truncate. The flowers are small, yellow or white in colour, solitary and axillary. The fruits are moong-sized, 6-8 mm in diameter. The seeds are called as bijabanda in Ayurveda, are grayish black in colour and smooth. The plant flowers from August to December and fruiting occurs from October to January.
The botanical name of bala is Sida cordifolia and it belongs to family Malvaceae. The main alkaloid. No tanian or glycosides have been identified. From the roots and stems, the main portion of the alkaloid was identified as ephedrine. Ephedrine, an alkaloid so far observed in the different varieties of ephedra only, was identified. These two plants belong to entirely different divisons of vegetable kingdom. The ephedras belong to the groups of Gymnosperms white Sida cordifolia belongs to Angiosperms. Recent analyses have revealed that ephedrine and ephedrine constitute the major alkaloids from the aerial parts. From seed oil sterculic, malvalic and coronaric acids are isolated along with other fatty acids (Chem. Ind. 1985. 483). Identification of palmitic, stearic and hexacosanoic acids and sitosterol in aerial parts is done.
Bala is sweet in taste. Sweet in the post digestive effect (vipaka and has cold potency. It alleviates vata and pitta dosas. It possesses light, oily and slimy attributes. The leaves, roots and the seeds have great medicinal value. Bala is useful in diseases like seminal weakness, cough – especially tuberculosis with cavitation, asthma, urinary disorders and fever. (Dhanvantari Nighantu)
Externall, the medicated oil of bala, Bala siddha taila, is massaged to alleviate pain and swelling in vata disorders. The paste of its leaves is applied in ophthalmic diseases and for wound dressing. In children, the famous oil preparation of bala – Candan bala laksadi taila is used for massage in muscular weakness.
Internally, bala is the best nervine tonic and rasayana for all kinds of vata disorders. It is also rejuvenative, nutritive and stimulant to the heart. As a milk decoction with sugar, it is a good nutritive and aphrodisiac. It also promites healing of tissue in chronic infectious diseases. In particular, it is highly recommended in extensive tuberculosis with cavitation. For that the decoction of its roots works well, when given with ghee and honey. It promotes the heling of lung tissue and curbs the cavitation. Bala is a valuable blood purifier helpful in raktapitta and piles. It is especially anabolic to muscle tissue and augments the seminal fluids, and promotes reproduction. As it helps building the muscle tissue, it boosts the strength and hence, imparts a rejuvenative action. As a tonic, it is commonly used in general debility. In menorrhagia it is salutary as it is styptic as well as blood purifier. It also boosts the foetal growth. Bala mula siddha dugdha- the medicated milk of bala heals the ulcers and wounds of urinary tract, alleviate bleeding in urine and relieves dysuria. In vata disorders like paralysis, facial palsy, cervical spondylosis etc. Bala works well as a nervine tonic. N such conditions, the decoction of its roots given orally and bala siddha taila – its mediacted oil is used for massage. Bala oil can be used orally, externally for massage and for giving enema (basti) also. The fresh juice of whole plant is recommended for raktapitta bleeding disorders, along with the milk and rock candy.
Classical Ayurvedic Preparations
- Bala taila
- Bala curna / swarasa
- Baladya ghrta
- Baladi kvatha
- Candana balalaksadi taila etc .