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Arka Use, Benefits, Properties, Dose, and Side effect

Introduction to Arka

In Sanskrit, Calotropis gigantea is known as Arka. It is widely used in many Ayurvedic treatments, both externally and internally (ksharasutra). It is a very common herb found all over India. In English, it is known as Madar. Calotropois Procera is another variety that is frequently used by the same name.

What is the Botanical name of Rakta Arka?

Calotropis Procera (Rakta arka)
Calotropis Kalos (Greek)-Beautiful
Tropis (Greek)-Keel
Procera (Latin)-Tall

What is the Family of Rakta Arka?


What is the Botanical name of Sweta Arka?

Calotropis gigantea (Sweta arka)
Calotropis Kalos (Greek)-Beautiful
Tropis (Greek)-Keel
Gigantean (Latin)-Tall, giant sized.

What is the Family of Sweta Arka?


Basonym of Drug:

अर्क – अर्च्यते इतिअर्कः, प्रशस्तत्वात् अर्कवत् उष्णतीक्ष्णत्वात्, बालार्कवर्णपुष्पत्वात् च।

It is Ushna tikshna in guna like arka (Sun) and the flowers are red like the sun.

Type of Arka

Arka varieties mentioned in various Nighantus are as follows:

Dhanwantari and Kaiyadeva Nighantu mentioned two varieties as Arka and Rajarka

Shodhala and Bhavamishra have mentioned two varieties as Rakta arka and Sweta Arka.

Raja Nighantu described four varieties i.e. Arka, Rajarka, Shuklarka, and Swetamandaraka. Swetaarka is Calotropis gigantea and Rakta arka is Calotropis procera

Main Synonyms:

I. Plant:

a. Gregarious in nature: Ganarupaka

गणरूपक – गणेसमूहेरूप्यते शोभते इति ।

b. Exudates latex: Kshiri, Dugdhinika, Kshatakshiri

II. Flowers:

a. Flowers throughout the year: Sadapushpa

सदापुष्प – सदापुष्पाणिसन्तियस्मिन् ।

b. Similar to Jasmine and is offered to Lord Shiva: Shivamallika, Shivapushpa

c. Colour is of the rising sun: Suryahvapushpi, Arka, Balarka, Raktapushpa.

अर्क – अर्च्यते इति अर्कः, प्रशस्तत्वात् अर्कवत् उष्णतीक्ष्णत्वात्, बालार्कवर्णपुष्पत्वात् च।

रक्तपुष्प – रक्तंपुष्पाण्यस्य ।

III. Stem and Leaves:

a. Have profuse milky latex: Shiraparna, Shirakandaka, Shiradala.

क्षीरपर्णः – क्षीरं पर्णऽस्य । क्षीरकाण्डकः – क्षीरं काण्डेऽस्य ।

b. It is tikshna like arka: Arkaparna

IV. Fruits:

a. Parrot like: Shukaphala

शुकफल – शुकसदृशानिफलान्यस्य ।

b. Seeds contain toola (Cotton): Toolaphala

तूलफल – तूलसहितंफलमस्य ।

c. Fruits burst open: Asphota

आस्फोट – आ समन्तात् स्फुटतिफलमस्य ।

d. Seeds get scattered when they burst open: Vikirna.

विकीरणः – विकीर्यन्तेसतूलबीजन्यस्य ।

IV. Actions:

a. Efficacious drug for itching: Kharjughna

खर्जूघ्न – खर्जूकण्डुहन्तीति ।

b. Brings back the normal complexion: Roopika

रूपिका- रूपयतिरूपंशोभनंकरोति इति, शोभमानो वा ।

c. Produces daha because of tikshnata: Pratapa

प्रतापः – दाहजनकत्वात् ।

Regional Names of Arka:

  • English Name of Arka- Madar Tree.
  • Hindi Name of Arka- Aak, Madar, Akavana.
  • Bengali Name of Arka- Akanda, Akone.
  • Gujarati Name of Arka- Aakado
  • Kannada Name of Arka- Ekka, Ekkadagida, Ekkegida.
  • Malayalam Name of Arka- Erikku. Marathi-Rui.
  • Tamil Name of Arka- Vellerukku, Erukku.
  • Telugu Name of Arka- Jilledu.

