LAVANGA (Syzygium aromaticum)
It is one of the herbs mentioned in all ancient Sanskrit scriptures. It has been used an aromatic masticatory since the days of Ramayana. The mention of this spice in India goes back to the days of that era. In the beginning it was valued as an aromatic masticatory after meals and in rituals, and later on sained wide popularity as a condiment, further, it was accepted as a therapeutic agent. Caraka has mentioned it as agnimandya nasaka alleviates anorexia. It is one of the widely used adjuncts in Ayurvedic pharmacy, especially in preparations of various confections or herbal jellies (avalehas). Maharashi Susruta has mentioned its use after food to alleviate the kapha and as an alleviator of the thirst. (Susruta Samhita, Sutra, A-46) It is cited to be one of the important ingredients of tambula (pana) by Caraka.
This beautiful and aromatic evergreen tree is probably indigenous to the true Moluccas or Clove Islands. It is cultivated in South India, mainly in Kerala and Coorg. A tree reaching 10-12 meters high, with numerous slender branches, forming a dense pyramidal crown. The bark pale-yellowish grey and smooth. The leaves opposite, evergreen, 6-12 cm long and fragrant. The flowers jointed to short stalks, arranged in threes, are highly aromatic. The fruits are fleshy, about 2-3 cm long, dark pink drupes. The seeds, solitary, occupying the whole interior of the fruit.
The dried flower buds (cloves) and their oil is used for medicinal purpose. The botanical name of lavanga is syzygium aromaticum and belongs to family Myrtaceae. The cloves (lavanga) contain about 14-21% of volatile oil, 10-13% of tannin and a crystalline substance, caryophyllene, which is white, odorless and is soluble in ether and boiling alcohol. Capsaicin is also present in cloves.
The clove-oil is prepared by distillation and contains 34 to 95% of phenols, sesquiterpenes and small quantity of esters, ketones and alcohols. Medicinal oil has a phenol content of about 82 to 90%. Caryophyllene, eugenol and naphthalene isolated on stem distillation of clove buds. A new ellagitannin eugenin-isolated from dried flowers and buds and its structure determined. Acetophenone, benzyl salicylate, cardinal, decalactone, fenchone, hexanal, 2-hexanone, methyl palmitate, murolene, palustrol, propyl benzoate, selinene and thujene identified in volatile oil.
Lavanga is pungent and bitter in taste, pungent in the post digestive effect and has cold potency. It possesses light, unctuous and sharp (tiksna) attributes. It augments the appetite, promotes digestion, and alleviates cough and asthma.
The lavanga taila (clove oil) alleviates the vata dosha, augments the appetite, mitigates the swelling of the gums, alleviates the diseases of kapha dosha and ameliorates the pregnancy vomiting.
Lavanga is used both internally as well as externally. It is used, since ages, as aromatic masticatory in halitosis (bad breath) and also as freshner of mouth and throat. The paste of lavanga applied on forehead, is effective as a painkiller in headache. In odontalgia (toothache), lavanga chewed works well as a domestic first-aid. The clove oil is beneficial for massaging, in rheumatic joints, backache and sciatica to alleviate the pain. The clove oil swab effectively controls the pains in dental caries.
Internally lavanga is beneficial for treating various diseases. N loss of appetite and indigestion, the decoction of lavanga is a good digestive cordial. The decoction mixed with honey, works well in colds and cough. The popular preparation Lavangadi vati is videly used in cough with benefit. Lavanga ameliorates the hyperacidity, excessive thirst, flatulence and imparts mild anti colic and anti-diarrhoeal activity. It effectively controls the vomiting during pregnancy, when given along with pomegranate juice. Nausea and vomiting is effectively controlled with cold infusion of lavanga. As a mucolytic agent, it is salutary in cough, asthma and hiccup, when given with honey. It has a duel benefit in tuberculosis to alleviate the cough and boost appetite. Lavanga acts as a blood purifier and a stimulant to heart. In veneral diseases, a popular preparation Devakusumadi rasa is used in South India. As lavanga is diuretic, it is used as an adjunct in dysuria. It also works as lactodepurant and galactogouge. It is one of the ingredients of aphrodisiac preparations, especially to curb the premature ejaculation. Lavanga anjana, an ophthalmic topical preparation is beneficial in epilepsy, hysteria to regain the consciousness. The decoction of lavanga, jatiphala (Myristica fragrang) and musta (Cyperus rotundus) is effective in cholera. Avipattikara curna is one of the most popular preparations of lavanga, used as a panacea for hyperacidity.
Classical Ayurvedic Preparations
- Lavangadi vati
- Lavanadi curna
- Lavanga catussama
- Avipattikara curna
- Devakusumadi rasa etc.