Have you heard of ARKA (Calotropis porcera)?
This shrub is widely found throughout Western Australia. It is declared as a pest in Western Australia see www.acric.wa.gov.
Calotropis grows in warm areas, desert, wasteland and sandy soil.
Charaka opined that a deadly poison can become a very good medicine if it is administered properly on the other hand even the most useful/ safe medicine can act like a poison if handled incorrectly.
In Ayurveda the Sanskrit word “visha” means poison. Ayurveda classify many herbal drugs as visha (poison) or upa-visha (moderately poisonous) and uses them after shodhana (purification).
Arka is in the group of upavisha , the group of drugs which are less toxic in nature and not so lethal but produces toxic symptoms on contact or consumption.
Arka means Sun rays as it is hot and pungent as the sun.
Arka is a pale, greyish tall shrub that grows about 2-3 metres in high. The leaves are thick and oblong.
The flowers have a beautiful pale rose purple colour and have a faint odour. There are different varieties of Arka for example sweta Arka (white Arka), black and red (purple).
When the stem branches are cut, crushed or incised, it is amazing to see the white milky latex oozing out (madar juice). This milk is used in Rasashastra to purify minerals (the reference is found in Bhaisajia Ratnavali). The leaves and flowers can be burned and the ash is consumed as a medicine. This is a highly alkaline Bhasma.
There is a huge scope to study the effectiveness in treating cancer with this plant. This is a highly alkaline and has anti cancer properties.
Do NOT ingest the oozing milk as it is poisonous but it can be applied externally especially if there is a growth such as a wart or external piles.
In Arsha (piles) – Arka ksheera (madar milk), haridra churna (turmeric) and Sureesha bija choorna is applied over the pile mass.
The milk is also used (together with other herbs) to prepare the thread used for ksharasutra. The oozing milk is highly alkaline and can burn. So best not handle the madar milk without protective gloves.
Parts used: bark, latex, leaves and flowers.
The Ayurvedic properties are:
Rasa/taste- tikta and katu (bitter and heating)
Vipaka/post digestive taste – katu (heating)
Veerya/potency – ushna (hot)
Guna/qualities – laghu, ruksha, tikshna (light, dry and sharp)
Dosha – Vata and Kapha Shamaka (reduces Vata and Kapha)
Yogas (classical Ayurvedic medicine preparation) with Arka are:
Arka lavana, Arkeshwar, Arkataila Mahavishgarbha thailam, Dhanwantharam ghrita (contain the root), Prabhanjana vimardhana thailam
It truly is amazing the healing powers of plants!
For Ayurvedic Practitioners:
THERAPEUTIC USES – Shvasa, Gulma, Krimiroga, Kandu¸ Kushtha, Vrana, shotha, shleshmodara Roga, Pleeha roga, Arsha
A sloka from Bhava Prakash
Arkadwayam Saram Vatakushtakandoovishavran |
Nihanti Pleehagulmarsh shleshmodar shakkrutkrimeen | Bh. Pr
* 𝘗𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘦 𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘦 𝘤𝘭𝘢𝘪𝘮𝘴 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘣𝘦𝘦𝘯 𝘢𝘱𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘥 𝘣𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘛𝘎𝘈. 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘪𝘯𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘮𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘷𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘥 𝘪𝘴 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘮𝘦𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦 𝘶𝘴𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘥𝘪𝘢𝘨𝘯𝘰𝘴𝘦 𝘰𝘳 𝘵𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵 𝘢𝘯𝘺𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘴𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘣𝘦 𝘵𝘢𝘬𝘦𝘯 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘶𝘭𝘵𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘢𝘯 𝘈𝘺𝘶𝘳𝘷𝘦𝘥𝘪𝘤 𝘱𝘩𝘺𝘴𝘪𝘤𝘪𝘢𝘯. 𝘞𝘦 𝘥𝘰 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘨𝘶𝘢𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘢𝘴𝘴𝘶𝘮𝘦 𝘯𝘰 𝘭𝘦𝘨𝘢𝘭 𝘭𝘪𝘢𝘣𝘪𝘭𝘪𝘵𝘺 𝘰𝘳 𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘪𝘣𝘭𝘺 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘢𝘤𝘤𝘶𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘺, 𝘤𝘶𝘳𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘺 𝘰𝘳 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘱𝘭𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘪𝘯𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘮𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘢𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘥 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘦 𝘮𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘢𝘭𝘴.