Calotropis gigantea – Arka Uses, Dose, Side Effects, Ayurveda Details

Calotropis gigantea is known as Arka in Sanskrit. It is widely used in many Ayurvedic treatments, both externally (ksharasutra) and internally. It is a very common herb seen widely throughout India. It is called as Madar in English. Often, its another variety Calotropois procera is also used in the same name.

Botanical Name– Calotropis Gigantea (Linn). R. Brown / procera
The name calotropis refers to one which has a beautiful corona of the flower and procera refers to tallness.
Family –  Asclepiadaceae (Periplocaceae) – Arka Kula

Home remedies

Calotropis procera

By Dr MS Krishnamurthy MD(Ayu), PhD
The plant Madar is well known as Arka in ayurveda. The name Arka symbolizes the deep penetrating and hot potency of the plant. This herb is related to Ravi graha (Sun) as per Indian astrology.
It is also called Milkweed, Stabragh or Sodom Apple.

Spiritual Uses

The plant is available in two colors-white and bluish red. Red variety of Arka is commonly found and it is used for medicinal purposes.
The white variety is rare and it is used in Tantric practices and used to take away the evil spirits.

The leaves are the used part. The flowers are offered to Lord Shiva and the garland of`the leaves is used to decorate Lord Ganesha and Lord Hanuman.

While preparing the Kshara sutra (alkaline thread) the latex of this plant is used. Ayurvedic literatures like Rasaratna samucchaya, Rasatarangini etc group the plant Arka among the semi poisons (Upavisha).
Read related: Ksharasutra Preparation Method: Detailed Explanation

It is very important to know that the latex of the plant is a big irritant and if it falls on the eyes accidentally especially while collecting the leaves or cutting the plant, one may lose eye sight!
So one should be careful while collecting the plant.

Whole plant is used to prepare the alkali(Arka kshara).
The leaves are used to prepare the oil(Arka taila) and to prepare various Rasashastra medicines. (herbo- mineral formulations).


Warmed leaf application over the swelling:
3-4 mature leaves of madar are collected and warmed in its ventral side(fine area). Little sesame oil or any other pain relieving oils (like Dhanvantara taila, Kottamchukkadi taila, Nirgundi taila etc) is applied over it and placed over the swelling or inflamed area.
5-6 days regular fomentation helps to reduce the swelling effectively.

Joint Pain

Application of the leaf paste over the joints:
Mature leaves are made into fine paste without adding water. If necessary little salt may be added. This paste is applied over inflamed joints. 2-3 days medication helps to reduce the pain and swelling quite effectively.

Aches and pains

Leaf oil in joint pain and muscular pains:
Leaves are made into paste (50 grams).
To this 200 ml sesame oil.
200 ml water is added and is cooked till the water evaporates completely.
It is filtered and stored.
This can be applied over the painful joints as well as muscular pains. In skin diseases such as eczema also it is beneficial.
Some add betel leaf paste also while cooking this oil.
Read related: Have Muscle Pain Or Arthritis? Please Avoid Direct Air From Fan

Asthma, Cough

Dried Flower powder in asthma and chronic cough:
Flowers are collected, dried in sunshade, made into fine powder. 1-2 pinches of this is mixed with little rock salt powder and used for chewing. Or else this combination can be taken along with warm water. It relieves chronic cough, cold, asthma, rhinitis etc.

The Ayurveda system of medicine believes-“there is nothing in this universe which is useless;a learner or seeker will use the best part of the plant in treating varieties of disorders –it may be a single drug or in combinations’ ‘ . True, unbiased, innovative mind will design the best from each such herbal drug.
Click to consult Dr MS Krishnamurthy MD (Ayu), PhD

Vernacular Names

Hindi Name – Madara, Akavan, Aak (latex of Arka is called Aak ki doodh)
English Name – Madar, Crown flower, Giant Milkweed crown
Telugu Name – Jilledu, Mandaram
Bengali Name – Aakand
Marathi Name – Rui / Akamadar
Gujarati Name – Akad, Akado
Tamil Name – Pellerukku, Erukku
Punjabi Name – Ak
Arab name – Ushar
Pharsi name – Kharak


