Adhatoda Zeylanica Medicus

Botanical Name: Adhatoda Zeylanica Medicus

Sanskrit Name: Vasa

Family Name: Acanthaceae


Vernacular names :

Common Name : Malabar nut

  1. Hindi – adusa
  2. Telugu –addasaramu
  3. Punjabi – Vamsa
  4. Tamil –eidhadad


Atarusa, Vasika, Vrisa, Simhasya, Simhi

Ganas in classical texts:

Charaka: tiktaskandha



Kousika and Panini works delineate Vasa and it is described by other commentators as Vrsaka and Atarusa. (Kou.Su. 8/16 & P. Gr. 8/2/9). The   synonym Simhi is used in the vedic period to denote Brihati but not for Vasa.

Vasa is a well known herb for respiratory disorders, bleeding disorders and febrile illness. Charaka documented the flowers of Vasa as Kapha-pitta hara while   Susruta mentioned them as Kshaya and Kasahara. Vagbhata emphasized its role in Raktapitta. Sodhala and Yogaratnakara have emphatically claimed that it is a definite treatment for Raktapitta, Kshaya and Kasa.

Controversial Studies

It is reported that Vasa leaves are adulterated with Ailanthus excelsaRoxb. leaves (Kumarisathakopan).

Varieties :

Though there are no varieties mentioned in the classical literature, some Vaidyas are using A. beddomi Clarke as Vasa.

P.V.Sharmaji reported that Justaciagendarussa Linn. is being used as Krisna Vasa. Dr. Desai quotedJusticia pieta Linn. asRaktapuspa vasa.

Botanical details

A dense shrub.

Leaves- elliptic or elliptic-lanceolate, acuminate.

Flowers – in dense spikes, white; bracts ovate or obovate; calyx deeply five-lobed; stamens glabrous.

Fruits -four seeded capsules. Seeds – glabrous.

Flowering and fruiting between Ferbruary-May.


Found throughout India.

Chemical constituents

Vasicine (peganine), vasicinine, 13-sitosterol, Kaempferol, beta -sophoroside, luteolin, tritriacontane, adhatodic acid, Carotene vasakin, vasicinol 1 = q-hydroxyvasicine, vasicinone, vasicol, vasicinol, vasicinolone, adhatodine, adhavasinonel , anisotine, vasicolone, vasicolinone etc.


Rasa –tikta ,kasaya

Guna –laghu, ruksha

Virya – sita

Vipaka –katu

Karma –kapha- pittahara, hridya, svarya


Svasa, Kasa, Jvara, Chardi, Prameha, Kustha, Ksaya, Pandu, Rakthapitta

Malabar Nut – specific part uses

The flower

  • Balances Kapha and Pitta.
  • It is bitter, coolant and pungent.
  • Kshaya – useful in chronic respiratory tract infections,
  • Kasa – useful in cold and cough.
  • It is useful to relieve burning urination

The whole plant

  • Asrajit – useful in bleeding disorders, detoxifies blood
  • Kshaya – useful in chronic respiratory tract infections,
  • Kasa – useful in cold and cough.
  • Chardi – useful in vomiting
  • Kushta -useful in skin disorders
  • Jwara – useful in fever
  • Trut, Trushna – useful in excessive thirst
  • Hrudya – acts as cardiac tonic,
  • Svarya – good for throat
  • Shwasahara – useful in asthma, chronic bronchitits
  • Mehahara – Useful in urinary tract disorders, diabetes
  • Aruchi – useful in anorexia
  • Raktapitta – useful in bleeding disorders
  • Kaamala – useful in jaundice and liver disorders.

Part used

Leaf, root, flower


Leaf juice. 10-20 ml; root decoction 40-80 ml; Flower juice 10-20 ml

Therapeutic uses

(1) Rasayana— Oil prepared with root decoction of Vasa will be useful

(2) Raktapitta— Powder of Vasa flowers (shade dried) should be given with honey

(3) Sthoulya— Vasa leaf juice is mixed either with Sankhacurna or leaf juice of Bilva will be useful

(4)Mainly used to relieve respiratory disorders and cough. The leaves of AdhatodaVasica are rich sources of carotene and Vitamin-C.The plant as a whole along with its root, leaves, bark and flowers are extensively used to relieve cough, cold, whooping-cough, asthma and bronchitis due to their pharmacological properties.

(5) The extract from leaves has been used to relieve asthma, bronchitis, breathlessness and cough for centuries. It is also used to relieve other conditions like local bleeding due to piles, peptic ulcers and menorrhagia; and relief from bleeding gums and pyorrhea.

(6) Crushed leaves are applied to relieve conditions like skin ailments, worms and amavata. Warm crushes are effective to relive dislocated joint and rheumatic pain.

(7) Powder of Adhatoda Zeylanica Medicus boiled in sesame oil is an effective management for stopping bleeding and relieving ear infection.

(8) A paste of the leaves is applied on the abdomen for relieving urinary infection.

(9) The flowers are used to relieve burning micturation, and as an effective expectorant to relive congestion and dyspnoea.


