Lodhra (Symplocos Racemosa) Medicinal Uses, Benefits and Side Effects

Lodhra is an important medicinal tree of India. It is used in Ayurveda, since ancient times for treatment of variety of disorders. Lodhra was given by Charak and Sushruta both internally and externally, for bleeding disorders, persistent dysentery, menstrual and urinary disorders, obstinate skin diseases, acute constipation, piles, abdominal inflammation, intestinal paralysis, dropsy etc.

Charak prescribed paste of Lodhra bark with the decoction of Vata Vriksha (Ficus benghalensis) bark. Sushruta prescribed the paste of the bark for swellings and for quick healing of wounds.

lodhara herb medicinal values

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

Lodhra is given to alleviate vitiated blood, Kapha and pitta. It promotes eyesight and cures Shotha (oedema). It is laxative, cooling and astringent. Lodhra is used for bowel complaints, eye diseases, ulcers, etc. The decoction of bark is used as a mouth wash to give firmness to bleeding and spongy gums. This decoction is also given as snake-bite cure. The bark decoction is given with milk in for menstrual disorders.

Lodhra is described in classical Ayurvedic texts as absorbent, stomachic, refrigerant, astringent, expectorant and hemostatic. It is used as ingredient into the composition of various pastes which are applied to inflamed skin conditions as it promote the maturation and resolution of stagnant humors.

In fevers, dysentery and liver complaints compound decoctions and infusions of Lodhra along with other ingredients are used. For dysentery a compound powder containing Liquorice root, Katphala / Kaiphal / Myrica Nagi bark, and pomegranate rind in equal proportions to the Lodhra bark is made and given.

General Information

Plant Description: Symplocos racemosa is small tree or a large shrub, branchlets glabrous.

Leaves: Simple, alternate, oblong, sometimes almost orbicular, cuneate at both ends, obscurely crenate, obtuse, coriaceous, nerves distant, not conspicuous, petioles 8 mm long.

Flowers: Regular, bisexual, white, in racemes 5—10 cm long. Calyx-tube usually glabrous, 5-lobed, imbricate, lobes 2.5 mm long, ovate, minutely pubescent; corolla 4 mm long, petals 5, imbricate, free or obscurely connate; stamens numerous, adnate to corolla-tube usually throughout its length, anthers shortly oblong dehiscing longitudinally; ovary inferior, 3-locular with 2-4 anatropous pendulous ovules on an axile placenta, style filiform, stigma small, capitate.

Fruit: Subcylindric smooth ellipsoid drupe nearly 1.2 cm long, 6 mm broad, 1— 3-seeded with a woody endocarp.

Stem bark: Bark is very soft and friable. Outer surface uneven and rough due to fissures and cracks, grayish brown to grey externally, pale to whitish-brown internally. On fracture short and granular in cortical region and fibrous in inner region. The transverse section a middle layer of a red colour is seen between the corky and fibrous portions. Microscopic examination shows that the colored layer is chiefly composed of oblong cells containing red coloring matter.

Bark Powder: Greyish-brown. Microscopic view show fragments of cork, stone cells, fibers, prismatic and cluster crystals of calcium oxalate and starch grains. It tastes astringent and bitter.

  • Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Stem Bark
  • Plant type / Growth Habit: Small tree
  • Duration: Perennial
  • Distribution: Occurs throughout North East India, Assam, Bengal and Myanmar. Also found in Chota Nagpur plateau.
  • Habitat: Abundant in the plains and lower hills, ascending in the Himalayas up to an elevation of 1400 m.

