Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna) is a tree found in India, the Himalayas, and Sri Lanka. The herb was named after the Hindu god Arjuna and is used in Ayruvedic medicine.
The Arjuna Tree
The arjuna evergreen tree grows up to 90 feet tall. As a result, it's not a tree you would grow in your backyard. Arjuna leaves are feasted on by the Antheraea paphia moth, a moth that produces tropical tasar silk. The silk is an important Indian commodity.
Arjuna bark is responsible for the herbs medicinal properties. The word arjuna means "shining" or "white" and the bark has a radiance about it. The red-hued bark naturally sheds once a year and can be safely harvested without harming the tree.
Uses and Research
Arjuna is used to support cardiovascular health, liver function, treat diabetes, and as an antioxidant. It contains tannins, flavanols, and sterols among other components.
Not only is arjuna believed to help treat heart disease, cardiac arrhythmia, angina, and hypertension, it is also thought to reduce cholesterol and support overall cardiac function. In fact, Western medical research is catching up to what Ayruvedic medicine has known for centuries.
- According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, arjuna may be a viable herbal remedy for angina. Their website states that the herb "was shown in one study to be as effective as isosorbide mononitrate (Imdur) in reducing the number of angina attacks and increasing exercise capacity." However, they also caution that more studies are needed.
- A PubMed abstract confirms arjuna's potential antioxidant effects. A study determined that arjuna extract shows antioxidant activity through the repair of oxidative stress in diabetic rats, confirming the viability of using the herb in diabetic animals.
- Arjuna has been studied for its cancer fighting attributes, indicates another PubMed abstract. It's believed that its antioxidant abilities may lead to anti-carcinogenic effects by limiting oxidative stress and slowing anaerobic metabolism.
- According to Drugs.com, clinical studies showed that using 500 mg of arjuna bark extract every eight hours significantly reduces angina and improves diastolic function in people with ischemic mitral regurgitation caused by coronary heart disease.
- Drugs.com also states that clinical and animal studies showed arjuna has liver protecting properties when used alone and with Terminalia bellirica.
It is important to note that the FDA has not approved arjuna for any of the above uses.
Other than using 500 mg every eight hours for angina and coronary heart disease, no clinically acceptable dosages of arjuna have been defined by mainstream Western medicine.
Holistic-herbalist.com, a site managed by Ayurvedic expert Dr. Vikrama Aditya Tomar, recommends the following Ayurvedic dosages:
- 3-6 grams two or three times a day (powder) taken with milk or water
- 10-20 ml of extracted juice taken two or three times daily with milk or honey
- 5-20 grams two times daily of Ksira Paka (arjuna processed with milk)
- A decoction of one part bark (10 g) to two parts water (20 ml) taken two times a day
- Up to 500 mg of extract four times a day
Arjuna extract is tolerated well by most people, but side effects may occur. These include:
- May lower blood sugar levels
- May lower blood pressure (although this can be a benefit to people with hypertension, those with normal or low blood pressure may experience dangerous pressure drops)
- A warming sensation in the body, especially when high doses are taken
- Gastrointestinal issues including gas, bloating, constipation
- Arjuna has shown antiplatelet and anticoagulant activity so it should be used with caution if you take medications that affect blood clotting and/or have a clotting disorder
The safety of arjuna during pregnancy or breastfeeding has not been adequately studied.
In Indian-Ayurvedic medicine, arjuna is a time honored herb with powerful healing abilities. As modern medicine and research catch up with what ancient healers have known all along, arjuna may play a lasting role in treating illness.
Please consult your doctor or natural health practitioner before using arjuna, especially if you have a medical condition or take prescription or over-the-counter medications.