Classical categorization

Caraka – Bedaniya, Vamonopaga, Svedopaga
Susruta- Arkadi, Adhobhagahara
Vaghata- Arkadi
Bh p Ni – Guduchyadi varga 67 – 72


Susruta – Arka, Alarka
Bh. Pra. Ni – Sweta, Rakta
Dha. Ni – Arka, Rajarka
Ra. Ni – Arka, Rajarka, Suklarka, Sweta Mandara

Major chemical constituents

Calotropis gigantea– Laurane, Saccharose, B-amyrin; a&B calotropeols; holarrhetine, Cyanidin-3-rhamnoglucoside; Taraxsterol isovalerate; Giganteol; Calotroposide;Calactin, Calotoxin; Calotropins DI &DII, Gigantin etc.

Calotropis gigantea

Calotropis procera– A&B Amyrins, Cyanidin-3-Rhamnoglucoside, procesterol,  B-sitosterol, Calactin, Caotoxin, Calotropagenin, Calotropin, Calotropain, Proceroside, Proceragenin etc.
(Reference: Illustrated Dravyaguna Vijnana, Vol. II, by Dr JLN Shastry)

External morphology

Calotropis gigantea

Tall shrub, bark is furrowed, yellowish white, Branches are stout
Leaves – 10- 20 cm long, sessile, elliptic, oblong, acute apex, thick glaucous green
Inflorescence – Umbellate lateral cymes
Flowers – Purplish white, pedicels much longer than the flowers
Fruit – Foliate thick, fleshy green
Seeds – Numerous, broadly ovate, brown

Medicinal properties

Rasa (taste) – Katu (pungent) Tikta (bitter)
Guna (qualities) – Laghu (lightness), Ruksha (dryness), Teekshna
Vipaka – Katu – Undergoes pungent taste conversion after digestion.
Veerya – Ushna – hot potency
Effect on Tridosha – Because of its hot potency, it balances Vata and Kapha.
Red type’s flower has a bitter and sweet taste. Hence it balances Pitta and Kapha.

Calotropis gigantea medicinal uses

Medicinal uses

Arka ksheera – The latex of Madar plant is used in Vamana (vomiting therapy) and Virechana (purgation therapy). It is capable of inducing vomiting and purgation.
Kushtahara – useful in skin diseases
Gulmahara – useful in abdominal tumors, bloating
Udarahara – used in the treatment of ascites.

Madar plant is
Vatahrut – balances Vata
Deepana – improves digestion
Sara – eases bowel movements.
Shophahara – anti inflammatory
Vranahara – brings about quick wound healing
Kanduhara – relieves itching
Kushtahara – useful in skin diseases
Pleehahara – useful in spleen disorders
Krumihara – useful in intestinal worm infestation

Madar flower –
Vrushya – acts as aphrodisiac
Laghu – light to digest
Deepana – improves digestion strength
Pachana – carminative
Arochaka – useful in anorexia
Praseka – excessive salivation
Arsha – hemorrhoid’s
Kasa shwasahara – useful in respiratory disorders – cough, asthma etc. It acts as a good expectorant.

Red coloured flowers –
Tikta Madhura – sweet, bitter in taste
Kushtahara – relieves skin diseases
Krumighna – useful in worm infestation
Kaphanashana – balances Kapha.
Arshahara – useful in hemorrhoid’s
Vishahara – anti toxic
Raktapitta – useful in bleeding disorders
Sangrahi – useful in diarrhea
Gulma – useful in abdominal tumors, bloating
Shvayathuhara – anti inflammatory.

Root bark is useful in cough, cold and constipation. (acts as a laxative).

Snake bites – In ancient times, for poisonous snake bites, its leaves were chewed and latex was applied over the wound.

