Ashoka tree is found throughout the Indian subcontinent and is widely utilised for its bark and leaves. It is a sacred traditional tree belonging to India but is also grown in other parts of the world.

Other than its mythological relevance, Ashoka tree is cultivated for the benefits it has for your health, which will be explored in this article. The most important of these benefits is for your skin, which are derived from the leaves and bark of this plant. In addition to its direct benefits, Ashoka is also used as a common constituent in a variety of pharmacological products owing to its medicinal properties.

This article will discuss all these benefits in detail, only after introducing you to some basics of this tree. 

Some basic information about the Ashoka tree

Ashoka tree is a rain forest tree, which is small, erect and bears fragrant flowers around the month of February to April. Its leaves are deep green, which grow in dense clusters. Here is what you’d like to know about the tree:

  • Scientific name: Saraca asoca
  • Family: Fabaceae
  • Common name: Ashoka tree, Ashok tree, Ashok ka ped
  • Native region and geographic distribution: The native region of Ashoka tree happens to be the lands of India and it is commonly grown along the regions of the Deccan Plateau, middle sections of the Western Ghats and along the foothills of the Himalayas. It is also scattered along the North of India and is found near the Western Coast in Mumbai.
  • Parts used: Bark, leaves and flowers
  1. Ashoka tree benefits and medicinal uses
  2. Ashok tree side effects

Ashoka tree is not only a sacred and traditional plant in India but also it is utilised as a medicinal tree. Its leaves and barks are commonly used as traditional, herbal and alternative therapies. But, there is sufficient scientific evidence to back these traditional claims. So, let’s have a look at the evidence-based benefits and uses of this tree and its leaves:

  • For fever: Ashoka tree has anti-pyretic effects, which may be more prolonging than that of aspirin.
  • For the skin: Ashoka tree leaves and flowers are commonly used in the management of several skin conditions like itching, ulcers, eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, scabies and inflammation. It can also be combined with other remedies.
  • Against cancer: The antioxidant actions of Ashoka tree make it a potential anti-cancer drug, which functions by inducing apoptosis or programmed cell death. Particular effects have been seen against skin cancer.
  • Against breast cancer: The anti-cancer actions of Ashoka tree are most pronounced against breast cancer as it inhibits the proliferation of cancerous cells due to the induction of apoptosis.
  • For women: The bark of Ashoka has various benefits for women of the reproductive age group as it helps in the management of menstrual problems like dysmenorrhoea or painful menstruation, irregular menstrual cycles and relieves from abdominal pain and uterine spasms. It also helps to reduce excessive vaginal discharge or leucorrhoea.
  • For diabetics: The use of Ashoka tree helps to prevent diabetic complications like cataract.
  • Other benefits: Ashoka tree may be helpful in the management of digestive issues like diarrhoea, dysentery and dyspepsia. It may also help in relieving piles.

Ashoka tree for fever

Ashoka tree is highly valued for its evergreen presence, ornamental flowers and ample medicinal properties. Time and again, traditional herbs and remedies are used for the treatment of fever, which is nothing but an elevation of body temperature in order to ward off infection or illness. While Ashoka bark is one of these commonly used natural products, it happens to be more than just a traditional remedy as apparent by scientific evidence.

Numerous lab studies have been done to explore the anti-pyretic effects of this tree and it has been found that the flavonoids present in the species are responsible for this action.

This effect is observable by the use of Ashoka seeds at a dosage of 500 mg per kilogram of body weight. The use of this remedy not only assisted the reduction of fever but also its effect was highly prolonged. As opposed to aspirin, which is conventionally used for lowering fever, the use of Ashoka leaves facilitated reduction of body temperature for a duration of 5 hours, the former being functional for 4.

Other than its anti-pyretic effects, the tree has also exhibited analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect that is, it aids in the reduction of pain and swelling. You can consider using this remedy for fever after having a word with your Ayurvedic doctor.

