The medicated wine of Ashok, Ashokarishtha, is an excellent remedy for irregularities of menstrual cycle and women who have tendency towards abortions and miscarriages should be treated with great benefit, with Ashokghrita - the medicated ghee of Ashok from the fourth month of pregnancy onwards (second trimester). Due to its astringent taste and cold potency, Ashok is salutary in arresting the bleeding or hemorrhages in dysentery, colitis, piles & epistaxis. Ashok seeds are diuretic - increase the quantity of urine, hence used in strangury and urinary stones.
Which takes away all sorrows (Shok) of many patients is Ashok. Because of inducing coolness it is known as Vanjul, ablates the worms, toxins and degenerations like a Yama named Kank that is why called Kankeli also. References of this beautiful tree are available in Vedic literature also, in Ramayana when Sita was kidnapped by Ravan, she was confined in a garden of Ashok trees (Ashok Vatika). Famous botanist Sir W. Jones gave the name Jonesia Ashoka to this tree as he wanted to retain the Sanskrit name Ashok, ”as it perpetually occurs in the old Indian poems and treatises on religious rites” Indian scientists changed its name to Saraca Indica and could not preserve the feelings of Sir W. Jones.
Ashok is known to Indians since Vedic age as Atharvaveda mentioned that Ashok bears red flowers. Charaka described it as an anodyne while Susruta mentioned it under Rodradhi Group. Earlier texts did not describe it for gynecological disorders; Vrinda Madhava for the first time indicated it in uterine bleeding. In this context it is very important to note that Ashok is not reported as an emmenagogue, estrogenic or uterine tonic as claimed by the herbal industry. It is having styptic property like ergot preparation and it exhibits potent oxytocin like activity. Therefore one must be cautious while using its bark in therapeutics. Commonly it is adulterated with the barks Polyalthia longifolia or Shorea robusta or Bauhinia Variegata. At present P. longifolia is popular as Ashok tree since it is widely grown in the gardens. But original material is also available abundantly.
It is a small ever green tree, 6-9 m. in height. Bark with warty surface, dark brown to grey or almost black. Leaves - paripinnate, 15-20 cm. Long; leaflets 6-12, rigidly subcoriaceous, oblong or oblong-lanceolate, 7.5-22.5 cm x 1.3 cm. Flowers- in dense axillary corymbs, fragrant, orange or orange-yellow, finally turning vermillion-red. Fruits- pods, flat, oblong, woody, 7.6-22.4 x 3.8-5.1 cm. seeds- 4-8, ellipsoid - oblong, compressed. Ashok blooms in the summer and bears fruits in October. Ashok is grown in shady evergreen forests up to 750 m. in central and eastern Himalayas; abundantly available in South India.
Constituents of Ashok are -sitosterol, quercetin, kaempferol-3-O- -D-glucoside is isolated from flowers. Isolation of leucopelargonidin- 3-O--D-glucoside, leucopelargonidin and leucocyanidin along with -sitosterol from stem bark is isolated. It contains helmatoxylin, iron also. .
According to famous Ayurvedic material medica Bhavaprakash Ashok is bitter and astringent in taste (rasa), pungent in post digestive effect (vipaka) and has a cold potency (virya). It alleviates Vata & Kapha dosha. It possesses laghu (light) and ruksha (dry) attributes.
A phenolic glycoside P² showed highly potent and specific oxytocic activity in vitro and in vivo on uteri of rat and isolated human myometrial strips and fallopian tube; P² was active in remarkably low concentrations and nontoxic to animals up to 250 mg/kg (I.J.M.R., 1970). Two crude glycosides isolated from bark exhibited uterine spasmogenic activity; both showed significant stimulant action on isolated uteri of rat, guinea pig, rabbit, dog and human; pure phenolic glycoside P² was highly potent and showed consistent oxytocic activity (I.J.M.R., 1970).
Ashok stimulates the uterus making the contractions more frequent and prolonged without producing tonic contractions like ergot or pituitary. It is therefore useful in all cases of uterine haemorrhage, where ergot is indicated viz., dysmenorrhoea, painful menstruation, menorrhagia, metrorrhagia, post partum haemorrhage etc. (B. N. Ghosh, PMMT).
The bark of Ashok is one of the prominent herbal drugs used in uterine disorders in Indian medicine. Ashok reinforces the uterine musculature, hence is benevolent in prolapsed or inflammatory conditions of the uterus. It also has a remarkable healing effect on the endometrial or the mucous membrane of uterus and a stimulant action on the ovary. As a whole, it renders the rejuvenative actions on the uterus, hence aptly called as ’garbhasaya rasayana’ meaning ’uterine tonic’. The medicated wine of Ashok, Ashokarishtha, is an excellent remedy for irregularities of menstrual cycle and women who have tendency towards abortions and miscarriages should be treated with great benefit, with Ashokghrita - the medicated ghee of Ashok from the fourth month of pregnancy onwards (second trimester). It combines well with Aswagandha as uterine tonic. A liquid extract of the bark of tree which strongly astringent has been found to get good results considerably when it is administered in cases of menorrhagia. Sometimes action may be slow but it gives desired effect within three days or so depending on certain factors of disease and patient.
The bark is antidote to sting poisons, useful in stones of kidney and urinary bladder and used as an anodyne, litholytic, diuretic and anti-inflammatory drug.
It cures itching, sore throat, bronchitis, indigestion, heaviness, ulcers, boils, psoriasis, inflammations, leprosy, anemia and leucoderma. It is given in elephantiasis-filariasis, urinary discharges; it strengthens the teeth and denature. It is astringent to the bowels, alexiteric, antihelminthic, demulcent and emollient. It is useful to cure dyspepsia, thirst and burning sensation and diseases of the blood. It is useful against tumors, ulcers. It is useful in fractures of the bones; it beautifies the complexion.
It is beneficial in the treatment of bleeding piles, leucorrhea and many other diseases. This herb is seldom used externally. When used externally, the paste of its bark-skin is beneficial in combating pain associated with edema or swelling.
Due to its astringent taste and cold potency, Ashok is salutary in arresting the bleeding or hemorrhages in dysentery, colitis, piles & epistaxis. Ashok seeds are diuretic - increase the quantity of urine, hence used in strangury and urinary stones.
The flowers are pounded and mixed with water and are used in vitiated conditions of pitta, syphilis and cervical adenitis, excessive thirst, burning sensation, piles and hemorrhagic
The decoction of the bark is also used as an efficacious remedy for haemorrhoids and blood dysentery. The powder of dried flowers is also given in diabetes.
Bark, flowers and fruits are prescribed in combination with other drugs for the treatment of snake-bite and scorpion-sting.
Three ounces of bark are boiled in milk in equal quantity and four-times (12 ounces) water till the total quantity (crude drugs and liquid mixture) is reduced to about three ounces; and it is given in two or three doses; the treatment is to commence from the fourth day of the monthly period (menstrual cycle) and to continue till the excess bleeding is checked. A fresh decoction need to be prepared every day and administered
Similarly the fluid extract of the flowers of plant is internally given in haemorrhagic kind of dysentery in doses of 15 to 60 minims.
Ayurvedic Preparations of Ashok are Ashokarishtha, Ashoka Ghrita, Ashoka Vati, Ashokadi Kwath etc.
Mainly bark, flowers and seeds of Ashok tree are used for medicinal purposes. Dose of bark powder is 1-3 grams and seeds powder is 1-3 grams. Dose of flowers powder is 1-3 grams. For preparing the decoction 12-24 grams of Ashok bark can be taken.