Vasa (Malabar Nut) Benefits, Medicinal Uses and Side-effects

Adulsa or Vasa is dense shrub, native to India known as Malabar Nut. It has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, and blood purifying qualities. 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 bleeding, genitals, or the urinary bleeding. Vasaka leaves are useful in treating digestive problems. The leaves activate the digestive enzyme trypsin (enzyme required for better digestion). Leaves also has anti-fungal properties 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, TB, 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.

Malabar nut medicinal uses

It grows in the plains of lower Himalayans, up to range of 1000 meters above sea levels. It is now cultivated in tropical areas such as Shri Lanka, Myanmar and Malaysia.

General Information

  • Scientific Classification:The botanical name of Vasa is Adhatoda vasika Nees. It belongs to plant family Acanthaceae. 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


  • Adhatoda zeylanica Medic.
  • Adhatoda vasica Nees
  • Adenanthera vasika
  • Justica adhatoda

Other Information

  • 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.
  • Distribution: throughout the year in plains and sub-Himalayan tracts of the country ascending upto 1200 m, especially the lower Himalayan ranges. It is also cultivated in other tropical areas like Shri Lanka, Burma and Malaysia.
  • Flowering: February-March and also at the end of rainy season.
  • Cattle do not eat this plant as the leaves emit an unpleasant smell.

Plant Description

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 are large and white with a funnel shaped lower portion, the lower lip of corolla is streaked purpule.

Fruits: The fruit is a small capsule.

Vernacular names

  • Ayurvedic: Vasa, Vasaka, Vasika, Simhasya, Simhaparni, Simhavadana, Vajidanta, Vrisha, ataruushaka
  • Unani: Arusa
  • Siddha/Tamil: adathodai
  • Sanskrit: Vrisha, Atarusha, Vasaka, Simhasya, Vajidana
  • Assamese: Titabahak, Bahak, Vachaka
  • Bengali: Bakas, Basak
  • English: Vasaka, Malabar Nut tree
  • Gujrati: Ardusi, Aradusi, Araduso
  • Hindi: Adoosa, Arusa, Aduss
  • Kannada: Adusoye
  • Malayalam: Adalodakam, Adarooshaka
  • Marathi: Adulsa, Vasa
  • Oriya: Vasanga, Basanga
  • Punjabi: Vishuti, Bhekar, Vansa, Arusa
  • Tamil: Adatodai
  • Telugu: Adda, Saramu
  • Urdu: Adusa (Arusa)
  • Folk: Vasaka

Constituents of Vasa

Roots: Adhatonine, Vasicine, Vasicinol, Vasicinolone, Vasicinone, Deoxyvasicinone, Daucosterol, D-galactose, alpha-D: O-ethyl galactoside.

Leaves: Adhatodine, Adhatonine, Adhavasinone, Anisotine, Vasakine, Vasicine, Deoxy & N-oxide vasicine, Vasicinol, Vasicinolone, Vasicinone, Vasicol, Beta sitosterol, Betaine.


  • Dried Roots: Powder 3 - 6 g
  • Decoction 30- 50 ml twice daily. 15 - 30 g coarse powder in 200 ml of water for preparing decoction.
  • Leaves: 5-20 ml of the juice of fresh leaves;dried Powder 3 -5 g
  • Decoction 30 - 50 ml twice daily. 15 - 30 g coarse powder in 200 ml of water for preparing decoction.

Ayurvedic Properties and Action


  • Rasa (taste on tongue): Kasaya (Astringent), Tikta (Bitter)
  • Guna (Pharmacological Action): Laghu (Light), Snigdha (Unctuous)
  • Virya: Sita (Cooling)
  • Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Katu (Pungent)
  • Action: Good for heart, reduces phlegm, reduces bile, and purifies blood, good for throat.


  • Rasa (taste on tongue): Kasaya (Astringent), Tikta (Bitter)
  • Guna (Pharmacological Action): Laghu (Light)
  • Virya: Sita (Cooling)
  • Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Katu (Pungent)

Leaves are used in Asthma, jaundice, cough, skin diseases, urinary disorders and bleeding disorders.

Important formulations: Chyavanaprasha Avaleha, Kanakasava, Brihata Manjishadi Kvatha Curna, Pancatikta Ghrita.

Therapeutic uses: shvasa, Chardi, Jvara, Kasa, Krimi, Kshaya, Kushtha, Meha, Raktapitta, Trisha, Vata Roga.

Pharmacological Activities

  1. Anti-inflammatory: Reducing inflammation by acting on body mechanisms.
  2. Antioxidant: neutralize the oxidant effect of free radicals and other substances.
  3. Abortifacient: induces abortion.
  4. Antioxidant: neutralize the oxidant effect of free radicals and other substances.
  5. Antiulcer: tending to prevent or heal ulcers.
  6. Antitussive: prevent or relieve a cough.
  7. Anti-asthmatic
  8. Antiseptic: Capable of preventing infection by inhibiting the growth of infectious agents.
  9. Anthelmintic: expel parasitic worms (helminths) and other internal parasites from the body.
  10. Bronchodilator: causes widening of the bronchi.
  11. Expectorant: promotes the secretion of sputum by the air passages, used to treat coughs.
  12. Hepatoprotective: Protects liver.
  13. Rubefacient: produces redness of the skin on topical application by causing dilation of the capillaries and an increase in blood circulation.
  14. Oxytocic: Hastening or facilitating childbirth, especially by stimulating contractions of the uterus.
  15. Wound healing

Benefits of Vasa

  • 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.

Medicinal Uses of Adusa/Vasa/Malabar Nut

Here are few remedies that can be done at home to cure various ailments using Vasa plant.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. Excessive menstruation

Drink leaves juice 15 ml with 15 gm jaggery twice daily.

4. Diarrhoea and Dysentery

The juice of leaves given in doses of 2 to 4 grams in treating diarrhoea and dysentery.

5. Fresh wounds, rheumatic joints and inflammatory swellings

Vasa leaves have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Prepare poultice of leaves and apply at affected areas.

6. Eye diseases

Take flower petals and fry in ghee. Let it cool and apply on eyes for 20 minutes.

7. Liver diseases

Drink leaves juice (1-2 teaspoon) with honey after meal.

8. Intestinal Worms

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.


  1. Larger doses can cause irritation and vomiting.
  2. It is not recommended during pregnancy except in assisting delivery.
  3. Care should be exercised when taking this herb with other drugs or supplements that exhibit expectorant or antispasmodic effects.
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