Pharmacological Action

Anti spasmodic

Part used, dosage

Part used – Root bark, flowers, leaf, latex, seeds.
Root bark, powder 0.5-1 g.
Flower powder 1-2 g
Latex – fatal dose and fatal period: 
Wikipedia lists the fatal period as 6 – 12 hours. Fatal dose is unknown. Some opine anything above 500 mg of latex is fatal.

Ayurvedic medicines

Ayurvedic medicines prepared with Calotropis gigantea –
Ardraka Ghrita – used in indigestion and chronic diarrhea
Arkadi Kashaya – used in cough, cold, back ache with stiffness
Asanadi Kashaya – used in treating diabetes, obesity etc.

Arka lavana, Arkadi choorna, Sootikabharana rasa, Ekangaveera rasa, Mahavata vidhwamsarasa etc are the unique preparations of this drug.


Arka Kshara

Synonyms – Ravi Kshara, Baskara kshara, Mitra Kshara.

Properties of Arka Kshara

अर्कक्षारः स्मृतस्तीक्ष्णो गुल्मप्लीहादि नाशनः
पाचनो दीपनश्चापि कास श्वास प्रणाशनः (र.तं.१४/७४)
arkakṣāraḥ smṛtastīkṣṇo gulmaplīhādi nāśanaḥ
pācano dīpanaścāpi kāsa śvāsa praṇāśanaḥ (ra.taṃ.14/74)

tīkṣṇa – sharp,
Gulma plīhādi nāśanaḥ – cures abdominal lump. Splenic diseases etc.
pācano – digestive,
dīpanah – carminative,
kāsa śvāsa praṇāśanaḥ – cures asthma and cough

Side effects and precautions

Overdose may cause diarrhea and vomiting.
It is not safe to use in pregnancy or during lactation period.

Adverse effects and remedial measures

Root bark – In higher doses root bark causes Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Prolonged higher doses cause headache, burning micturition and Leucorrhoea
Latex – It has a caustic effect on mucous membrane and tender skin. Accidental splashing of latex into the Eye causes congestion of the eye with tears.


Stomach wash
Fresh leaf juice of Nilini may be administered
Sugar solution to drink
Cinca (Tamarindus indica)
Palasa (Butea monosperma) Kwatha
Intake of large quantity of milk and ghee

Interaction with medicines, supplements

Can this be used while taking Homeopathic medicine?
Yes. This product does not react with homeopathic medicine.

Can this medicine be continued while taking supplements like multivitamin tablets, Omega 3 fatty acids etc?
Yes. Generally, this product goes well with most dietary supplements. However, if you are taking more than one product per day, please consult your doctor for an opinion.

With western medicines
Seek your doctor’s advice if you are taking this product along with other western (allopathic / modern) medicines. Some Ayurvedic herbs can interact with modern medicine.
If both Ayurvedic and allopathic medicines are advised together, then it is best to take Allopathic medicine first, wait for 30 minutes and then take the Ayurvedic medicine.

Fumigation in hemorrhoids

Fumigation with powder of Arka for hemorrhoids:
Arka leaves are dried and burnt. Pile masses are exposed to the fumes. It reduces pain, itching and size of the pile mass. (Charaka Samhita Chikitsa Sthana 14th chapter).

Antidote for overdose

Antidote for Calotropis over-dosage: 
Leaves of Neelini – Indigofera tinctoria are crushed and juice is extracted. It is administered in a dose of 10 ml, two times a day.
Leaves of tamarind are crushed and juice is extracted. 15 ml is mixed with 15 ml of water, administered twice a day.

Usage of leaves in Panchakarma

The calotropis leaves are used in a sweating treatment, called Prastara swedana therapy. Here, the hot boiled herbs are spread over a stone bed, covered with leaves of calotropis and the patient is made to lie on it for a few minutes.

Is Arka leaves tied to feet at night, useful in diabetes?

Use in Abhraka purification

Use in purification of Abhraka – Mica
Abraka – Mica – in its incineration procedure, it is converted into Dhanyabhraka. In the textbook of Ananda Kanda, black variety of abraka is taken in an earthen pot and heated very well. Later the Abraka layer is dipped in arka juice (Calotropis gigantea), gruel, cows urine, triphala decoction for 3 times each.

