Unless you're into ayurvedic medicine or you're just a big fan of natural remedies, it's unlikely that you'll have heard of arjuna bark. It's taken from the arjuna tree, which is a tall tree of around 25 meters in height that grows along river banks. It originates from Sri Lanka and India, but can now be located in areas all across Africa and South Asia.
Known as arjuna terminalia, the arjun tree has been used as an Indian ayurvedic medicine for so long that it even holds a place in the ancient text, the Rig Veda. Since around 700 BC, the bark from the arjun tree has been known to have medicinal value, and over 1,200 years ago, it was discovered to have cardioprotective - or heart-healthy - benefits. In fact, it was so widely-known for this benefit that terminalia arjuna was often referred to as the “Guardian of the heart”.
Traditional uses of terminalia arjuna involve taking the ingredient alongside water or milk or clarified butter. Arjuna leaves, bark, fruits and stems are a well-known cardiac tonic, but they have also been used to treat everything from wounds and ulcers to serious long-term health concerns like hemorrhages and damaged blood vessels.
Let's look at the possible benefits - and a few side effects - of this fascinating medicine.
1. Supports Heart Health
To have a healthy heart, many different bodily functions need to be performing at their best. Arjuna can help the heart in a number of ways, from boosting its function to preventing damage, and even healing trauma or injury to the heart muscle, according to a number of animal studies.
It's thought that arjuna's amazing heart-healthy benefits come from its antioxidant content. Arjuna is packed with a number of flavonoids that have been discovered in research to prevent oxidative stress from being able to damage the heart.
Not only that, but powder made from arjun is also capable of increasing levels of catalase, superoxide dismutase, and glutathione. Without getting too complex, the higher the levels of these enzymes, the better protected a person's heart will be from free radical damage.
Terminalia arjuna also contains cardenolides, which are thought to increase the force that the heart uses to pump blood around the body's blood vessels. When your body has a steady, consistent heartbeat, it's a sign that your heart is healthy and functioning well.
In ayurvedic practice, arjun is good at preventing the lymph system that surrounds the heart from becoming blocked up. This ensures the lymph is able to continue to move healthily around the heart, ensuring good blood flow in the heart and strong contractions of the heart.
2. Reduces Angina Risk
Angina, or cardiac pain in the chest, is an indicator that the heart doesn't have the oxygen it requires to function properly. While you're most likely to experience angina in your chest, this cardiac pain might spread to your shoulders, neck, back, arms, and even your jaw.
Generally, angina is a sign that you have coronary artery disease, which is caused by the narrowing of the arteries, usually due to a buildup of bad cholesterol. It's common to feel angina pain when your heart is working particularly hard, such as during a workout, though this isn't a given.
In a week-long placebo-controlled study, scientists discovered that terminalia arjuna was good at reducing angina pain by more than 50% in people with coronary artery disease who took arjuna extract on a twice-daily basis. The results also indicated that the efficacy of arjuna was on par with prescribed medication for angina.
Another study, which took place over the period of 3 months, looked at the effect of arjuna in people who had ischaemic mitral regurgitation, a specific artery disease complication. Again, the results were positive, finding that arjuna could be used to stable angina pain relating to this condition and even improve patients' heart muscles' function.
3. Encourages Healthy Cholesterol Levels
Thanks to the lipid-lowering capabilities of arjun bark tea, the natural medicine has been found to reduce cholesterol levels, specifically "bad" LDL cholesterol and triglycerides that can result in heart disease. Even more impressively, an animal study cited that arjuna can even increase the level of "good" HDL cholesterol in the body, helping to not only ward off cardiovascular problems, but protect the heart muscles in the long run.
In one study, patients who were suffering from coronary heart disease received a daily dose of arjuna tree bark. The study reported that these patients all experienced a significant decrease in LDL cholesterol.
High blood pressure and high cholesterol are often linked, so if you're dealing with a high blood pressure problem, make sure you get checked out by a doctor. You may find that the terminalia arjuna tree is a good treatment option for naturally reducing your blood pressure, too.
4. Supports A Healthy Gut
If your gut is out of tune, it's likely that your whole body, from your mental health to your digestion, is out of tune too. We're still learning about the value of gut health, but we know enough to be certain that having a healthy gut is the key to overall health.
According to ayurveda, arjun tea can be used to strengthen the gut system and support the stomach lining, which prevents damage from acid attacks. For this reason, arjuna can be useful in treating heartburn, and has been used in ayurvedic practice for this purpose.
Thanks to the antibacterial effects of terminalia arjuna, it's also ideal to use for keeping your body protected from H. Pylori, a common bacteria that can infect the stomach and result in gastritis, ulcers, and abdominal pain.
5. Maintains Liver and Kidney Health
We already know that terminalia arjuna is packed full of powerful antioxidants. As well as acting as a cardiac tonic, these antioxidants can also improve the function of the liver and kidneys.
We need these organs to function at their peak to maintain bile production and encourage natural detoxification. In research, arjuna was noted to have a particularly useful effect when treating a liver disease known as cirrhosis.
Recent research also indicates that arjuna bark prepared in clarified butter might possess an anti-diuretic property as well, which may help to manage nocturia, a bladder condition that causes people to get up several times in the night to urinate. Another study found that arjuna bark powder may be good at treating the formation of kidney or bladder stones.
6. Balances Blood Sugar
Though research on this particular benefit is pretty sparse, what we know so far is positive. It's thought that the bark and leaf extracts of T. arjuna can be used to lower blood sugar levels thanks to their anti-hyperglycemic properties.
