Ashoka tree – The sorrowless tree, is considered sacred throughout the Indian subcontinent, especially in India and Sri Lanka. This tree has many religious and literary associations in the region. Highly valued for its handsome appearance, color and abundant flowers. Often found in royal palace compounds and gardens as well as close to temples throughout India. Ashoka tree has been mentioned in some of the oldest Indian literature apart from ayurveda. Across India ashoka tree is considered to be sacred and apart from Ramayana, ashoka tree is mentioned in Buddhism and Jainism as well. Reference of medicinal benefits of Ashoka tree has been found in Charaka Samhita composed in 1000 BC and is one of the cardinal herbs recommended in scriptures of Ayurveda for umpteen gynaecological problems in women.The herb is aptly said to be a ‘ companion of women ’ as it rejuvenates the female reproductive system and is salutary in treating various gynaecological problems.
Formerly Ashoka was known as Jonesia Ashoka after Sir Willion Jones, a distinguished scholar and botanist. But now it is known as Saraca Ashoka. Ashoka tree grows all over India. It is found growing suitably at an altitude of 750 metres in the eastern Himalayas. An evergreen tree, reaching a maximum Height of 9m. It is found to be cultivated in gardens, because ofits decorative flowers and beautiful foliage. The branches of the tree are glabrous and dropping.The leaves are 30 - 60 cm in length.The flowers are orange - yellow, fragrant, in dense corymbs.They are 8-10 cms across, calyx yellow to orange and finally red.The bark is dark brown to grey in colour.Ashoka blooms in the summer and bears fruits in october. Beta-Sitosterol, quercetin, Kaempferol-3-o-Beta-D glycoside is isolated from the flowers. The leucopelargonidin and leucocyanidin along with beta-Sitosterol from stem bark are isolated.
- Ashoka has anti-bacterial properties to fight fever, cold and infections.
- Methanol extracts from ashoka showed positive results against rheumatic arthritis.
- The bark has been traditionally used as a remedy for internal piles.
- According to ayurveda, ashoka is also used for healing wounds & strengthening uterine muscles .
- Ashoka is believed to prevent eye diseases, miscarriages, bleeding dysentery and neurological disorders.