Plant Name:       Justicia adhatoda L.       

                Common Name:         Vasaka              

                English:                      Malabar nut     

                Marathi:                     Adulsa               

                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.


Identification guide


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.

Leaf blades

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." 


Edible parts

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

Pharmaceutical significance

  1. 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 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Side effects

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

Tribal Method

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

  1. How to grow it?

Herbaceous stem, softwood cuttings and also seeds could be directly sown after the last frost.

  1. Method of storage

Propagules: Seeds / softwood and stem cuttings "          


Other uses

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."



Kingdom:             Plantae

Division:              Spermatophyta

Sub-division:       Angiospermae

Class:                    Diocotyledonae

Sub-Class:           Gamopetalae

Series:                  Bicarpelatae

Order :                  Personales

Family :                Acanthaceae

Genus :                 Justicia

Species :                adhatoda          











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