Classification of Arka (Gana) as in Charaka and Sushruta:

Charaka: Shatshodhanavruksha, Bhedaniya, Vamanopaga, Svedopaga.

Sushruta: Adhobhagahara, Arkadi.

External Morphology of Arka:

Arka varieties mentioned in various Nighantus are as follows:

Shodhala and Bhavamishra have mentioned two varieties as Calotropis gigantea (Sweta arka) and Calotropis Procera (Rakta arka).

Calotropis gigantea (Sweta arka):

It is a tall shrub, Bark is yellowish white, furrowed.

Branches are pubescent.

Leaves are elliptic-oblong or Obovate-oblong in shape, thick, glabrous, and green, and the base is narrow cordate sometimes amplexicaul.

Flowers are odorous, purplish, or white, in umbellate lateral cymes.

Fruit: Follicles, 9-10 cm long, broad, thick, fleshy, ventricose, and green.

Seeds are numerous, flattened, and minutely tomentose.

Calotropis Procera (Rakta arka):

An erect shrub, with young parts clothed with white cottony tomentum, bark is soft, corky, and spongy.

Leaves are subsessile and broadly ovate, and leaf apex is abruptly acuminate.

Flowers in umbellate cymes are at first tomentose but become nearly glabrous.

Fruit: Follicles, subglobose, ellipsoid, or ovoid.

Seeds are acute, flattened, and light brown.

Substitute and Adulterants in Arka:

C. gigantean and C. procera are substituted for one another and are said to have similar effects. (CCRAS Database I)

Useful Parts: Mulatvak, Kshira, Pushpa, Patra

Important Phytoconstituents of Arka:

Root and leaf contain Glycosides (calotropin) (A.P.I Volume I).

The stem bark contains a- and 6- Calotropeols, B-Amyrin, Giganteol, a Colourless wax, a small amount of Tetracyclic Terpenes, and Traces of Sterols. (A.P.I Volume III).

Rasa Panchaka Of Arka:

  • Rasa: Katu, Tikta
  • Guna: Laghu, Ruksha, Tikshna
  • Virya: Ushna
  • Vipaka: Katu
  • Karma: Deepana, Bhedana, Krimighna, Vranahara, Vishaghna

Action of Arka on Dosha, Dhatu and Mala:

By Katu tikta rasa, ushna, tikshna guna it is Kaphahara. By ushna virya it is vatahara. Mala: It is Vamaka and Virechaka

Dhatu: Mulatvak is Raktashodhana

Pharmacological Activity of Arka:

C. gigantea: Anti-implantataion, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-cancer and Spasmolytic. (CCRAS Database I)

C. procera: Anticancer, Antiimplantation, Antimicrobial, Nematicidal, High fibrinolytic, Anticoagulant, Vermicidal, Anthelmintic, Stimulant, Spasmogenic and Mild diuretic (CCRAS Database Volume II)

Antifertility Activity: The effect of an ethanolic extract of the roots of Calotropis Procera Linn. on fertility and hormonal activity has been studied in albino rats. At a dose of 250 mg kg (14% of LD50), strong anti-implantation (inhibition 100%) and uterotropic activity were observed. There was no evidence of anti-estrogenic activity.

Prayogarhavyadhi of Arka (Therapeutic Benefits of Arka):

  • Agnimandya
  • Visuchika
  • Vrana
  • Urusthambha
  • Kandu
  • Kustha
  • Swasa
  • Gulma

Amayikaprayoga of Arka (Therapeutic use of Arka):

External Use of Arka:

i. Arshas: Fumigation with mula of arka and shami. (Charak Samhita chikitsha 14/49)

ii. Urustambha: Part is rubbed with mula of arka (Ch.chi 27/51)

iii. Vrana: Samsodhana ghruta contains arka (Su.Su 37/16)

Usage of Arka leaves in Panchakarma

Calotropis leaves are used in a sweating treatment known as Prastara swedana therapy. The hot boiled herbs are spread over a stone bed, covered with calotropis leaves, and the patient is made to lie on it for a few minutes.

