Bala (Sida Cordifolia) Medicinal Use and Health Benefits

Bala (Sida cordifolia) is a valuable medicinal herb of Ayurveda. It is a useful herb to treat broad variety of ailments such as Vata roga, Pitta roga, bronchial asthma, fever, dry cough, nervous debility, infertility, emaciation etc. Bala is used in formulation of medicated oil for treating joint pain, swelling and massaging.

This medicinal plant is distributed throughout tropical and sub-tropical India and Sri Lanka. It is a perennial shrub with long branches. In Ayurveda, leaves, seeds and roots are used for medicinal purpose. Bala is also used as a primary ingredient in massage oils which are used applied externally on arthritis, joint pain, paralysis and other Vata Roga.

bala medicinal herb

By Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE (Country Mallow (Sida cordifolia) flowers) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

There are four varieties of Bala mentioned in Ayurvedic Texts namely, Batyalaka (Sida cordifolia), Mahabala (Sida rhomboidea), Atibala (Sida rhombifolia), Nagabala (Sida alba). The roots of all Sida plants are considered cooling, tonic and astringent. The roots are prescribed in treatment of fever, urinary and nerverous diseases.

General Information

Plant Description: Much branched undershrubs, branchlets densely stellate-tomentose.

Leaves: Heart shaped, serrate and truncate, 2.5-7 cm long and 2.5-5 cm broad, with 7-9 veins;

Flowers: Small, yellow or white in colour, solitary and axillaries; Calyx campanulate; lobes 5, triangular, densely pubescent outside. Petals 5, pale yellow. Stamens monadelphous.

Fruits: Loculicidal capsule, with 8 – 10 strongly reticulated mericarps, ciliate on the upper margins.

Roots: 5-15 cm long with few lateral roots of smaller size; tap roots are generally branched at the tip; outer surface of the root is off to grayish yellow; odourless with slightly bitter taste;

Plant flowers from August to December and fruiting from October to January.

Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Seeds, leaves, Roots

Plant type / Growth Habit: Under shrub

Duration: Perennial

Distribution: All over India and Sri Lanka, commonly found growing as a weed along the roadsides.

Habitat: Tropical and Subtropical plains, Sandy soil

Vernacular names / Synonyms

  1. Bengali: Brela
  2. English: Country mallow
  3. Guajarati: Junglimethi
  4. Hindi: Bariar; Kungyi Khareti, Kharenti
  5. Kannada: Hethutti, Bili kurunthotti, Bili kadeeru
  6. Malayalam: Vellooram, Velluram, Kurunthotti, Anakurunthotti,
  7. Marathi: Chikana
  8. Punjab: Simak
  9. Sanskrit: Bala; Batyalaka; (seeds) Beeiband
  10. Scientific name: Sida cordifolia Linn.
  11. Tamil: Mayir-manikham

Other common Regional names: Bariar, Batyalaka, Beejband, Bijband, Brela,  Chikana, Chiribenda, Chitimutti, Hettuti-gida, Janglimethi,  Kharenti, Khareti, Kisangi, Kungyi, Mayir-manikham, Muttuva, Paniyar-tutti, Simak, Tupkaria, Tutturabenda, Velluram

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 Bala is Sida cordifolia. It belongs to plant family Malvaceae. Below is given taxonomical classification of plant.

  • Kingdom: Plantae (comprising all living or extinct plants)
  • Subkingdom: Tracheobionta (have lignified tissues or xylem for conducting water and minerals)
  • Superdivision: Spermatophyta (produce seeds)
  • Class: Magnoliopsida (flowering plant producing an embryo with paired cotyledons)
  • Subclass: Subclass Dilleniidae
  • Order: Order Malvales
  • Family: Malvaceae – Mallow family
  • Genus:  Sida L. – fanpetals
  • Species: Sida Cordifolia

Synonyms

  1. Sida herbacea
  2. Sida rotundifolia
  3. Sida althaeitolia.

Constituents of Sida cordifolia

  1. Alkaloid Asparagin, ephedrine (mainly in seeds and aerial parts)
  2. Phytosterols
  3. Mucin

Important Medicinal Properties

Sida cordifolia 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.

