Malabar Nut | Vasaka Benefits, Medicinal Uses and Side-effects
Know about Vasa (Malabar nut) botanical description, medicinal properties, medicinal uses in Ayurveda, It’s health benefits, dosage, contraindications and side-effect of different parts of this plant. Detail of uses of vasaka herb to treat various respiratory infections like chronic bronchitis, chronic wheezing, fever due to cough.
Vasa is a medicinal herb native to India and found throughout India up to an altitude of 1300 meters. It is indicated in treatment various diseases, and especially in cold, cough, chronic bronchitis and asthma. All part of this plant contains alkaloid vasicine which is a bronchodilator, respiratory stimulant, hypotensive (lowers blood pressure), cardiac depressant (decreases heart rate and contractility), uterotonic and abortifacient.
The oral administration of this medicinal herb normalizes Kapha and Pitta. It is pungent, bitter and astringent in action. This plant is useful in stopping abnormal bleeding due to vitiation of pitta, through the mouth, nose, genitals, or the urinary system. Vasaka leaves are useful in treating digestive problems. The leaves activate the digestive enzyme trypsin (enzyme required for better digestion). Leaves also has anti-fungalproperties and useful in skin diseases.
Malabar Nut is one of the main herb used in Ayurveda for respiratory ailments. The leaves of plant contain an alkaloid vasicine, and an essential oil. Vasa is used alone or in combination of other ingredients to treat asthma bronchitis, bronchial asthma, cough, tuberculosis, and other Kapha disorders. It has expectorant and alterative properties. Internal administration of Vasa softens the thick sputum, facilitates its coming out and thus bring about quick relief in bronchitis. The expectorant activity is due to stimulation of bronchial glands.
In Homeopathy, the mother tincture prepared from the leaf is profuse coryza, coryza with cough and tight mucus, sudden cough, excess cough, constant sneezing, obstruction of respiration and tightness across the chest and asthmatic attacks. Justicia Mother Tincture should not be taken during pregnancy.
General Information of Malabar Nut
Plant Description: Vasaka is a tall, branched, dense evergreen shrub of about 2.2-3.5 meters height. It has large leaves. Its flowers are white in colour with some purple. Its fruits are capsular with four seeds.
Leaves: Leaves, 10-30 cm long and 3-10 cm broad, lanceolate to ovate-lanceolate, slightly acuminate, base tapering, petiolate, petioles 2-8 cm long, exstipulite, glabrescent, 8-10 pairs of lateral vein bearing few hairs, dried leaves dull brown above, light greyish brown below, odour, characteristic, taste, bitter.
Roots: The roots are cut in pieces of 8 to 13 cm long, 1.5 to 3.0 cm in dia.; hard, woody, almost cylindrical, tap root having lateral branches, rough due to longitudinal cracks or fissures; greyish-brown to dark brown externally; creamish-white internally; fracture, hard; taste, bitter.
Inflorescence: It is dense short-pendunculate, bracteate with terminal spike. The bracts are ovate and sessile. The bracteoles are lanceolate.
Flowers: The flowers are hermahrodite. The corolla is large and white with a funnel shaped lower portion, the lower lip of corolla is streaked purpule.
Fruits: The fruit is a small capsule.
Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Fresh, dried, mature leaves, roots, flowers, bark
Preparation: Infusion, extract, decoction, poultice, powder, cigarette
Plant type: Sub-herbaceous bush
Habit: Evergreen shrub about 2.2-3.5 meters high, which have long leaves and white flowers in axillary spike.
Plant type / Growth Habit: Shrub | Small tree
Habitat: It grows in the plains of lower Himalayans, up to range of 1300 meters above sea levels. It is now cultivated in tropical areas such as Shri Lanka, Myanmar and Malaysia.
Flowering: During cold season. February-March and also at the end of rainy season. Cattle do not eat this plant as the leaves emit an unpleasant smell.
