The plant Arka is the plant that grows as weeds in wastelands all over India especially in the hot and dry parts. Basically, the plant is considered under the उपविष (Upavisha) category. Still it is used in several medicinal formulations of Ayurveda. It is also considered to be a sacred plant where its flowers are being offered to the Gods in Hindu culture. The flowers are made used in various southeastern cultures to make tassels. The Botanical name of the plant is Calotropis procera (Ait) R Br and belong to the family Asclepiadaceae. The plants that belong to the genus are usually referred to as milkweeds as they secret milky latex. The name “Calotropis” denotes that the plant with a flower that has a beautiful corona while the name “procera” denotes wax (white waxy tomentoes on the young plants).

PLANT DETAILS

BOTANICAL NAME

ARKA – Calotropis procera (Ait) R. Br.

RAJA ARKA – Calotropis gigantea (L) W. T. Aiton

FAMILY

Asclepiadaceae

NOMENCLATURE

VERNACULAR NAMES
  • Kannada – Ekke
  • Malayalam – Erikku
  • Tamil – Eukku
  • Telugu – Jilledu
  • Hindi – Aak
  • English – Indian Madar
SANSKRIT SYNONYMS
  • अर्क (Arka)  – A highly penetrating action like the sun
  • सूर्य  (Surya) – The action of the plant is similar to the sun
  • रक्तपुष्पी (Raktapushpi) – Red coloured or tinged flowers
  • विकीरण (Vikeerana) – The seeds get dispersed when the fruits breaks open
  • मन्दार (Mandara) – The tree like plant that is white in colour
  • शूकफल (Shukaphala) – The fruits are like that of the parrot or its beak
  • श्वेतपुष्प (Shwetapushpa) White coloured flowers (especially Rajaarka)
  • सदापुष्प (Sadapushpa) Flowering all round the year
  • अलर्क (Alarka) A fabulous plant
  • प्रताप (Pratapa) Is highly irritant due to its hot potency.
PLANT IMAGE
Arka
Click image to enlarge
PLANT IMAGE
Arka
Click image to enlarge
SAMHITA CLASSIFICATION
  • Charaka Samhita – भेदनीय (Bhedaneeya), वमनोपग (Vamanopaga) and स्वेदोपग (Swedopaga)
  • Sushruta Samhita – अधोभागहर (Adhobhagahara) and अर्कादि (Arkadi).
NIGHANTU CLASSIFICATION
  • Dhanvantari Nighantu – Karaveeradi Varga
  • Bhavaprakasha Nighantu – Guduchyadi Varga, Upavisha
  • Raja Nighantu – Karaveeradi Varga
  • Kaiyadeva Nighantu – Aushadhi Varga
BRIEF MORPHOLOGY

Calotropis procera (Ait) R. Bt.

A spreading shrub or a medium sized tree that grows upto 5 to 7 feet height. The stems are crooked with fissures on secondary cork. The leaves are thick, sessile, pale or grey green in colour, simple, covered by a white tomentum which gives a waxy appearance. The inflorescence is Umbellate cymes with purplish, purplish-white flowers with purple spots. The fruits is a follicle which is recurved, smooth, greyish green in colour, dehiscent 7 to 10 cm in length, subglobose, ellipsoid or ovoid in shape. The seeds are many, black or dark brown, flattened, with tuft of long white silky hairs.

Calotropis gigantea (L) W. T. Aiton

A tall shrub with yellowish white bark, furrowed, covered with fine appressed white pubescence and grows to a height of 7 to 9 feet hieght. Leaves are sessile, thick, glaucous green clothed with white tomentum. Inflorescence is umbellate cymes with flowers are white or purplish in colour and is covered with the cotton like pubescence. The fruit is follicle which is green, fleshy, 9-10cms in size. Seeds are numerous, flattened, brown, with minutely tommentose and coma of 2 to 3 cm long.

PHARMACOGNOSY OF OFFICIAL PART
MACROSCOPY

YET TO BE COMPILED

MICROSCOPY

YET TO BE COMPILED

PART USED AND POSOLOGY
PART USED
मूल (Root), पुष्प (Flower), पत्र (Leaves) & क्षीर (Latex)
DOSE

मूलत्वक् चूर्ण (Root bark powder) – 500 to 750mg; क्षीर (Latex) – 250 to 500mg; पुष्प (Flower)

PHYTOCHEMISTRY

Calotropis procera (Ait) R. Bt.

The leaves contain cardenolids, steroids like procesterol, glycosides like calotropin, usarchin, calotoxin, etc; tannins, sugars, flavanoids, alkaloids, saponins, etc. 

Calotropis gigantea (L) W. T. Aiton

The roots contain glycosides, calotroposide. The rootbark is composed of giganteol, isogiganteol, cardenolides, alcohols and β-amyrin. The latex has akundarin, ushcarin, calotoxin, calactin, β-amyrin, calcium oxalate, gigantin, etc. The leaves have the alkaloids, glycosides and mudarine. Stembark contains calotropoel, β-amyrin, gigantoel while flower has glycosides, asclepin, mudarine, amyrin, etc. 

