TAGARA (Valerian Wallichii)
Tagara enjoys an important place among medicinal herbs in India since ancient times. It is one of the herbs mentioned in all scriptures of Ayurveda. The plant has numerous synonyms like parthiva, rajaharshana, koota, kshatra, dina etc, and few of them like nata, nahusa, vakra and kutila delineating its peculiar irregular shaped roots. In Dhanvantari Nighantu and Bhavaprakash its activity is cited on the central nervous system. These texts recount different properties and uses of tagara, like chaksusya – beneficial for the eyes; sirsa dosaghna – beneficial for the eyes, sirsa dosaghna – alleviates the diseases of the head, visaghna – anti- toxin, bhutapasmara nasan – a remedy for epilepsy, hysteria and also averts the evil powers. The great sage Charka has categorized Tagara as sitaprasamana – relieves cold sensation of the skin.
The plant grows in abundance in western Himalayas, Kashmir, Garhwal, Khasi hills and Bhutan. It grows at a height of 2500 to 3000 meters. The perennial herb attains the height up to 45-50 cm , with a thick horizontal rootstock. The leaves are 2.5-7.5 cm long, basal ones long – stalked and cauline leaves few, sometimes pinnate. The flowers are unisexual, in corymbs, pinkish white in color, 2-7 cm in diameter. The fruits are oblong, compressed and hairy. The irregular shape of rhizomes is quite characteristic. The presence of leaf scars on upper surface and small circular root scars on lower surface is peculiar. Another variety panda Tagara is mentioned in Nighantus.
The botanical name of Tagara is Valeriana wallichii and it belongs to family Valarianaceae. The rhizomes contain 0.5-2% essential oils. The constituents identified are arachidic acid, valerianic, behemic, caproic, isovaleric and acetyl valerianic acids, and valenes, valerian phenol caffeinic and chlorogenic acid, tannins and alkaloids valerine and chetine. Calcium and heavy metals like lead, iron, zinc, and magnesium, copper have been identified.. Isoveleric and caproic acids obtained from alkaline hydrolysate of a compound, isolated from rhizomes and roots. A new flavonoidlinarin isovalerate-isolated. The root essential oil contains pienene, limonene, 1, 8-cineole, p-cymene, borneol, nerolidol and malliol. Iridoids-valtrate and acevaltrate isolated. Valepotriates which are iridoid substances have been identified as the sedative principles.
Tagara is bitter, pungent, sweet and astringent in taste, pungent in the post digestive effect and has hot potency. It alleviates all the three doshas. It possesses light and oily attributes. It is anti-epileptic, analgesic in properties and is beneficial for the eyes. It is used in epilepsy, hysteria, diseases of eye, headache etc.
The rhizomes or rootstock of Tagara has great medicinal value and is used both, externally as well as internally. Externally, the paste of its roots is applied in wounds for better healing, in fractures to promote callus formation and in rheumatic joints to alleviate pain and swelling. The wounds washed with the decoction of roots, heal earlier and the pain is also relieved. The paste of roots mashed in water is applied on forehead to alleviate the pain.
Internally, Tagara is used in vast range of diseases. The CNS depressant and sedative action of valerian extract finds a use in the Ayurvedic therapy of delirium, insomnia, epilepsy and behavioral disorders. It is also used in anxiety, tremors and as a nervine to enhance the memory. In vata diseases like paralysis and facial palsy, Tagara is a valuable remedy. It works well in arthritis, rheumatic disorders and gout. Tagara is helpful in digestive disorders like anorexia, flatulence, abdominal pain, ascites associated with hepatosplenomegaly and hepatitis. As it alleviates the kapha dosha, it is benevolent in the whooping cough and asthma. It is diuretic, hence, beneficial in dysuria. It is salutary in male sexual debility. It reconciles the menstrual cycle and is an effective remedy for dysmenorrhea. In diarrhea, the roots mashed in buttermilk are given. The root powder mixed with honey is recommended in epilepsy.
Over dosage of Tagara causes vomiting, giddiness, hiccup, cold limbs and bradycardia. The antidote for which is black raising (mrdvika).
Classical Ayurvedic Preparations
Dashanga lepa (for local application)