Saraca asoca, commonly known as ‘Ashoka’ is the oldest tree that has been used in traditional medicine for treating internal bleeding, hemorrhoids, infertility, insomnia, and psoriasis only to mention a few. It is also widely used to rejuvenate the complexion, reduce freckles and calm down inflammation. The tree is valued for centuries for its fragrant ornamental flowers and medicinal properties. Saraca asoca is considered sacred in India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.
What is Saraca asoca?
Saraca asoca is a perennial, evergreen, medium-sized tree that belongs to the Fabaceae family. This tree is originated in India and is widely distributed in Khasi, Bengal, Orissa, Assam, and South region. These species are also found in the central and eastern Himalayas.
Saraca asoca requires strong sunshine, appropriate rainfall with organic soil for the proper growth and development. The plant is usually 10 to 12 m tall with drooping foliage and widespread branches. It has compound, paripinnate, drooping, dark-green coloured leaves. The flowers are arranged in clusters and are orange, orange-yellow, or white.
What are the benefits of Saraca asoca?
The Saraca asoca extracts are considered as the key ingredient in Ayurvedic medicine for treating several diseases. Some of the extracts used for treating specific conditions are listed below:
- Ashoka is considered particularly effective for female infertility and endometriosis.
- The chemical components present in the bark are very beneficial in managing several gynecological conditions in women, especially irregular menstruation and abnormal vaginal discharge.
- It alleviates abdominal pain, menstrual cramps, and excessive bleeding associated with menstruation.
- It helps to treat dyspepsia (indigestion), severe diarrhea, fibroids, cysts, and hemorrhoids (piles).
- The dried flower extract of Saraca asoca is widely used for improving skin complexion.
- It acts as blood purifier and removes toxins from the body.
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- Saraca asoca is extensively used for preventing skin allergies and several skin diseases, such as scabies.
- Mixing dried flower extract of Saraca asoca with water and drinking it cures internal bleeding, syphilis (a type of sexually transmitted disease), diabetes, and severe diarrhea.
Seeds and Leaves:
- The powder obtained from dried seeds of Saraca asoca is used to treat bone fractures and bladder stones.
- Consuming betel leaves with Saraca asoca seed powder extract wrapped in it helps in managing the symptoms of asthma.
- The tonic extracted from the leaves of the Saraca asoca tree is used to prevent blood loss in the stools and helps in removing worms from the stomach and reduces abdominal pain and inflammation.
- Besides these uses, it is also effective in the treatment of arthritis, difficulty in urination, ulcers, arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), blood disorders, cancer, depression, and other health conditions.
What are the medicinal properties of Saraca asoca extracts?
The active constituents and the phytochemicals present in the Saraca asoca tree are responsible for the following pharmacological properties:
1. Anti-diabetic: Flavonoids present in the flower extract of Saraca asoca acts by inhibiting the action of certain enzymes that are responsible for the absorption of glucose.
2. Anti-cancer: Flavonoids, gallic acid, and phenolic compounds present in the bark extract of the Saraca asoca prevent the proliferation of cancer cells and causes cancer cell death.
3. Antioxidant: Flavonoids and the phenolic compounds present in the Saraca asoca inhibits the release of free radicals and prevents cell damage.
4. Anti-pyretic: Tannins and flavonoids present in the seed extract of the Saraca asoca tree reduce the elevated body temperature.
5. Anti-inflammatory and Analgesic: Flavonoids present in the bark and dried flower extract are known to reduce pain and inflammation.
6. Anti-bacterial: Flavonoids and phenolic compounds found in the bark and dried leaves extract of Saraca asoca inhibits the action of several bacteria.
7. Anthelmintic: Alkaloids present in the bark extract of the Saraca asoca inhibits the activity of parasite and eliminates them.
What are the side effects of Saraca asoca extracts?
Saraca asoca extracts are usually safe when used appropriately for a prescribed duration. There have been no reports of any side effects when consumed at the right consistency. However, it is advised to consult a doctor if you notice any unusual symptoms after the use of these extracts.
Using Saraca asoca extracts safely: Saraca asoca extracts are safe to use in most of the individuals. But, precautions must be taken in the following conditions:
Pregnancy: According to some studies, Saraca asoca extract is known to cause miscarriage. So, it is advised to avoid it during such situation.
Diabetes: Caution is advised in people who are using anti-diabetic medications (medicines to normalize elevated blood sugar). Using this plant extract may severely drop the blood sugar levels and may lead to hypoglycemia.