Common Names of Malabar But
- Ayurvedic: Vasa, Vasaka, Vasika, Simhasya, Simhaparni, Simhavadana, Vajidanta, Vrisha, ataruushaka
- Unani: Arusa
- Siddha: Adathodai, Vacai
- Sanskrit: Vrisha, Atarusha, Vasaka, Simhasya, Vajidana
- Assamese: Titabahak, Bahak, Vachaka
- Bengali: Bakas, Basak
- English: Vasaka, Malabar Nut tree
- Folk: Vasaka
- Gujrati: Ardusi, Aradusi, Araduso, Alduso, Aduraspee, Bansa
- Hindi: Adoosa, Arusa, Aduss
- Kannada: Adusoye
- Malayalam: Adalodakam, Adarooshaka, Atalotakam, Ataloetakam
- Marathi: Adulsa, Vasa
- Oriya: Vasanga, Basanga
- Punjabi: Vishuti, Bhekar, Vansa, Arusa
- Tamil: Adhatodai, Pavettai, Adadodai, Adadoda
- Telugu: Adda saramu, Addasaramu, Addasaram, Adampaka, Adasaramu
- Urdu: Adusa (Arusa)
Justicia adhatoda Scientific Classification
All plants are scientifically classified into main 7 levels. These levels are Kingdom, Division, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species. A genus comprise of many species and botanical name consists of Genus (uppercase) followed by Species (lowercase). Genus consists of many species which are closely related and have lots of similarities. Species is the lowest level and represents the group of same plant.
The botanical name of Vasa is Adhatoda Vasica. It belongs to plant family Acanthaceae. The scientific name Adhathoda is derived from the Tamil name Adhathodau. Below is given taxonomical classification of plant.
- Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
- Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
- Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
- Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
- Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
- Subclass: Asteridae
- Order: Scrophulariales
- Family: Acanthaceae – Acanthus family
- Genus: Justicia L. – water-willow
- Species: Justicia adhatoda L. – Malabar nut
Justicia adhatoda Botanical Synonyms
- Adhatoda zeylanica Medic.
- Adhatoda Vasica Nees
- Adenanthera vasika
- Justica adhatoda
Justicia adhatoda Constituents
The leaves of Vasaka plant comprises the drug. These contain alkaloid, vasicine which has strong bronchodilator activity and used in form of juice, or decoction to treat respiratory infections. It is also useful in treating leprosy, blood disorders, heart troubles, thirst, fever, vomiting, loss of memory, leucoderma,jaundice, tumors, mouth troubles, sore-eye, fever, and gonorrhea.
Leaves: Adhatodine, Adhatonine, Adhavasinone, Anisotine, Vasakine, vasicin (lead molecule for Bromhexin and Ambroxol), Deoxy & N-oxide vasicine, Vasicinol, Vasicinolone, Vasicinone, Vasicol, Beta sitosterol, Betaine.
Roots: Adhatonine, Vasicine, Vasicinol, Vasicinolone, Vasicinone, Deoxyvasicinone, Daucosterol, D-galactose, alpha-D: O-ethyl galactoside.
Ayurvedic Properties and Action of Malabar nut
Justicia adhatoda is known as Arusak (not angry), Vasa (giving smell), Vrisha (chief), Sinha-mukhi (lion-mouthed), Sinha-parni (lion-leaved), Sinhakatpat (lion-eradicator) and Ruksha (dry) in Sanskrit.
Vasa is chief medicinal herb used in case of upper respiratory ailments. It reduces phlegm and heat inside body. It is cooling in action and so reduces Pitta and Kapha but increases Vata. Due to light and drying action, it benefits in cough and respiratory ailments.
- Rasa (taste on tongue): Kasaya (Astringent), Tikta (Bitter)
- Guna (Pharmacological Action): Laghu (Light), Ruksha (drying)
- Virya: Sita (Cooling)
- Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Katu (Pungent)
- Dhatu (tissue): Plasma, blood, fat.
- Srotas (channel): Respiratory, circulatory, digestive.
Vasaka cures Kasa (bronchitis), Vaisvarya (impairment of voice), Raktapitta (a disease characterized by bleeding from different parts of the body), aggravated Kapha, Trishna (morbid thirst), svasa (asthma), Jvara (fever), Chardi (vomiting), Meha (obstinate urinary disorders including diabetes), Kustha (obstinate skin diseases including leprosy) and Ksaya (consumption).
