DARUHARIDRA (Berberis aristata)
It is one of the herbs mentioned in all ancient scriptures of Ayurveda. Caraka and Susruta have mentioned it’s different properties along with various used for the treatment of numerous illnesses. As it resembles in its properties to those of haridra, both the herbs have been mentioned together as haridra dvaya, meaning two haridras viz. haridra and daruharidra. Caraka has categorized daruharidra as stanyasodhana – lactode purant, lekhana – a reducing herb, arsoghna – anti – haemorrhoidal, kandughna – anti – haemorrhoidal, kandughna – anti – pruritic and as svedala – promotes sweating, rasayana- rejuvenative. Susruta have mentioned it as ropana – a wound healer
The plant is native of the whole range of Himalaya mountains at an elevation 2000 to 3500 metres. It also occurs in Nilagiri range in Southern India . The shrub grows upto 1.5 – 2.0 metres in height, with a thick woody root covered with a thin brittle bark. The leaves are cylindrical, straight, tapering, very sharp, hard, smooth spines. The flowers yellow, numerous, stalked, arranged in drooping racemes. The fruit is a small berry, ovoid and smooth. It flowers in April and May.
The botanical name of daruharidra is Berberis aristata and it belongs to family Berberidaceae. There are 12 – 13 varieties like B. asiatica, B. lycium, B. vulgaris, B. nepalensis etc. The root and wood are rich in a yellow alkaloid berberine, a bitter substance, which dissolves in acids and forms salts of the alkaloid. The root contains two more alkaloids. A protoberberine alkaloid karachine is isolated and characterized, and taxalamine is also isolated. A protoberberine alkaloid – karachine – isolated and characterized and also taxilamine isolated.
Daruharidra is bitter and astringent in taste , pungent in the post digestive effect and hot in potency. It alleviates kapha and pitta dosas. It possesses light and dry attributes. The fruit is sweet and sour in taste and has a cold potency. Daruharidra has diaphoretic, rejuvenating, antipyretic properties and is a bitter tonic. (Raja Nighantu)
Daruharidra is useful both, internally as well as externall. The fruit, root bark, stem, wood and extract are used for medicinal purpose. Externally, the wounds are dressed with the medicated oil of the decoction of daruharidra . It reduces the pruritus also. The paste applied on painful and swollen parts effectively mitigates the symptoms. The popular preparation of daruharidra, called Rasanjana is a crude extract, prepared from the root bark. The decoction of rootbark , mixed with equal quantity of milk is then beated until it forms a solid substance. This is useful in unfections of the ear like otitis media; for which its solution (1 in 32 of water) is instilled in the ears. The same is beneficial, also as a wash for piles. Its ointment made with camphor and butter is applied to pimples and boils. Externally, the decoction of the root-bark is used as a wash for unhealthy ulcers to improve their appearance and cicatrisation. Rasanjana mixed with honey is a useful application to aphthous sores, abrasions and ulcerations of the skin. In the diseases of the eye, it is applied on the eyelids and mixed with rose water, can be instilled into the eyes, in inflammatory conditions. The gargles of rasanjana with water, are beneficial in the ailments of the mouth and throat. Its enema is beneficial in leucorroea.
Internally daruharidra is useful in a vast range of the diseases. The properties like cholegogue, hepato-stimulant and astringent are useful in treating anorexia, dysentery, hepatitis and liver disorders, with daruharidra. The fruit alleviates the distaste and excessive thirst. It relieves the phlegm in cough effectively. As a blood purifier decoction of daruharidra and rasanjana used in combination, is salutary in the secondary stage of syphilis. Rasanjana is extremely valuable in bleeding piles. The decoction of herb helps reducing swellings in hepato-splenomegaly. It also works well, when given with honey, in jaundice. Daruharidra, as an adjunct, is effective in the treatment of obesity to reduce excessive fats – meda. The decoction along with haridra, is good anti-diabetic combination. It also effectively reduces the uterine inflammations, hence is valuable medicament for leucorrhea and menorrhagia. The decoction also helps in healing the ulcers of the cervix. Rasanjana alleviates the diseases of the eye and ear, and has a lactodepurant property.
Daruharidra works well as a bitter tonic. It is very useful for remittent and intermittent fevers. For that, the decoction is given with rock candy twice a day. It is used as a general tonic in debility, especially due to fever.
In higher doses, it gives rise to symptoms like vomiting, severe diarrhea, excessive sweating etc. In such cases, withdraw the drugs which contain daruharidra.
Classical Ayurvedic Preparations
- Darvyadi kavatha
- Darvyadi leha
- Darvyadi taila
- Dasanga lepa