  1. Analgesic: Pain relieving.
  2. Anti-asthmatic: Treat or prevent asthma attacks.
  3. Anticatarrhal:  Remove excess mucous from the body.
  4. Anti-inflammatory: Reducing inflammation by acting on body mechanisms.
  5. Antioxidant: Neutralize the oxidant effect of free radicals and other substances.
  6. Antirheumatic: Alleviating or preventing rheumatism.
  7. Antispasmodic: Used to relieve spasm of involuntary muscle.
  8. Antitussive: Prevent or relieve a cough.
  9. Aphrodisiac:  Stimulates sexual desire.
  10. Appetizer: Improves appetite.
  11. CNS-Depressant: Slow brain activity. This property makes them useful for treating anxiety and sleep disorders.
  12. Cooling: Lower body temperature to relieve pain, swelling and reduces body heat.
  13. Diuretic: Promoting excretion of urine/agent that increases the amount of urine excreted.
  14. Emollient: Soothing and softening effect on the skin or an irritated internal surface.
  15. Hepatoprotective: Prevent damage to the liver.
  16. Nervine: Tonifying effect on the nervous system.
  17. Tonic: Restore or improve health or well-being.

Ayurvedic Properties and Action

Sida cordifolia is known as Bala in Ayurveda as it is Balya and gives Bal or Strength. It is a sweet tonic that builds body. Bala is sweet and nourish the deeper reproductive tissues.

Bala is sweet in taste (Rasa), sweet after digestion (Vipaka), and is cool in effect (Virya).

It is a Sheet Virya herb.  Sheet Virya or Cool potency herb, subdues Pitta (Bile) Vata (Wind) and increases Kapha (Mucus). Sheet Virya herb gives nourishment to body and steadiness.  It supports building of body fluids. In excess, Bala can increase Ama.

  • Rasa (taste on tongue): Tikta (Bitter), Madhura (Sweet)
  • Guna (Pharmacological Action): Guru (Heavy), Snigdha (Unctuous)
  • Virya (Action): Shita (Cooling)
  • Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Madhura (Sweet)
  • Dhatu (tissue): All tissues, primarily nerve and reproductive
  • Srotas (channel): Nervous, reproductive, urinary, circulatory, respiratory

It is Madhur Vipak (digests into sweet) and has building, moistening and nourishing effect on body. It is heavy to digest and reduces metabolism. Such herbs are cooling and reduce swelling, decreases Pitta and have Anabolic effect on body.

Ayurvedic Action

  1. Balya: Strengthens body, tonics. Such herbs are usually heavy and filled with the earth element.
  2. Brimhana: building therapy anabolic, nourish all the tissues, build the strength, enhance ojas and strengthen immunity difficulty
  3. Hridaya: Heart tonic
  4. Jivaniya: Promotes energy
  5. Medhya: Promotes intellect
  6. Ojovardhana: Increases ojas
  7. Rasayana: Rejuvenative
  8. Shvas-kasa-hara: Alleviates breathing
  9. Vajikaran: Aphrodisiac
  10. Vatashamana: Pacifies vata and neurological disorders
  11. Vrishya: Increases sexual potency

Indications of Bala

  1. Gastritis, acidity, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, colic, wind and distension
  2. Tension, anxiety, headaches, neuralgia, muscle and joint pain
  3. Vata-related nervous disorder
  4. Arrhythmia, tachycardia, irregular pulse, palpitations
  5. Dry coughs, asthma, TB, haemoptysis, bronchitis
  6. Cystitis, irritable bladder, stones, urinary tract infections
  7. Fevers due to deficiency and weakness

Ayurvedic Medicines containing Sida cordifolia

  1. Bala Taila
  2. Balaguduchyadi Taila
  3. Balahathadi Taila
  4. Balarishta
  5. Dhatu paushtik churna
  6. Gokshuradi churna
  7. Ksheerabala / KshirbalaTaila
  8. Mahanarayan Taila

Health Benefits of Bala (Roots, Stem)

  1. Bala imparts inner strength.
  2. It is a nourishing tonic, especially for nervous conditions.
  3. It balances tridosha i.e. Vata-Pitta-Kapha.
  4. It mainly clears high pitta and Vata.
  5. It is beneficial in urinary problems such as stones, stones, infection, haematuria, polyuria etc.
  6. It gives relief in painful nervous disorders such as neuralgia, sciatica, paralysis and neurosis.
  7. It gives strength to the reproductive organs and helps in infertility.
  8. It is Ojvardhak.
  9. It is known to stimulate sexual organs and enhance the male libido.
  10. It helps in dry cough, asthma, tuberculosis and haemoptysis.
  11. It is tonic for heart.
  12. It is Rasayana for all kinds of Vata disorders.
  13. It is health tonic with rejuvenating, anti-inflammatory, libido-enhancing and fat-burning properties.