Important formulations: Chyavanaprasha Avaleha, Kanakasava, Brihat Manjishthadi Kvatha Churna, Panchatikta Ghrita.
Ayurvedic Action of Malabar Nut
- Chardinigrahana: Reduces nausea and vomiting.
- Hrdaya: Tonic for heart.
- Jvaraghna: Reduces fever.
- Kasashvahsahar: Gives relief in cough, asthma and difficult breating.
- Kushthahaghna: Alleviates skin diseases.
- Raktapittahara: Prevents bleeding diseases.
- Raktaprasadana: Give nourishment to blood.
- Udaraprashamana: Gives relief in allergy.
Important Medicinal Properties
Adhatoda Vasica is rich in medicinal properties. The understanding of these properties will help us to better utilize this herb. These also indicate the conditions in which we should avoid it. Below is given medicinal properties along with the meaning.
- Abortifacient: induces abortion.
- Anthelmintic: expel parasitic worms (helminths) and other internal parasites from the body.
- Anti-asthmatic: Against asthma.
- Anti-inflammatory: Reduces swelling. Alkaloids vasicine, vasicinone, vasicine acetate, 2-acetyl benzyl amine and vasicinolone, possess strong antiinflammatory activity.
- Antioxidant: Neutralize the oxidant effect of free radicals and other substances.
- Antiseptic: Capable of preventing infection by inhibiting the growth of infectious agents.
- Antitussive: prevent or relieve a cough. Animal studies show that Adhatoda extract exerts considerable antitussive activity comparable to codeine due t presence of vasicinone and vasicinol.
- Antiulcer: tending to prevent or heal ulcers.
- Bronchodilator: causes widening of the bronchi. Vasicine and vasicinone possess in vitro and in vivo bronchodilatory activity and inhibit allergen-induced bronchial obstruction.
- Expectorant: promotes the secretion of sputum by the air passages, used to treat coughs.
- Hepatoprotective: Protects liver.
- Oxytocic: Hastening or facilitating childbirth, especially by stimulating contractions of the uterus.
- Rubefacient: produces redness of the skin on topical application by causing dilation of the capillaries and an increase in blood circulation.
- Wound healing: Vasa increases rate of healing.
Indications of Vasaka
- Chronic Bronchitis
- Chronic cough
- Excessive thirst
- Heart diseases
- Irritation in throat
- Mild constipation
- Nosebleed (epistaxis)
- Pain in throat
- Sore throat
- Upper respiratory infections
Health Benefits of Vasaka
- Vasa is scientifically proven to treat respiratory disorders.
- It shows beneficial effects in bronchitis, tuberculosis and other lung and bronchiole disorders.
- It thins the sputum and helps in easy removal.
- The dried leaves are smoked in asthma.
- It controls both internal and external bleeding such as peptic ulcers, piles and bleeding gums.
- It has antispasmodic, expectorant and blood purifying qualities.
- It is nontoxic and safe to use.
- Its effect is comparable to codeine.
- It stops abnormal bleeding and other abnormal discharges from body.
- It is cooling in action and quenches thirst.
- It has anthelmintic action.
Justicia adhatoda Medicinal Uses
Vasa leaves and roots are expectorant, antiseptic, bronchodilator, antihistaminic, stimulant, and antispasmodic and used in a variety of forms in cough, consumption, catarrhal fever and bleeding gums, bleeding disorders. In Ayurveda, it is one of the main herb for Kasa and Tamaka Shwasa.
Kasa is forceful reflexing respiration, associated with specific sound in the form of coughing caused by Udana Vayu. Tamaka Shwasa is related to bronchial Asthma which occurs due to the vitiation of vata and kapha doshas. In asthma, there are repeated episodes of breathlessness, a feeling of tightness in the chest resulting from narrowing of the airways.
The fresh juice or decoction of the leaves in doses of 10 ml is given with the addition of honey and long pepper or black pepper in cough. Pepper is added to increase the bioavailability of active constituents. The fresh leaf juice with honey is also an effective remedy for bronchitis, tuberculosis, jaundice and fever.
