It is unlikely that you have stepped into the chamber of an Ayurveda physician and come out of there without being recommended arjuna tea for good heart health and better blood pressure and cholesterol control. The tea uses for a key ingredient- the bark of the arjuna plant or Terminalia arjuna, known as the ‘guardian of the heart’ for a very good reason. All the ancient classical Ayurvedic texts or Samhitas including Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita, and Ashtang Hridyam talk gloriously about its ability to support the healing of heart ailments. Vagabhatta, the prolific healer, physician, propounder, and author of seminal works in Ayurveda (Ashtangahridyasamhita and Ashtangasangraha) who lived in the sixth century was the first to mention the use of the bark of this Indo-sub Himalayan plant for the treatment of heart diseases. Despite the fact that modern medicine is yet to study the applications, benefits and efficacy of this ancient medicinal herb in its entirety, the bark decoction from the arjuna plant has been successfully used in healing angina pain, managing hypertension, dyslipidemia for centuries now, based on Ayurvedic recommendations.
Terminalia Arjuna: Benefits
Systematic reviews, clinical and experimental studies, and meta-analyses done in the last decade point to the following benefits of the arjuna plant- the arjuna supplements in the form of tonic, tablets, or powder has been found to be
- anti-ischemic (cardiac ischemia is a condition that reduces the ability of the heart muscles to pump blood);
- lipid-lowering (accumulation of lipoproteins in blood vessels can increase risk of heart diseases); and
- antiatherogenic, that is it protects against atherogenesis which is the formation of plaques or atheromas in arteries.
The Arjuna Tablets can be taken for three months for all these prophylactic benefits and more!
The gifted bark of the arjuna plant
The bark is known to be an effective astringent; reduces inflammation; aids clearing of mucus from lower and upper airways helping with respiratory problems; powerful cardiotonic; useful styptic and helps stop wound bleeding; helps manage dysentery; fights urinary problems; helps with ulcers; manages optimal blood sugar levels; and is liver-protective. In ancient times, parts of the plant were used for treating snake or scorpion bites and washing ulcers.
While great ayurvedic physician Chakradatta, who lived millennia, recommended the use of ajruna bark as a decoction to be had with milk or clarified butter, other healers of the time advised use of the bark powder mixed in water for inhalation for curing headaches and killing germs in the teeth. The juices from the leaf were used for treating ear and heart illnesses. Some tribal communities used dried bark powder decoction for relief from bloodletting in urine. Chewing the bark also worked as an antacid for the ancient people.
Benefits for your heart muscles and blood flow
Arjuna bark has important diuretic (improves urine release); inotropic (strengthen the force of your heartbeat) and chronotropic (to do with heart rate and rhythm) properties, which has been substantiated by some recent studies. In a particular study by Langendorff, the aqueous bark extract showed an increase in coronary flow. In other studies, aqueous extracts have shown a dose-dependent decrease in blood pressure.
The phytoconstituents present in various parts of the arjuna plant include triterpenoids, β-sitosterol, flavonoids, and glycosides. Recent studies show, that triterpenoids found in arjuna extracts boost antioxidant defense and are cardioprotective. The results suggested that ‘the triterpenoids present in the arjunolic acid compound had a protective effect against cyclosporine a-induced cardiotoxicity.’ Cyclosporine-a is an immunosuppressant. The flavonoids present in T. arjuna help regulate cellular activity and fights off rogue free radicals to reduce oxidative stress. The cardioprotective benefits of arjuna’s phytoconstituents in reducing oxidative stress induced by sodium fluoride and carbon tetrachloride is also scientifically recorded.
Lowers lipids that increase the risk of heart problems
Experiments have shown the arjuna bark powder or extract can help with cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
In a pioneering study, the anti-ischemic effect of arjuna bark was studied on 30 patients of stable angina. It was found, there was a reduction in mean angina (chest pain) frequency, a significant decrease in systolic blood pressure (SBP), improvement in ECG changes, and reduction in plasma cortisol and serum cholesterol levels. In another study, 500 mg of T arjuna bark powder was given twice every day for 25 coronary artery disease patients. Results showed a reduction in the frequency of angina attacks, and improvement in exercise tolerance.
Dealing with chest pain (angina)
Recommended since ancient times for dealing with angina, modern research is coming around to agree with the efficacy of this herb in improving symptoms among patients of chest pain after a heart attack, when taken along with conventional medications, as a prophylactic medicine. Research also shows, its usage reduces the need for chest pain medication for patients with long term angina.
Congestive heart failure and hypertension
In a small study, 10 patients who suffered congestive heart failure were given 4g of arjuna bark powder twice a day for one month. It was found that there was an improvement in ‘functional class’, reduction in breathlessness, better urinal flow, and a drop in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Published by Ruchira Roy
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