Ashoka (Saraca Indica)
Ashoka dispels women’s grief
Ashoka (Saraca indica) is a medium-sized evergreen tree which is found throughout the India subcontinent — more commonly in the central and eastern Himalayas and also along the western ghats. This tree is often confused with the tall, and ornamental tree, botanically known as Polyalthia longifolia. The use of Ashoka as medicine was known to Indians since ancient times. References in this regard are found even in the Ramayana. Some of the leading lights of Ayurveda, who have had the first-hand clinical experience with Ashoka, include Charak, Sushruta and Bhavamishra.
Ashoka is highly acclaimed for its utility in gynaecological problems. it has been described as kashaya (astringent) and tikta (bitter) in taste and laghu (light) and rooksha (dry) in effect. The bark, leaves, flowers and seeds of the plant are of medicinal value. The main chemical constituents of the bark are tannin, catechol, an essential oil, organic calcium and iron compounds. Ayurvedic texts describe more than 50 preparations for the treatment of a variety of ailments in which its stem bark is used as one of the main ingredients.
The herb stimulates the uterus, making helpful contractions more frequent and prolonged. Ashoka also has an astringent but stimulating effect on the endometrium, and the ovarian tissues, and is useful in many gynaecological problems such as uterine bleeding associated with fibroids and the treatment of leucorrhoea. It is used with success in cases of internal bleeding, piles and haemorrhagic dysentry.
Ashoka has been efficacious in regularising menstrual disturbances without producing any side-effect. Its effect on the ovarian tissue may produce an oestrogen-like activity that enhances the repair of the endometrium and stops bleeding. In metrorrhagia, in addition to decreasing the uterine bleeding, it regularises the interval between two cycles. Besides treating the symptoms of fatigue and generalised weakness, the use of Ashoka provides immense relief from painful menses, the premenstrual syndrome and non-specific white discharge.
The daily full dose of the powder of the Ashoka bark is up to 10 gm in three divided doses in a day. However, a decoction of it can also be prepared by boiling it in water. The famous classic Ayurvedic medicine Ashokarishta and Pushyanug Churna contain Ashoka and are in use for several centuries for several problems of women. However, Ashoka should be given with caution in thrombotic disorders.