While clinical research is still needed before arjuna can be used as a natural anti-diabetic treatment, arjuna is so potent that it's recommended not to use it if you have diabetes without the go-ahead from your doctor.
7. Encourages Healthy Cell Growth
Arjuna contains a number of useful compounds, including ethyl gallate, Gallic acid, flavone, and luteolin, which have been found to potentially put a stop to unhealthy cancer cell growth. More research is needed, but so far, scientists know that luteolin has anti-bacterial activities that could prevent gonorrhea, too. Casuarinin, which can be found in arjuna's bark, also shows potential in slowing breast cancer cell growth.
8. May Manage Diarrhea
One of Arjuna's traditional ayurvedic purposes was in treating diarrhea, and it's thought that the plant's astringent and antimicrobial properties may make it useful in supporting healthy digestion. A particular antibacterial property found in arjuna's bark may prevent infection of the intestines, and, as we already know, the plant is capable of regulating gut function and preventing too much water from being lost from the body.
9. Can Treat Bronchitis
The lungs are another vital organ in the body that we couldn't live without. Ayurveda suggests that lung problems are linked to poor digestion, resulting from a bad diet and incomplete detoxing.
It's thought that consuming terminalia arjuna bark might be useful in preventing the production of Ama (an ayurvedic term) in the lungs, thus preventing the formation of mucus and reducing a person's risk of contracting asthma, bronchitis, or lung infection.
10. May Treat Ear Infection
If you're suffering from a nasty ear infection and you have no medicine to hand, terminalia arjuna bark might be a good remedy to consider. According to ayurveda, this plant helps treat earache related to ear infection thanks to its antimicrobial properties, which prevent microorganisms from growing in the ear and leading to infection.
If you're already suffering from an ear infection, it's not too late to use arjuna, as its anti-inflammatory properties should at least have enough of an effect to manage your pain while you heal.
11. May Improve Fertility
If you're hoping to start a family, consider how terminalia arjuna bark extract might be useful in helping you in the process. Being rich in antioxidants, as well as healthy compounds like zinc, arjuna can be used to promote the healthy production of sperm cells and increase sperm count.
Some research also links arjuna to its ability to treat heavy period bleeding disorders in women, which helps support female fertility.
12. Improves Digestion
We've looked a little at how arjuna might support healthy digestion already, and we know that this healthful plant can be used to prevent diarrhea and excessive water loss. According to ayurveda, terminalia arjuna bark helps to balance the digestive system and improve overall digestive function, though we need more studies to support this.
13. Can Treat Dry, Aging Skin
There are so many skincare benefits of arjuna bark extract, especially when it comes to dry skin. Arjuna helps prevent water loss, being an anti-diuretic, and the powder can also be used as a good means of preventing excess water from escaping from the skin.
This is useful in keeping skin hydrated, ensuring healthy elasticity and preventing signs of aging. Because arjuna also protects against free radicals with its antioxidant properties, it also helps to prevent wrinkle formation, thinning, sagging and dark spots that have been caused by these free radicals.
14. Soothes Mouth Ulcers
Another long-time ayurvedic use of arjuna is to heal mouth ulcers. When you make an arjuna paste and apply it to your ulcers, the paste's cooling properties should make for a good soothing natural treatment. Arjuna should also be capable of speeding up wound healing, helping you to recover from mouth ulcers faster.
15. Treats Acne & Skin Disorders
Finally, you can make a paste out of arjuna bark powder and use it to treat inflammation and pain related to acne. Due to arjuna's astringent properties, it can shrink your pores, helping to prevent pollutants from embedding into your epidermis.
Additionally, Indian Ayurveda cites arjuna as being good at treating a number of disorders, such as eczema, thanks to its soothing, cooling properties.
How To Make Arjuna Tea
The best (and easiest) way to benefit from arjuna is to drink it in the form of a tea. To make arjun tea, just mix a quarter to half a teaspoon of arjuna powder with warm water. Wait for the arjun to completely dissolve, and add honey or sugar to taste. You can drink this beverage once or twice per day, at whatever times suit you best.
You can buy arjun powder from most health stores and online. Make sure if you're buying online, you do plenty of research into the product you're interested in. Check our customer reviews to see what people like you think of the product.
You could also make arjuna tea using arjun bark, which you should also be able to find online. Soak the bark in water, then add honey or sugar to taste and remove the bark. Again, drink the tea twice per day, preferably after lunch and dinner.
If you discover that terminalia arjuna tea isn't to your taste, or you just don't have time to make it, you can buy arjuna supplements that you can simply take every morning with your usual vitamins and minerals. The choice is completely yours, but most people find the soothing ritual of drinking a cup of arjuna tea an enjoyable part of their daily routine.
There are so many benefits of arjuna, and what makes this natural health food even more appealing is that it has virtually no side effects. It's safe for most people to consume, with a few exceptions.
First off, if you're pregnant, it's advised against taking Terminalia arjuna, and as there isn't enough evidence to suggest that arjuna has no side effects when breastfeeding, it's best to avoid it while you're a new mum.
If you have diabetes, you should consult your doctor before taking arjuna terminalia, as it might lower blood sugars, which could produce unwanted side effects if you're already taking medication for this purpose. Finally, because arjuna can decrease your blood sugar levels, it's recommended that you don't take it at least two weeks before an operation.
From lowering high cholesterol to dilating blood vessels, arjuna is certainly one of the most powerful medicinal plants as a cardiac tonic. But its ayurvedic benefits don't stop there - arjuna can also be used as a natural means of supporting everything from digestion to the immune system, making it a good all-round healthful addition to your diet.