Ashok is a very well-known tree. It is a sacred tree in Hinduism. Ashok is worshipped in Chaitra month of the Hindu calendar. Kamdev the Hindu God of love and sexuality, carries five arrows decorated with five kinds of flower in his quiver. Ashok blossom is one of them.
Ashok is also a medicinal tree and used in Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani or treatment of variety of diseases related to bleeding and urinary problems. In Ayurveda, it is used since time immemorial as a medicine. Charak and Sushruta used the flowering buds, seeds and bark in internal prescriptions for arthritis, sciatica, neuralgia, neurological affections, hemorrhages and gynecological disorders.
Ashok is one of the main herb for gynecological disorders and for uterus health. Ashok is effective in treating menstrual disorders associated with excess bleeding (rakta pradar), pain and congestion.
Ashoka bark is a uterine tonic and gives relief in uterine spasms, dysmenorrhea, prolapse, miscarriage and irregular menstrual cycles. The bark has diuretic properties and indicated in scanty urine, calculus and also for other urinary disorders. Ashok works because it has stimulatory effect on the ovarian tissue, and exhibit an estrogen like activity that enhances ovulation and repair of the endometrium. Its intake boosts fertility and increases the chances of conception.
Ashok is evergreen, small, much branched, spreading, erect, and slow growing tree.
Leaves are alternate, stipulate, paripinnate compound, large, spreading horizontally. Rachis 15—22.5 cm long, stout, much thickened, corky and flexible at base. Leaflets 8—12, distant, the lowest pair close to the base on short, very stout, flexible stalks, 10—22.5 cm long, 3.1—3.7 cm broad, the middle ones the longest, linear, tapering to a very acute apex, glabrous, rather stiff, venation conspicuous beneath. Stipules are large, 1.2 cm long, intrapetiolar, ovate, stiff, brown and deciduous.
Aromatic flowers are regular, bisexual numerous and in large bunch. Each bunch consists of a lot of small flowers that are shaped like long-tubes which open out into four oval lobes. Flowering takes place throughout the year. The flowers are yellow initially and then changes to orange to crimson.
Stamens are 7 with very long purple filaments, much exserted, spreading, inserted on a fleshy lobed ring at the mouth of calyx-tube. Anthers are purple to black in colour. Ovary is superior, stalked, unicarpellary, unilocular with marginal ovules, occupying the position of the uppermost eighth stamen, pubescent, style strongly curved into a ring.
Fruit is a large legume, 12.5—22.5 cm long, 5 cm wide, tapering to both ends, much compressed, rigidly leathery, glabrous, veiny. Seed is 3.7—4.3 cm, ovoid and slightly compressed.
Bark is channeled, externally dark green to greenish grey in color. It is smooth with circular lenticels and transversely ridged. Sometimes the bark cab be cracked. Internally, it is reddish-brown with fine longitudinal strands and fibers. A thin whitish continuous layer is seen beneath the cork layer. The bark tastes astringent.
There is another very common ornamental tree which people recognized as Ashok. But Sita Ashok or Real Ashok is completely different from this tree. The Latin name of false Ashok is Polyalthia longifolia.
The botanical name of Ashoka / Ashok, is Saraca asoca. It belongs to plant family Caesalpiniaceae. 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: Rosidae
- Order: Fabales
- Family: Fabaceae ∕ Leguminosae – Pea family (Leguminosae is further divided into three subfamilies viz. Papilionoideae, Caesalpinioideae and Mimosoideae)
- Genus: Saraca
- Species: Asoca
- Saraca indica auct. non L.
- Jonesia asoca Roxb.
- Significance of name: Ashok is a Sanskrit word. The literal meaning of this name is, one without Shok or grief (Shok means Sorrow, Grief) or that which gives no grief. So, Ashoka is Remover of sorrow.
- Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Bark, seed, flowers
- Plant type: Tree
- Distribution: The tree originated in Deccan plateau and Western Ghats. Found up to an altitude of 750 m in the Central and Eastern Himalayas and Khasi, Garo and Lushai hills. Also in the Andaman Islands.