Vernacular Names / Synonyms

  1. Scientific name: Symplocos racemosa
  2. Sanskrit: Balabadhra, Balipriya, Bhillataru, Bhilli, Galava, Hastilodhraka, Hemapushpak, Kandakilaka, Kandanila, Laktakarma, Lodhra, Lodhraka, Lodhravriksha, Mahalodhra, Marjana, Rodhra, Shahara, Shaharalodhra, Shambara, Shavaraka, Shukla, Tilaka, Tririta, Tritaka, Vanarajhata
  3. Assamese: Mugam, Bhomroti, Kaviang
  4. Bengali: Lodha, Lodhra, Lodh
  5. Darjeeling: Kaidai, Khoidai, Sungen
  6. English: Symplocos bark, Lodh Tree, Cinchona, China nora
  7. Gujrati: Lodhar, Lodar
  8. Hindi: Lodha, Lodh
  9. Kannada: Lodhra
  10. Kumaon: Lodh
  11. Malayalam: Pachotti
  12. Marathi: Lodha, Lodhra, Hura, Lodh
  13. Nepal: Chamlani
  14. Punjabi: Lodhar
  15. Siddha: Velli-lethi.
  16. Sinhalese: Lothsumbula
  17. Tamil: Vellilathi, Vellilothram
  18. Telugu: Lodhuga
  19. Unani: Lodh Pathaani, Lodapathani
  20. Urdu: Lodh, Lodhpathani

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 Lodhra is Symplocos racemosa. It belongs to plant family Symplocaceae. 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: Dilleniidae
  • Order: Ebenales
  • Family: Symplocaceae – Sweetleaf family
  • Genus: Symplocos Jacq. – sweetleaf P
  • Species: Symplocos racemosa Roxb. – lodhtree P

Synonyms

  1. Symplocos hamiloniana Wall.
  2. Symplocos rigida Wall.
  3. Symplocos nervosa A. DC
  4. Symplocos propinqua Hance.

Shavara Lodhra of classical texts is equated with Symplocos paniculata (Thumb.) Miq. syn. Symplocos crataegoides Buch.-Ham. ex D. Don.

The stem bark of some other plants are also used as substitute for the bark of Lodhra and used in same way. Example of such tree include Melaleuca leucadendra Linn., Cajeput Tree.

Constituents of Symplocos racemosa

The stem bark contain alkaloids (Loturine, Loturidine and Colloturine).

Loturine is present in largest quantity (0.24%). It is crystalline, and forms crystalline salts.

Colloturine (0.02%) is also crystalline but loturidine (0.06%) is amorphous.

All three alkaloids in dilute acid solutions show an intense blue-violet fluorescence.

The middle layers of Lodh bark contain much red colouring matter and it is used traditionally to dye the cloths. A new flavan glycoside, symposide, has been isolated from stem bark.

Betulinic acid, oleanolic acid, acetyl oleanolic acid ellagic acid, flavonoids, salireposide, symplocososide, betasito-glycoside, symploveroside, benzoylsalireposide, salireposide etc. have also been isolated from this plant. It contains no tannin.

Chief Indications of Lodhra

  1. Bleeding disorders
  2. Blood purification
  3. Bowel complaints
  4. Chyluria (presence of chyle in the urine stream, which results in urine appearing milky white)
  5. Diarrhea, dysentery
  6. Dropsy
  7. Elephantiasis due to filarial infection
  8. Eye diseases
  9. Inflammation and cleaning of uterus
  10. Leprosy, skin diseases
  11. Liver complaints
  12. Ulcers
  13. Vaginal disorders, menorrhagia, leucorrhoea, PCOD, excessive vaginal discharge

Ayurvedic Properties and Action

In Ayurveda, Symplocos racemosa is known As Lodhra, Tirita, Kaaneen / Kanina, Tilvaka and Santarodbhava. It is also known as Tilak as it is used for applying Tilak / Teeka mark on the forehead.

Lodhra is grouped under Sandhaniya Varg (group of plants that promote the union of fractured parts), Amvashtadi Varg (cure diarrhea) and Nyagrodhadi Varg (cure boils and sores, constipate the bowels, unite fractures, and also allay blood-bile, burning sensation, and faults of the female reproductive organs) .

Lodhra is astringent in taste (Rasa), pungent after digestion (Vipaka), and is cool in effect (Virya).

  • Rasa (taste on tongue): Kashaya (Astringent)
  • Guna (Pharmacological Action): Laghu (Light), Rukhsha (Drying)
  • Virya (Action): Shita (Cooling)
  • Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Katu (Pungent)

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.

It 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 Kapha.