Sanskrit synonyms

Arka – arka means Sun rays. This herb is as pungent, hot and strong as Sun rays.
Toolaphala – fruits have cottony hairs within
Ksheeraparna – leaves yield milk (latex)
Arkaparna – Parna means leaf. Leaves are strong, hot and pungent.
Vikirana – its pollination is by air (spreading)
Asphota – the fruit bursts open
Arkaparna – Leaves are sharp as sun
Pratapa – Latex causes burning sensation
Kharjukhna – Relieves kandu
Asphota – Fruits are dehiscent in nature
Ksirakandaka – Stem possess latex
Raktapushpa – Flowers are red in color
Alarka, Mandara. Saapuspa, Talaphala, Krsaparna, Vikirana,

Sthanika Karma (Systemic Action)

External – Leaves have analgesic and anti-inflammatory action. Inflamed and painful joints (Rheumatic joint pain) can be covered with its leaf which is made into hot, helps to reduce pain. Oil prepared out of it is also beneficial in such conditions. Juice can be used as ear drops for ear pain, hearing loss etc. Leaf powder can be used to sprinkle on wounds ,promoting wound healing. Root bark also can be used for this purpose. Latex is useful in Thyroid enlargement, cervical lymphadenopathy etc. In skin disorders latex can be used along with mustard oil. In Leukoderma conditions also its latex is indicated. Conditions Alopecia, Hemorrhoids etc. external application of latex is found to be beneficial. It has Anthelmintic action.Digestive System – Induce vomiting, Carminative, Digestive, Purgative, Irritates the esophageal mucosa. Root bark paste is indicated in Ascites, Helminthiasis, Loss of appetite, Hepatic diseases, Constipation, etc. Also indicated in Enteric fever. Arka kshara is beneficial in Ascites .
Circulatory System – Indicated in Rheumatic heart diseases, Joint pain, etc.
Respiratory system – Expels out vitiated kapha dosha. Stem juice along with honey can be administered in cough, breathing disorders, Rhinitis etc.
Skin – Indicated in skin diseases.

Circulatory system – Act as cardiac stimulant, Increases Blood pressure, Indicated in filariasis. In bleeding disorders, the red variety of Arka is found to be beneficial.

Respiratory system – Root bark decoction is indicated in cough and breathing difficulties. Expels out excessive kapha dosha from the respiratory tract. Alkali prepared out of its bark is beneficial in Asthma.
Tvak – Indicated in skin diseases.
Tapakrama – Root bark decoction is indicated in fever (Vishamajvara)
Satmikarana – Indicated in general debility. Snakebite – (Along with black pepper)

56 comments on “Calotropis gigantea – Arka Uses, Dose, Side Effects, Ayurveda Details

  • Vijaya kamalapurkar

    13/12/2013 - 3:22 pm

    Good info about mandar plant .can we apply latex on knee joints and how to administer this drug orally?

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      05/01/2014 - 5:16 pm

      You can apply latex over knee joints.
      Its oral administration requires doctor’s consultation.
      Its root bark powder, flower powder are used for oral administration. But most commonly, it is used in combination with other herbs.

      Reply to comment
  • Ravi Kumar Jami

    06/03/2014 - 12:50 am

    i am searching its latex from last six month but unable to get it. i have required it in bulk quantity. kindly send me detail where i can get it.

    Reply to comment
    • Muhammad Hussain..

      17/03/2016 - 12:00 pm

      How much quantity you require.?

      Reply to comment
  • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

    13/10/2014 - 8:36 pm

    It is useful in cancer, but not as a standalone herb/medicine.

    Reply to comment
  • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

    26/10/2014 - 7:05 pm

    I do not approve of that product or their tactics. Just because they advertise it to you and call and ask you to buy, you need not listen to them. You can always hang up the phone 🙂

    Reply to comment
  • Ravi

    09/04/2015 - 5:16 pm

    it can help you to reduce your eye number.

    give it some heat and keep it @ your stomach on daily base 4 to 5 hours

    Try it just 20 days…..Defiantly give you positive result.

