There are many health aspects to this most important organ. Arjuna can address some of these by boosting heart function, protecting it from damage and healing cardiac injury and trauma. In many animal model studies, Arjuna extract has shown to reverse the damage to heart muscle.
Arjuna contains many powerful antioxidants including gallic acid, ellagic acid and oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPC’s). These flavonoids, in particular the OPC’s, have been found to protect the heart from damaging oxidative stress. Furthermore, Arjuna bark influences an increase in levels of superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione levels. This action provides protection against oxidative stress, with a particular affinity for heart tissue.
Recently, two new cardenolide cardiac glycosides were isolated from the roots and seeds of Arjuna. The main action of these cardenolides is to increase the force of cardiac contraction (the force with which the heart pumps blood around the body - a strong and steady heartbeat is a good indicator of a healthy heart).
In Ayruveda, Arjuna is used as a lymph tonic for the heart. It is understood that when the lymph system around the heart gets congested it affects the ability of the heart to pump in a healthy way. Arjuna works specifically to keep the lymph moving and draining around the heart which encourages healthy arterial blood flow and healthy muscular contractions.
Angina is pain that happens when the heart does not get enough oxygen. Whilst the pain is most commonly experienced in the chest, it may also occur in the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back. It is usually a symptom of coronary heart disease (CHD), which happens when blood vessels to the heart become narrow or blocked. Angina usually occurs when the heart is working hard, such as during exercise, but it can also occur at random.
In a one week, double blind placebo controlled study of 58 individuals, Arjuna was found to reduce the frequency of angina attacks by 50 percent or more in patients taking 200mg – 500mg of Arjuna extract daily. It was more effective than the placebo and approximately as effective as the standard pharmaceutical medication for this condition.
A subsequent three month study compared the effectiveness of Arjuna against a placebo in 40 people with a recent heart attack. All the participants in this study suffered from a particular complication of a heart attack called ischaemic mitral regurgitation. The results showed that use of this herb improved heart function and reduced angina symptoms.
Arjuna benefits the delicate gut system by helping to strengthen and maintain the integrity of gastric mucosa (the lining of the stomach). This is important as it defends against acid attacks which can lead to heartburn, and explains why many traditional communities use Arjuna bark as an antacid and digestive tonic.
This versatile herb also has strong antibacterial qualities, making it particularly effective against helicobacter pylori (H. Pylori), a well known bacteria that can live in the digestive tract and cause ulcers, gastritis and other stomach infections.
Liver and Kidney Health
The powerful antioxidants found in Arjuna also work to improve liver and kidney function, helping these organs to flush toxins out of the body whilst encouraging bile production (in the liver). It protects the liver and kidneys by increasing antioxidative activities and is especially indicated in the treatment of liver cirrhosis.
Folklore and history
According to the Mahabharata - one of the most respected books of Indian mythology - Arjuna was one of five brothers and a central character in this ancient Indian epic. Son of the god Indra and renowned for his talent in archery, he was known for his steadfastness and single mindedness in pursuing his goals. His loyalty to Lord Krishna earned him the divine knowledge of the Bhagavad-Gita and the character of Arjuna symbolizes purity, integrity, loyalty and valour.
It is said that the hero of this epic was named after the Terminalia Arjuna tree because of its protective effects. The Arjuna herb was known for its role in protecting vitality and was nicknamed "Guardian of the Heart", displaying similar characteristics to the hero of the Indian saga.
In Sanskrit the word Arjuna means “shining”, alluding to the silvery shimmering quality of the outer bark of the tree. Once a year this bark peels away to reveal the inner red healing bark, making it accessible for harvest without harm to the tree.
According to Dr John Douillard, globally renowned leader in the field of Ayurveda, Arjuna is a “Herbal Hero for your Heart”. Supported by thousands of years of traditional use, primarily for cardiovascular health, Arjuna subscribes to the “Doctrine of Signatures” which states that herbs resembling various parts of the body can be used by herbalists to treat ailments of those body parts.
The deep red colouring of the inner bark of the Terminalia Arjuna tree signifies the blood, and for many centuries traditional herbalists have used the bark as a circulation tonic for heart and blood pressure problems. Its root system also reflects the branching veins, arteries and capillaries of the circulatory system.
Much research has been done into this powerful herb in relation to the heart, and scientists are finding that there is truth in these ancient claims. Today, many cardiologists are even incorporating Arjuna into their protocols.
Arjuna Tincture can be added to water or fruit juice. Traditionally Taken: 2-3 ml, 3 times per day, or as directed by a Herbal Practitioner.
Arjuna's main constituents include; tannins, triterpenoid saponins (arjunic acid, arjunolic acid, arjungenin and arjunic acid), flavonoids, gallic acid, ellagic acid and phytosterols
Not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Arjuna is typically well tolerated, however some mild side effects may include constipation and flatulence.
Do not exceed recommended dosage. Please talk to your healthcare practitioner if you are taking prescription medications.