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 beautiful corona of the flower and procera refers to tallness.
Family – Asclepiadaceae (Periplocaceae) – Arka Kula
Table of Contents
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.
The plant is available in two colors-white and bluish red. Red variety of Arka is commonly found and it is used for medicinal purpose.
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 irritantand 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.
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 gram).
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
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.
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
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
Caraka – Bedaniya, Vamonopaga, Svedopaga
Susruta- Arkadi, Adhobhagahara
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 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)
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 – Folliate thick, fleshy green
Seeds – Numerous, broadly ovate, brown
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 bitter and sweet taste. Hence it balances Pitta and Kapha.
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 tumours, 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 – haemorrhoids
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 haemorrhoids
Vishahara – anti toxic
Raktapitta – useful in bleeding disorders
Sangrahi – useful in diarrhoea
Gulma – useful in abdominal tumours, bloating
Shvayathuhara – anti inflammatory.
Root bark is useful in cough, cold and constipation. (acts as laxative).
Snake bites – In ancient times, for poisonous snake bite, its leaves were chewed and latex was applied over the wound.
Gastritis – Its leaves are processed with Saindhava salt to prepare a medicine called Arka Lavana, widely used in the treatment of gastritis.
Its latex is applied over the gums to relieve toothache.
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 fatal period as 6 – 12 hours. Fatal dose is unknown. Some opine anything above 500 mg of latex is fatal.
Ayurvedic medicines prepared with Calotropis gigantea –
Ardraka Ghrita – used in indigestion and chronic diarrhoea
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.
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
Over-dosage may cause diarrhoea 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 diarrhoea. Prolonged higher doses cause head ache, burning micturition and Leucorrhoea
Latex – It has a caustic effect on mucous membrane and tender skin. Accidental splashing of latex in to the Eye causes congestion of the eye with tear.
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.
this medicine be continued while taking supplements like multivitamin tablets,
Omega 3 fatty acids etc?
Yes. Generally, this product goes well with most of the dietary supplements. However, if you are taking more than one product per day, please consult your doctor for an opinion.
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 haemorrhoids
Fumigation with powder of Arka for haemorrhoids:
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 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 time.
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.
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 colour
Alarka, Mandara. Saapuspa, Talaphala, Krsaparna, Vikirana,