Vasavaleha, or electuary of Vasa is given in dose of one to two tolas in phthisis, cough with pain in the sides, hemoptysis and asthma.
Vasa is also used in combination of other herbs for treatment of mosquito borne diseases such as malaria, dengue etc. Large doses of fresh juice of leaves have been used in tuberculosis, in bleeding gums, anemiaand hemorrhaged.
The leaves are found to be slight hypotensive and abortifacient. Here are few remedies that can be done at home to cure various ailments using Vasa plant.
Bleeding piles, diarrhea, menorrhagia, Blood in urine
Take vasa leaves and wash under running water. Pound and extract juice. Take 1 teaspoon juice, 2-3 times a day.
Cold, cough, chronic bronchitis and asthma
- Take one table spoon juice of Vasa leaves with honey, thrice a day.
- 7 leaves of the plant are boiled in water, strained and mixed with honey and taken.
Drink leaves juice 15 ml with 15 gm jaggery twice daily.
Diarrhoea and Dysentery
The juice of leaves given in doses of 2 to 4 grams in treating diarrhoea and dysentery.
Fresh wounds, rheumatic joints and inflammatory swellings
Vasa leaves have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Prepare poultice of leaves and apply at affected areas.
Take flower petals and fry in ghee. Let it cool and apply on eyes for 20 minutes.
Drink leaves juice (1-2 teaspoon) with honey after meal.
The decoction of its root and bark in doses of 30 grams twice or thrice a day for 3 days gives relief in worms. The juice of fresh leaves is used in doses of a teaspoon thrice a day for 3 days.
Use of Vasaka Herb for Respiratory Infections
There are several studies done on vasicine which ascertain its bronchodilator activity comparable to theophylline. Theophylline or 1,3-dimethylxanthine, is a methylxanthine medicine used in therapy for respiratory diseases. Vasicine also shows strong respiratory stimulant activity. Vasa is excellent in treating respiratory infection. For treating respiratory ailments, the fresh juice of its leaves can be used in dosage of 1-2 teaspoons. In larger doses, it causes vomiting. Do not use Vasa during pregnancy.
Uses of Vasaka in respiratory infections
Here are given remedies that can be done at home to cure respiratory illness such as cough, asthma, bronchitis etc.
Take one teaspoonful or 5 ml of leaf juice with half teaspoon ginger and one spoon honey. OR
Adathodai Leaves are ground with the flowers of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis | Gudhal, and taken Orally to treat asthma.
The leaves dried and made into cigarettes are smoked for asthma. Dry the leaf and fold to form a cigarette. Smoking this cigarette helps in bronchitis and asthma.
Chronic Bronchitis, Asthma and Tuberculosis
Crush the leaves of Vasaka and extract the juice. Take one teaspoonful of this juice to cure chronic bronchitis, asthma and tuberculosis.
Bleeding disorders, Nosebleed
Take Vasa leaf juice 5ml, with Munakka and Haritaki (each 5 gram).
Bronchitis due to lack of appetite and poor digestion
Crush the leaves of Vasaka and extract the juice. Mix this juice with ginger juice and honey. Take empty stomach in the morning.
Take 7 leaves of Vasaka. Wash under running tap water to remove dirt. Boil in water. Filter the water and add honey. Drink few times a day. OR
Take Vasa leaf powder 2 gram, with equal amount of Sitopaladi Churna and one spoon honey. OR
Take Vasa leaf powder 2 gram, with equal amount of Sitopaladi Churna, Ginger Juice and one spoon honey.
Chronic Wheezing (whistling sound while breathing)
Take 1 teaspoon each of Vasaka leaves juice, Haritaki and raisins. Boil in 2 cups of water, till volume reduces to half. Filter the solution, add honey and drink hot thrice a day after food.
Fever due to cough/phlegm
Take few leaves of Vasaka. Wash and clean all dirt. Crush and soak in a glass of water for 2-3 hours. Drink 15-30 ml of this infusion, thrice a day.
Extract 1 cup of vasaka leaves juice. Cook in thick base pan till juice becomes paste. Take this paste (1/2 tsp) with honey.