- Habitat: Tropical and subtropical areas, found throughout India
- Soil: Medium to deep well drained fertile soil
- Flowering: February – August
- Status: Vulnerable
Vernacular names / Synonyms
Latin: Saraca asoca (Rose.) De. Willd
- Sanskrit: Anganapriya, Apashoka, Ashoka, Chakraguchha, Chira, Dohali, Doshahari, Gandhapushpa, Hemapushpa, Kankali, Kankelli, Kantacharandohada, Kantanghridohada, Karnapura, Karnapuraka, Kelika, Krimikaraka, Madhupushpa, Nata, Palladru, Pindapushpa, Prapallava, Raktapallava, Rama, Rogitaru, Shhaya, Shokaharta, Shokanasha, Smaradhivasa, Strinirikshanadohada, Subhaga, Tamrapallava, Vamanghrighataka, Vamankayatana, Vanjula, Vanjuldruma, Vichitra, Vishoka, Vitashoka
- Assamese: Ashoka
- Assamese: Ashoka
- Bengali: Ashoka
- English: Asoka Tree
- Gujrati: Ashoka, Ashopalava
- Hindi: Ashoka, Sita Ashok, Ashok
- Kannada: Ashokadamara, Ashokamara, Kankalimara, Achenge
- Kashmiri: Ashok
- Malayalam: Asokam, Hemapushpam
- Marathi: Ashok, Jasundi
- Oriya: Ashoka
- Punjabi: Asok
- Tamil: Asogam, Asogu, Asokam, Asogam, Anagam, Malaikkarunai, Sasubam
- Telugu: Ashokapatta, Asokamu
- Sinhalese: Asoka, Diyaratambala, Diyaratmal
- Siddha: Asoku
- Uterine affections
- Menorrhagia (from Latin Meno=of mestruation and -Rrhag=to burst)
- Metrorrhagia (from Latin Metro=womb and -Rrhag=to burst)
- Bleeding piles or Raktpradar
- Cardiac weakness, arrhythmia
- Leucorrhoea / white Discharge (safed paani ki samasya or Shvet pradar)
- Depression in women
- Dropsical swellings
Famous Ayurvedic Medicines
Combinations of Ashoka
Ashok is combined with many other supporting herbs for specific diseases.
Regulate menstrual cycle: Haldi + Shatavari + Gulab
Strengthen the uterine muscles: Ashwagandha + Daruchini
Piles: Amalki + Mulethi + Shatavari
Constituents of Saraca asoca
- Ashok bark is mainly used for medicinal purpose. Bark contains catechol and sterols, a wax containing n-alkalines, esters, free primary alcohols, Phenolic glycoside and non-phenolic glycoside.
- Phytosterols β-sitosterol
- Flavonoids Quercetin,
- Flowers give β-sitosterol,flavonoids and flavones glycosidesquercetin, kaempferol,quercetin, glucoside. The anthocyanins present are pelargonidin and cyanadin-3, 5- diglucoside. Bark yields catechol and sterols.
Important Medicinal Properties
Saraca asoca 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.
Saraca indica, is anti-estrogenic. It reduces the estrogen level in body. High level of estrogen in women is responsible for bloating, breast tenderness, low libido, irregularity of periods, headaches, mood swings and increase of weight.
Below is given medicinal properties along with the meaning.
- Anti-menorrhagia: Prevents abnormally heavy flow in periods.
- Anticancer: Used in the prevention or treatment of cancer
- Anti–oxytocic: Prevents premature childbirth.
- Antimicrobial: Active against microbes.
- Antitoxin: Neutralizes toxins.
- Antiseptic: Capable of preventing infection by inhibiting the growth of infectious agents.
- Astringents: Constrict tissues; styptic.
- Analgesic: Gives relief in pain.
- Anti-urolithiatic: Preventing formation of urinary calculi
- Anti-menorrhagic: Against menorrhagia.
- Anti-estrogenic: Blocks the production or utilization of estrogens, or inhibits their effects.
- Cardiac tonic: Tonic for heart.
- Constipative: Causes constipation.
- Diuretic: Promoting excretion of urine/agent that increases the amount of urine excreted.
- Uterine styptic: Checks bleeding from uterus.
Ayurvedic Properties and Action of Asoka
Ashok bark is astringent, bitter in taste (Rasa), pungent after digestion (Vipaka), and is cool in effect (Virya). It is a Sheet Virya herb. Sheet Virya or Cool potency herb and subdues Pitta (Bile). Sheet Virya herb gives nourishment to body and steadiness. It supports building of body fluids.
- Rasa (taste on tongue): Kashaya (Astringent), Tikta (Bitter), Madhura (Sweet)
- Guna (Pharmacological Action): Laghu (Light), Ruksha (Drying)
- Virya (Action): Shita (Cooling)
- Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Katu (Pungent)
- Dhatu: Muscles, fat, reproductive system
- Srotas: Circulatory and reproductive
- Asrigdara nashanam: Management of excessive bleeding during menstruation
- Grahi: Inspissants; stomachic, digestive and heating qualities dry the fluids of the body
- Garbhashaya: Affinity for the uterus
- Garbhashaya Rasayana: Uterine tonic
- Hridya: Good for heart
- Prajasthapana: Prevent miscarriage
- Shothahar: Gives relief in swelling.
- Stri-rogajit: Treats gynecological conditions
- Stambhan: Alleviates fluid leakage and diarrhea
- Vedana–sthapana: Gives relief in pain
- Vishaghna: Poison-destroying
- Varnya: Heals wounds
Therapeutic Uses in Ayurveda
- Sotha (swelling)
- Daha (Burning sensation in body)
- Apachi (inflammation of lymph nodes)
- Raktadosha (Disorders of blood)
- Stri Roga (diseases of women)
- Raktapitta (bleeding disorders)
- Shveta pradara (leucorrhoea)
- Mutrakricchra (painful urination)
- Rakta yoni, Asrgdara (Menorrhagia)
- Menorrhagia also is known as Rakta yoni and Asrgdara in Ayurveda.
