Origin, Distribution and Composition
Arjuna is a dense tree attaining a height of 20 to 27 meters. It has long,
cone-shaped round leaves and white bark which gives out a milky juice when
cut. Mainly, the bark of the tree is used in medicines.
This tree has been named Nadisatjja in the early Sanskrit
treatises, wherein its bark has been described as a cardiac tonic.
Vagbhatta, an eminent physician of ancient India, was the first to
prescribe bark of this tree for heart diseases. Later, Chakradatta,
another great Indian physician, described it as a tonic and an astringent,
and used it in heart diseases. He recommended its use either as a
decoction with milk and treacle water (syrup) or as a ghrita, a
preparation with ghee or clarified butter.
Arjuna tree is indigenous to India. It is found throughout the
sub-Himalayan tracts, the Deccan regions, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. It grows
chiefly along water channels or marshy belts.
The bark contains unusually large quantities of calcium, small amounts of
aluminum and magnesium and tannins - an astringent used in preparing
leather and manufacturing ink. It also contains a crystalline compound
arjunine, lactone, arjunetin, essential oil, sugars and coloring matter.
Healing Power and Curative Properties
The bark of the arjuna tree is a cardiac stimulant and has cooling and
tonic effects. It is useful in arresting secretion or bleeding. It helps
to relieve fever. It is also useful in removing calculi or stones formed
in the urinary system; in promoting flow of bile; and in the healing of
The bark and preparations made from it are known to have a marked
stimulant action on the heart. The practitioners of Indian system of
medicine use them in conditions of cardiac failure and dropsy. Some
practitioners of modern medicine believe in its stimulant effect on the
heart and use it as a cardiac tonic. As a heart stimulant, either a
decoction of the thick portion of the bark made with milk should be taken
every morning on an empty stomach or its powder, in 0.75 to 2 grams doses,
should be used with milk and jaggery.
In Ayurveda, the bark of arjuna is considered beneficial in the
treatment of asthma. According to this system, a fine powder of the bark
is made and stored in a well-corked bottle. The patient suffering from
asthma should keep fast on the day of the full moon. A dish of condensed
milk and rice (kheer) should be prepared and placed where the
moonlight falls upon it the whole night. During the early hours, 12 grams
of the powdered bark should be sprinkled over the kheer and taken
by the patient to his satisfaction. He should not sleep for at least 12
hours after consumption. This is believed to provide relief.
Fractures and Contusions
The bark of the tree helps the bones to regain their strength after a
fracture. The powder of the bark can be given with honey.
Diarrhea and Dysentery
A decoction of the bark taken in doses of 15 to 30 grams may relieve
patients of diarrhea or dysentery.
An ointment made by mixing the bark and honey applied over the affected
area, can treat acne successfully.
The juice of fresh leaves of the tree can be used beneficially in earache.
Ashes of the bark is also prescribed in scorpion sting. The decoction of
the herb is aced as an astringent for cleaning sores, ulcers and
Aphrodisiac: The powder of the bark is an effective sex stimulant, if
taken with milk regularly over a period of time.