Ayurveda, a 5000-year-old traditional remedial science of medicine, brings us a spectrum of naturally occurring herbs and spices blessed with curative qualities that steer one to a long and diseased free life. While some herbs, roots or leaves are already identified and are actively used for medicinal purposes, there are still a huge number of therapeutic plants, that are yet to be discovered or not yet employed for their traditional healing properties. One such rare ayurvedic herb, found in the heart of the Himalayas that most of us are unaware of or at least not well acquainted with its therapeutic benefits is Aconitum Heterophyllum, commonly known as Atis.
What Is Aconitum Heterophyllum/ Atis?
Atis is a classical ayurvedic herb of perennial origin that goes by the botanical name Aconitum heterophyllum and belongs to the Buttercup family (Ranunculaceae). The plant is native to the Western Himalayas regions of Sikkim, Nepal and adjoining parts of southern Tibet and Kashmir to the Kumaun hills at altitudes of 2500-3900 meters. Noted for its pungent, bitter taste, this herbaceous plant usually grows about 15 – 90 cm tall, occasionally reaching a height of 200 cm. It thrives best on sandy loamy and slightly acidic soil, with a pH of about 6.
Atis is a paired, tuberous root that is conical or cylindrical in shape with a yellowish and greyish white tinge. The stem is usually erect, leafy, 1-3ft., simple or rarely branched from the base. While leaves are ovate-heart-shaped to rounded, usually 5-10 cm in length, and sharply toothed, flowers are hooded, large, and white to violet coloured. Flowering and fruiting naturally occur from August to October in the third year of growth. Fertile flowers are then followed by seedpods that are 16-18 mm long, short, hairy and erect.
Synonyms Of Atis
Atis is known by different vernacular names such as Indian Atees, Greenish Himalayan Monkshood in English, Ateesarand, Arand, Ateicha, Mohra, Ateicha, Atis, Atvika, Atees, Padish, and patis in Hindi, Ataich, Ataicha in Bengali, Athividayam, Pankurai, Adivitaiyam, Akuculapu, Adhividayam, Adivitaiyam, Akuculapu, Atividayam, Atividyam, Ativisam, Mathiri, Alakavetam, Alecuveppam in Tamil, Tis vasa, Athivaasa, Atirasa, Ativasa, Ativasu in Telugu, Ativitayam, Ativitayam, Atividayam, Atthiranam in Malayalam, Ativisha, Atibage, Athihage, Athibaje in Kannada, Ativish, Ativishani Kali Ativakhani kali, in Gujarati, Moth, Ativish, Atvisha in Marathi, and Atis, Atisa, Atees in Punjabi.
Ayurveda knows this plant by the following Sanskrit terms including Ativisha, Kashmeera, Shuklakanda, Bhangura, Vishva, Visha, Ghunapriya, Ghunavallabha, Peetavallabha, Shishubhaishajya, Shrungi, Shophahaa, Mahaushadham, shyamakanda, Ativishaa, Bhanguraa, Amrita, Aruna, Ataicha, Atisaraghni, Ativisa, Bhringi, Ghunaisa, Kashmira, Madri, Mahoshadha, Mridvi, Pankura, Prativisa, Shishubhaishyajja, Shokapaha, Upavishaaka, Upvisha, Vallabha, Vira, Virupa, and Visakhya.
Ayurveda mainly suggests the use of the root tubers of this herbaceous plant for various medicinal purposes. Owing to the presence of numerous essential oils, the roots have a characteristic pungent smell and are used for the treatment of diseases since time immemorial. They are either used fresh or dried or even formulated into decoctions.
Ayurvedic Indications Of Atis
Since the ancient ages, Atis has been mentioned in several ayurvedic scriptures and journals for various indications which include Deepana (enhances stomach fire), Pachana (helps in digestion), Rochana (stimulates appetite), Kupachan (prevents bloating, indigestion), Amahara (treats indigestion), Jvara (useful in fever), Yakrit Vikara (prevents liver infections),Dahahara (relieves burning sensation), Shwasha (relieves breathing difficulties), Anulomana (improves breathing), Sangrahini (treats diarrhoea), Kasahara (Relieves cough), Vayasthapana (prevents ageing), Shonitasthapana (prevents bleeding), Hridaya (treats heart problems), Sangrahini (treats diarrhoea), Shotha hara (prevents inflammation and swelling), Pandu (treats skin disorders), Raktadoshahara (blood purifying), Vran Ropana (heals wounds), Mehahara (treats urinary tract disorders), Prameha (manages diabetes), Vamana (prevents nausea and vomiting), Trutahara (relieves excessive thirst), Ama Atisara (prevents dysentery), Balya (improves muscle strength), Hikkanigrahana (controls hiccups), Kantya (relieves sore throat), Vajikarana (acts as a apphrodisiac), Triptighno (relieves pseudo-satiation), and Vamanopaga (treats emesis), Varnya (improves complexion), and Krimihara (relieves intestinal worms).
