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(Saraca Asoca, Saraca Indica)
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AN AYURVEDIC MEDICINE
Ashoka Tree (Saraca asoca, Saraca indica), also referred to as Ashokarishta, is a plant belonging to the Caesakoubuiudeae subfamily of the legume family. It is an important tree in the cultural traditions of the Indian Subcontinent and adjacent areas.
Ashoka has been mentioned in some of the oldest Indian literature apart from Ayurveda. This tree can be found all over the Indian subcontinent. Across India, ashoka tree is believed to be sacred and apart from Ramayana, ashoka tree is mentioned in Buddhism and Jainism as well. Charaka Samhita which is believed to have been composed in 1000 BC describes about ashoka tree and its medicinal benefits. Ashoka means "without sorrow", a reference to the bark's reputation for keeping women healthy and youthful. Buddha was said to be born under this tree.
The ashoka tree is considered sacred throughout the Indian subcontinent, especially in India and Sri Lanka. This tree has many folklorical, religious and literary associations in the region. Highly valued as well for its handsome appearance and the color and abundance of its flowers, the ashoka tree is often found in royal palace compounds and gardens as well as close to temples throughout India. The ashoka tree is closely associated with the Yakshi mythological beings. One of the recurring elements in Indian art, often found at gates of Buddhist and Hindu temples, is the sculpture of a Yakshi with her foot on the trunk and her hands holding the branch of a flowering ashoka tree. As an artistic element, often the tree and the Yakshi are subject to heavy stylization. Some authors hold that the young girl at the foot of this tree is based on an ancient tree deity related to fertility.
Yakshis under the ashoka tree, were also important in early Buddhist monuments as a decorative element and are found in many ancient Buddhist archaeological sites. With the passing of the centuries the yakshi under the ashoka tree became a standard decorative element of Hindu Indian sculpture and was integrated into Indian temple architecture as salabhanjika, because there is often a confusion between the ashoka tree and the sal tree (Shorea robusta) in the ancient literature of the Indian Subcontinent.
This tree is also regarded with veneration in Jainism. In the Jain tradition Mahavira is said to have renounced the world under this kind of tree in Vaishali.
In Hinduism the ashoka is considered a sacred tree. Not counting a multitude of local traditions connected to it, the Ashoka tree is worshipped in Chaitra, the first month of the Hindu Calendar. It is also associated with Kamadeva, the Hindu god of Love, who included an Ashoka blossom among the five flowers in his quiver. Hence, the ashoka tree is often mentioned in classical Indian religious and amorous poetry, having at least 16 different names in Sanskrit referring to the tree or its flowers.
In Mahakavya, or Indian epic poetry, the Ashoka tree is mentioned in the Ramayana in reference to the Ashoka Vatika (garden of Ashoka trees) where Hanuman first meets Sita.
As a wild tree, the Ashoka is a vulnerable species. It is becoming rarer in its natural habitat, but isolated wild Ashoka trees are still to be found in the foothills of central and eastern Himalayas, in scattered locations of the northern plains of India as well as on the west coast of the subcontinent near Mumbai. The tree is believed to have originated in the Western Ghats and Deccan plateau. It can also be found in central and Eastern Himalayas. It is known to grow at an altitude of 600 to 750 meters above the sea level. The plant grows to a height of about 9 meters in length. The plant generally grows in fertile and semi-fertile areas across India. The tree belongs to Caesal pinaceae family. This is a perennial plant which can range from dark green to greyish green in color. The lenticels are circular and ridged opposing. The seeds generally are reddish brown with fibres.
The Ashoka is prized for its beautiful foliage and fragrant flowers. It is a very handsome, small, erect evergreen tree, with deep green leaves growing in dense clusters. Leaves are narrowly lanceolate 15.25 centimeters long, cork-like at the base and with a short petiole. Stipules are intra-petiolar and completely united. Flowers are fragrant. They are 7.5 to 10 centimeters across Calyx is a bright yellow to orange and finally turning red before wilting. Its stamens are 7 to 8. The filaments are filiform. Its flowering season is around February to April. The Ashoka flowers come in heavy lush bunches. The bark of saraca indica is distinguished by presence of warty protuberances on its outer surface.
