Shakhotaka (Streblus asper) Information, Uses and More

Shakhotaka / Sihoda is medicinal tree used in Ayurveda to treat variety of ailments. It is very effective in filariasis, leprosy, toothache, scabies, psoriasis dental etc. Learn all botanical and medicinal details and some wonderful remedies.

Streblus asper is commonly known as Siora, Sihoda, Choriya, Sahora, Rusa, Pirai, Sihor and Sakhotaka in India. It is a medium sized evergreen tree distributed in tropical countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand.

Shakhotaka / Sihoda is medicinal tree and used in Ayurveda and other folk medicines to treat variety of ailments. It is used in filariasis, leprosy, toothache, diarrhea, dysentery, wounds, scabies, psoriasis, and dental care. The tender twigs of tree are used as tooth brush as they show selective bactericidal activity towards bacteria responsible for tooth cavities. Brushing with twigs also helps in pyorrhea.

streblus asper medicinal uses

By Vinayaraj (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The tree is especially found to effective in treatment of filarial elephantiasis (Shlipada). It has significant anti-inflammatory properties. The Central Drug Research Institute of Lucknow, has developed an anti-filarial drug from the stem bark. The fruits of the tree are edible. The milky juice of the plant contains a milk-clotting enzyme and condenses milk. It is commonly used like rennet to coagulate milk, but thus obtained condensed milk is bitter in taste. The leaves are used as tea and for scrubbing the utensils. The latex is applied topically on warts.

General Information

Plant Description: Streblus asper is an unarmed shrub or a small tree about 10 m high with pubescent or tomentose branchlets. In India, it is distributed in the Himalayas from Himachal Pradesh to West Bengal and in hills and plains of Assam and Tripura, ascending to an altitude of 450 m also occurs both in the peninsular India upto 600 m, especially in drier parts, and in Andaman. Streblus asper wood is white, moderately hard, no heartwood, and no annual rings. All parts are full of milky juice. Branchlets many, tomentose or pubescent.

  • Leaf: Simple, elliptic or obovate, penni-nerved, irregularly dentate, rough on both sides, with minute, raised, round dots, blade 2-4 inch, petiole very short, stipules obliquely lanceolate.
  • Flowers: Dioecious; male in shortly peduncled globose heads; female axillary, solitary or fascicled. Perianth 4-partite. Stamens 4.
  • Fruit: Globose drupe, with persistent perianth, yellow to orange when ripe. Ovary straight, retuse ; styles 2, filiform, connate at base. Ovule pendulous.
  • Fruit: Yellow, 1-seeded, pisiform berry, enclosed in enlarged, fleshy sepals.
  • Seed: Globose; testa membranous; albumen 0; embryo globose; one cotyledon, very large, fleshy, enclosing the other, which is very small, and the up curved radicle.
  • Mature stem bark: 0.3-1 cm thick; outersurface light grey to silvery brown with faint ridges and a number of lenticels making the surface quite rough; inner surface smooth and brownish in colour; fracture, tough, brittle on the outer portion and fibrous in the inner portion;
  • Flowering: March and April
  • Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Stem Bark, latex, roots, leaves
  • Plant type / Growth Habit: Tree
  • Duration: Perennial
  • Distribution: It is found from Himachal Pradesh to west Bengal, Assam, Tripura, Peninsular India upto 600 meter. Also found in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.
  • Habitat: Tropical countries, Drier parts of India