Fumigation of hemorrhoids with Arka powder?

Arka leaves have been dried and burned. The fumes reach the pile masses. It alleviates pain, itching, and shrinks the pile mass. (Chapter 14 of the Charaka Samhita Chikitsa Sthana)

Internal of Arka:

i. Agnimandya: Arkavati stimulates digestion (S.B)

ii. Visuchika: Ravimuladi vati (S.B 4/278)

iii. Plihavridhi: Kshara made from arkapatra and lavana should be taken with dadhi manda (B.P.Chi 33/12)

Matra of Arka (Dose of Arka):

Root bark: 1-3 g of the drug for decoction,

Leaf: 250-750 mg of the drug in powder form (A.P.I Volume I).

Stem bark: 0.5-1 g. in powder form. (A.P.I Volume III)

Antidote for overdose of Arka

Neelini – Indigofera tinctoria leaves are crushed and juice extracted. It is taken twice a day in 10 ml doses.
Tamarind leaves are crushed and juice is extracted. 15 mL is mixed with 15 mL of water and taken twice daily.

Vishista Yoga of Arka (Names of Important Formulations of Arka):

  • Arka lavana
  • Arka taila
  • Arka kshara
  • Abhaya lavana
  • Mahavishagarbhataila
  • Dhanvantaraghruta.

Side Effect of Arka

Calotropis Procera Linn. consumption has been linked to blisters, lesions, and eruptions in patients seeking relief from joint pains and gastrointestinal issues. Calotropis Procera Linn. preparations should only be used under the supervision of a trained medical practitioner. Although Calotropis procera Linn. has a number of medicinal benefits, it has been shown to be potentially harmful after prolonged or continuous use. The flower extract caused widespread testicular necrosis in one study.

Classical References of Arka:


श्वेतार्कोगणरूपःस्यान्मदारोवसुकोऽपिच । श्वेतपुष्पः सदापुष्पः सचालर्कः प्रतापसः । 
रक्तोऽपरोऽकेनामास्यादर्कपणौविकीरणः । रक्तपुष्पः शुक्लफलस्तथाऽऽस्फोटः प्रकीर्तितः । (भा.प्र.)

Guna Karma:

अर्कद्वयं सरंवातकुष्ठकण्डूविषव्रणान् । निहन्तिप्लीहगुल्मार्शः श्लेष्मोदरशकृत्कृमीन्।। (भा.प्र.) 
अर्कस्तुकटुरुष्णावातजिद् दीपनीयकः । शोथव्रणहरः कण्डूकुष्ठक्रिमिविनाशनः । 
मूत्रकृच्छ्रास्रशोफार्तिव्रणदोषविनाशनः । राजार्कः कटुतिक्तोष्णः कफमेदोविषापहः ।
वातकुष्ठव्रणान् हन्ति शोफकण्डूविसर्पनुत् । श्वेतमन्दारकोऽत्युष्णस्तिक्तोमलविशोधनः ।
मूत्रकृछ्रव्रणान् हन्ति क्रिमिनत्यन्तदारुणान् । (रा.नि.)
Is Arka or AAK flower poisonous?

When the tender light green stems of this plant are broken, milky white exudates that are sticky are produced, and the plant is popular among the general population solely because of this peculiarity. This milky exudate is mildly poisonous and is classified as a plant toxin in Ayurvedic medicine.

How do you use Calotropis for joint pain?

Calotropis flower buds are crushed to create pills the size of small peas that are used as a bronchodilator. These pills also contain salt, black pepper seeds, and black pepper seeds. To treat malaria, take two pills twice daily for three days. To treat rheumatic pain, apply warmed leaves that have been covered in oil to the painful area.

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