Action / Karma

  1. Chakshushya: Good for eyes
  2. Grabhashaya srava-nashak: Prevents uterus discharge.
  3. Grahi: Inspissants; stomachic, digestive and heating qualities dry the fluids of the body
  4. Kaphahara: Pacifies Kapha Dosha
  5. Kushtaghna: Alleviates skin conditions
  6. Pittahara: Pacifies Pitta Dosha
  7. Raktstambhan: Controls bleeding.
  8. Varnya: cosmetic application for complexion
  9. Vran Ropan: Wound healing

Important Ayurvedic formulations

  1. Lodhrasava or Rodhrasava
  2. Pushyanug Churna
  3. Brihat Gangadhara Churna
  4. Proprietary medicines: Evercare, Styplon, Himfertin, M2- Tone, Hempushpa

Important therapeutic Uses in Ayurveda

  1. Atisara: Diarrhea
  2. Grbhashaya Srava: Discharges from vagina.
  3. Netra Roga: Diseases of Eyes
  4. Pradar Rog: Abnormal Vaginal discharges
  5. Raktpitta: Bleeding disorders
  6. Shwet Pradar: Leucorrhoea
  7. Sotha: Accumulation of fluid in the skin and subcutaneous tissues
  8. YauvanaPidika: Pimples/acne

Important Medicinal Properties

Symplocos racemosa 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. Antibacterial: It has broad spectrum of antibacterial activity (but poor antibacterial activity against gram negative microorganism like P. aeruginosa and E. Colil)
  2. Antidiabetic: It significant decrease plasma insulin and liver glycogen levels.
  3. Anti-fibrinolytic: Promote blood clotting by preventing blood clots from breaking down.
  4. Anti-inflammatory: Reducing inflammation by acting on body mechanisms.
  5. Anti-oxidant: It has good scavenging activity on 2,2-diphenylpicrylhydrazyl (DPPH), hydroxyl, nitric oxide radicals and prevents lipid per-oxidation.
  6. Anti-ulcer: Protects against ulcers.
  7. Astringents: Constrict tissues; styptic.
  8. Expectorant: Promotes the secretion of sputum by the air passages, used to treat coughs.
  9. Hepatoprotective: Prevent damage to the liver.
  10. Hypolipidemic: Lowers lipid level in blood.
  11. Hypolipidemic: Lowers lipid level in blood.
  12. Refrigerant: Cooling.
  13. Stomachic: Stimulates gastric activity.

Why Lodhra is beneficial in Gynecological or Female disorders?

  1. Lodhra normalizes FSH and LH.
  2. FSH is acronym for follicle stimulating hormone. It is a gonadotropin, a glycoprotein polypeptide hormone released by the pituitary gland, located on the underside of the brain. It is a hormone and regulates the development, growth, pubertal maturation, and reproductive processes of the body.
  3. In women, FSH manages the menstrual cycle and stimulates the ovaries to produce eggs.
  4. High levels of FSH is an indicator of infertility or decreased fertility. A low level of FSH may indicate an imbalance in the pituitary or hypothalamus.
  5. Luteinizing Hormone LH, is a hormone produced by gonadotropic cells in the anterior pituitary gland. It triggers ovulation and development of the corpus luteum.
  6. In a study water extract of Lodhra significantly stimulated serum FSH level along with rise in serum LH level in immature female Sprague-Dawley rats on oral administration.
  7. Lodhra has anti-androgenic effect and prevents ovarian cell dysfunction in PCOS and improved the fertility.
  8. Treatment with Lodhra bark significantly decreases testosterone level which is found to be elevated in PCOS. It significantly restores estrogens, progesterone and cholesterol level.
  9. Lodhra restores the histology of ovarian tissue. The ovarian weights and uterine weights significantly improves after treatment with Lodhra bark.
  10. Lodhra is useful in inflammation of uterus due to its anti-inflammatory effects.
  11. Lodhra helps in maintaining the ratio of estrogen and progesterone in the female body thus preventing menstrual irregularity.
  12. Phytoestrogen is a naturally-occurring plant nutrient that exerts an estrogen-like action on the body. They are structurally and/or functionally similar to mammalian estrogens and their active metabolites. Estrogen or estrogen is the primary female sex hormone responsible for the development and regulation of the female reproductive system and secondary sex characteristics.
  13. Lodhra contains phytoestrogens. Thus it ameliorate mild to moderate pre and post menstrual depression by acting on the serotonergic systems.