Take Vasa leaf powder or juice (2 gram or 5 ml) with Tulsi juice (half teaspoon), Sitopaladi Churna 2 gram, Mahasudarshan Churna 2 gram and one spoon honey.
Vasaka Gulkand Recipe and Health Benefits
The flowers of Vasaka plant are white and purple in colour and are full of medicinal properties. A sweet preparation of these flowers known as Vasaka Gulkand, is used in Ayurveda to treat tuberculosis.
Recipe and Process for making Vasaka Gulkand
For preparing Gulkand, you will need fresh Vasaka flower petals, sugar, and a china clay jar to store the preparation. Take fresh petals of Vasaka flowers. Clean all petals using soft cloth. Crush the petals and put in the jar of china clay. Add sugar and keep jar in the sun. Stir every morning and evening. After a month Gulkand will be ready.
Vasaka Gulkand is traditionally indicated in treatment of tuberculosis.
This preparation is also useful in treatment of respiratory infections such as cold, cough, bronchitis etc.
The dose of Vasaka Gulkand is 1 to 2 teaspoonfuls with a glass of lukewarm milk.
Justicia adhatoda Dosage
The recommended dosage of Adhatoda vasica is given below:
- Fresh Leaf Juice: 5-10 ml of the juice extracted from the fresh leaves.
- Dry Leaf Powder: 3-5 gram.
- Dried Roots: Powder 3 – 6 g.
- Root Decoction: 30- 50 ml twice daily.
- Flowers: 500 mg-1 g.
- Root bark powder: 250 mg-500 mg.
Contraindications, Interactions, Side-effects and Warnings Justicia adhatoda
- Hazards and/or side effects not known for proper therapeutic dosages.
- Larger doses can cause irritation and vomiting.
- It is not recommended during pregnancy except in assisting delivery.
- Ardusa/Vasaka has anti-plantation and abortifacient activities, therefore it must not be used during pregnancy.
- Care should be exercised when taking this herb with other drugs or supplements that exhibit expectorant or antispasmodic effects.
FAQs about Adhatoda
What are the Latin name of plants known as Adhatoda?
Adhatoda zeylanica Medicus, syn. Adhatoda vasica Nees, Justicia adhatoda Linn. belonging to family Acanthaceae is genrally known as Adhatoda or Malabar nut.
Adhatoda beddomei C.B.Clarke Syn. Justicia beddomei (Clark) Bennet belongining to same genus and family are closely related and is most commonly referred as Vasa.
What are the uses of Malabar Nut shrub?
Adhatoda is cultivated for medicinal uses, fencing, manure and as an ornamental plant. It is an evergreen shrub and can be grown in the pots.
Leaves, flowers, fruits and roots are extensively used for medicinal purpose.
What are Ayurvedic, Siddha and Unani Synonyms for Adhatoda?
- Ayurvedic: Vasa, Vasaka, Vasika, Simhasya, Vajidanta, Vrasha, Atarushaka, Simhanana
- Siddha: Adathodai
- Unani: Arusa, Bansa, Basaunta; Hashees-tussual
What is the botanical name of Red Vasa?
Jacobinia tinctoria Henl. is equated with the red-flowered var. of Vasa.
What are the chief indications of Vasa?
Vasa is used in treatment of cold, cough, whooping cough, chronic bronchitis, tuberculosis and asthma due to its sedative, expectorant, antispasmodic and anthelmintic actions.
The juice of the leaves is given in case of vomiting, thirst, fever, dermatosis, jaundice, phthisis, hematemesis, anemia, hemorrhage and diseases due to vitiation of Kapha and Pitta. Vasa is light and drying in qualities and hence reduces Kapha and due to cool potency, it pacifies Pitta.
Which is the chief alkaloid present in the leaf?
Leaves yield essential oil and an alkaloid vasicine. Vasicine is bronchodilator, respiratory stimulant, hypotensive, uterine stimulant, uterotonic, abortifacient comparable with oxytocin and methyligin. Uterotonic action of vasicine is mediated through the release of prostaglandins
Vasicine (peganine) has molecular formula of C11H12N2O. Chemically, it is designated as (1, 2, 3, 9-tetrahydro-pyrrolo-(2-1b)-quinazoline-3-ol).