Medicinal Uses of Sida cordifolia

Sida cordifolia or Bala has analgesic, aphrodisiac, demulcent, diuretic, nervine, rejuvenative, stimulant, tonic and vulnerary properties. It is main herb for weakness. It gives strength to body, heart, nerves and muscles.

Bala is used both internally and externally. Internally, the roots are administered for emaciation, fever, Vata roga, infertility and many other ailments. Externally, it is good for numbness, nerve pain, muscle cramps, skin disorders, tumors, joint diseases, wounds, and ulcers.

1- Arthritis and rheumatism

Oil prepared using its root is applied.

2- Abscesses, boils, cysts, buboes, tumours, ulcers

To promote suppuration of boils, abscesses, ulcers etc. and to bring them to a head and break, apply poultice or paste of Sida cordifolia.

3- Aphrodisiac

Seeds, known as Beejaband, are used for this purpose.

4- Bleeding piles

Leaves are cooked and eaten.

5- Diarrhea of pregnant woman

The leaves juice is given.

6- Fever

The strong decoction of the root of Sida cordifolia (Bala) is given with ginger.

7- Gonorrhea

the juice of the whole plant pounded with a little water is given.

8- Hastening the healing of wounds

  • The juice of the leaves is applied to wounds. OR
  • The juice of the roots is dropped on the wound and a compress soaked with the juice is bandaged on the
  • wound, the compress should be kept wet with the juice.

9- Hoarseness of the throat, improving voice

The paste made of the powder of the roots of Sida cordifolia (Bala) with honey is kept in the mouth and slowly swallowed.

10- Inflammation of the testicles

The milk is boiled with roots of Sida cordifolia till all the water has evaporated. This milk is taken with castor oil.

11- Inflammations

A poultice of yellow-flowered Bariyaara (leaves) is applied to inflammations.

12- Ophthalmia

The leaves of S. cordifolia with other cooling leaves are applied in ophthalmia.

13- Painful urination

The paste of flowers and unripe fruits and take orally with water.

14- Paralysis

2-5ml of root juice is taken twice a day.

15- Phthisis, headache, loss of voice, cough, pains in the sides etc. due to phthisis

Ghee boiled with the paste of Sida cordifolia (Bala) is repeatedly taken m large quantities after meals.

16- Restorative and invigorating tonic

  • The fresh leaves are eaten regularly every morning. OR
  • The decoction of the roots is give. It is particularly beneficial when the body has become emaciated. OR
  • The powder of the root bark is given in doses of 2-3 grams with milk honey and ghee.

17- Restorative tonic, Vata imbalance, nervousness and fatigue, all types of Vata diseases, all kinds of debility, Rheumatic pains, pains in joints, hemiplegia, Dhatupaushtik

Balarishtam / Balarishta is taken.

18- Urticaria

Leaf paste is applied.

Dosage of Sida cordifolia

The recommended dosage of dry root powder is 1 to 5 grams.

The fresh juice can be taken in dose of 3-6 teaspoon.

Contraindications, Interactions, Side-effects and Warnings Sida cordifolia

  1. Sida cordifolia is non-toxic plant.
  2. Bala can increase Kapha and Ama if used excessively.
  3. Avoid use in Ama Dosha and excessive mucous.
  4. It can cause constipation.
  5. Ephedrine may cause irritability and disturbed sleep.
  6. Ephedrine can raise blood pressure and in some cases this may be further increased by caffeine. Combined use has resulted in hypertensive crises in a few individuals.

Drug Interaction:

It may interact with –

  • caffeine and MAO inhibitors, beta-blockers (by reducing drug efficacy due to opposing activity)
  • Ephedrine (by additive sympathomimetic effects inducing further toxicity and arrhythmia)
  • Steroids (dexamethasone, by enhancing clearance levels and thus reducing effectiveness of the drug).

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