(Read more: Fever diet)

Ashoka tree for the skin

Different parts of Ashoka tree have distinct benefits when used topically. Studies have suggested the use of Ashoka tree in the management of several skin conditions including psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, scabies and external inflammation of the skin.

When used externally in the form of a paste made from its roots, the tree is effective against freckles and inflammation of the skin. This paste can also be utilised in case of ulcers and other skin conditions. In more severe skin conditions, parts of this tree are utilised to control symptoms. In individuals affected with eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis, the use of Ashoka tree can help in providing some relief from itching, which is a pronounced symptom in these conditions. In these cases, the use of crushed flowers over the affected area of the skin is recommended. Along with other natural products like L. inermis and coconut oil, these flowers are used as a successful remedy for the treatment of eczema and scabies, when used twice daily.

The rationale for these extensive applications for skin disorders and infections has been explained by several studies and is recognised by the Ayurveda. It has been put forward that the use of Ashoka tree leaves helps in getting rid of several toxins from your body and is thus useful for the purification of blood. This is what prevents the manifestation of skin allergies and infections. While the applications of Ashoka tree are of immense benefit for the management of a variety of skin conditions, it is recommended to talk to your doctor before using the tree in any form, especially if you currently have a skin condition.

(Read more: Allergy symptoms)

Ashoka tree leaves against cancer

Cancer refers to the uninhibited growth of atypical cells, which has a tendency to spread to distant and nearby body structures. If untreated, cancer has the potential to affect all the systems of the body. Traditional trees and herbs are commonly utilised for their anti-cancer properties and are suggested to have minimal side effects when compared to conventional therapy for cancer. Their antioxidant and anti-proliferative actions have been credited for this use.

Antioxidants are substances which help to reduce oxidative stress and damage in the body by fighting against the action of free radicals. It has been identified that the aggressive actions of free radicals or reactive oxygen species on the body are responsible for the pathogenesis of several diseases and disorders including that of cancer. Scientists have found that antioxidants help to control the action of these reactive species, thereby reducing the risk of these diseases. It has been demonstrated that Ashoka tree has significant cancer property due to its chemical constituency. It also helps to induce the process of apoptosis (programmed cell death) allowing the possible reduction of cancerous cells.

Pronounced effects of extracts of this tree have been against skin cancer, where it facilitated the inhibition of cancerous growth by causing a reduction in the number of tumour cells. It also caused a delay in the progress of tumour to an advanced stage and the expression of symptoms. Other than skin cancer, pronounced effects have been seen against breast cancer, which will be discussed ahead.

While the mechanism of action has been largely described, further research and isolation of individual components is required so that the active compounds of this tree can be utilised as an anti-cancer drug. Till then, you can consult your Ayurvedic doctor to talk about the use and dosage of this tree as a remedy for the prevention and treatment of cancer.

Ashoka tree against breast cancer

Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in women and it predominantly affects them after menopause. Although grave, breast cancer has a good prognosis when detected and managed on time. While chemotherapy and surgery are commonly employed for treatment, scientists have found that the use and supplementation of natural products can be helpful against cancerous growth in the breast.

Numerous studies have been conducted to determine this effect and it has been established that the anti-cancer activity of Ashoka tree is majorly due to its antioxidant potential. High antioxidant potential of Ashoka leaves is said to be due to the presence of bioactive compounds like phenol in these leaves. It functions by facilitating the process of cell death through the mechanism of apoptosis. The anti-proliferative effects of Ashoka leaves have promising potential as anti-breast cancer drugs.

Due to these benefits, it has been suggested that the use of Ashoka tree leaves can be made as a complementary medicine for the treatment of breast cancer. You must refer to your Ayurvedic doctor to discuss the dosage and use of this plant.