Vasakantakarilehya, Vasavalehya, VasaristaVasaghrita, Vasadyaghrita, Vasamuladitaila.

Vasicine and Vasicinone

Several alkaloids are present in the drug and the chief principle is a quinazoline alkaloid, vasicine; the yield of the alkaloid from different samples in India ranged from 0.541 to 1.105 per cent on dry basis. Yield as high as 2.18 per cent on dry basis has been reported from a foreign sample of which more than half was the 1-form and the remainder the dlform of the alkaloid. Vasicine is accompanied by I- vasicinone (Kannan et al, loc. cit.; Openshaw in Manske& Holmes, III, 101-03; Mehta et al, J org Chem, 1963, 28, 445; Amin & Mehta, Nature, Lond, 1959, 184, 1317; ChemAbstr, 1960, 54, 20096).

The   pharmacological   activities   of   vasicine   and vasicinone are not yet fully known. The /-forms ofvasicine and vasicinone are more active than their racemic forms.   Recent   investigations   on   vasicine   showed bronchodilatory activity (comparable to theophylline) both   in   vitro   and   in   vivo.   Vasicinone   showed bronchodilatory activity in vitro but bronchoconstrictory activity in vivo; it is probably biotransformed in vivo, causing bronchoconstriction.   Both   the   alkaloids   in combination (1:1) showed pronounced bronchodilatory activity in vitro and in vivo. Vasicine also exhibited strong respiratory stimulant activity, moderate hypotensive activity and cardiac-depressant effect; vasicinone was devoid of these activities. The cardiac-depressant effect was significantly reduced when a mixture of vasicine and vasicinone was used. Vasicinone (dl-form) showed no effect on the isolated heart, but probably the 1-form is aweak cardiac stimulant [Gupta et al, Indian J med Res, 1977, 66, 680; Amin & Mehta, loc. cit.; Cambridge et al, loc. cit.; Bhide et al, Bull HaffkInst, 1976, 4(2), 43; 1974, 2 (1), 6; Information from Dr O.P. Gupta, RRL, Jammu; Bhat et al, loc. cit.].

The utility of vasicine and vasicinone in asthma is not yet fully known, although vasicinone has potent anti-anaphylactic activity. Vasicine possesses strong and extremely selective uterine-stimulant activity both in vitro and in vivo, the /-form being more active than the dl-form. Vasicine is a promising uterotonicabortifacient. It mayalso   prove   useful   for the   control of postpartum haemorrhage. It acts as a cholagogue and may be employed in some types of jaundice. In addition to vasicine and vasicinone, a number of other alkaloids have been isolated from plant samples from other countries [Bhide et al, loc. cit.; Gupta et al, Indian J med Res, 1977, 66, 680, 865; Gupta et al, Indian J expBiol, 1978, 16, 1075; ChemAbstr, 1967, 67, 10191; Zutshi et al, Indian J Pharm, 1977, 39, 162; Information from Dr O.P. Gupta, RRL, Jammu; Chandhoke et al, J Steroid Biochem, 1978, 9, 885; Vakil et al, J Res Indian Med, 1974, 9(1), 22].

Research and studies

(1) Relaxation producing activity of dl-vasicinone on isolated guinea pig tracheal muscle was about 1/2000 that of adrenaline (Nature 1962, 196, 1217).

(2) Uterotonic activity of vasicine in different species of animals   in   vivo   was   similar   to   that   of   oxytocin and methylergometrine, The effect was influenced by the degree of prining of uterus by estrogens and was markedly decreased after pretreatment of uterus with aspirin and indomcthacin (IJMR, 1977, 66, 865).

(3) Vasicine showed bronchodilatory activity both in vitro and in vivo comparable with that of theophyllin. Vasicinoneshowed bronchodilatation in vitro. Both in combination had more bronchodilatory activity in vitro and in vivo. Vasicine also exhibited respiratory and uterine stimulant activity and moderate hypotensive activity (IJMR, 1977, 66, 680).

(4) Vasicine showed abortificient effect in guina pigs depending on the stage of pregnancy and prior priming of animals with estradiol (Ind. J. Exp. Biol. 1978, 16, 1075).

(5) Intra-amniotic injection of vasicine HC1 was effective in inducing mild-trimestor abortions at dose of 60 mg (J. obsta.Gynaecol.India 1979, 29,    939).

(8) Vasicine also potentiated prostaglandin-induced uterinecontractions in rats (Lal& Sharma, 1981).

(9) Vasicine’s combination with oxytocin may help to decrease the dose of oxytocin for induction of labour or abortion (Zutshi et al., 1980).

(10) The haemostatic activity of A. vasica is reported (Atalal., 1982).

(6) Bronchodilatory activity of vasicinone was repared to that of isoprenalineand aminophylline (Drug Dev. Pharm. 1982, 8, 833).

(7) Vasicine produced marked potentiation of contractile response of isolated uterus to oxytocin. It potentiated oxytocin response in isolated mammary strips of rat (Gautam& Sharma, 1982).