Vernacular names / Synonyms

  1. Scientific Name: Streblus Asper Lour.
  2. Sanskrit: Akshadhara, Bhutavasa, Bhutavriksha, Dhukavasa, Karkashachhada, Kharacchada, Pitaphalaka, Pishachandru, Pitaphala, Pitaphalaka, Rukshapatra, Sakata, Shakhota, Shankhinivasa
  3. Hindi: Sahora, Sihoda, Sihar, Siora, Karchanna, Rusa, Daheya
  4. English: Sand Paper Mulberry, Sahor, Siamese Rough-Bush, Paper Bark
  5. Bengali: Sheoda, Sheora
  6. Gujrati: Sahoda
  7. Kannada: Mittlamara, Ponnolige, Mittle Mara, Mittli Mara, Mitli, Punje
  8. Malayalam: Pirayan, Pirai, Paravamaram, Paruva
  9. Marathi: Sahod, Karvatee, Karvati, Karera, Karaoli, Karchanua, Rusa
  10. Oriya: Sahod
  11. Punjabi: Shebda, Jindi, Dahya
  12. Tamil: Pirayan Pirai, Prayara, Palpirai, Kuttippala
  13. Telugu: Berrenka, Barninka, Bariniki, Bari Venka, Barranki, Pakki
  14. Urdu: Sehoda

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 Sihoda is Streblus asper. It belongs to Mulberry family. 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: Hamamelididae
  • Order: Urticales
  • Family: Moraceae – Mulberry family
  • Genus: Moraceae – Mulberry family
  • Species: Streblus asper

Synonyms

  1. Epicarpurus orientalis
  2. Epicarpurus asper Steud
  3. Trophis aspera, Retz., Roxb.
  4. Trophis cochinchinensis Poir.
  5. Trophis aculeata Roth.

Constituents of Streblus asper

  1. The main constituent of Streblus asper dried bark glycosides, saponins and sapogenins. Alpha-amyrin acetate, lupeol acetate, lupeol and betasitosterol are also present.
  2. The latex of tree contains resin and a bitter substance, streblid (neither a glucoside nor an alkaloid).
  3. The root bark contained cardenolide glycosides, asperoside and strebloside and 6-deoxyallose. Asperoside and strebloside have antifilarial activity.

Ayurvedic Properties and Action

In Ayurveda the stem bark of Streblus asper is referred as Sakhotaka. The bark is considered astringent, bitter in taste (Rasa), pungent after digestion (Vipaka), and is hot in effect (Virya). Sakhotaka is an Ushna Virya herb. Ushna Virya or hot potency herb, subdues Vata (Wind) and Kapha (Mucus) and increases Pitta (Bile). It has property of digestion, vomiting and purging, and gives feeling of lightness. It is considered bad for sperms and fetus.

It is pungent in both the initial and post-digestive tastes (Rasa and Vipaka) and hot in effect (Virya). It gives relief in Vata and Kapha and increases pitta. It is carminative, antiemetic and thermogenic. It is useful in indigestion, low appetite, nausea and piles.

  • Rasa (taste on tongue): Kashaya (Astringent), Tikta (Bitter)
  • Guna (Pharmacological Action): Laghu (Light), Ruksha (Dry)
  • Virya (Action): Ushna (Heating)
  • Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Katu (Pungent)

Sakhotaka is a Katu Vipak herb. Vipak refers to post-digestive (effect after digestion / cooking of Rasa) effect of tastes after its mixing with digestive juices. It is the long term effect of herb.

Katu Viapk herbs, increases dryness in body. Such foods reduce fertility and Kapha.

Action / Karma

  1. Kaphahara: Pacifies Kapha Dosha
  2. Vatahara: Pacifies Vata Dosh
  3. Medohar: Reduces obesity

Therapeutic Uses in Ayurveda

  1. Raktapitta (Bleeding disorder)
  2. Arsha (Piles)
  3. Shlipada (filaria)
  4. Apachi (scrofula glandular swellings)
  5. Prameha (Urinary problems)
  6. Kushtha (Skin disease)
  7. Gandamala (Cervical lymphadenitis)

Important Medicinal Properties

Streblus asper is rich in medicinal properties. The understanding of these properties will help us to better utilize this herb.

Below is given medicinal properties along with the meaning.

  • Antiinflammatory: Reduces inflammation or swelling.
  • Antifilarial: A decoction of the stem bark has significant macrofilaricidal activity due to presence of glycosides, asperoside and strebloside.
  • Antimicrobial: The twigs and leaves inhibit the growth of Streptococcus mutans.
  • Antiallergic: Prevent or minimize an allergic reaction.
  • Cardiotonic: Tonic for heart. It is a rich source of cardiac glycosides. More than 20 cardiac glycosides have been isolated.
  • Insecticidal: Extracts from the stem bark possess insecticidal activity against the red cotton stainer.

