India is known for its rich tradition of herbal based remedial practices primarily involving medicinal plants and their products. Country like - India with a wealth of traditional knowledge of the use of medicinal plants and resource-base in health and fitness therapies would benefit greatly by integration of herbal based health products in the treatment regimens, especially as they are considered harmless. Ayurvedic system of medicine have been practiced extensively since ages.

This article details the benefits of a wonderful plant "Ashoka". The word "Shoka" in Sanskrit means "grief" and "Ashoka" means one that "relieves grief and pain of women". In India, the Ashoka tree also occupies a privileged place in many Indian folk and socio-cultural traditions. Natives in India wear root species of Ashoka as herbal rosary for mental tranquillity. Women in tribes of Chhattisgarh, India consume decoction of Ashoka's bark in cow's milk and sugar for 3 days once in 3 months to avoid gynaecological problems and women suffering from menorrhagia drink a decoction of Ashoka empty stomach in the morning. So, in India its medicinal uses are known since ages. The legendary Indian text, Ramayana has a mention of Ashoka tree. Classical Ayurvedic text Charak Samhita describes the effectiveness of Ashoka as an analgesic, astringent as well as in skin diseases including leprosy. The treatise of Sushruta describes its uses in the disorders of womb in particular, as well as in fever, snake bites, neurological disorders and diseases of the eyes and in wounds. Vagbhatta described the use of its seeds in cough. Ashoka is an important herb used in Ayurvedic practice mainly in bleeding gynaecological conditions.

Ashoka tree can reach a maximum height of upto 7-10 m and this evergreen tree displays a profuse branching pattern with paripinnate leaves and orange to scarlet fragrant flowers.

Ashoka tree is commonly found in South India, Central and Eastern Himalayas.

Bark of Ashoka is the most important organ of the plant w.r.t its medicinal properties. It contains flavonoids, tannins, steroids, volatile oil, glycerol, steroidal glycosides, reducing sugars and many compounds of potassium, sodium, calcium, iron, magnesium. Powdered bark also carries cellular species such as tracheids, parenchyma, sieve tubes and other cells.

The seeds of Ashoka contain various fatty acids such as- linoleic acid, oleic, palmitic and stearic acids, sterols such as - catechol and epicatechol and also a flavonoid- leucocyanidin.

  • Botanical Name: Saraca indica or Saraca asoca
  • Family: Caesalpinoidae

Medicinal qualities of Ashoka herb:

  • Qualities: Light to digest, dry in nature
  • Taste: Astringent and bitter
  • Undergoes pungent taste after digestion
  • Potency: Cold
  • Effect on Tridosha: Balances Pitta and Kapha
  • Part used - Stem bark and seeds. Stem bark is usually used in decoction form.

Classical Categorisation:

Master Charak has described among the group of herbs that help to relieve pain and among astringent tasting group of herbs.

Medicinal uses of Ashoka (Saraca indica)

  1. Ashoka is a natural detoxifier hence skin cleanser.
  2. It is absorbant and coolant in nature.
  3. It helps in relieving growth and tumors.
  4. It relieves burning sensation.
  5. It is quite useful in poisoning.
  6. Ashoka is quite effective in bleeding disorders.
  7. It acts as a cardiac tonic.
  8. It relieves tiredness
  9. It relieves abdominal colic
  10. It relieves worm infestation.
  11. Relieves thirst.
  12. Relieves emaciation.
  13. Relives bloating
  14. Useful in ascites

Top 7 health benefits of Ashoka

As an anti-antimennorhagic, oxytoxic and uterine tonic

The uterine tonic application of the bark has been attributed to its effect on the endometrium as well as on ovaries as an estrogenic stimulant.

1. As an anti-cancer - Studies have shown that S.asoca prevents two-stage skin carcinogenesis while being non-toxic to normal lymphocytes. Research also shows that it also inhibits breast cancer.

2. Anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic and rdio protective effect - The bark and root of S.asoca have been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory potential. Furthermore, S.asoca plants have been shown to reduce the level of liver and lysosomal enzymes, serum collagen and restoration of normal histological architecture of joints therefore preventing rheumatoid arthritis. It also protects cardiac tissue from infiltration of inflammatory cells.

3. For Endometriosis - S.indica bark has the power to manage endometriosis in a very effective way. It relieves pain in endometriosis.

4. Central nervous system depressant and brain tonic - Depression and anxiety are increasingly regarded as health risks. The bark and seeds of S.asoca have CNS depressant activity. The same reduces the onset of sleep. They also prolong the duration of sleep due to the presence of flavonoids, glycosides, tannins in the plant extract.

5. In leucorrhoea - The decoction of Ashoka bark in water and milk after evaporation is consumed by women. Ksheerpaka preparation of Ashoka bark is used to stop abnormal vaginal discharges. The paste of Ashoka bark is known to relieve uterine pain.

6. As a dermatoprotective - The root, bark, seeds of S.asoca find several uses in the treatment of skin complications such as eczema, acne, dermatitis, herpes (kushta/visarpa), scabies, psoriasis and skin cancer. It is also known to rejuvenate skin complexion, induce quick healing of skin injuries, reduces freckles and external inflammation of the skin. Seed extracts are effective against dermatophytic fungi.

7. It is also an anti-helminthic - Presence of parasitic worms in human body leads to malnutrition, weakness and susceptibility to bacterial and viral infections. S.asoca leaves kill the adult Indian earthworm (Pheritima posthuma) which resembles the human round-worm parasite.

Ayurvedic medicines prepared with Ashoka as an ingredient:

1. Ashokaarisht

It is a very famous liquid medicine used for bleeding disorders, diarrhoea, menorrhagia etc.

2. Chandanadi Tail

It is used in the treatment of nasal bleeding, jaundice, herpes, dizziness etc.

3. Ashoka Ghrit

Herbal ghee medicine used in menstrual pain, anaemia, bleeding etc.

Side effects of Ashoka

Ashoka tends to worsen amenorrhoea. People with cardiac disorders must consult a qualified Ayurvedic physician before taking this herb.

Author's Bio: 

DR. Vikram Chauhan, MD - AYURVEDA is an expert Ayurvedic practitioner based in Chandigarh, India and doing his practice in Mohali, India. He is spreading the knowledge of Ayurveda Ancient healing treatment, not only in India but also abroad. He is the CEO and Founder of Planet Ayurveda Products, Planet Ayurveda Clinic and Krishna Herbal Company. For more info visit our webiste: & Download our Android App Planet Aurveda from Google Play Store