DHATAKI (Woodfordia fruticosa)
It is one of the herbs mentioned in all Sanskrit scriptures of Ayurveda. The plant is known by various synonyms. Those are descriptive of its appearance red flowers, gucha puspi meaning its bouquet like arrangement. Agni jvala, agni – a fire and jvala – a flame, the colour of flowers being like that of a fire flame. Caraka and Bhavamisra have described its medicinal uses. Caraka mentions it as mutra virajaniya – brings back the colour of urine to normal and as sandhaniya – a healing herb.
Dhataki grows throughout India, but more abundant on the foothills of Himalaya upto 1400 metres altitude. The shrub reaches the height of 3-6 metres. The bark is reddish brown in colour, smooth and the branches are long, spreading. The leaves, 5-10 cm long, spreading. The leaves, 5-10 cm long, simple, opposite and pale on lower side. The flowers are brownish red, long and covered with red colices. The fruit is a small, oblong capsule, covered by the withered calyx. The seeds are numerous, very minute and brown in colour. It flowers from January to April and bears fruits in April and May.
Botanically, chataki is known as Woodfordia fruticosa and it belongs to family Lythraceae. A high proportion of ellagic acid and polyphenols have been detected in the leaves and flowers. Octacosonol and sitosterol have been isolated from its stem. From the flowers, hecogenin and gallic acid have been isolated. Other constituents reported include tannins, soluble nontans and sugar (as glucose) from the flowers. From the leaves, lowsone and tannins, also have been isolated. Ellagic acid, polysta choside, myricetin -3 , 5 – diglucoside isolated from leaves and flowers. Lupeol, ursolic acid sitosterol, betulin, betulinic acid and oleanolic acid present in leaves
Dhataki is astringent and pungent in taste , pungent in the post digestive effect and has cold potency . It alleviates kapha and pitta dosas but aggravates vata dosa. (Bhavaprakasa)
The flowers of dhataki are used for the medicinal purpose. It is used both internally as well as externally. The powder of its dried flowers is sprinkled on the wounds to alleviate the burning sensation, arrest the bleeding and to promote the healing. The fine powder of its dried flowers, mixed with sesame oil, is applied on the burns and scalds. The juice of its fresh flowers applied on the forehead, reduces the headache, especially, due to pitta. To facilitate the dental eruption in children, the powder of its dried flowers is massaged on the gums.
Internally, dhataki is beneficial in a vast range of diseases. It is a powerful astringent, hence works well in diarrhea, dysentery and piles, associated with bleeding. A misture of dhataki powder, honey and rice water is extremely effective in diarrhea, dysentery, piles, menorrhagia and ratkapitta to arrest the bleeding. It can be safely used even in pregnancy, associated with such ailments. In chronic diarrhea, dhataki flowers combined with mocarasa and indrayava, is a very effective medicament. The flowers of dhataki are most commonly used in Ayurvedic pharmacy to facilitate fermentation in the manufacture of asavas and aristas as they contain yeast.
The decoction of its flowers effectively quench the excessive thirst, especially in diabetic patients. Being mutra virajaniya in property, it helps to bring back the colour of urine to normal one, especially in diabetes. The jam (avaleha) prepared of its flowers, helps in controlling bleeding in menorrhagia as well as it alleviates the leucorrhoea. The powder of its dried flowers is beneficial, as an adjuvant, in the heart diseases. Dhataki is also used to alleviate the fever due to pitta.
Classical Ayurvedic Preparations
- Dhatakyadi curna
- Dhatakyadi taila