Ashoka tree bark for women

Ashoka tree is of immense use to women, particularly those in the reproductive age group. This is because it helps in the management of a number of problems associated with the menstrual cycle. The bark of this tree is extremely useful in the regulation of menstrual disturbances in women and is effective against excessive bleeding. It is also helpful in relieving pain during the menstrual cycle due to dysmenorrhoea. Other than relieving pain during bleeding, the use of this bark can be made to control uterine spasms and abdominal cramps experienced by women during menstruation. It can also be helpful in women with a disturbed or irregular menstrual cycle.

In addition to menstruating period, the use of Ashoka bark can also be made by women during non-period days if they experience excessive vaginal discharge or leucorrhoea. In postmenopausal women, the use of Ashoka bark is convincingly helpful in the prevention of breast cancer. So, it can be said that this tree stores immense benefits for women of all age groups. However, it is recommended to talk to your gynaecologist before making the use of this tree in any form.

Ashoka tree uses for diabetes

Diabetes refers to the elevation of blood sugar levels beyond the range of normal. While the condition may not have any symptoms of its own, diabetes is known to affect several systems of the body, giving rise to several complications. Diabetic retinopathy, diabetic nephropathy and diabetic neuropathy are the major complications affecting the retina of the eyes, the functioning of the kidneys and the nerves of the body respectively.

Of these, the use of Ashoka tree has been found to be effective against the foremost. Studies have found that the extracts of Ashoka tree are helpful in the prevention of diabetic cataract. Ethanolic extracts of this tree help to inhibit or delay the progress of this condition and thus, can be utilised to prevent ophthalmic complications due to diabetes. However, it is recommended to talk to your ophthalmologist and Ayurvedic doctor before making the use of this tree as pharmacological dosage of this use is yet to be established.

(Read more: Treatment of cataract)

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Other benefits of Ashok tree

The benefits of this medicinal tree are not restricted to the above. The use of this tree is also traditionally used in the treatment of diarrhoea, dysentery, dyspepsia and other digestive issues. It is also helpful in the management of piles and its symptoms. Some studies also suggest of its traditional use in the alleviation of respiratory symptoms and improvement of brain function.

Although the use of this tree is highly beneficial, the following side effects may be noted, if remedies are not used precisely:

  • Menstrual disturbances if women affected by amenorrhoea or infrequent menstruation are making the use of this tree.
  • Stomach pain and digestive issues if any parts of the tree are utilised orally.
  • The safety profile of this tree is not clear for pregnant women. It is thus recommended to prevent the use of this tree in pregnancy.
  • Some studies have reported toxicological effects while using Ashok bark. It is thus advisable to always use any remedies utilising this tree under the supervision of your doctor and never consume orally. It is also important that you choose the correct variety of this tree as identical adulterant species are also commonly found.

Medicines / Products that contain Ashoka


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  2. Nahida Tabassum and Mariya Hamdani. Plants used to treat skin diseases. 2014 Jan-Jun; 8(15): 52–60. PMID: 24600196
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  5. Yadav NK, Saini KS, Hossain Z, Omer A, Sharma C, Gayen JR, Singh P, Arya KR, Singh RK. Saraca indica bark extract shows in vitro antioxidant, antibreast cancer activity and does not exhibit toxicological effects.. 2015;2015:205360. PMID: 25861411
  6. G. R. Smithacorresponding author and V. Thondaiman. Reproductive biology and breeding system of Saraca asoca (Roxb.) De Wilde: a vulnerable medicinal plant. 2016; 5(1): 2025. PMID: 27995002
  7. Gauresh Somani and Sadhana Sathaye. Bioactive fraction of Saraca indica prevents diabetes induced cataractogenesis: An aldose reductase inhibitory activity. 2015 Jan-Mar; 11(41): 102–110. PMID: 25709218
  8. Samuel Mathew, Gracy Mathew, P.P. Joy, Baby P. Skari, and T.S. Joseph. Differentiation of Saraca Asoca Crude Drug From Its Adulterant. 2005 Apr-Jun; 24(4): 174–178. PMID: 22557174
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