Arjuna – A Herb for Heart
Dr Sanjeev Sood
Physicians in ancient India carried the impression that the bark had some special virtue in promoting the union of fractures and the dispersion of ecchymosis when given internally. It grows in most parts of India and is also planted in many parts for shade and ornament. Terminalia Arjuna is a large, evergreen tree, with a spreading crown and drooping branches. The stems are buttressed and often fluted; the bark is very thick, grey or pinkish green, smooth, exfoliating in large, thin, irregular sheets; the leaves are sub-opposite, oblong or elliptic, coriaceous, cordate; the flowers, in panicled spikes; the fruits are nearly glabrous, ovoid or ovoid-oblong, with 5-7 hard, winged angles.
Principal Constituents: ß-sitosterol, ellagic acid, and arjunic acid. Bark contained tannin including glucotannic acid 15%, a coloring matter, a glucosidal body and ash 34% containing sodium, pure calcium carbonates and traces of alkaline chlorides and traces of alkaline chlorides. It contained unusually, large quantities of calcium salts with small amounts of aluminum and magnesium salts; about 12% of tannins, consisting mainly pyrocatechol tanning; an organic acid with a high melting point and a phytosterol; an organic ester easily-hydrolyzed by mineral acids; some–coloring matters, and sugars, etc. Root contains sugar, tannin, coloring matter, a body of the nature of a glucoside and
carbonates of calcium and sodium and traces of chlorides of alkali metals. The total tannin content amounted to 12% and the content of ash to 30%.
Indications: Bark is useful as an anti-ischemic and cardio protective agent in hypertension and ischemic heart diseases, especially in disturbed cardiac rhythm, angina or myocardial infarction. The bark powder possesses diuretic, prostaglandin enhancing and coronary risk factor modulating properties. It apparently has a diuretic and a general tonic effect in cases of cirrhosis of the liver.
Traditional Ayurvedic Uses: The bark is used in certain herbal combinations as a powerful, soothing tonic for the heart. It is good for both the physical heart as a muscle, as well as for the emotions associated with the heart. Arjuna is used for loneliness, sadness and frustration. It strengthens the emotions to decrease excessive response to stress and trauma. It helps strengthen the body’s natural rejuvenative processes, hastening the replacement of dead or weak cells with fresh, vital ones. In proper combinations, Arjuna helps stabilize an erratic heart beat. Arjuna helps balance all three dosha at once (Vata, Pitta, Kapha), a rare and very valuable property. This tree herb bears the same name as Arjuna, son of Pandu – a great hero of the Bhagavad-Gita.
Action: Alterative, astringent, cardiac stimulant, haemostatic, rejuvenative, tonic & lithotriptic
Uses: Best herb for heart disease, prevents and helps in the recovery of angina and heals heart tissue scars after surgery. The bark is used to heal wounds. Also useful for bile, edema, fractures, broken bones, diarrhea, malabsorption, and venereal disease. External treatment for ulcers, acne, skin disorders. Arjuna bark is used in the form of decoction for hemorrhages, also used in diarrhea, dysentery and sprue. It is also useful in bilious affections, and as an antidote to poisons. It is used as a remedy for scorpion-sting.
For Fractures and Wound Healing: Combine pulverized Arjuna bark with equal quantity of pulverized red sandalwood, sugar and rice water. Take this internally.
For ulcers, sores, and skin diseases: Arjuna leaves are used for covering ulcers and sores externally. An ointment prepared with Arjuna bark and honey is useful in acne.
For spermatorrhoea and in gonorrhea: Prepare a decoction from Arjuna bark and white sandalwood. Take this is for treating spermatorrhoea and gonorrhea.
For phthisis: Soak powdered Arjuna bark in the leaf-juice of Adhatoda vasika and dry it. Repeat this process seven times. Add honey, sugar-candy and cow’s ghee. Mix well and take this for phthisis. It stops the blood in the sputum and clears up the sores and cures them.
For Heart Diseases: Arjuna decoction is highly recommended by Ayurveda physicians in heart diseases complicated with endocarditis, mitral regurgitation, pericarditis, angina, etc. It is prescribed for all sorts of conditions of cardiac failure and dropsy. The tonic made from bark is believed to have a stimulant effect on the heart.
Parts Used: Bark, inner bark is the potent part, but many companies include the dry inactive outer portion to increase profits.
Cultivation methods: Its fruit is dried in the sunlight and than stored up to 6 -12 months. Seeds are pretreated by soaking in the water for 48 hours before sowing in beds. 8 9 months seedlings are better to transplant in the field.
Dr Sanjeev Sood is working as Professor & Head of Panchakarma Department, Dayanand Ayurvedic College, Jalandhar, India.Published in DAV’s Ayurveda for Holistic Health – March 2008