Common name Purging cassia (E), Amaltas (H)Sanskrit A-rag-vadha Latin Cassia fistula–Fructus, Folium (Caesalpiniaceae)
The general use of this plants are- A gentle laxative used to clear pitta from the intestines. The fruit-pulp, root-bark and leaves of Aragvadha is used in the form of fruit-pulp, decoction to treat fever, jaundice, diabetes, skin diseases, wound, rheumatic ailments, erysipelas, wound due to accident.
Since centuries the plant has been popular as a common drug with Ayurvedic physicians. The Sanskrit word aragvadha literally means that which eliminates the diseases. It has several synonyms in Ayurvedic texts, delineating its peculiarities, like rajavrksa – a fascinating tree, sampaka- a boon, krtamala flourished with flowers, yadhighata wards off diseases, dirghaphala have elongated pods, suvarnaka of golden tinge etc. The great sage Caraka has categorized it as kusthaghna anti dermatoses, kandughna anti pruritic and also as recana laxative Acarya Vagbhata has mentioned it as samsamana-pacifies kapha dosa.
Aragvadha is indigenous to India and grows all over the country. It is a medium sized deciduous tree, 8-10 metres in height, with a straight trunk and spreading slender cylindrical branches, with a smooth ash-grey bark. The leaves are alternate, 20-40 cm long, abruptly pinnate, leaflets 5-15 cm long in 3 to 7 opposite or nearly opposite pairs. The flowers are large, 5-6 cm across, very laxly arranged on stalked pendulous racemes, they are bright-yellow in colour, with petals 5 and stamens 10. The pods are cylindrical, 3.60 cm in length and thick. The seeds are small, 3-5 cm long, somewhat compressed; testa very hard, smooth and shining.
The botanical name of aragvadha is Cassia fistula and it belongs to family Caesalpiniaceae. The leaves contain free rhein, glucoside and sennosides A and B. (Indian J. Pharm 1968, 30:8). A butanol extract powdered stem ark contained tannins while the benzeme extract yielded lupeol, haxacosanol and sitosterol. The pulp of the pods contains proteins 19.94% , carbohydrates 26.30% , arginine, leucine, methionine, phenylalanine, tryptophan, aspartic and glutamic acids. Fistulic acid isolated from pods and characterized tetramer having free glycol unit, isolated from flower. From the bark, fistucacidin is isolated. Seed-oil contains vernolic, sterculic and malvalic acids.
Aurantiamide acetate, sitosterol and its D- glucoside is isolated from flowers. The seven new biflavonoids and two triflavonoids have been isolated from the flowers. The pulp of pods contains sugar, gum, astringent matter, gluten, colouring matter and oil.
Aragvadha is sweet in taste sweet in the post digestive effect and has cold potency (virya). It alleviates vata and pitta doshas and cleanses (sodhana) the pitta and kapha doshas. The skin of the bark is bitter and sweet in the taste. It is laxative and antipyretic in properties. It possesses heavy (guru), unctuous and bowel cleanser (sramsana) attributes. It is used in the diseases like skin diseases, fever, flatulence, diabetes, ascites, heart diseases, abdominal pain etc. (Bhavaprakasa Nighantu)
The fruit pulp, root skin, flowers, leaves and root bark of aragvadha are used for medicinal purposes. The plant is useful both, internally as well as externally. The paste of its leaves and fruit-pulp is applied externally to mitigate the pain and swelling in rheumatism, glandular swellings, arthritis and gout. The decoction of aragvadha is an effective gargle in stomatitis and sore throat. The paste or scrub of the leaves is extremely salutary in skin diseases, associated with pruritus. The marked anti-bacterial activity of the fruits pulp is beneficial in common skin infections due to fungi and bacteria.
Internally, aragvadha being a mild laxative is useful especially in children, weak individuals and in pregnancy. It works well, when combined with haritaki (Terminalia chebula) fruits and markandi (Cassia elongate) pods, and eases the problem of constipation. In abdominal pain, jaundice, enlarged liver etc, aragvadha is a commonly used adjuvant, to cleanse the bowels, as it is laxative as well as an alleviator of apana vata; it works well as a deflatulent. The jam of its flowers (puspa avaleha) effectively wards off the mucous and relieres dry cough and vata type of cough. In kapha typed cough the fruit pulp combined woth jaggery is give along with hot water. Being a blood purifier in its properties, it is benevolent in rakta pitta, gout and hepatitis. It pacifies pitta and eliminates it by laxative action in such conditions.
It is commonly useful in fevers associated with constipation. Aragvadha is effective in black water fever also. The decoction of herb, along with its topical application, effectively curbs itching and burning sensation in various skin diseases like scabies, eczema, dermatitis etc. Many a times, the nasya, nasal administration, of its root skin is valuable in glandular swellings, especially cervical adenitis, It imparts diuretic action and seeds have antidiabetic property. In bleeding disorders, raktapitta, it combines well with amalaki and the decoction is recommended with sugar and honey. As a household remedy, the fruit pulp of aragvadha 10 gm, fruits of haritaki 6 gm and black raising 10 gm , with 0.5 litre of water is taken and is boiled, till 1/8 part of it remains (60 ml approx). This preparation is very effective in piles, epistaxis (nose bleed) in raktapitta, and facilitates the micturition and alleviates the oedema. As aragvadha loses its properties on boiling, instead of its decotion, the hot or cold infusion preparations are preferred.