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
Family – Asclepiadaceae (Periplocaceae) – Arka Kula
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
Arka – arka means Sun rays. This herb is as pungent, hot and strong as Sun rays.
Toolaphala – fruit has ridges
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.
Alarka, Mandara. Saapuspa, Talaphala, Krsaparna, Arkaparna, Vikirana, Asphota.
Caraka – Bedaniya, Vamonopaga, Svedopaga
Susruta- Arkadi, Adhobhagahara
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)
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.
Side effects and precautions
Over-dosage may cause diarrhoea and vomiting.
It is not safe to use in pregnancy or during lactation period.
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.