Scientific Name Saraca asoca (Roxb.) De Wilde syn. S. indica auct. non Linn.

Family Caesalpiniaceae (Fabaceae)

Used Part Bark.

Distribution Area It occurs almost throughout India up to an altitude of 750 m. in the central and the eastern Himalayas and the

Khasi, Garo and Lushai hills; it is also found in the Andaman Islands.

Common Uses . The bark is bitter , astringent, sweet, refrigerant,anthelmintic, Styptic, Stomachic, constipating, febrigue and demulcent. It is useful in dyspepsia, fever, dipisa, burning sensation, visceromegaly, colic, ulcers menorrhagia, metropathy, leccorrhoea and pimples. The flowers are considered to be uterine tonic and are used in vitiated conditions of pitta, syphilis, cervical adenitis,hyperdipsia, burning sensation, haemorrhoids, dysentery, scabies in children and inflammation. The dried flowers are used in diabetes and haemorrhagic dysentery and seeds are used for treating bone fractures, stangury and vesical calculi.

Employed in drug formulations prescribed in uterine affections, especially menorrhagia, leucorrhoea and stone formation in kidney and bladder. The main preparations employing Ashoka are Ashokarishta and Ashokaghrita. Bark is reported to cure biliousness, dyspepsia, dysentery, colic, piles, ulcers and pimples. Leaves posses blood purifying properties and their juice mixed with cumin seeds is used for stomach-ache. Flowers, pounded in water are used in haemorrhagic dysentery and the dried flowers in diabetes. Flowers are considered to be an excellent uterine tonic. They are also considered useful in biliousness and syphilis. In Assam, fruits are chewed as a substitute for area-nuts. Pods are reported to make a very good forage for cattle.

Similar crude drugs Stem bark of Polyalthea longifolia Benth. Hook. (Fam. Annonaceae) commonly planted in parks and gardens and also known as asoka tree is the most common adulterant of the drug.

Pharmacological Effect

Aqueous extract of the bark is reported to contain two active principles, one stimulating and the other relaxing the plain muscle of the ileum of the guinea-pig. The drug is reported to stimulate the uterus, making the contractions more frequent and prolonged without producing tonic contraction as in the case of pituitary or ergot. The crystalline glycosidal substance is also reported to stimulate uterine contraction. It is suggested that the drug may prove useful in all cases of uterine bleeding where ergot is indicated. The drug is reported to have a stimulating effect on the endometrium and ovarian tissue, and is useful in menorrhagia due to uterine fibroids, in leucorrhoea and in internal bleeding, haemorrhoids and haemorrhagic dysentery. The presence in the bark of a powerful oxytocic principle (phenolic glycoside P2) has been recently reported. Alcoholic extract of the bark is reported to be active against a wide range of bacteria, and aqueous extract has been found to enhance the lifespan of mice infected with Ehrlich ascites Carcinoma and reduce the weight of S-180 (Sarcoma tumourline S-180) tumour. Official preparations listed in the Indian Pharmaceutical Codex are Decoction Asoka and Ex -tractum Asoke Liquidum

The alcoholic extract of flowers indicated 50 per cent cytotoxicity in Dalton's lymphoma ascites and Sarcoma-180 tumour cells at the concentration of 38 µg and 54 µg, respectively, with no activity against nortmal lymphocytes but preferential activity for lymphocytes derived from leukemia patients.

The leaf extract completely inhibited conidial germination of

Drechslera oryzae. The (-)-epicatechin, from the bark is reported to exhibit antitumor, anticarcinogenic and antiproliferative activities.