There are a few varieties of the Ashoka tree. One variety is larger and highly spreading. The columnar varieties are common in cultivation.
1. Soil & Climate: The plant requires slightly acidic to neutral soils for good growth with medium to deep well drained fertile soils. It grows well in tropical to sub-tropical situations under irrigation.
2. Nursery Raising & Planting: The crop can be propagated by seeds and stem grafting. The seedlings are planted in the well manured field during the rainy season.
3. Thinning & Weeding: Weeding and thinning of the plants may be done as and when required usually after 15 to 30 days for better growth.
4. Manures, Fertilizers & Pesticides: The medicinal plants have to be grown without chemical fertilizers and use of pesticides. Organic manures like, Farm Yard Manure (FYM), Vermi-Compost, Green Manure etc. may be used as per requirement of the species. To prevent diseases, bio-pesticides could be prepared (either single or mixture) from Neem (kernel, seeds & leaves), Chitrakmool, Dhatura, Cow's urine etc.
5. Irrigation: Normally grown as rainfed crop but for better yield irrigation may be done as per requirement (weekly/fortnightly).
6. Harvesting-Post Harvesting Operation: Bark is removed from about ten years or older tree and then it has to be sun dried.
ASHOKA USES, HEALTH BENEFITS & SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE
ASHOKA CHEMICAL CONSTITUENTS
The Ashoka stem bark is chiefly used in medicines and it has been reported to contain chemicals such as glycoside, flavanoids, tannins, saponins, alkanes, esters and primary alcohols. The alcoholic extracts present in the bark have showed a significant action against wide range of bacteria.
Various health benefit studies on extracts from Ashoka bark provide evidence of its several health benefits.
- Anti-bacterial properties: Ashoka can fight fever, cold and infections as it possesses anti-bacterial properties.
- Menorrhagia: Ayurveda has been using Ashoka for menorrhagia traditionally. A preparation made from ashoka tree known as ashokarishta is given for this disease and also for uterine infections. It helps stop vaginal bleeding.
- Rheumatic Arthritis: The methanol extracts from Ashoka showed positive results against rheumatic arthritis.
- Hemorrhoids: Ashoka bark has been traditionally used as a remedy for internal hemorrhoids.
- Dysmenorrhea: Ashoka is also recommended against dysmenorrhea.
According to Ayurveda, Ashoka was also used for healing wounds, strengthening uterine muscles. It is also believed to prevent ocular diseases, miscarriages, bleeding dysentery and neurological disorders. Ashoka is also seen as a remedy for women, allowing them to be feminine. The tree is regarded as a guardian of female chastity. Saraka Ashoka means without sorrow and it makes a person sorrow less, specially the females and for females, discomfort of menstruation is the greatest sorrow and Ashoka works on it.
Oxytocic activity of the plant was seen in rat and human isolated uterine preparations. Estrogen-primed or gravid uterus was more sensitive to the action of the alcoholic extract. The bark of Ashoka, which is the real potent drug, is reported to have a stimulating effect on the endometrium and ovarian tissue and is therefore very valuable in treating problems like menorrhagia due to uterine fibroids, in leucorrhea and in internal bleeding. Ashoka or Saraca indica is helpful in all cases of uterine bleeding.
Ashoka is the best uterine support for any uterus or ovary problems including leucorrhea, bleeding disorders and as a tonic for women with vaginal discharge. It acts as an astringent, giving tonicity to uterine ligaments; a styptic useful in controlling bleeding; a relaxant giving relaxation to the uterinie ligaments and a uterine tonic giving strength to the uterus. Its properties can be used for menorrhagia, scanty menses, dysmenorrhea, bleeding hemorrhoids, hysteria, uterine fibroids, leucorrhea, diarrhea, and is also considered a uterine sedative and tonic. If the bark is used during pregnancy along with Mazu (Quercus infectoria) and Zarward, Lodh Pathani (Symploccos racemosa Roxb), which provides strong effect to the uterus and cervix.
