Justicia adhatoda (Bengali :Bakash or Vasok)

Botanical Name: Justicia adhatoda
Family:    Acanthaceae
Genus:    Justicia
Species:J. adhatoda
Kingdom:Plantae
Division:Angiosperms
Class:    Eudicots
Order:    Lamiales

Synonyms:Adhatoda vasica, Adhatoda zeylanica,

Common Names:  Adhatoda, Adathodai, Adusoge, Vasaka, Adalodakam, Malabar Nut, Arusa Adulsa, Bakash, Addasaramu.

vernacular names:
*sinhala: pawatta
*Malayalam: Atalotakam
*Sanskrit: Sinhapuri, Vasaka
*Hindi: Adosa, Arusha, Rus, Bansa
*Bengali: Adulsa, Bakash,Vasok
*Gujarati: Aradus?, Adulso, Aduraspee, Bansa
*Kannada: Adusogae
*Marathi: Adulsa, Adusa
*Oriya: Basanga
*Punjabi: Bhekkar
*Tamil: Adathodai
*Telugu: Adamkabu, Adampaka, Addasaram
*Nepali: Asuro, Kalo vasak
*Mizo: Kawldai

Habitat: Justicia adhatoda is native to Asia, widely used in Siddha Medicine, Ayurvedic and Unani systems of medicine.The plant’s range includes Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, and China, as well as Panama where it is thought to have been introduced

Description:
Justicia adhatoda is a shrub with lance-shaped leaves 10 to 15 centimeters in length by four wide. They are oppositely arranged, smooth-edged, and borne on short petioles. When dry they are of a dull brownish-green colour. They are bitter-tasting. When a leaf is cleared with chloral hydrate and examined microscopically the oval stomata can be seen. They are surrounded by two crescent-shaped cells at right angles to the ostiole. The epidermis bears simple one- to three-celled warty hairs, and small glandular hairs. Cystoliths occur beneath the epidermis of the underside of the blade.

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Called Simha Mukhi in Sanskrit because the shape of its flowers resembles a lion’s head, Justicia adhatoda is found growing in abundance in plain areas. The bitter taste of this herb is source of its name, a goat will not eat it. There are distinct differences in male  and female  varieties of this plant, it can be found as either a tree with spines (male) or a small bush with spineless leaves (female). In maturity, this herb has dark green leaves with yellow undersides 10 to 16 cm in length. The fruit which holds the most potency of the herb is a small capsule usually with four seeds. The pendulant flowers of this herb are found in white, red and black, with the white flowered variety the most commonly found. Typically found throughout India, and particularly in the Himalayan mountain area, it flourishes at altitudes up to 1.000 meters above sea level.

Medicinal Uses:
Plant Parts Used: Leaves, roots, fruit, stem bark and flowers.
Chemical composition: Several alkaloids are present in the leaves. The most important is vasicine, a quinazoline alkaloid. The vasicine yield of the herbage has been measured as 0.541 to 1.1% by dry weight.

This shrub has a number of traditional medicinal uses in Siddha Medicine, Ayurvedic and Unani systems of medicine.

*In Ayurveda this herb is called Vasa and traditionally only the female (Mada) variety of Adhatoda vasica were used, with preference for potency to Mada plants with red flowers, which are almost as rare as those with black flowers. It is the white flowered Mada variety of Adhatoda vasica that is most commonly used in medicinal preparations.

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* Justicia adhatoda is an herb that has unique properties which support the entire respiratory system, and its bronchial function. The leaves, flowers and root of this herb have been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for the treatment of chest congestion and inflammation. In addition to mucolytic action, benzylamines, a potent alkaline that is derived from  Justicia adhatoda inhibit the effects of Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

*In addition, the fruit of  Justicia adhatoda’s expectorant properties are valued for treating asthma, fever, coughs, vomiting and chronic bronchitis. The leaves are dried and smoked for asthma relief.

*In pharmacology, this herb provides two valuable alkaloids, vasicine and vasicinone, produced by the oxidation process of vasicine has been found to be a more potent broncho-dilator, in addition to decreasing sensitivity to airborne irritants.

*Rich in vitamin C, carotene and the leaves also yield an essential oil and Adhatodic acid, an organic acid. The juice of the leaves and root are used to relieve symptoms of pyorrhea and bleeding gums and cure glandular tumor, diarrhea and dysentery. The leaves are also powdered and used a poultice for dressing wounds, relief of rheumatism and as an alterative in cases of neuralgia, epilepsy, hysteria and mental imbalance.

*Expectorant action is due to the volatile oil content and the bronchodilator activity of vasicine is used in conjunction with atropine. Vasicine is also the reason for its use in stimulating the contraction of uterine muscles to accelerate or induce labor.

*The leaves are boiled and combined with honey, ginger and black pepper (piper nigrum) to treat coughs and respiratory ailments. A decoction of the herb is used to expel intestinal parasites and wasting of the body (phthisis).

*Fresh flowers of this plant are used to treat eye conditions such as opthalmia. The leaf has also shown significant protective qualities in conditions leading to liver damage

Vasicine, the active compound, has been compared to theophylline both in vitro and in vivo. Another, vasicinone, showed bronchodilatory activity in vitro but bronchoconstrictory activity in vivo. Both the alkaloids in combination (1:1) showed pronounced bronchodilatory activity in vivo and in vitro. Both alkaloids are also respiratory stimulants. Vasicine has a cardiac–depressent effect, while vasicinone is a weak cardiac stimulant; the effect can be normalized by combining the alkaloids. Vasicine is reported to have a uterine stimulant effect. Vasicinone was shown to have an antianaphylactic action. Clinical trials of a commercial drug containing vasicinone and vasicinone have not revealed any side effects while treating bronchial asthma.

Known Hazards: The use of the leaf extract, is considered safe. However, the uterine tonic and abortifacient activity prevents its use during pregnancy, except during childbirth. Due to the potency of this herb it should be taken under medical supervision.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://ezinearticles.com/?Adhatoda-Vasica&id=730923
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justicia_adhatoda

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