Ayurvedic Medicine, Cancer, Cardiovascular Health, Herbs

The Benefits of Ayurvedic Medicine: Arjuna

The Benefits of Ayurvedic Medicine: Arjuna_arjuna herb
Arjuna Bark

Arjuna is one of those herbs that doesn’t just improve a few aspects of one’s health, it greatly benefits overall health and well-being. For thousands of years, Arjuna has been used both alone and as a support herb in Ayurvedic medicine because it is useful for several common health issues, but can also support the functioning of other herbal remedies; so, it should come as no surprise that modern scientists have discovered that Arjuna also supports the effects of pharmaceutical drugs.

Health Benefits of Arjuna

In no particular order, these are the most notable health benefits of Arjuna

  • Supports and cleanses the lymphatic system
  • Strengthens the heart muscles, make the heart function more efficiently
  • Is a natural anti-platelet
  • Reduces hypertension/blood pressure
  • Protects against cell mutation and prevents certain cancers
  • Protects smokers from arterial hardening
  • Protects against myocardial infarction
  • Lowers cholesterol levels

Arjuna supports the functioning of the lymphatic system by clearing the nodes of congestion and increasing their efficiency. This means that lymph – a clear fluid that nourishes and oxygenates every cell in the body and which is perpetually recirculated throughout the body, is cleansed more often and more thoroughly.

Arjuna is a cardiac stimulant that strengthens the heart muscles and keeps the heart functioning at optimum. Arjuna also acts as a hypotensive, because of its hypolipidemic activity and diuretic property; this means that Arjuna decreases hypertension/high blood pressure as a result of its ability to decrease the number of lipids in one’s blood. This is how Arjuna is able to lower cholesterol to normal, healthy levels.

Arjuna is a natural anti-platelet – it has the ability to stop platelets from sticking together, which helps to prevent platelet accumulation. It is platelet accumulation that causes blood clots/thrombosis formation, (ischemic, embolic and thrombotic) strokes, and myocardial infarction, which literally means “death of heart tissue” and results from arterial blockage.

According to ‘Natural remedies for heart diseases‘, published in the Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge,

Arjuna is a coronary vasodilator, protects the heart, strengthens circulation, and helps to maintain the tone and health of the heart muscle. 1/2 teaspoon (500 milligrams to one gram) 3 times a day is given with honey and warm water. Administered at a dose of 15 mg/kg, arjunolic acid could protect against damage wreaked by myocardial necrosis, which translates into irreparable damage to heart cells.”1

This is based on a study published in the August 2001 edition of the scientific journal Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry. Arjuna’s ability to dilate arteries, stave off necrosis and decrease cholesterol must be why it can protect smokers from arterial hardening.

Smoking damages nearly every organ in the human body and is a major risk factor for P.A.D. (peripheral arterial disease) – a condition in which plaque builds up in the arteries that carry blood to the head, organs, and limbs.

Arterial plaque is composed of fat, cholesterol, calcium, fibrous tissue and other substances found in the blood; it acts, like spackling paste on damaged drywall, to seal damage in one’s artery walls. In this case, the damage being caused by the smoker’s own bad habit.

And while people who develop P.A.D. are at an increased risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke, due to plaque formation in the arteries, there may be equal or greater danger in continuing to smoke while using Arjuna to decrease the arterial plaque that has formed to protect the arteries from the smoker’s actions. I don’t want to turn this into an anti-smoking PSA, but it is something that smokers should consider.

The most interesting benefit of Arjuna is its ability to fight off certain forms of cancers. The following excerpt is from the 29 December 2009 edition of Nutrition and Cancer, ‘Natural Phenolic Compounds From Medicinal Herbs and Dietary Plants: Potential Use for Cancer Prevention’,

“Casuarinin, a hy- drolysable tannin isolated from the bark of Terminalia arjuna L. (Combretaceae), could inhibit the proliferation by blocking cell cycle progression in the G0/G1 phase and by inducing apoptosis in human breast adenocarcinoma cells .”2

Adenocarcinoma is a type of cancerous tumor that can occur in several parts of the body. Apoptosis is programmed cell death. Apoptosis is supposed to occur whenever a cell’s DNA is damaged and it mutates – it’s part of our body’s defense mechanism, but sometimes that mechanism does not kick in and cancer is allowed to fester and grow. The discovery of Arjuna’s remarkable ability to force apoptosis on mutated/cancerous cells makes me hunger for more scientific research studies on traditional herbal medicines, and how they may be applied to treat modern illnesses.

Another amazing thing about Arjuna is that it does not negatively interact with any known pharmaceutical medications or herbs. In fact, it supports the performance of other herbs and pharmaceutical drugs; this has been proven both anecdotally and in scientific research studies. The only negative that I could find was that large doses of Arjuna can make one feel warmer, which (depending on the time of year) may be a plus.

The herb Arjuna is the bark of the Terminalia Arjuna tree, named for a great warrior in the Hindu scripture Bhagavad Gita, and literally means ‘shining or famous like silver’ in Sanskrit. With its ability to strengthen the heart, protect against cancer, peripheral arterial disease, myocardial infarction, various forms of stroke and thrombosis, and keep the lymphatic and cardiovascular systems working at optimal levels, Arjuna certainly earns its prestigious name.

If you have any questions or suggestions about Arjuna and its uses, comment below or tweet me on Twitter.

. References:

1 Lokhande PD, Jagdale SC, Chabukswar AR. “Natural remedies for heart disease”. Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge, July 2006. Web.

2 Huang WY, Cai YZ, Zhang Y. “Natural Phenolic Compounds From Medicinal Herbs and Dietary Plants: Potential Use for Cancer Prevention”. Nutrition and Cancer, December 29, 2009. Web.

Dwivedi, Shridhar and Chopra, Deepti. “Revisiting Terminalia arjuna – An Ancient Cardiovascular Drug”. Journal of Traditional and Complimentary Medicine, October-December 2014. Web.

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