According to Unani system, Ashoka is an excellent herb for treating various gynecological problems. It is useful in stimulating the uterus, the endometrium and the ovarian tissues. The herb is beneficial in uterine bleeding associated with fibroids, leucorrhea, menstrual disturbances without producing any harmful effects. Since years, the herb has been used as best uterine support. Apart from this, Ashoka is also useful for other ailments such as internal piles, diabetes, dyspepsia, indigestion, burning sensation, blood disorders, fractures, tumors, bites, ulcerations, and skin discoloration. The herb is also useful in treating internal bleeding, vaginal discharges, hemorrhoids and also hemorrhagic dysentery.
ANTIMICROBIAL ACTIVITY STUDIES
Ashoka (Saraca asoca) was subjected to antibacterial activity (ethanol : water, 1:1) on agar plate with different organisms such as Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhosa, Staphylococcus aureus, (plant pathogen). Agrobacterium tumefaciens showed negative activity.
(SC Pal; AP Maiti; BP Chatterjee; A Nandy. Ind. J Med. Rec., 1985, 82(2), 188-189.)
Ashoka (Saraca indica) dried flower buds tested against antibacterial activity of methanol extract on agar plate against Salmonella viballerup, Shigella boydii, Escherichia coli, Vibro cholera, Shigella flexneri and Shigella dyserteriae showed active.
(SR Jain; SN Sharma. Planta Med., 1967, 15(4), 439-442)
ANTICANCER ACTIVITY STUDIES
The anticancer principle from Ashoka (Saraca asoca) flowers indicated 50 percent cytotoxicity (in vitro) in Dalton's lymphoma ascites and Sarcoma - 180 tumor cells at a concentration of 38 mug and 54 mug respectively, with no activity against normal lymphocytes but preferential activity for lymphocytes derived from leukemia patients.
(JD Kaur; K Misra. J Indian Chem Soc., 1980, 57(12), 1243)
ANTIOXYTOCIC ACTIVITY STUDIES
Oxytocic activity of the Ashoka plant was seen in rat and human isolated uterine preparations. Estrogenprimed or gravid uterus was more sensitive to the action of the alcoholic extract. Pentolinium bitartrate completely blocked the oxytocic action. Seed extract is found effective against dermatophytic fungi. In vitro tests on rat uterus preparation, extracts of S. asoca did not show oxytocic activity. S. asoca has been tested twice previously with negative results and once with positive results.
(MJ Bhandary; KR Chandrasekhar; KMK averiappa. J Ethnopharmacol, 1995, 47(3), 149-158)
ANTIMENORRHAGIC ACTIVITY STUDIES
Ashoka (Saraca asoca) dried bark has been used for menorrhagia in India. In India Saraca asoca dried bark as well as flower is givan as a tonic to ladies in case of Uterine disorders. Saraca asoca stem bark also used to treat all disorder associated with the menstrual cycle.
Saraca asoca bark in Sri Lanka used for menstrual disorder and menorrhagia (Y Kumar; K Haridasan; RR Rao. Bull Bot Surv India., 1980, 22 1/4, 161-165)
Medicinal uses include it being used as spasmogenic, oxytocic, uterotonic, antibacterial, anti-implantation, anti-tumour, antiprogestational, antiestrogenic activity against menorrhagia and anticancer. This review contains the Pharmacognostical account of various parts of plant, Phytochemical constituent and different reported pharmacological activity. In menses- disturbed menstrual cycle, stimulating effect on ovarian tissues and muscular fibers of uterus, in menorrhagia, in uterine infections. In internal bleeding, hemorrhoids, and, blood dysentery. The bark has a stimulating effect on the endometrium and ovarian tissue, is useful in menorrhagia due to uterine fibroids, in leucorrhea and in internal bleeding, where ergot is indicated. It is well established for its effectiveness in menorrhagia and dysmenorrhea. It also has a stimulatory effect on the ovarian tissue and may produce an estrogen-like effect that enhances the repair of the endometrium and stops bleeding.
ASHOKA DOSAGE INFORMATION
You should check with a health care practitioner for dosage in par with your body conditions.
The common, recommended dosage for Ashoka supplements is 1 to 2 capsules on a daily basis. 1 to 9 grams per day or 3 to 15 ml of a 1:3 herbal extract 25% tincture.
