Adhatoda Vasica is a herb, also popularly known as Malabar Nut in English, Adosa in Hindi and Vasaka in Sanskrit. It has been used in preparation of herbal medicines for the past 2000 years. Yogic practitioners often use this herb to clear their respiratory tracts during the course of breathing exercises.
CHARACTERISTICS OF ADHATODA VASICA
The herb reaches 1300 meters in height and is grown throughout India on wastelands in different habitats and different types of soil. It is grown in other countries like Sri Lanka and Malaysia as well.
This evergreen perennial shrub has leathery leaves. The flowers are dense and large having large bracts and whitish pink/purple colored.
The herb is often grown as a hedge and its leaves and twigs are utilized as green-manure. The whole plant or its roots, leaves, bark and flowers are used in various herbal preparations.
The vast variety of pharmacological uses of Adhatoda is believed to be the result of its rich concentration of alkaloids. The prominent alkaloid found in Adhatoda leaves is the quinazoline alkaloid known as vasicine . In addition to vasicine, the leaves
and roots of Adhatoda contain the alkaloids l-vasicinone, deoxyvasicine, maiontone, vasicinolone and vasicinol . Research indicates that these chemicals are responsible for Adhatoda’s bronchodilatory effect
Anti-asthmatic and bronchodilator activity Adhatoda has been used in traditional medicine to treat respiratory disorders. Both vasicine and vasicinone the primary alkaloid constituents of Adhatoda are well established as therapeutical respiratory agents. Extracts of Adhatoda’s leaves and roots are useful in treating bronchitis, and other lung and bronchiole disorders, as well as common coughs and colds. A decoction of the leaves of Adhatoda has a soothing effect on irritation in the throat,
and acts as an expectorant to loosen phlegm in the respiratory passages. To evaluate the antitussive activities of Adhatoda extract in anesthetized guinea pigs and rabbits and in unanesthetized guinea pigs showed the plant to have a good antitussive activity . Recent investigations using vasicine showed bronchodilatory activity both in vitro and in vivo .
Wound healing activity For the purposes of the study, wounds were created along the vertebral columns of buffalo calves, and alcoholic and chloroform extracts of Adhatoda in a powdered form were applied. As compared to control animals, the calves treated with Adhatoda vasica showed significantly improved healing. Vasica improved breaking strength, tensile strength, absorption and extensibility in the wound repair tissue. In addition, the levels of elastin, collagen, hydroxyproline, hexosamine and zinc were greatly increased in the animals treated with Adhatoda. The alcoholic extract of the herb was found to be the most effective .
Anti-ulcer activity Adhatoda vasica was studied for its anti-ulcerogenic activity against ulcers induced by ethanol, pylorus, and aspirin. Adhatoda leaf powder showed a considerable degree of anti-ulcer activity in experimental rats when compared with controls. The highest degree of activity was observed in the ethanol-induced ulceration model These results suggest that in addition to its classically established pharmacological activities, Adhatoda vasica has immense potential as an anti-ulcer agent. Further research showed that a syrup of Adhatoda improved symptoms of dyspepsia.
Cholagogue activity In laboratory experiments on cats and dogs, Adhatoda vasica was found to increase bile activity when the animals were given an intravenous dose of 5 mg/kg. In dogs, the amount of excreted bile increased by 40-100%. The animals also showed an increase in bilirubin excretion.
Anti-allergy activity The extract containing the alkaloid vascinol and 20% vasicine inhibited ovalbumin-induced allergic reactions by about 37% at a concentration of 5 mg . Vasicinone has been shown to be a potent anti-allergen in tests on mice, rats and guinea pigs.
Anti-tubercular activity A chemical constituent of Adhatoda alkaloids, vasicine, produces bromhexine and ambroxol – two widely-used mucolytics. Both of these chemicals have a pH-dependent growth inhibitory effect on Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Indirect effects of Adhatoda on tuberculosis include increased lysozyme and rifampicin levels in bronchial secretions, lung tissue and sputum, suggesting that it may play an important adjunctive role in the treatment of tuberculosis .
Abortifacient and uterotonic activity Adhatoda vasica has abortifacient and uterotonic properties, making it useful for inducing abortion and for stimulating uterine contractions in order to speed childbirth . Studies on human subjects have shown that the alkaloid vasicine has significant uterotonic activity. This action appears to be influenced by the presence or absence of certain estrogens. In research on the activity of vasicine in stimulating uterine contractions, human myometrial strips taken from the uterusi of both pregnant and non-pregnant women were treated with Adhatoda. The herb was found to induce uterine contractions, with effectiveness similar to the drug oxytocin . During the research period, the anti-reproductive properties of Adhatoda vasica were anecdotally confirmed by local women . Animal studies have also demonstrated vasica’s abortifacient properties. Aqueous or 90% ethanol plant extracts were given orally to test rats and guinea pigs for 10 days after insemination. Leaf extracts of Adhatoda vasica were 100% abortive at doses
equivalent to 175 mg/kg . Adhatoda vasica was also shown to have an abortifacient effect on guinea pigs, with effectiveness varying depending on the stage of pregnancy. The effects were more marked when estrogens were used as a priming influence, indicating that the actions of vasicine was probably mediated via the release of prostogladins .
Insecticidal activity Adhatoda vasica has been used for centuries in India as an insecticide. Its leaves have been shown to control insect pests in oil seeds, in both laboratory and warehouse conditions. Research has shown Adhatoda’s alkaloid, vasicinol, to have an antifertility effect against several insect species by causing blockage of the oviduct. Research has also proven Adhatoda’s effectiveness as an insect repellent .
Anti-bacterial activity A leaf extract was investigated for antibacterial activity using the paper disc and dilution methods. In-vitro screening showed a strong activity of Adhatoda’s alkaloids against the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Significant antibacterial activity against the Gram-positive bacteria strains Streptococcus faecalis, Staphylococcus aureus, Staph epidermidis and the gram-negative E. coli were also noted
Contraindicated in pregnancy except at during the birthing process
Adhatoda vsica is reported to have oxytocic (stimulates contractions of the uterus) and abortifacient (substance that induces abortion) effects.
Large doses cause
irritation of the alimentary canal
Do not use Adhatoda without first talking to your practitioner or healthcare provider if you are taking any of the following medications: