What is Arjuna bark?

Arjuna is an evergreen tree belonging to the genus Terminalia along with medicinal marvels like harad (Terminalia chebula) and baheda (Terminalia bellerica). The medicinal beauty of this ornamental tree lies in its inner bark which is considered a tonic for the heart. In fact, mentions of this tree are found in the Rig Veda.

Ayurvedic doctors highly suggest arjuna bark for boosting overall heart health. Medically speaking, the bark of Arjuna tree is vastly studied for its healing benefits on various heart diseases including stroke, heart attack, and heart failure. It might interest you to know that keeping Arjuna bark is believed to strengthen the heart chakra (energy centre of the human body) and its medicinal properties are compared to that of hawthorn in western herbalism.

Originally a native of India, Arjuna tree is most commonly found near rivers and streams and it can grow up to a height of 25 to 30 metres. Arjuna bark is smooth and grey, but it has some green and red patches in between. The leaves of Arjuna are oblong (almost rectangular) and grow opposite to each other on its branches. The whitish cream flowers of this tree grow in clusters in the month of May to July. Arjuna fruit is greenish when fresh and turns a woody brown on maturity. The fruit has distinct wings which are one of the identifying features of Arjuna.

Did you know?

Terminalia is derived from a Latin word that means terminal or end. This could be in reference to the leaves of Arjuna tree that grow on the end of its branches. The name Arjuna itself means white or bright, which is believed to be due to its white flowers or its shiny white bark.

Some facts about Arjuna tree.

  • Botanical name: Terminalia arjuna
  • Family: Combretaceae
  • Common name: Arjun, White marudah
  • Sanskrit name: Arjuna, Dhavala, Nadisarja
  • Parts used: Bark
  • Native region and geographical distribution: Arjuna tree is native to India and Sri Lanka but it is also found in Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia.
  • Energetics: Arjuna bark suppresses pitta and kapha while increasing vata so it has an overall cooling effect on the body.

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  1. Arjuna tree bark health benefits
  2. How to use arjuna bark
  3. Arjuna bark dosage
  4. Arjuna tree bark side effects

Arjuna chaal has many health benefits but its most importantly a champion of heart health. Let’s explore some of its many health benefits.

  • Regulates blood pressure: Arjuna bark is given in combination with other herbs to regulate blood pressure. It has been found to reduce breathlessness and systolic blood pressure in congestive heart failure patients.
  • Prevents atherosclerosis: It has been scientifically proven that arjuna bark, when taken with milk, helps reduce cholesterol levels. Being an antioxidant, it prevents lipid peroxidation, which, in turn, reduces the risk of atherosclerosis.
  • Good for heart: Arjuna bark reduces cholesterol and blood pressure, two of the major risk factors for heart diseases. Being an antioxidant and anti-clotting agent, it prevents stroke, heart attack and age-related cardiovascular problems.
  • Antimicrobial: Arjuna bark extracts demonstrate antibiotic action against MRSA and VRSA, two of the most common antibiotic-resistant strains of skin pathogens. Its antibiotic activity is limited to only gram-positive bacteria.

Apart from the above benefits, arjuna bark has been found to be effective in reducing blood sugar levels, preventing cough, and protecting stomach lining from the harmful effects of excess acidity. However, due to the absence of clinical studies, not much can be confirmed about these benefits of arjuna bark.

Arjuna herb for heart

Ayurvedic doctors suggest Arjuna tree bark powder for the treatment of cardiovascular conditions such as myocardial infections, coronary heart disease and ischemic attacks. It is known to be helpful in not only reducing the risk of heart diseases but regular consumption may help improve overall heart health and function.

Numerous animal-based and clinical studies have been done to test the efficiency of Arjuna tree bark in dealing with heart failure and heart-related illnesses. Studies suggest that the bark of Arjuna tree consist of a number of active biological compounds including flavonoids, tannins, and minerals, which together make this tree the best cardioprotective you can ever get.

In a clinical study, 10 heart patients were given Arjuna tree bark powder along with traditional drugs for a period of three months while a control group was given only the cardioprotective and healing drugs. After a period of 3 months, it was found that the group which was given Arjuna bark powder showed significant improvement in heart health specifically strengthening the left ventricle (part of the heart).

In another study, arjuna bark and ashwagandha capsules were given to a group of 40 healthy people for a period of 8 weeks. After 8 weeks it was observed that ashwagandha reduced general heart weakness while arjuna bark was effective in improving cardiovascular endurance.

Additionally, Arjuna bark is an excellent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, which helps reduce the stress on heart tissues and slow down any age or lifestyle-related deterioration of heart muscles. However, it is always suggested to talk to your Ayurveda doctor to know the right dosage of Arjuna bark powder for you.

Read more: Best cardio exercises for heart health

Arjuna herb for cholesterol

Numerous studies have been done to test the hypolipidemic (reducing cholesterol) properties of Arjuna tree bark. Both animal and clinical studies confirm that the bark of the arjuna tree is an excellent agent for balancing the lipid (fat) profile in the body.

In a study, 21 people with coronary heart disease were given 1g of arjuna bark powder with milk for a period of 4 months and it was found that administration of arjuna bark has a positive effect in maintaining the lipid content of the body.

Further studies suggest that arjuna bark reduces the amount of LDL (bad cholesterol) which in turn reduces the risk of atherosclerosis (deposition of fat in arteries) and cardiovascular diseases like stroke and heart attack. So, it’s safe to say that arjuna bark has a bright future as a hypolipidemic.

Read more: High cholesterol treatment

Arjuna bark for blood pressure

According to ayurvedic doctors, Arjuna bark is very useful for maintaining blood pressure when given in combination therapy with other herbs. Numerous researches have been done to test the usefulness of arjuna bark in reducing blood pressure and they indicate that this ayurvedic claim may be true after all.

In a clinical study, 10 patients with CHF (congestive heart failure, the inability of heart to pump blood efficiently) were given 4g of arjuna bark powder, two times a day for a period of one month. At the end of one month, there was a significant reduction in symptoms of breathlessness and both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

It is still necessary to check in with your doctor to know the right dosage of arjuna bark powder as per your body type.

Read more: High blood pressure treatment

Arjuna bark for diabetes

Animal-based models and lab studies claim that Arjuna bark is an excellent hypoglycemic (reduces blood sugar) agent. Studies suggest that arjuna bark increases the uptake of glucose from the blood and inhibits some enzymes involved in glucose production. Thus reducing blood glucose levels.

However, in the absence of human studies, not much can be confirmed about the anti-diabetic effects of this bark on humans. 

Read more: Diabetes treatment

Arjuna bark for cough

Animal studies hint that arabinogalactan, a chemical compound present in arjuna tree bark is effective in relieving cough symptoms. But, due to lack of human studies, it is best to refer to an ayurvedic doctor to understand the antitussive (cough-relieving) effects of arjuna bark.

Read more: Home remedies for cough

Arjuna bark as an anti-coagulant

Research on arjuna bark indicates that it may be useful as an anti coagulating agent (stops blood clot formation). It was further suggested that this bark could avoid platelet aggregation (collection of clot-forming cells in body) or interfere with some signal that starts blood clotting. However, more studies still need to be done to confirm the anticoagulant effects of arjuna bark.

Read more: Blood clotting disorders

Arjuna bark for bleeding disorders

In Ayurveda, arjuna bark is extensively used as a remedy for bleeding disorders such as Haemophilia, Von Willebrand disease, unusual and frequents internal bruising and bleeding, heavy menstrual periods and haemorrhages.

According to ayurvedic doctors, arjuna bark is an excellent vasoconstrictor (narrows blood vessels), which leads to a reduction in blood loss in case of haemorrhage. However, there is no evident research to prove these effects of arjuna bark in humans.

Read more: Bleeding/clotting time test

Arjuna bark for stomach ulcers

Animal studies hint that methanol extract of arjuna bark reduces the severity of gastric ulcers by strengthening the mucosal barrier in the stomach. But, no human studies have been done so far to confirm similar effects on human. So, if you are suffering from stomach ulcers, it’s better to ask your ayurvedic doctor before taking arjuna bark in any form.

Read more: Homeopathic treatment for stomach ulcer

Arjuna bark for fractures

Fractures in bones may be caused due to a sudden force or stress caused by an injury or conditions like osteoporosis. The general line of treatment includes bone substitutes (organic or synthetic substances used to heal broken bones) and growth factors. But, growth factors are quite costly and not without side effects. Ayurvedic doctors use a paste of Arjuna bark to heal fractures.

Laboratory studies claim that extracts of Arjuna bark are very effective in the regeneration of bone tissue. But, due to the lack of human-based studies, it is hard to confirm this healing benefit of Arjuna bark.

Arjuna bark antioxidant

Numerous studies have been done to test the antioxidant potential of arjuna bark. Laboratory and animal studies suggest that administration of arjuna bark significantly increases the amount of antioxidants like superoxide dismutase, catalase, Vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E in the liver.

However, no human studies have been done yet to test the antioxidant potential of arjuna tree bark on the human body.

Arjuna bark as an antimicrobial

Aqueous and acetone extracts of arjuna bark have been found to be effective against different strains of Staphylococcus aureus (a type of bacteria), including antibiotic-resistant VRSA and MRSA Staphylococcus.

Another study suggests that instead of being a wide-range antibiotic, arjuna bark extracts may be more potent against certain kind of bacteria (gram-negative). Due to the lack of human studies, its best to check with your ayurveda doctor before using arjuna bark for any medical condition.

Arjuna bark is most commonly used in the form of a powder. But ayurvedic doctors also prescribe other products like capsules, tablets and arjuna tea for its many health benefits.

If you are into ayurvedic healing you might already be aware of Arjuna milk or Ksheerpaka. It is a well known ayurvedic remedy made from Arjuna bark powder and milk. According to ayurvedic doctors, ksheerpaka is an excellent heart tonic. Here is a quick method for preparing this remedy at home:

  1. Take water, milk, and Arjuna bark in a ratio of 32:8:1
  2. Heat this mixture on low heat to evaporate all the water.
  3. Filter the mixture and enjoy the decoction (kadha / arjuna milk)

Apart from its medicinal uses, Arjuna tree is also used as timber and fuel and as an ornamental. Arjuna tree branches make a wide canopy, so is planted along roadsides for shade. Planting this tree near water sources like wells is believed to help in reducing the effects of air pollution and keep the water fresh.

About 500 mg of Arjuna bark powder can be taken for up to a week without much side effects. But, the ideal dosage would vary depending on various physical and physiological factors of the individual. So, it’s always recommended to ask an experienced physician before adding Arjuna bark in any form in your routine.

The following are some of the side effects of Arjune bark:

  • There is no research on the impact of arjuna on pregnant and breastfeeding women. So, in the absence of scientific evidence, it is often recommended that if you're either pregnant or nursing a child, you avoid using arjuna bark.
  • Terminalia reduces blood clotting so if you are suffering from a bleeding disorder or about to undergo surgery, its best to avoid arjuna bark.
  • Arjuna bark has potent hypoglycemic effects so if you have a naturally low blood sugar level or if you are a diabetic person on medication, talk to your doctor before consuming arjuna bark in any form.
  • There have been no known drug interactions of arjuna bark so far but if you are on any kind of prescribed medicine, do not take arjuna bark without first asking your ayurveda doctor.

Medicines / Products that contain Arjuna

References

  1. Dwivedi S, Jauhari R. Beneficial effects of Terminalia arjuna in coronary artery disease. Indian Heart J. 1997 Sep-Oct;49(5):507-10. PMID: 9505018
  2. Shridhar Dwivedi, Deepti Chopra. J Tradit Complement Med. 2014 Oct-Dec; 4(4): 224–231. PMID: 25379463
  3. Maulik SK, Talwar KK. Therapeutic potential of Terminalia arjuna in cardiovascular disorders. Am J Cardiovasc Drugs. 2012 Jun 1;12(3):157-63. PMID: 22583146
  4. Maulik SK, Katiyar CK. Terminalia arjuna in cardiovascular diseases: making the transition from traditional to modern medicine in India. Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2010 Dec;11(8):855-60. PMID: 20874682
  5. Sandhu JS et al. Effects of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) and Terminalia arjuna (Arjuna) on physical performance and cardiorespiratory endurance in healthy young adults. Int J Ayurveda Res. 2010 Jul;1(3):144-9. PMID: 21170205
  6. B. Ragavan, S. Krishnakumari. Antidiabetic effect ofT. arjuna bark extract in alloxan induced diabetic rats. Indian J Clin Biochem. 2006 Sep; 21(2): 123–128. PMID: 23105628
  7. Sivová V, Bera K, Ray B, Nosáľ S, Nosáľová G. Cough and Arabinogalactan Polysaccharide from the Bark of Terminalia Arjuna. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2016;935:43-52. PMID: 27334729
  8. Malik N, Dhawan V, Bahl A, Kaul D. Inhibitory effects of Terminalia arjuna on platelet activation in vitro in healthy subjects and patients with coronary artery disease. Platelets. 2009 May;20(3):183-90. PMID: 19437336
  9. Devi RS, Narayan S, Vani G, Shyamala Devi CS. Gastroprotective effect of Terminalia arjuna bark on diclofenac sodium induced gastric ulcer. Chem Biol Interact. 2007 Apr 5;167(1):71-83. Epub 2007 Feb 2. PMID: 17327128
  10. Devi RS et al. Ulcer protective effect of Terminalia arjuna on gastric mucosal defensive mechanism in experimental rats. Phytother Res. 2007 Aug;21(8):762-7. PMID: 17471603
  11. Shreya Mandal et al. Analysis of phytochemical profile of Terminalia arjuna bark extract with antioxidative and antimicrobial properties. Asian Pac J Trop Biomed. 2013 Dec; 3(12): 960–966. PMID: 24093787
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