रसपञ्चक कर्म PROPERTIES AND USES AS PER AYURVEDA
गुण (Properties)
  • रस (Rasa) – कटु (Katu), तिक्त (Tikta)
  • गुण (Guna) – लघु (Laghu), रूक्ष (Ruksha), तीक्ष्ण (Teekshna)
  • वीर्य (Veerya) – उष्ण (Ushna)
  • विपाक (Vipaka) – कटु (Katu)
  • प्रभाव – NONE
कर्म & प्रयोग (Action & Indications)
  • दोषकर्म (Doshakarma) – कफवातशामक (Kaphavatashamaka)
  • धातुकर्म & मलकर्म (Dhatukarma and Malakarma)  – Main actions – कुष्ठघ्न, कण्डुघ्न, विषघ्न, व्रणरोपण & क्रिमिघ्न (Kushtaghna, Kandughna, Vishaghna, Vranaropana & Krimighna
  • Other Actions – वामक, बल्य, रसायन, रक्तशोधक, पित्तस्रावक, etc (Vamaka, Balya, Rasayana, Raktashodhaka, Pittasravaka, etc)
  • प्रयोग (Prayoga)  – Mainly अग्निमान्द्य, रक्तपित्त, शोफ, गुल्म, अरोचक, प्रसेक, कास, श्वास , प्लीह, अर्श, उदर, क्रिमि, (Agnimandya, Raktapitta, Shopha, Gulma, Arochaka, Praseka, Kasa, Shwasa, Pleeha, Arsha, Udara, Krimi), also useful in  वेदनयुक्त वातविकार, कर्णशूल, बादिर्य, श्लीपद, उपदंश (Vedanayukta vatavikara, Karnashula, Badirya, Shleepada, Upadamsha)
AYURVEDIC FORMULATIONS
CLASSICAL
  1. अर्कलवण
  2. अर्क तैल
  3. महाविषगर्भ तैल
  4. धन्वन्तर घृत
  5. अर्केश्वर 
PROPRIETARY
  1. NONE OBSERVED
AGRONOMY
ENVIRONMENT

NOT YET COMPILED

CULTIVATION

NOT YET COMPILED

HARVESTING

NOT YET COMPILED

STORAGE

NOT YET COMPILED

VARIETIES AND SUBSTITUTES OR ADULTERANTS
VARIETIES

As per text of Sushruta, there are two types namely – 

  1. Arka
  2. Alarka

As per Dhanvantari Nighantu there are two varieties

  1. Arka
  2. Rajaarka
ADULTERANTS

NONE

SUBSTITUTES

No substitutes for this plant

TOXICITY
TOXIC SYMPTOMS

The toxic symptoms include

  • Acrid bitter taste, Burning pain in throat and stomach, salivation, stomatitis, vomiting, diarrhoea, dilated pupils, convulsions, delirium, conjuctivitis (on contact), skin inflammation and vescication (on contact), Collapse and death.
ANTIDOTE
  • Stomach wash
  • Saline cathartics
  • Demulcent drinks
  • Suitable Antidotes or drugs
  • Specific Antidote – Tamarind leaves paste applied locally and Water mixed with Gairika is to be given internally.
शोधन or PURIFICATION METHOD
  • Opium is given Bhavana (Infusion or impregnation) with the fresh juice of Ardraka (Zingiber officinale) for 21 times will result in its purification.
THERAPEUTIC USES

EXTERNAL USES –

Oil is processed with the leaves of the plant and is used as drops to treat deafness, earache and other ear troubles. The oil is also useful in the treatment of inflammatory conditions by applying over the part affected. The juice expressed from the leaves is applied over the paralysed part and other applications to treat paralysis. Decoction of the leaves and fruits are used for extraction of Guniea worms from the infected limb by immersing it in the decoction. Inhalation of smoke that are obtained by burning leaves will be useful in the treatment of Asthma and cough.

INTERNAL USES – 

Internally, 4 to 5 drops of leaf extract is advised to treat intermittent fever. The ash obtained from burning leaves with rock salt is given internally to treat abdominal disorders and is appetizer in action. The calcinated leaves are useful in the treatment of liver disorders.

CONTROVERSY (IF PRESENT)

YET TO BE COMPILED

LIST OF RESEARCH STUDIES
  1. Singh N, Gupta P, Patel AV and Pathak AK: Calotropis gigantea: a review on its phytochemical & pharmacological profile. Int J Pharmacognosy 2014; 1(1): 1-8. doi: 10.13040/IJPSR.0975-8232.1(1).1-8.
  2. Ali Ismail Al-Snafi: THE CONSTITUENTS AND PHARMACOLOGICAL PROPERTIES OF CALOTROPIS PROCERA -AN OVERVIEW. Int J Pharmacy Review and Research 2015; 5(3): 259-275. 
  3. Murti, P.B.R., Seshadri, T.R. Chemical composition ofCalotropis gigantea . Proc. Indian Acad. Sci. (Math. Sci.) 18145–159 (1943). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03051268

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