Sanskrit Name: Vasaka
Latin: Justicia adhatoda Linn. (Syn. Adhatoda vasica Nees)
Vernacular names: Sanskrit - Vasa; Hindi - Arusha - Adulasa; English - Malabar nut; Unani - Arusa; Tamil - Adathodai; Bengali - Bakash
Part Used: leaves, root, flowers, stem bark
Traditional Ayurvedic Uses: A well-know bronchodilator, used in asthma, bronchitis, cough, intestinal colic, and dysmenorrhea.
Ayurvedic Action: Kasaswasahara- alleviates breathing difficulties, Raktapitta- prevents bleeding diseases, Hridaya- heart tonic (Bhavaprakasha)
Doshas: Kapha-, Pitta-, Vata+
Pharmacological Action: expectorant, antispasmodic, bronchodilatation, diuretic
Clinical Research: The leaves of the plant contain the alkaloid vasicine (C11H12N2O), which is responsible for the small but persistent bronchodilatation, and an essential oil which is chiefly responsible for the expectorant action. The leaves and roots contain other alkaloids, vasicinone, vasicinolone and vasicol, which may contribute to the bronchodilatory effect through anticholinergic action on the vagal innervations of the bronchii. The bronchodilation effect is considerably increased after atropine administration. Studies have also shown vasa to be effective in the treatment of Amla pitta (dyspepsia) and pyorrhea . The in vitro growth of several strains of Mycoplasma tuberculosis was inhibited by the essential oil at concentrations in the range of 2-20 ug/ml. . There has also been a report of thrombopoetic (platelet-increasing) activity with vasicine.
Traditional Uses: The juice expressed from the leaves and the decoction of the leaves and roots are useful in asthma, bronchitis, and other chronic coughs. Dried leaves are used in dhoomapana (smoking) in the treatment of bronchial asthma. The leaf decoction is an excellent expectorant when decocted with punarnava (Boerhaavia diffusa) and then combined with ginger juice and black pepper. Another effective preparation for the treatment of asthma is the decoction of vasa, guduci (Tinospora cordifolia), and kantakari (Solanum surratense) mixed with honey.
Vasa has also been used to treat skin conditions by combining it with triphala and using the decoction both internally and externally. Vasa was also indicated in the treatment of internal hemorrhage; for this indication it was usually decocted with haritaki, made into a ghrita, or taken alone as the leaf juice. A famous passage from the Harita Samhita states: "In the presence of Vasa why should those suffering from intrinsic hemorrhage, wasting, and cough be doubtful that there is hope for survival?".
LUNGS: It is a
specific for respiratory congestion and wheezing. As a powerful
bronchodilator it eases breathlessness and bronchiospasm. It clears
inflammatory pitta heat and congestive kapha. It can be used where there
is inflammation from an allergic response- clears the lungs and
nostrils. As it disperses stagnation and is strongly scatters pranavayu
it can aggravate vata.2
Indications: asthma, bronchitis, cough, local bleeding, thrombocytopenia, pyorrhea
Contraindications: Pregnancy, high vata
Indian Materia Med, vol. 1, 41, 1993.