Medicinal Uses of Streblus asper

Streblus asper is a medicinal tree. Traditionally, it is used in treatment of skin diseases, piles, urinary disorders, excessive urination, filariasis, scrofula, cervical lymphadenitis etc. The stem bark is reported to cure filarial lymphangitis, lymphoedema, chyluria caused by filariasis. It possess significant anti-inflammatory properties and hence used in several inflammatory diseases.

1 – Abortifacient

To induce abortion tribal use this externally. Tripura tribal insert 4 inch long fresh stem intravaginal for 20 mins to induce abortion.

2 – Blood dysentery, nephritic disease, Hepatitis

Smilax zeylanica L. Ramlata (S) Dried root powder along with bark powder of Zizyphus rogusa (Banbadai) and Streblus asper mixed in a ratio of 3:2:1 in warm water is taken regularly early morning for 2 weeks.

3 – Cervical lymphadenitis

The oil cooked with bark is used as snuff.

4 – Chronic urinary disorders

Few drops of latex mixed with fresh Go Dugdha is taken.

5 – Chapped hands, sore heels

Latex is applied.

6 – Dysentery, diarrhea, piles, leprosy, gastro intestinal disorders

Bark decoction is given.

7 – Fevers, dysentery and diarrhea

Bark decoction is given.

8 – Hair loss, hair greying

Streblus asper bark paste is applied.

9 – Jaundice

  • Streblus asper leaf + Psidium guajava tender shoot tip + Artocarpus heterophyllus tender shoot + cumin seeds ground in milk is given at early morning in empty stomach for nine days. Or
  • Tender shoot tip, Streblus asper leaf + Cissus quadrangularis shoot tip ground with milk is given in empty stomach in the morning for nine days.

10 – Leukoderma, piles

The seeds are made into a paste and applied.

11 – Psoriasis

3 parts stem bark, 2 part leaves, 1 part honey and 1 part water is taken. The paste of leaves and bark is made in honey and water and taken orally.

12 – Scabies

Leaves 10 gram are boiled in neem oil 100 ml to make a medicated oil. This is applied topically.

13 – Filaria, elephantiasis

  • A decoction of stem bark is given in dose of 30ml twice a day with Go Mutra. Or
  • 10 gram stem bark paste is given with honey at evening for one month.

14 – Skin diseases

The latex is applied.

15 – Syphilis

The decoction of the roots is given.

16 – Teeth and gum problems, pyorrhea

Twig is used as tooth brush.

17 – Ulcers and glandular swellings

Root paste is applied.

18 – Urinary disorders

Leaf extract is taken with coconut water and cumin seeds.

19 – Wounds

Bark or leaf paste is applied on cuts and wounds.

20 – Other uses

  • The tree is used as a host of lac insect.
  • The leaves are rough and used as natural sand paper in wood work. Due to this use the tree is also known as Sand Paper Mulberry and Siamese rough-bush.
  • It has been important in papermaking in Thailand for seven hundred years. Ancient Thai documents are written on the bark of tree.

Dosage of Streblus asper

  1. Stem bark powder can be taken in dose of 1-2 grams.
  2. The decoction is made by boiling 10-20 grams in 400ml water till water is reduced to 100 ml. This is filtered and taken.

Contraindications, Interactions, Side-effects and Warnings

  1. It should not be taken in excess.
  2. Take only in recommended doses. It contains cardic glycocides. Study show higher dose increases heart rate and cause slight oedema of heart muscles in dose dependent manner.
  3. Do not take any herbal product without consulting doctor in pregnancy. It is a hot potency herb and Ayurveda contraindicate use of such herbs in pregnancy.
  4. It may cause nausea and vomiting.
  5. It is hot in nature, so should be used with caution in summer and by hot temperament individuals and menstruating women.

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