Medicinal Uses of Symplocos racemosa or Lodhra

In Sanskrit Lodhra is also known as Rodhra (Rodhaka) which literally means one which stops or arrests. This name is given due to its therapeutic efficacy to stop abnormal bleeding. Due to this property it is used to normalize menstrual bleeding.

Lodhra is effective medicine for Raktapitta or varieties of bleeding disorders and includes bleeding from anus (guda), vagina (yoni), nasika (nose) etc. Raktapitta can be due to eating food items which are hot, acidic potency (katu, amla vipaka), heat and indigestion of food, and its symptoms include Loss of appetite, Eructation’s of sour taste and of bad smell, Frequent urge for vomiting, Burning all over body etc. In such cases intake of Lodhra bark gives relief due to its cooling, astringent and laxative properties.

Lodhra has a specific action upon relaxed mucous membrane.

1- Blood purifier, diarrhea

  • Flower or stamen extract with milk is given.
  • Lodhra bark powder is given in recommended doses.

2- Conjunctivitis

Bark paste is applied over eyelids.

3- Diarrhea, bleeding piles, bleeding disorders

Bark powder / Decoction is given.

4- Eye bath, eye diseases, wash for ulcers

The decoction of bark is used to wash.

5- Gynecological disorders, especially leucorrhoea, menorrhagia

Lodhrasava is a widely prescribed tonic.

6- Inflammation, exudates

The bark is applied in form of plasters.

7- Keeping vagina firm

Lodhra bark and Tumbini / Tumbi (Lagenaria siceraria) leaves, in equal parts, are pounded and the paste is applied to the vagina.

8- Leucorrhoea, menorrhagia, dysmenorrhea and other uterine disorders

  • Pushyanuga Churna is prescribed. Or
  • Bark powder is prescribed in dose of half teaspoon.

9- Leucorrhoea

  • Flower extract is highly recommended for leucorrhoea and ovarian diseases.
  • Bark powder is given.

10- Menorrhagia, relaxation of the uterine tissue

The bark is given in dose of 5 gram with sugar, two to three times a day for three or four days.

11- Pelvic pain after childbirth

A cup of decoction of Rohna (Soymida febrigfuga A.Juss.) and Lodh bark is given twice a day for 3-5 days.

12- Pimples

A paste of Lodhra, Dhaniya (Coriandrum sativum) and Vacha (Acorus calamus) is applied.

13- Ophthalmia

Traditionally, the Lodhra bark, Liquorice root, burnt alum and Rasot/Rasont, equal parts, are rubbed into a paste with water. This is applied round the eyes.

14- Skin diseases

Bark paste is applied for pus release and easy heal of furuncles, bruises and boils.

15- Spongy and bleeding gums

A decoction of the bark is used as a gargle.

16- Other Uses

  • The bark and leaves are used in dyeing.
  • Yellow dye is extracted from the bark and leaves.

Dosage of Symplocos racemosa

  • The bark powder is taken in dose of 3-5 gram.
  • The decoction is prepared by boiling 20-30 gram of stem bark in powder.
  • Seed powder is taken in dose of 1-3 grams.

Contraindications, Interactions, Side-effects and Warnings Symplocos racemosa

  1. Lodhra has direct effect on female hormones.
  2. It decreases testosterone and cholesterol levels and increases estrogen and progesterone levels.
  3. It is not suitable for males for long term use.
  4. It has anti-androgen effect and reduces male sex hormones such as testosterone.
  5. It is strongly recommended to diagnose the cause of leucorrhea before starting treatment with Lodhra.
  6. Do not take more than recommended dosage and on empty stomach as it can cause abdominal heaviness, nausea & constipation in individuals prone to gastrointestinal upsets.
  7. While using decoction of Lodhra bark for vaginal wash prepare fresh and do not left uncovered for long time. It is better to use the decoction within an hour or so of preparation.
  8. Do not take spicy and sour food items and yogurt.
  9. No adverse effect of Lodhra powder is reported when taken in recommended doses.
  10. It is safe to take Lodhra during breastfeeding.

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