Ashokarishta is useful in gynecological conditions like menorrhagia, leucorrhea and dysmenorrhea. Ashokarishta is also useful as a uterine tonic. Suggested Dosage: 2 tablespoons mixed with 1/4 cup of water once daily before meals. Ashokarishta is a very effective treatment for menopausal symptoms, regulating menstruation and menstrual pain and discomforts. Alterative, stimulant and astringent. Used in leucorrhea, hematuria, and other female conditions.
As and when you start taking Ashoka supplements, you can expect to see positive results within a month. Of course, these results can also vary depending on your body condition, constraints and specifications; and the seriousness of the issue. However, the results achieved will be long terms and progressive.
ASHOKA HERBAL COMBINATIONS
Ashwagandha, Cinnamon to strengthen the uterine muscles. Shatavari, Rose, Turmeric to regulate the menstrual cycle. Myrrh, Manjishtha, Turmeric for endometriosis and fibroids. Punarnava, Coriander, Pippali for vaginal dscharge. Shatavari, Amalaki, Licorice for dysentery and piles.
ASHOKA SAFETY, CAUTIONS & INTERACTIONS
Ashoka is a natural supplement that is completely herbal and safe to use (save a few exceptions as mentioned below).
Found in the dense tropical forests of India, the Ashoka plant in its entirety is used as a supplement. These include the bark, flowers and the seeds of the plant, all of which posses antimicrobial properties.
(Sainath Rs, Prathiba J, Malathi R. "Antimicrobial properties of the stem bark of Saraca Indica" Eur Red Med Pharmacol Sci. 2009 Sep-Oct; 13(5):371-4. PMID: 19961043).
A few side effects are known to cause mild issues in women who are either pregnant or are breastfeeding. In these cases, it is best recommended that you speak with a qualified professional before switching to Ashoka.
Food Constraints: It is highly recommended that you stick to a low fat diet and cut down on canned, processed and junk foods. Switch to leafy vegetables and plenty of greens instead. Drink plenty of wate to cleanse your body off unnecessary toxins and keep it hydrated. Sexual Constraints: Stay safe during sexual intercourse with your partner. Reduce all sexual activities to a minimum in order to minimize the risk of the infection spreading to your partner. Interactions: No drug-herb interactions are known. Contraindications: Constipation.
ASHOKA SUPPLEMENTS & RELATED PRODUCTS
QUALITY PRODUCTS & SUPPLEMENTS
ASHOKA BARK HERBAL PRODUCTS
Ashoka Bark (Saraca Indica) is a tonic for the uterus believed to help maintain proper function of the female reproductive system. This herb is useful for menstruation and female hormonal related symptoms. Do not take Ashoka during pregnancy.
AYURVEDIC HERBS DIRECT PRODUCTS
Ayurvedic Herbs Direct: Ashoka, Organically Grown, Vadik, 100 VCaps
Ayurvedic Herbs Direct: MenstriCare (EveCare) Formula Blend, Himalaya, 60 VCaps
MenstriCare (known internationally as EveCare) is a unique complex herbal formula that helps women cope with the discomfort and unpleasant symptoms associated with their menstrual cycle. It promotes physical and emotional comfort and helps with mood swings and sleeplessness. MenstriCare is also a nervine tonic for those who experience irritability and anxiety. MenstriCare offers a broad approach to women's health concerns through improvement of hormone utilization for optimum hormonal balance. MenstriCare regulates cyclical bleeding and promotes the relaxation of the uterine musculature. MenstriCare's benefits include a more even emotional outlook and an optimum sense of well-being.
TakeHerb: Ashoka Bark Powder, Certified Organic, Banyan Botanicals, 1 lb.
Kalyx: Ashoka Leaf Powder (Saraca indica), Vadik Herbs, 100 VCaps: B
Kalyx: Ashoka Bark Powder, Wildcrafted (Saraca indica), Vadik Herbs, 1 lb: B
Kalyx: Ashoka Bark Powder, Wildcrafted (Saraca indica), Vadik Herbs, 25 kg (55 lbs): B
Nutrition Basics: Ashoka Herbal Information
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