Ayurveda Adil Farooq Malik  

Arka|Calotropis gigantea (Linn.) R. Brown| Dravyaguna.

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Botanical name : Calotropis gigantea (Linn.) R. Brown.

Family : Asclepiadaceae (periplocaceae).

Vernacular Names

Hindi : Madara.

English : Madar.

Bengali : Aakanda.

Telugu : Jilledu.

Gujarati : Akado.

Tamil : Pellerukku.

Marathi : Akamadar/Rui.

Synonyms In Sanskrit Language

Alarka, Mandara, Sadapuspa Tulaphala, Ksraparna, Arkaparna, Vikirana, Asphota.

Categorization In Classical Texts

Charaka : Bhedaniya, Vamonopaga, Svedopaga.

Sushruta : Arkadi, Adhobhagahara.

Vagbhatta : Arkadi.

Important Mentions

1) Etymologically ‘Arka’ term means-‘to be worshiped’. Krsnayajurvediyas believe that Arka is born- “when saint Angirasa’s sweat drops have fallen on a goat while the great saint was travelling for heavens. The griedy goat touched some leaves which turned to be Arka”.

2) In Taittariya Samhita it is indicated that Arka does possess Usna and Tīksna properties. Atharva Sounakiya Samhita described Arkamani as Vājīkarana.

3) In Brahmaṇa granthas it is equated to Agni and Anna.

4) Caraka described Arka among the Kişri dravyas in the first chapter of the Samhita for the purpose of Vamana as well as Virecana.

5) Susruta and Vagbhata have mentioned a group with its name (Arkadigana). Apart from Virecana it is used extensively in Ayurvedic thera peutics for the treatment of Kustha, Arsas, Udara, Gulma etc.

6) All the nighantus have described two varieties of Arka (except Raja Nighantu). Arka and Rajarka of Dhanvantari Nighantu appears to be Raktarka and Svetarka of Sodhala re spectively.

7) Kaiyadeva mentioned the two varieties as Arka and Rajarka. Bhavamisra’s Svetarka and Raktarka are identified with C. gigantae and C. procera respectively.

Different Varieties

According to Raja Narahari :-

four varieties viz:-

1) Arka = C. procera.

2) Rajarka = C. gigantae or C. procera growing to greater height.

3) Suklarka = C. gigantae with pure white flowers.

4) Sveta-mandaraka = C. gigantae with purple tinged flowers.

Botanical Description

1) C. gigantea :- shrub ,3 m high, young shoots, infloresence and under side of leaves covered with soft, wooly-tomentum. Leaves- 10-15 cm long, sessile or subsessile, obovate or obovate-oblong, base cardate. Flowers-in axillary pedunculate corymos, purplish-lilac or white. Fruits-follicles, 8-10 cm long, recurved targid. Seeds numerous with silky hari.

2) C. procera:- shrub, 2.5 m high. Young leaves hoary, glabrous when fully grown. Leaves-10-18 cm long, ovate-obovate or obovate-oblong, acute, infloresence covered with white wooly-tomentum. Flowers- in terminal and axillary corymbose cymes, pur plish-red. Frutis-follicles, 10-14 cm long, recurved. Seeds numerus with silk hair.

Properties (Guna-Karma)

Rasa – Katu, Tikta.

Guna – Laghu, Ruksa, Tiksna.

Virya – Ushna.

Vipaka – Katu.

Karma – Vatahara, Recana, Visaghna, Dipana.










Visa roga.




Graharoga etc.

Therapeutic Uses

2) Netraroga:-Seeds of Arka processed in milk is useful (Vai. Ma.).

1) Pliharoga:- Arka leaves and salt are burnt by closed heating. This is given with curd water (B.P.).

4) Gandmala:– Paste made out of Arka Kşira, Japa puspa, oil and Läksārasa may be applied externally for a week (R.M.).

3) Arsas:- Fumigation with root of Arka and Sami will be beneficial (C.S.CL. 14).

Part Used

Root bark, flower, leaf, latex, seeds.

Major Chemical Constituents

laurane, saccharose, a-amyrin; a & ß-calotro-peols, holarrhetine, cyanidin-3 rhamnoglucoside, taraxasterol isovalerate, giganteol, calotroposide, calactin, calotoxin; calotropins DI & DII, gigantin etc.


Root bark powder = 0.5-1 g.

flower power = 1-3 g.

Research Work

(1) The milky juice of C. gigantea exhibited marked stimulant action on the spontaneous activity of isolated non-gravid rat uterus (Dhawan & Saxena, 1958).

(2) The alcoholic extract of root and leaves of C. gingantea and procera were found to have anti-cancer activity against human epidermal carcinoma of the nasopharymx in the tissue culture (Dhar et al., 1968 & Bhakuni et al., 1969).

(3) The crude latex of C. procera and it protein fraction were found to possess high fibrin olytic activity and anti-coagulant activity both in rabbit and human plasma (Srivastava et al., 1962).

(4) The aqueous and alcoholic extracts of root of C. procera (0.2 ml dose) produced slight depression followed by stimulation of the rate and force of myocardial contraction in isolated frogs heart (Derasari & Shah, 1965).

(5) The 50% ethanolic extracts from the leaves of C. gigantea and C. procera have 20.6% and 20% anti-implantation activity when administered at a dose of 200 mg and 50 mg/kg b.w. respectively (Prakash et al., 1978).

(6) Calotropin (from C. procera) showed digitalis-like action on the heart, but its action was not cumulative and was less harmful (Bull. Fac. Pharm. Cairo Univ. 1971, 10, 1)

(7) Powdered bark of C. procera showed anti-diarrhocal effect in cases of “Atis & ‘Pravāhikā’ at a dose of 250 ug thrice daily for 7 and 15 days seperately. It increases bile secretions and showed sedative action on muscles allaying all pain and irritation of intestine. It cured 67.1% patients of Atisara and Pravähikä (J. Res. Ay. & Siddha 1985, 6, 88).

Important Formulations

Arka tailam.

Arka lavana.

Arka vati.

Ravimuladi vati.

Sanskrit Verses Mentioning araka.

१) अर्को देवो भवति यदेनमर्चन्ति । अर्को मन्त्रो भवति । यदनेनार्थन्ति । अर्थमन्त्रं भवति । अर्चन्ति भूतानि अर्को वृक्षो भवति संवृतः कटुकिना ।। (या. ५/८)

२) क्षीरमर्कस्य वमने सविरेचने ।। (च.सू.१).

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