MADHUKA (Madhuka longifolia) Yashtimadhu
The Sanskrit name madhuka should not be confused with madhuka which means yastimadhu (Glycyrrhiza glabra), which is entirely a different plant. Madhuka is one of the herbs mentioned in all ancient scriptures of Ayurveda and has few synonyms like vanaprastha, svadupuspa, uksnasara, madhusrava, madhulaka, madhusthila, gudapuspa etc. The great sage Caraka has categorized it as cadsusya – beneficial for the eyes, purisa virajaniya – gives proper colour to the faeces and daha prasamana relieves burning sensation of the skin. Acarya Vagbhata has mentioned it as vajikarana – an aphrodisiac.
The plant grows in all the plains and lower hills of India up to 1200 meters, and is at certain places, a chief constituent of the forest vegetation. It is a large deciduous tree with rather shorter bole, but larger crown. It grows 13-16 meters in height, and bark grayish black, scaly. The leaves, 10-20 cm long, thick leathery, pointed at tip, with 10-12 prominent veins. The flowers strongly musk-scented, falling at dawn, fleshy, pale or dull white, in clusters near the ends of branches. The fruits, 2.5-5 cm long, ovoid berries, yellow when ripe. The tree blooms in the summer and bears fruits in rainy season.
The botanical name of madhuka is Madhuca longifolia (Synonym Madhuca India) and it belongs to family sapotaceae. The seeds contain 55% stable oil. From the flowers, liquor is obtained by distillation. Since centuries, the flowers are used in Ayurvedic Pharmacy in manufacturing various asavas and aristas (herbs, eigher in their fresh juice – arista, or their decoction – asava. From fruits, sucrose, sitosterol, a sterol glucoside from nuts, and amyrin acetate, capryloxyerythridiol and capryloxyoleanolic acid isolated. From the bark lupeol acetate, amyrin acetate, spinasterol, erythrodiol monocaprylate, betulinic acid and oleanolic acids caprylates, rhamnose, glucose and galactose isolated. Polysaccharides PS – AI & PS- A II, isolated from flowers, constitute galactose, glucose, arabinose and glucoronic acid.
Madhuka is sweet in taste, sweet in the post digestive effect and has cold potency. It alleviates vata and pitta doshas. It possesses heavy and oily (snigdha) attributes. The dried flowers have hot potency. The fruits alleviate kapha and vata doshas. It has anabolic and rejuvenative properties and is used in diseases like tuberculosis, blood diseases, asthma, burning sensation and thirst.
The flowers, seeds and seed oil of madhuka have great medicinal value. Externally, the seed oil massage is very effective to alleviate pain. In skin diseases, the juice of flowers is rubbed for oleation. It is also beneficial as a nasya (nasal drops) in diseases of the head due to pitta, like sinusitis. The seed oil is used in manufacturing of soaps and is used as an edible also.
Internally, madhuka is used in vast range of diseases. The decoction of the flowers is a valuable remedy for pitta diseases. As a general tonic, the powder of flowers works well with ghee and honey. The decoction of flowers quenches the thirst effectively. Because of its astringent property, madhukarista is salutary in diarrhea and colitis. In raktapitta, the fresh juice of flowers is used with great benefit to arrest the bleeding. The flowers play an important role in augmention the breast milk in lactating mothers and in boosting the quantity of seminal fluids also. Madhuka is benedicial in urinary ailments like burning micturition and dehydration, fever, tuberculosis etc. The combination of the powders of the bark skin of madhuka, pippali and marica fruits, rhizomes of vaca and salt in equal parts is used in the form of nasal drops, in the treatment of epilepsy, with excellent benefit. Madhuka is the best nervine and salutary in the diseases due to vata. The nasya-nasal therapy is useful in hysteria, cough and sinusitis. The bark skin powder is given along with ghee and honey to improve the vitality and sexual vigor.