Arjuna is a tall tree which is very valuable in Ayurvedic medicine. It has been recorded since very old times when it was referred to as nadisarja and was used as a cardiac tonic. The great Indian proponent of ancient medicine, Vagabhatta, was the first to use the bark of the arjuna for heart ailments.
The arjuna is indigenous to India, but is also found in Myanmar and Sri Lanka. It is found mostly near marshy areas. It can reach up to a height of 20 to 27 meters. Its binomial name is Terminalia arjuna.
All parts of the arjuna are important in Ayurvedic medicine. Its bark is the most valuable, which gives a milky white sap when cut. The bark contains a valuable alkaloid, which is named as the arjunine. Other chemicals in arjuna are arjunetin, lactone, sugars and several essential oils.
The following properties of arjuna make it indispensable in Ayurvedic medicine:-
(i) Arjuna has cooling and tonic effects, and hence it is invaluably used as a cardiac stimulant.
(ii) Arjuna helps in blood clotting. So it can be used in arresting bleeding.
(iii) Arjuna is a diuretic. It is used in removing calculi, which are kidney and urinary stones.
(iv) Arjuna improves the secretion and function of the bile in the body.
(v) Arjuna has astringent properties.
(vi) Arjuna is believed to be an aphrodisiac, but these properties are not yet studied conclusively.
Arjuna has been used in the following disorders:-
Arjuna is potent in the healing of pimples. Here arjuna is used for external administration. The powdered bark is mixed with honey and applied on the pimples. This helps in the speedy recovery from acne.
Arjuna is a good Ayurvedic remedy for asthmatic patients. The bark of the arjuna is finely powdered and stores in an airtight bottle. This powder is to be consumed after a fast which is broken by a mixture of condensed milk in rice, known as kheer. Twelve grams of the powder of the arjuna bark is to be sprinkled over the kheer. The person must sleep only twelve hours after eating this. This is considered to be a permanent solution for asthma.
(iii) Bone fractures
Arjuna bark is effective in the treatment of bone fractures and contusions. The powder of the bark is taken with honey.
(iv) Digestive Problems
In cases of diarrhea and dysentery, the person is given a decoction of 15 to 30 grams of the arjuna bark.
Arjuna can heal earache problems. The juice of the fresh leaves of the arjuna is extracted and is put into the ear drop by drop. A couple of drops each time is sufficient to treat earaches.
(vi) Heart Disorders
The greatest use of arjuna is made in the treatment of heart ailments. Arjuna has a terrific stimulating action on the heart. For this reason, it is used in the treatment of cardiac failure and dropsy. Ayurvedic physicians prescribe arjuna tonics to people who have heart conditions.
Here’s one way in which arjuna is used for the treatment of heart patients:
A thick portion of the bark is taken and put in milk. This is made into a pasty decoction. This is to be taken every morning before eating anything else.
Alternatively, the powder of the bark of the arjuna must be taken every morning on an empty stomach in quantities of 1 to 2 grams with milk and jaggery.
(vii) Loss of Libido
Arjuna is believed to be an aphrodisiac. Hence, a powder of this bark is prescribed to men and women who have low libido. The powder must be taken with milk and continuously for a particular period of time for it to show effects.
(viii) Skin Problems
Due to its astringent properties, arjuna is used for the treatment of skin problems such as sores and ulcers. A decoction of the herb is prepared and is applied externally over the sores and ulcers. Treatment is fast compared to other methods.
A decoction of the arjuna herb is applied to syphilitic sores. This reduces the symptoms of the syphilitic sores and aids in total elimination of the disease from the body.
Special Ayurvedic Preparations
Arjunarishta is prepared from the extract of the leaves and bark of the arjuna plant. It is a liquid tonic that is used mainly in the treatment of heart diseases. Six teaspoonfuls of this tonic are taken twice daily after meals with water in equal amounts. This is excellent remedy for hridaroga (heart diseases) due to all the three doshic imbalances, i.e. vataja, pittaja and kaphaja.
Arjuna ghrita is prepared by boiling the bark of the arjuna in cow’s ghee. This is given to the patients of heart diseases in dosages of one teaspoon twice in a day. Preferably, the ghrita must be given on an empty stomach with warm milk.
Arjuna must be avoided by obese people. Arjuna has a tendency to increase the fat content of the body. Especially in the case of obese people, the intake of arjuna may do more harm to the cardiovascular system than benefits.