    Reply to comment
  • Akhilesh Kumar

    25/05/2015 - 2:13 pm

    Dear sir we need some quantity of Madar Milk Powder can you suggest by which source
    i can get it if possible please give me the contact no. also.

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      14/07/2015 - 10:06 pm

      Contact Mr Shashikumar – 9243805380

      Reply to comment
  • mary

    14/08/2016 - 11:08 am

    madar flower can be used for kidney stone

    Reply to comment
  • Jaksha Zaveri

    14/09/2016 - 10:44 pm

    Is Ankado plant available in USA or what is the name in english

    Reply to comment
  • Tanzeel ur Rahman

    19/11/2016 - 4:39 pm

    Is the root bark useful for artheritis

    Reply to comment
  • Abdus Sattar.

    01/12/2016 - 8:15 am

    Abdus Sattar, Bogra, Bangladesh.Sir,for osteoarthritis pain here people used hot compression of Akanda leaf by applying few drops of mustard oil over it. May it cause any side effect?

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      05/12/2016 - 8:55 pm

      It does not have any side effects. It is safe to use.

      Reply to comment
  • a.rao

    27/04/2017 - 12:37 pm

    Dear sir you have mentioned a site is it alright 2 buy black cohosh and dong quai from the site. thanks

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      27/04/2017 - 12:57 pm

      I don’t know them personally.

      Reply to comment
  • Agustin mata

    22/05/2017 - 8:16 am

    Hello Dr. Hebbar I have diabetes 25 years I am all moss blind bliding in the vitral I need to no wehere I can find the aak leaf o the tree I live in canada and is hard to find but in latin america wehere to find or I can order from you ?????? My name Agustin thank you have a blessing day

    Reply to comment
  • Barkha

    12/06/2017 - 8:36 am

    Hi, I have heard that permanent eye damage where the latex got in to the eye of a it true?

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      12/06/2017 - 5:27 pm

      As far as I have seen, it causes extreme eye irritation and does not cause vision loss.

      Reply to comment
  • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

    16/07/2017 - 5:42 pm

    Hi, keeping the leaves under the feet does not cause any poisoning.

    Reply to comment
  • Sudheer

    19/07/2017 - 12:05 pm

    Dear Sir,

    My mother is diagnoised with cancer (Breast) 4th stage. But now the C. cells has spread to other upper parts of the body. Metastasis cancer. Can this Calotropis gigantea plant be usefull in the cancer treatrment.

    Reply to comment
  • Naresh

    06/09/2017 - 6:22 am

    Is any known side effect on skin

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      06/09/2017 - 10:45 am

      If skin comes into contact directly, it does not cause burning sensation. But long exposure may cause mild irritation.

      Reply to comment
  • Dharmbir

    12/09/2017 - 11:21 am

    Meri nadiya weak h pero me dard rhta h kya isme ye madar kamyab h

    Reply to comment
  • Sugiyanta

    14/09/2017 - 7:34 am

    can calotropis gigantea use as pestiside to rice

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      17/09/2017 - 6:32 pm

      It has Mosquitocidal activity. Not sure about its pesticidal activity.

      Reply to comment
  • reshma

    01/10/2017 - 9:54 am

    Halo sir I am facing problem of breast sagging that I lost my weight of 23 kg please tell me any medicine and remedy that can solve this soon

    Reply to comment
  • Ankur

    23/10/2017 - 2:57 pm

    Is it useful in hair fungal

    Reply to comment
  • Kumar

    12/11/2017 - 8:13 pm

    Is that true that madar Arkansas leaves below the feet reduces sugar

    Reply to comment
  • Kumar

    12/11/2017 - 8:17 pm

    Is that true that madar Arkansas leaves below the feet reduces blood sugar

    Reply to comment
  • lakshmi

    21/11/2017 - 3:43 pm

    hello doctor i have heard that its root is useful in jalodhara disease is it true?Does it have any effect on periods?