Health Benefits of Ashoka
Ashok tree bark is especially useful in treatment of gynecological conditions such as endometriosis, cyst, fibroids, leucorrhoea, lower back pain, excess heat in body etc. It is very helpful in menorrhagia.
Menorrhagia (from Latin Meno=of mestruation and -Rrhag=to burst) is the medical condition of abnormally heavy or prolonged bleeding at menstruation. Menorrhagia also is known as Rakta yoni and Asrgdara in Ayurveda. Ashokarishta, which is decoction of Ashok bark along with many supporting herbs, is given to treat the same. This medicine is effective in curing infections of uterus.
Ashok helps in abnormal vaginal bleeding due to its astringent action. It is an effective uterine tonic and strengthens the muscles of uterus. It corrects the irregularity of periods and prevents miscarriage. Ashoka Ghrita is given after second trimester to prevent miscarriage.
If a woman has weak uterus muscles due to which she is suffering from miscarriage, she should take it regularly.
Ashoka does not causes contractions. The bark is stimulant to the endometrium and ovarian tissue.
Ashoka gives relief in swelling and is therefore given in gout, arthritis and rheumatism. It gives relief in pain and aggravated Vata.
It clears congestion and calms the nerves. It is a cold potency herb and pacifies excess pitta inside body and hence gives relief in burning sensation in body.
Ashok bark, detoxifies body and improves the skin complexion.
Ashoka Home remedies
Ashoka is highly regarded medicinal tree universally. This plant is the source of various types of compounds effective in treatment of various diseases. Ashoka is being used since ancient time as medicine and proven in modern era.
Here I am writing some simple home remedies of Saraca asoca tree. Mainly Ashoka tree bark, flowers, roots and seeds are used in treatment. You can get these directly from tree (flowers and seeds in season) and bark any time. You can also get Ashoka products in (like bark, flower, seeds in powdered form) market.
Regulate menstrual cycle and other gynecological disorders, Pradar Rog of females, abnormal discharges per vagina
Make Ksheerapaka (Ksheerapak means pak / cooking in Ksheer or milk) of Ashoka bark. Boil 6 gm ashoka bark powder in 500 ml cow milk and 500 ml water till it reduces to half. Add some sugar and filter it. Drink this regularly, it is suggested to drink it daily for 3 days in every three months for normal menses.
Pain in uterus, uterus spasm, Stones in urinary system, painful urination
Ashok Ksheerpak should be taken.
Boil the bark in water and prepare a decoction. In this decoction many other herbs are added. This decoction is given every morning (empty stomach) to the patients. Many healers boil the bark in milk also.
Safed Pani (Leucorrhoea)
- Ashok Ksheepak should be taken.
- Ashok bark powder + Mishri are mixed in equal quantities and taken in dose of 3 gms with cow milk in the morning and in the evening.
- Ashok bark tea should be taken in dose of 15-25 ml.
Kukshishool, Katishool, pain in vagina, problem in digestion, lack of appetite, Jaundice, leucorrhoea, cough and respiratory problems
Take Ashoka Ghritam in recommended doses.
Hormonal imbalance, Periods related various problems, Painful periods, improving fertility
Take Ashokarishta in recommended doses.
All kind of skin infections
Boil Ashoka bark in water and use this water to clean skin conditions and wounds.
Crushed flowers and leaves are rubbed on the skin.
Eczema, atopic dermatitis and scabies
Coconut oil in which flowers are boiled is applied topically.
Tinea/ringworm, fungal infections
The infusion of flowers of Ashok and leaves of Henna in coconut oil is applied.
Freckles and external inflammations, ulcers and skin diseases
Make paste of Ashoka roots and apply on affected body areas.
Scabies and itching
Flowers boiled in coconut oil is applied.
Take 1-2 gm of Ashok seeds and make its paste in water. Take 2 spoon of this.
Fever, raktapitt, bleeding piles, problem in digestion, lack of appetite, swelling
Drink Ashokarishta in recommended doses.
The tea prepared from Ashoka bark is given in dose of 15-25ml.
Make paste of bark by soaking it in water for whole night and apply on affected area. This will really help in recovery and provide relief from all kind of pain.
Take 6 gm Ashok bark powder twice a day with milk.
High blood sugar
Grind dried ashoka flower by adding some water. Extract 2060 drops and consume it twice daily.
The leaves can be used to treat intestinal parasites.
Dosage of Saraca asoca
- Ashokarishta: 15 – 30 ml twice a day with equal amount of water.
- Ashok kwath / decoction: 15 – 30 ml twice a day.
- Seed powder: 1 – 3 gm twice a day.
- Flower powder: 1 – 3 gm twice a day.
- Ashok Ghrita: 5 gm twice a day.
Contraindications, Interactions, Side-effects and Warnings Saraca asoca
- This herb is constipating in larger doses.
- It increases Vata, and reduces Pitta and Kapha.
- No drug–herb interactions are known.
- No serious side-effects are known when taken in proper doses.