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Ashoka is famous as Garbhashaya Rasayana i.e. Rejuvenator of the uterus. Ashoka is highly acclaimed for its utility in gynaecological problems. The bark of Ashoka is useful in excessive blood loss during menstruation due to uterine fibroids, leucorrhoea and other causes. It is a blood purifier. The main chemical constituents of the bark are tannin, catechol, an essential oil, organic calcium and iron compounds. Ayurvedic texts describe more than 50 preparations for the treatment of a variety of ailments in which its stem bark is used as one of the main ingredients. The herb stimulates the uterus, making helpful contractions more frequent and prolonged. Ashoka also has an astringent but stimulating effect on the endometrium, and the ovarian tissues, Ashoka has been efficacious in regularising menstrual disturbances without producing any side-effect. Its effect on the ovarian tissue may produce an oestrogen-like activity that enhances the repair of the endometrium and stops bleeding. In metrorrhagia, in addition to decreasing the uterine bleeding, it regularises the interval between two cycles. Besides treating the symptoms of fatigue and generalised weakness, the use of Ashoka provides immense relief from painful menses, the premenstrual syndrome and non-specific white discharge.
The daily full dose of the powder of the Ashoka bark is up to 10 gm in three divided doses in a day. However, a decoction of it can also be prepared by boiling it in water. The famous classic Ayurvedic medicine Ashokarishta and Pushyanug Churna contain Ashoka and are in use for several centuries for several problems of women. However, Ashoka should be given with caution in thrombotic disorders.
Vagbhata was the first to prescribe the bark in heart diseases. Later Chakradatta described it as a tonic in heart disease. Bhava Mishra, a Nighantukara recognised the bark as possessing some cooling, cardiotonic, wound healing and intoxicating effects.The bark and preparations made from it are reputed to have a marked stimulant action on the heart even today.
A fair amount of chemical work has been done on this drug. According to Hooper in 1891, the bark yields 34 percent of ash consisting almost entirely of pure calcium carbonate; the aqueous extracts contain about 23 percent of calcium salts and 16 percent of tannins. Ghosal in 1909 made a detailed chemical and pharmacological study of the bark and reported the presence of sugar, tannin, colouringmatter, a glycosidal substances, carbonates of calcium, sodium and traces of chlorides of alkali metals. The total tannin content amounted to 12 percent and the ash to 30 percent. The bark was found to contain an unusually large quantities of calcium salts, about 12 percent of tannins, an organic acid with a high melting point, a phytosterol, an organic ester and some colouring matters The bark has also been investigated for active principle responsible for the long use as diuretic and tonic.
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