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Ayurvedic Medicine


Justicia adhatoda



Sanskrit Name: Vasaka

Latin: Justicia adhatoda Linn. (Syn. Adhatoda vasica Nees)

Family: Acanthaceae

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 Energetics:
Rasa: bitter, astringent
Veerya: cooling
Vipaka: pungent
Gunas: light, drying

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
BLOOD: It is eulogised in the Sanskrit literature as superb for stopping bleeding. It astringes the mucus membranes and is effective for bleeding from ulcers, metrorrhagia, menorrhagia, epistaxis and the gums.3
GYNAECOLOGY: Its astringency causes contraction of the uterus. Useful in bleeding and prolapse.4

Indications: asthma, bronchitis, cough, local bleeding, thrombocytopenia, pyorrhea

Contraindications: Pregnancy, high vata

Formulations and Dosage:
fresh leaf juice: 5-10 ml tid
leaf powder: 3-5 gr tid
leaf decoction: 2-3 oz tid
root powder: 3-5 gr tid
vasaghrita: 7-10 gm. bid
decoction:1-2 oz bid

1 Bone 1996
2 Bone 1996
3 Paranjpe
4 Bone 1996

Nadkarni, KM Indian Materia Med, vol. 1, 41, 1993.
Chaturvedi, et al., Clinical trial of Adhatoda vasica syrup in non-ulcer dyspepsia (
Amla pitta), Anc. Sci. Life, 3(1), 19-23, 1983
Sivarajan, VV, Balachandran, I Ayurvedic Drugs and their Plant sources, Int. Science Publ., 503, 1994.
Amin, AH, Mehta, DR, Nature, 184:1317, 1959.
Atal, CK, et al, Ind J Exp Biol. 20:704, 1982.
Gerson, S. Personal obsevation.
CS Ci. 7/128.
Harita Samhita 3,10/24.


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