Ashoka Bark: An Excellent Herb for all Gynecological Disorders

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Importance of Ashoka in Ayurveda
3. Vernacular Names
4. Synonyms
5. Distribution
6. Morphology
7. Ayurvedic properties of Ashoka bark
8. Chemical Constituent
9. Identity, Purity, and Strength
10. Official Part Used
11. Health Benefits
12. Therapeutic Uses
13. Doses
14. Formulation
15. Side Effects
16. FAQs

1. Introduction

The word “Ashok” means “without sorrow”, which gives no grief or can relieve people's sorrow. The tree occupies a privileged place in classical Indian texts, folk medicine, and sociocultural traditions for thousands of years. It is considered one of the most legendary and sacred trees of India. It is regarded as a symbol of love and is dedicated to Kamadeva (The God of Love). It is believed that Gautama Siddhartha, founder of Buddhism, was born under the Ashok tree.

2. Importance of Ashoka in Ayurveda

Ancient texts of Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, and other systems of medicine highlighted the use of Ashoka in gynecological disorders along with many other health benefits. Charak described it as vedanasthapaka and stambhaka Dravya. Sushruta used it in uterine disorders, fever, neurological complaints, snake bites, disease of the eye, and wounds. Gadanigraha and Yogaratnakara advocated the use of Ashok bark in menorrhagia, Shaligram Nigghantu cited its use to improve skin complexion as well as in the treatment of abdominal pain, piles, abdominal complications, burning sensation, tumors, etc.

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3. Vernacular Names

English - Ashok

Assamese - Ashok

Gujrati – Ashok

Kannada – Ashokdamara, AShokmara, Kankelimara, Akshth

Kashmiri – Ashok

Malayalam - Ashokam

Marathi – Ashok, Jasundi

Marathi – Ashok, Jasundi

Oriya – Ashok, Osoka

Punjabi - Asok

Tamil – Asogam, Asogu, Asokam

Telugu – Ashokpatta, Asokamu, Vanjulamu

Burmese – Thawgabo, Thawka

Sinhalese – Diyaratmal, Diyeratembela

Thai – Sokanam

4. Synonyms

Gandhapushpa – This plant has fragrant flowers.

Hemapushpa – Flowers are golden-yellow.

Kankeli – It gives a pleasant feeling and has a krimighna action.

Madhupushpa – It bears flowers in the spring season.

Pindapushpa – Flowers are borne in dense clusters.

Stripriya – It is useful in gynecological disorders.

Tamrapallava – The young leaves of this plant are copper colored.

Vanjula – It possesses sheet guna.

5. Distribution

Ashoka is a small, spreading, evergreen tree with smooth brownish bark and compound leaves forming a dense crown. It has bright orange flowers with small dense branches and flat fruits with several smooth grey seeds. This tree must be distinguished from the Indian fir or mast tree, botanically known as polyalthia longifoila, Ashoka is considered sacred by Hindus. It is an important indigenous drug for the treatment of various female disorders.

It is found throughout India up to an altitude of 750m, especially in the foothills of the central and eastern Himalayas, Western Ghats, Kerala, Bengal, and the whole southern region. It is also cultivated in many gardens because of its decorative orange-red flowers and evergreen beautiful foliage. It has become quite scarce in several areas and nowadays is reported to be a threatened species.

6. Morphology

A medium-sized evergreen tree of 6 to 8 m in height with beautiful red flowers and copper-colored tender leaves.

Stem Bark – Dark brown or gray, and rough and uneven due to the presence of lenticels. Bark channeled, smooth with circular lenticels, and transversely ridged, sometimes cracked. Fracture splinting exposes a strained surface, a thin whitish, and continuous layer is seen beneath the cork layer.

 

Ashoka Bark

Leaves – Paripinnate compound leaves with four to six pairs of oblong or lanceolate-shaped leaflets, leaflets cork-like at the base, stipules short, interpetiolar, and completely united.

Ashoka Leaves

Flowers - Polygamous apetalous, orange or orange-yellow, eventually turning vermillion, fragrant, found in dense axillary corymbs, bract small, deciduous, and calyx petaloid.

 

Ashoka flowers

Fruit – Pods flat, linear-oblong, leathery, 10 to 25 cm long. Seeds four to eight, ellipsoid-oblong, compressed.

Dried Stem Bark – Channeled, the outer surface is rusty brown, rough with warty protuberances and exfoliations. Lenticels are conspicuous along with transverse and longitudinal cracks. The inner surface of the bark is reddish brown, the fracture is short and fibrous with indistinct odor and astringent taste.

7. Ayurvedic Properties of Ashoka Bark

 

1. Rasa (Taste): Ashoka bark is believed to have astringent (Kashaya) taste.

2. Virya (Potency): It is cooling in nature (Sheeta Virya).

3. Vipaka (Post-digestive taste): The post-digestive taste is sweet (Madhura Vipaka).

4. Dosha Effects: Ashoka primarily balances Pitta dosha and Kapha dosha. However, in excess, it may increase Vata dosha due to its cooling nature.