(8) The flowers and fruits are bitter and aromatic and their uses are similar to those of the leaves. The flowers are also given to improve the circulation of blood. The fresh ones are used in ophthalmia. The samples from Pakistan showed the presence of vasicine (inflorescences, 0.64; flowers, 0.15% on dry basis) and vasicinine (inflorescences,0.68; flowers, 0.35% on dry basis). The inflorescences also contained fi-sitosterol (up to 0.035°4 The flowers yield a golden yellow essential oil. The colouring matter in the flowers includes luteolin, quercetin and kaempferol (free, and as 3,6-n-glucoside and 3-sophoroside). Other non-nitrogenous constituents include ac-amyrin, tritriacontane(flowers, 0.07; flowering tops, 0.09% on dry basis), and fi-sitosterol (both free and as 3fl-D-glucoside) (Mooss, 116; Kirtikar&Basu, III, 1900; Huqet al, Pakist J sciindustrRes, 1967, 10, 224; Gupta & Chopra, Indian J med Res, 1954, 42, 355; Nair et al,   CurrSci, 1965, 34, 79;
Rangaswami&Seshadri, ibid, 1971, 40, 84).

(9) The root is administered as a decoction along with other expectorants. It containsvasicine and vasicinol and tritriacontane (0.07%). The roots also contain an essential oil. The alcoholic and other extracts of the root showed anti-bacterial activity against Micrococcus pyogenesvar. aureusand Escherichia coli. The aqueous extract showed activity only against the former organism [Haines, IV, 694; Mooss, 116; Kirtikar&Basu, III, 1900; Bhatnagaret
al, Indian I Chem,
1965, 3, 524; Lahiri&Pradhan, Indian J
1964, 2, 219; Gupta & Chopra, Indian J med Res, 1954, 42, 355; George et al, loc. cit.; Kurup, loc. cit.; Inamdar, Bombay Technol, 1962, 12, 126; Vaidya, J Res Indian Med, 1972, 7(2), 48].

(10) The petroleum ether extract of the leaves yields a resin. It has expectorant action, but is less potent than the essential   oil.   The   resin,   on   steam-   and   vacuum-distillation, yields limo nene and oxygenated bodies of high boiling points. The resin which is cheaply and easily available, is reported to be toxic to grain insects, though less so than Malathion; it is non-toxic to man. Besides theresin,   the extract also contains hentriacontane and phytosterol (m p 136°) (Rao, loc.   cit.;   Srivastava&Awasthi.Proc   Indian   SciCongr,         1956,   pt HI, 298).

(11) The plant, being a rich source of nitrogen, is grown as green manure in rice-fields and also in tobacco and tea-gardens. When grown in rice-fields, it acts as an aquatic weedicide. The leaves are used as an insecticide in the same way as tobacco leaves; an infusion of the leaves is used against white ants and the ‘Red Spiders’ of tea. As a fungicide the leaves are used to cover fruits and are reported to prevent the growth of mould. The weedicidalproperties have been attributed to the volatile principle present in the plant (Gamble, 523; Lewis, 303; Dastur, Useful Plants, 14; ChemAbstr, 1955, 49, 4947).

(12) The seeds on extraction with petroleum ether yielded a deep yellow, fatty oil (25.8%), having the following characteristics: spgrw, 0.901; ntr , 1.468; acid val, 0.76; sap val, 169.2; iodval (Wij’s), 71.7; acetyl val, 3.4; and unsapon matter, 3.2%. The fatty acid composition of the oil is as follows: arachidic, 3.1; behenic, 11.2; lignoceric,10.7; cerotic, 5.0; oleic, 49.9; and linoleic, 12.3%. The absence of stearic and palmitic acids and the presence of cerotic acid are unusual features of the oil. $-Sitosterolhas been isolated from the unsaponifiable matter. The oilshowed no toxic effect. The cake has not been investigated (Handaet al, J sciindustr Res, 1956, 15B, 612).

(13) The pollen grains are suspected to cause allergy in susceptible persons. An extract of the bark possesses anti-viral       activity   against   potato-virus X           (Saha&Kalyanasundaram, Indian J med Res, 1962, 50, 881; Gupta & Singh, J AssocPhysns India, 1965,13, 915; Singh & Singh, Technology, Sindri, 1972, 9, 415).

(14) The wood is white, moderately hard and even-grained. It is used for gunpowder charcoal and as fuel for brick-burning. Beads and rosaries are made from the wood (Gupta, 368; Mehraet al, Econ Bot, 1975, 29, 39).A. beddomeiC.B. Clarke (Mal.   Cheriaaatalotakam; Tarn.- -Cinnaaatatotai) is a medium-sized shrub, 1-2 min height, with large, deep roots, pale brown bark; broad, oblong-lanceolate   or   elliptic-lanceolate, 12.5-18.0 cm long leaves and white flowers in dense, bracteate spikes, commonly found in Kerala, up to 900 m; it is often cultivated. The plant is considered to be more powerful and active than A. zeylanicaand is used in medicinal preparations   in   Kerala.   It  is   used   as   antiemetic, antibechic, and haemostatic, particularly in haemor-rhages. The fresh leaf juice is considered beneficial in haemoptysis and menorrhagia (Mooss, 15).