Phyto-chemical Components Of Atis
This incredible herb is bestowed with potent essential oils, flavonoids, terpenoids, atidine, atisenol, atsine, aconitine, heterophyllin, banzolheteratisine, f-dihydroatisine, heteratisine, heterophyllidine, hetidine, hetisinone, histisine and heterophyllisin etc.
Atis is attributed to have powerful carminative, emmenagogue, anthelminthic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-dysenteric, antirheumatic, anti-emetic, blood purifying, antihyperlipidemic, stypic, properties. These traits are beneficial for the treatment and management of digestive disorders, heart ailments, fever, allergy, asthma, skin conditions including eczema and vitiligo, indigestion, constipation, diarrhoea, rheumatic arthritis, bleeding, diabetes, etc.
Formulation Containing Atis
The presence of a host of biochemical components and incredible therapeutic properties make Atis a oneshot herb for various health anomalies. Be it in the form of churna, kwath, gutika, lehyam, rasa or tailam, the magical benefits of this bitter herb can be availed via all. One such incredible ayurvedic formulation containing Atis or Ativisha is Divya Madhukalp Vati.
Divya Madhukalp Vati
As the very name suggest, it is an ayurvedic proprietary medication used for the management of diabetes mellitus (Madhumeha) and prevention of diabetic complications. It contains a host commonly used ayurvedic herbs, which have antihyperglycemic and antidiabetic qualities. The regular prescribed consumption of Madhukalp helps to control the mild to moderate rise of blood glucose level.
70.3 mg Karela – Momordica Charantia
70.3 mg Chirayata – Swertia Chirata
70.3 mg Methi (Fenugreek) – Trigonella Foenum-Graecum
70.3 mg Jamun (Java Plum) – Syzygium Cumini
70.3 mg Kutki – Picrorhiza Kurroa
70.3 mg Neem – Azadirachta Indica
35.2 mg Ashwagandha (Indian Ginseng) – Withania Somnifera
35.2 mg Ativisha (Atis) – Aconitum Heterophyllum
7.8 mg Shilajit – Asphaltum
Gum Acacia Q.S. (Quantity Sufficient)
Magnesium Stearate Q.S.
Wash all the herbs separately under water.
Keep them under the sun for 4-5 days until all the moisture content gets removed.
Powder each of the sun-dried herbs separately and pass them through sieve no.100 to get a fine powder.
Equal proportions of the powder are taken a large mixing bowl.
Thoroughly mix all the ingredients to get a homogeneous mixture.
Pass the herbal mixture again through sieve no. 10 to remove impurities and uneven particles.
Add the gum acacia, talcum and magnesium stearate as per the requirement to bind the powder particles together,
When reached to a semisolid state, roll the mixture into small vatis or tablets, on to the palm or use tablet punching machines to manufacture on large scale.
Health Benefits Of Atis
Imbued with excellent carminative and digestive properties, Atis confers an absolute solution for all digestive woes. The anti-flatulent property reduces the formation of gas in the alimentary canal, thus reducing flatulence, bloating, constipation, and abdominal distension. The antacid property of the herb prevents the formation of excessive acids in the stomach thereby treating indigestion, ulcer, gastritis and promoting better absorption of nutrients in the body.
Grind equal quantity of Sweet Flag, Asafetida, Ativisha, Ginger, Black Pepper and Long Pepper to make powder. Take 2 g of it with lukewarm water once a day to successfully treat indigestion
Enhances Weight Loss
The abundance of flavonoids in Atis root helps the body shed excess weight faster. Owing to the presence of fibre and anti-obesity action, when taken regularly, the formulation of Atis satiates sudden hunger pangs and prevents overeating and hence can play a pivotal role in one’s weight loss regimen. The herb also reduces the accumulation of LDL (i.e. Low-Density Lipoproteins or bad cholesterol) in the body, thereby improving metabolism and helping the body to maintain weight.