8. Chemical Constituent

The bark contains tannins, catechin, epicatechin, catechol, glucoside, procynidine, leucopelargonidin, and a primary alcohol. The flowers have quercetin, apigenin, gallic acid and kaempferol, and leucocyanidin. Seeds and pods contain oleic, linoleic, catechol, epicatechol, and leucocyanidin. Leaves contain carbohydrates, proteins, tannins, and saponins.

9. Identity, Purity, and Strength

Foreign Matter – Not more than 2%

Total Ash – Not more than 11%

Acid-insoluble ash – Not more than 1%

Alcohol-soluble extractive – Not less than 15%

Water-soluble extractive – Not less than 11%

(Source: The Ayurvedic Pharmacopeia of India 1989)

10. Official Part Used

Bark, Flowers, and Seeds.

11. Health Benefits

The bark of the tree is used in the treatment of gynecological disorders and traditional healers use its bark as an emmenagogue in the treatment of uterine hemorrhage, dysmenorrhea, menorrhagia, leucorrhea, amenorrhea, uterine fibroid, premenstrual syndrome and threatened abortion. It also has a stimulating effect on the endometrium and the ovarian tissue. The extract of Ashok flower is useful in hemorrhoids, diabetes, cancer hemorrhagic dysentery, and uterine infections. Seeds are used for treating bone fractures, strangury, and vesicle calculi. The dried root is used in paralysis, hemiplegia, visceral, numbness, and in the healing of broken bones and skin.

The Ashoka bark has astringent, refrigerant, alexiteric, anthelmintic, demulcent, and emollient properties, it is prescribed in Ayurvedic medicine for arresting bleeding or secretion and as a uterine sedative. It has a stimulating effect on the endometrium, that is, the mucous membrane lining the uterus, and on the ovarian tissue.

12. Therapeutic Uses

External Uses

Mental Peace

To attain mental peace and relaxation people are advised to take a bath under the shade of an Ashok tree or wear the herbal Maala (garland) using root pieces of Sita Ashok.

Skin Disorders

Paste of roots and flowers is useful in freckles, discoloration, inflammation, ulcers, eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, pruritis, scabies, tinea pedis, and skin diseases.

Internal Uses

Uterine Disorder

Take 90 grams of Ashoka bark powder and boil 30 ml of milk and 360 ml of water, reducing the total quantity to about 90 grams. This is divided into 2 or 3 doses to be given in a day. The treatment needs to commence from the fourth day of the menstruation and continue till the bleeding is checked. A fresh decoction is to be made every day.

 Urinary Obstruction

Ashok seed powder with water is used to dodge the vaginal.

Piles

A decoction prepared in the same method as in the case of uterine disorders is effective for treating internal piles.

Cough

One should use ghee processed with Ashok seeds, Vidang, Rasanjana, and Padmaka in kasa.

Diabetes

Dried flower powder of Ashok is taken with milk and honey, and its bark decoction is taken twice a day for the treatment of Diabetes.

Fracture

Bark decoction of Ashok is an effective remedy in treating bone fractures, rickets, delayed bone consolidation, and calcium deficiency.

Gastralgia

The juice of its leaves mixed with cumin seeds is used to cure gastralgia.

Dysentery

The decoction is also useful in dysentery, a fluid extract of the flowers can be taken with beneficial results in hemorrhagic dysentery. This extract is prepared by grinding the flowers with water. It is taken in doses of 15 to 60 drops.

13. Doses

Bark Decoction – 50 to 100ml.

Seed Powder – 3 to 6gm

Flower Powder – 3 to 6 gm

14. Formulations

Ashokrishta, Ashok ghrita, Pradarari rasa, Kasisadi talia, Madhukadyavaleha, Devadarvyarishta, and Mahamarichyadi taila.

15. Side Effects of Ashoka Bark

All Ayurveda herbs are plant-based, and they don’t have any side effects, but they may react with some allopathy or homeopathy medicine. It is better to consult the doctor if you are on any medications or have unique health issues.

Here are some side effects of Ashoka Bark.

  • Consult the doctor if you are breastfeeding.
  • Do not take it without a doctor’s prescription if you are pregnant.
  • Do not take Ashoka Bark if you are suffering from any kind of critical disease.
  • If you are on diabetes or hypertension medication. Consult first the doctor before consuming Ashoka Bark
  • If you are above 65 years old and want to start Ashoka Bark, consult the doctor and discuss the health conditions.
  • If you are on any supplements, vitamins, or herbal medication, consult the doctor before taking Ashoka Bark.
  • Avoid Ashoka Bark when having intestinal ulcers as it could worsen the condition.
  • Stop taking Ashoka Bark at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.
  • Ashoka Bark may interact with other medicines like blood sugar or blood pressure allopathy medicines.


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