In India, the Terminalia Arjuna tree is considered so sacred that eleven of its leaves are offered for a healthy heart and good blood circulation to Lord Ganesh, the elephant-headed Hindu God who is known as the “remover of obstacles”. Through this offering, it is said that Lord Ganesh will bestow his great blessings.
The Arjuna tree grows throughout most of the Indian subcontinent, as well as in Myanmar and Sri Lanka, and is found most abundantly in the southernmost mountains of Himalayan Mountain range.
Every part of this amazing tree has medicinal value in Ayurvedic medicine, however it is the bark that is most commonly used and is the main bioactive ingredient in the legendary Ayurvedic heart tonic known as Arjuna Ksheera Paka. In this preparation, the powerful, healing forces of Arjuna are infused into cow’s milk which then acts as a potent carrier for the healing properties of the herb. The recipe is made by boiling dry, powdered Arjuna tree bark with pre-boiled and cooled milk and water until the water has significantly evaporated. It’s then filtered through a fine sieve or cloth to collect the fortified milk. This powerful home remedy has been used for thousands of years. According to Ayurveda, Arjuna Ksheera Paka can be helpful for stress, insomnia, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, mild to moderate heart problems and for countering a genetic predisposition towards heart disease.
Arjuna is a beloved Ayurvedic remedy mentioned in several ancient Ayurvedic texts, including the Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita and the Ashtanga Hridayam. According to a 2014 review published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, Revisiting Terminalia Arjuna – An Ancient Cardiovascular Drug, Arjuna has long been revered for its anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective properties. The review states that it was Vagbhata, a 12th century Sanskrit scholar and one of the most influential writers of Ayurveda, who first encouraged the use of Arjuna to treat heart ailments.
Arjuna’s healing benefits are numerous. According to The Pharma Innovation Journal, 2018 review, Terminalia Arjuna: Competent Source of Bioactive Components in Functional Food and Drugs, medicinal plants like Arjuna have been used as therapeutic agents for human diseases for ages. The studies of Arjuna show that it contains numerous bioactive plant compounds including flavonoids, tannins, glycosides, saponins, ellagic acid, gallic acid, and minerals including zinc, calcium, magnesium, and copper that provide antimicrobial, cardioprotective, antifungal, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
According to Ayurveda, Arjuna is a potent heart medicine that can improve circulation in the coronary arteries and protect the heart from ischemic damage due to an inadequate supply of blood. It is believed to promote good digestion, improve insulin sensitivity, and slow down the ageing process.
When it comes to cardiovascular health, arjuna shows promising benefits for the following:
- Reduces total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL while supporting healthy levels of HDL
- Regulates blood sugar and supports proper glucose metabolism
- Decreases free radical damage
- Decreases hepatic lipid peroxidation
- Reduces inflammation (see article on cardiac tonic, Arjuna Ksheera Paka)
- Helps lower blood pressure by dilating and relaxing the blood vessels
- Combats inflammation due to anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds that protect the body from the harmful effects of toxins
- Helps in wound healing due to the presence of tannins
- Has adaptogenic properties that help manage stress and anxiety by inducing a sense of relaxation. This is very important for heart health since chronic stress is a contributing factor
- Helps fight mild to chronic diseases by neutralizing free radicals in the body
Ayurveda teaches us that Arjuna supplies prana to the heart. Prana is sacred life force. It is vital physical and energetic nourishment for the heart. It pacifies Kapha and Pitta doshas, and can aggravate Vata dosha if not taken correctly. As with all herbal medications, we recommend consulting a qualified health care practitioner with knowledge of Ayurveda, herbs, spices and natural plant medicines.