    Reply to comment
  • aman

    13/02/2018 - 4:14 pm

    Ayaskriti also has arka as an indredient in it. Kindly name a few if you have in mind having arka as ingredient. Thanks

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      14/02/2018 - 6:52 pm

      Sarshapadi churna
      A Kof syrup

      Agnivrana taila
      Inflanil oil

      Reply to comment
  • dolly yaduvanshi

    14/02/2018 - 8:58 pm

    hello sir
    i am dolly yaduvanshi
    i want to ask about calotropis plants side effects on human ,and the fatal dose or fatal period of this plant ?
    calotropis gignatea and calotropis prosera ,both effects are same or some may be different

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      20/02/2018 - 5:39 pm

      Hi, C. procera and gigantea work similarly.
      Wikipedia lists fatal period as 6 – 12 hours. Fatal dose is unknown. Some opine anything above 500 mg of latex is fatal.

      Reply to comment
  • aman

    16/02/2018 - 9:16 am

    Sir i have noticed only calotropis procera being used in all formulations instead calotropis gigantea. Kindly correct me if i am wrong.

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      25/02/2018 - 5:55 pm

      Hi, both the varieties are used.

      Reply to comment
  • Nisha

    20/02/2018 - 6:24 pm

    Hello sir,
    Does topical application for hair fungal affects pregnancy?

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      01/03/2018 - 5:52 pm

      No. It can be applied topically, during pregnancy.

      Reply to comment
  • Kanwarpreet Singh

    14/04/2018 - 1:15 pm

    Hello sir,my self Kanwarpreet Singh l put latex on my skin on ringworm. It’s itching on my skin.its burnt very sevire.please tell me how I can reduce its effect

    Reply to comment
  • Rama

    21/04/2018 - 1:31 pm

    What is the side effect when it is applied on protruded piles? For how many days it can be applied on piles.

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      06/05/2018 - 8:59 pm

      It shrinks the pile mass. But it can cause burning sensation. Apply it. Leave it for 5 – 10 minutes, then wash off. Do this for 5 – 7 days.

      Reply to comment
  • Rama

    07/05/2018 - 11:32 am

    In fact I applied in the morning for three days u said it was burning throughout the day..on third day I felt some fluid discharge smelling like puss . after that i washed it and applied ghee .I stopped next day as I felt burning and puss may give some other problem.. Thanks for your suggestion. I wil apply and then wash..wil inform you the result..any food OR parallel medicine do u suggest?….thank you again….namaskara…

    Reply to comment
  • Rutu Patel

    08/05/2018 - 8:17 pm

    Hello, my mother-in-law is going through her menopause.. her ankel pains all the time. After long standing hours or after waking up she cannot walk applying equal pressure on both feet..can arka leaves help? Please suggest some remedy

    Reply to comment
  • Ranganathan

    14/05/2018 - 10:25 am

    How it is useful for arthritis

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      04/06/2018 - 10:16 am

      Its leaves are heated with castor oil and applied locally to relieve pain.

      Reply to comment
  • Tulsi

    15/05/2018 - 1:49 am

    Hello doctor I got head cold cos of which I get pain in my neck headache, ear pain. Pls tell me the home remedies to remove water from head.. I can feel the heaviness in head.

    Reply to comment
  • Krishnamurthy

    17/06/2018 - 6:57 pm

    Can a cloth dipped in
    the water (leaves boiled in it) be externally applied for joint pains?

    Reply to comment
  • Nigel

    24/06/2018 - 7:21 pm

    Sir, hearing about arka leaves, used for diabetes
    put at the base of the feet with the outer surface of the leaves on the soles, I wish to ask about the veracity of the incidents.

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      22/07/2018 - 3:31 pm

      I have not seen any reduce in blood sugar levels with this method.

      Reply to comment
  • jithya akkal

    04/07/2018 - 11:13 am

    sir how its latex is purified?

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      25/07/2018 - 10:47 am

      Hi, its purification method is not mentioned.

      Reply to comment

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