What is vasicine content present in the leaf?
Analysis of leaf extract showed that it contained vasicine 0.0541 to 1.105%.
What is RLX?
Adhatoda leaf contains alkaloid Vasicine. This alkaloid is chemically modified to get an active compounds (6,7,8,9,10,12-hexahydro-azepino-[2,1- b]-quinazoline-12-one) or RLX.
RLX has significant bronchodilator, anti-inflammatory and antiarthritic action. It inhibits antigen-induced mast cell degranulation and histamine release.
It is the lead molecule Bromhexine and Ambroxol, the two widely-used mucolytic.
What are other herbs that generally used in combination with Vasa?
Turmeric | Curcuma longa, Dry Ginger | Zingiber officinale, Licorice | Glycyrrhiza
glabra, Haritaki | Terminalia chebula and Holy Basil | Ocimum sanctum.
What are the propagation methods for Vasa?
For propagation, 15-20cm long terminal cuttings of Vasa are planted in loamy soils with good drainage and high organic content.
Regular irrigation and weeding are necessary. Harvesting is at the end of second or third year.
What is the taste of Vasa?
Vasa is very bitter in taste and possess a characteristic smell.
How to use Vasaka in Cough or heavy menstruation?
Crush the fresh leaves to get juice. Take 10 ml of the juice, with Cow’s ghee or honey, twice a day.
How to use Vasa in liver diseases?
Crush the fresh leaves to get juice. Take 5-10 ml juice mixed with honey, three times daily for 2-3 weeks.
How to make decoction of Vasa leaf?
- Take few Vasa leaf. Wash them and then boil three
- leaves of the herb in one cup of water. Keep boiling till water reduces to half. Filter and drink this decoction three or four times a day for 3-4 days.
- This decoction is beneficial in upper respiratory infection.
What is Vasaka Capsule?
Vasaka Capsule is pure herb extract containing the extract from the Justicia adhatoda leaf.
Does it reduce blood glucose level?
Yes. Ethanolic extract of leaves and roots in doses of 50 and 100 mg/kg body weight, administered to alloxan-induced diabetic rats showed reduction in blood glucose levels and at doses of 100 mg/kg body weight.
What are indications for Justicia adhatoda Mother Tincture?
The indications include dry cough, obstinate cough, paroxysmal cough, whooping cough, coryza with constant sneezing, watery discharge from the nose, asthma, pneumonia and bronchitis.
- Bloody expectoration
- Cough particularly worse at night
- Dryness of throat, mouth & tongue, tongue coated white
- Fluent profuse coryza from nose with constant sneezing
- Loss of taste and smell
- Paroxysms of cough with suffocation and rattling in chest followed by vomiting.
- Rhinitis, swollen nose with sense of obstruction
What are the topical uses of Vasa?
- Poultice made from the leaves of plant has ability to reduce inflammation. It is applied topically on rheumatic joints.
- The paste made from the tender leaves is mixed with turmeric and cow’s urine and applied on eczema, wound and other similar conditions.
- For wounds, the fresh leaves are pound and used as poultice.
- In ophthalmia, the flowers are bound over the eyes.
Is Adhatoda causes miscarriage and reduces fertility?
Vasa is used traditionally as an abortifacient and anti-fertility. Animal study investigating oral administration of leaf extracts showed 100% abortive rates at doses equivalent to 175 mg/kg of starting dry material.
The extract also shows extract anti-implantation activity.
Can I use Vasa during pregnancy?
No. It is contraindicated in pregnancy except at birth. It stimulates uterine contractions.
Vasicine, responsible for expectorant and bronchodilator action also shows abortifacient action due to the release of prostaglandins. It also shows oxytocic properties very similar to those exhibited by oxytocin and methyl ergometrine. Oxytocin is a peptide hormone and neuropeptide and used as a medication to facilitate childbirth.
In rats vasicine (5 and 10 mg/kg body weight) was administered intraperitoneally to groups of ten animals at various interval of pregnancy. On 1 to 7 days pregnancy, no anti-implantation effect but an abortifacient effect was observed after 7 days pregnancy.