Vasaka: An Ayurvedic Herb For Asthma
Herbs are like people in that they have unique personalities that can be understood through dravyaguna.
Dravyaguna is the system of Ayurvedic pharmacology that was developed thousands of years ago before chromatography and mass spectrometry and so it relies on qualities deciphered through taste. This is the monograph for Vasaka.
Vasaka, Your Saturnine Father
Latin name: Adhatoda vasica
Character: The Ultimate Astringent
If you were to look up the definition of astringent in a dictionary you would come up with something like stern or severe. If you have an interest in Vedic astrology then the planet that comes to mind would be Saturn. I remember reading Dr. Svoboda’s “The Greatness of Saturn” every Saturday for a month in order to fully understand the subtleties of Saturn. Although there is still more to learn I can see the benefits from the “stern or severe” discipline that Saturn requires.
While Vasaka does not appear to be especially stern on the surface it is very astringent. In the context of herbs this means “a substance that contracts the tissues or canals of the body, thereby diminishing discharges.” Vasaka’s natural strengths allows it to be useful when a drying effect is needed, especially on the lungs and the colon. This effect helps to create more integrity in the tissues.
Integrity is often the goal of being stern or severe with yourself or others. Vasaka, like Saturn edits what is not needed from your life. This action is also shown in how Vasaka is able to dilate the bronchial passageways in the lungs to help them remove any excess mucus.
Prabhava: treats asthma
Main Action: Bronchodilator, antispasmodic, bitter tonic, febrifuge, alterative
Action on Doshas:Balances Pitta and Kapha
Action on Dhatus: Rejuvenates plasma, blood, fat
In Ayurveda Vasaka has primarily been used in lung conditions characterized by shortness of breath, broncho-spasm and mucus or fluids in the lungs. Vasaka’s astringent nature can both help tone the lung tissue and improve it’s integrity while simultaneously removing unwanted guests. This allows it to remove the stagnation in the lungs. As the lungs oxygenate the blood the blood is also affected by Vasaka.
One of its primary uses is to stop internal bleeding from ulcers or excess menses. Another less known action of Vasaka is that it has been shown (Gogte 2000) to stimulate the Vagus nerve leading to lower blood pressure. This most likely happens by improving the function of the vessel walls of capillaries, veins and arteries.
Main Uses of Vasaka:
- Blood in the lungs
- Chronic Bronchitis
Precautions: Do not use vasaka during pregnancy. Only use vasaka for two month periods as it can cause low blood pressure.