Plant Name: Justicia adhatoda L.
Common Name: Vasaka
English: Malabar nut
Hindi: Adosa, Arusha, Rus, Bansa
Known in Jawhar Taluka: Adulsa
Interesting facts and history
It is widely used in homeopathic medicines. There is a saying is Sanskrit about this drug meaning of which is that as long as Vasaka will remain, patients suffering from spitting of blood, phthisis and common cold and cough need not despair. The physicians proclaim that patients suffering from cough of any kind would be fit and fine if they are treated with Vasaka. Traditionally it has long been used as a great remedy for respiratory disorders.
Another interesting fact is that, it is coolant herb, but it is useful in respiratory tract conditions.
A stiff, evergreen, much-branched perennial shrub with a strong, unpleasant odour, 1.2-6 m tall.
Fruits (capsules) clavate, longitudinally channelled, 1.9-2.2 cm long and 0.8 cm wide, pubescent.
The leaf is simple, entire, wavy, ovate, lanceolate, apex acuminate, 6 to 14 cm long, 3 to 5.5 cm broad, and midrib prominent at the lower surface. They are oppositely arranged, smooth-edged, and borne on short petioles.
Flowers large, white with red or yellow-barred throats, borne in compact, axillary, pediculate spikes with large bracts.
Habit / Habitat
This shrub grows on the plains of India and in the lower Himalayas, up to a range of 1000 meters above sea level. It grows well on a variety of sites from moist river banks to dry slopes and disturbed areas. This plant is also cultivated in other tropical areas.
It grows best in shaded or semi-shaded areas, and it will tolerate dry soil.
Prefers a pH in the range 6.5 - 7.5, tolerating 5.5 – 8.
1) Availability of the plant species in India: Western Ghats and it is beleived to be native to Indian subcontinent.
2) Global distribution: The plant's range includes Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, and China, as well as Panama where it is thought to have been introduced."
World wide use
Leaves and roots in Unani medicine system.
In Thailand leaves are widely used for treating bronchitis, asthma, fever and jaundice.
Used by tribal community in Jawhar
leaves for medicinal purposes only
Method of consumption
Other world wise recipes
The young tender shoots are boiled and eaten with salt in Southeast Asia.
Nutritional and medicinal information
It is rich in vitamin C, carotene and the leaves also yield an essential oil and Adhatodic acid, an organic acid.5
- It has been reported that the leaves of J. adhatoda has been used as medicine against Bronchitis since 2000 years. Also it has been used to cure cough, cold, whooping cough, asthama and so on. The antibacterial activity of the extract was being tested by agar well diffusion method by Zabta et.al. against Bacillus subtillus, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella typhimurium and Staphylococcus aureus. It exhibited maximum antibacterial activity against B. subtillus Methanolic extract of J. adhatoda exhibited positive antimicrobial activity for P. aeruginosa, S. aureus and B. subtillus. Other literatures support the same.
- Several alkaloids are present in the leaves. The most important is vasicine, a quinazoline alkaloid. Vasicine is found to be a broncho-dilator, in addition to decreasing sensitivity to airborne irritants.
- For asthma, dried and powdered leaves of Datura metel are wrapped in a leaf of Justicia adhatoda L. (Acanthaceae) and smoked like a cheroot. Alternately, leaves, flowers, fruits and roots of Datura metel are each taken in small portions and boiled. Smoke is inhaled while the parts are boiling.
There is no toxicity associated with this plant, however their are few side effects when used by a diabetic person or a pregnant woman.
People with diabetes should use this medicine with care, because it helps to reduce blood sugar levels. Hence, the dose needs to be calibrated diligently.
It is safe to use in children above 1 year of age.
It is best avoided in pregnancy. Can be used in lactation, under medical supervision."
Harvesting and preserving
Leaves are harvested from the wild when required. Leaves are not stored as they are perishable.
It is used as a commercialized medicine and could be stored in the form of leaf extract.
Propagation and Storage
1. Season of collection
Flowering and fruiting: Throughout the year
- How to grow it?
Herbaceous stem, softwood cuttings and also seeds could be directly sown after the last frost.
- Method of storage
Propagules: Seeds / softwood and stem cuttings "
The plant is also used for reclaiming waste land and extracts of the leaves are used as insecticides and fungicides
The leaves, when boiled with the sawdust of Jack wood (Cryptocarya glaucescens), yield a yellow dye.
The wood is used for fuel, and a good quality charcoal is made from it."
Order : Personales
Family : Acanthaceae
Genus : Justicia
Species : adhatoda