Presence of strong anti-pyretic properties in Atis makes it one of the best herbs to manage fever in children. It significantly helps to alleviate and prevent the fever. It acts as a diaphoretic and induces perspiration, which helps to lower fever.
Take powdered Caesalpinia Bonduc seeds and Ativisha seeds along with sugar twice a day to manage fever.
Fights Respiratory Issues
Blessed with powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-biotic, and anti-asthmatic properties, Atis is a well-known traditional remedy for all sorts of respiratory troubles. It is extensively used for treating the common cold, sore throat, cough, and flu symptoms. It also thins and loosens phlegm particles within the chest and nasal cavities and hence eases breathing and helps the body to get rid of mucus. It is also beneficial in treating bronchitis and asthmatic conditions.
Shields Against Infections
The biochemical constituents present in Atis has been used since the ancient times to combat germs and shield the body against various infections. Thanks to its strong anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and antifungal properties, this bitter herb is not only used for removing bacteria and germs from the body but also used for recurring fever conditions. It also helps in reducing general debility, weakness, and fatigue and improves the vitality of the body.
Atis is sanctified with moderate hypoglycaemic property, that plays a key role in pacifying the blood sugar levels in the body. The production of insulin from the β-pancreatic cells becomes active in taking atis or any of its formulations. It helps to reduce the breakdown of starch into glucose which in turn leads to low blood glucose levels and thus helps in managing diabetes.
Relieves Pain And Inflammation
Imbued with strong analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving properties of the bio-active components, Atis offers extensive relief from pain and inflammation in case of arthritis and joint pain. Being a natural vasodilator, it is also used to treat painful muscle spasms, sore muscles, arthritic conditions, and other inflammatory situations. Application of powdered paste of it is extremely effective against Rheumatoid arthritis, which is known as Amavata in Ayurveda, an ailment that stems due to the vitiation of Vata doshas and accumulation of Ama in the joints.
The potent anti-bacterial and anti-diarrhoeal properties of Atis is extensively used for removing bacteria from the intestines that causes diarrhoea and other intestinal infections. When ingested in prescribed amounts, it can be used for treating a type of diarrhoea known as AMA ATISARA i.e., acute diarrhoea where the bowel is slimy, sticky, full of mucus and has a foul odour. Formulations containing Atis not only removes the toxins from the body but also effectively reduces the frequency of stools and even treats dysentery.
Good For The Heart
Atis is one such ayurvedic herb that has been found to have a positive effect on the heart. Being a natural antioxidant and a cardio-protective herb, it plays a key role in treating a host of heart ailments. It relaxes the cardiac system, by soothing the mind, which is extremely advantageous for patients suffering from arrhythmias and palpitations. It is also beneficial in treating coronary heart disease, regulating blood pressure, strengthening the heart muscles, dropping cholesterol levels in the blood, and preventing lipid accumulation, which in turn reduces the risk of atherosclerosis, heart blocks, heart attacks, blood clots, etc.
Piles or Haemorrhoids are enlarged blood vessels that one can get inside or around your anus (the opening of your bottom). Because of the sedentary lifestyle in today’s times, this painful condition has become one of the most common issues developed due to chronic constipation. When Vata dosha becomes imbalanced in the body, constipation is created. These conditions often lead to Piles or mass formation near or inside the opening of the anus when ignored or untreated. Atis helps to manage constipation effectively, thus preventing the formation of piles.
Effect On Doshas:
This potent digestive plant showcases Katu (i.e., pungent) and Tikta (i.e., bitter) Rasa. It is blessed with Rukhsha (dry) and Laghu (i.e., light) gunas. It has Ushna Virya (cold potency) and Katu Vipaka (pungent metabolic property). The bioactive ingredients in this bitter herb balances all the three Doshas, viz., Pitta (fire and air) doshas, Kapha (earth and water) doshas and Vata (air) doshas.
Owing to the dry and light properties, the herb helps to cut through the thick rheum matter caused due to increased kapha doshas, and it also reduces pitta and kapha doshas in the head and chest, thus helping to uphold a normal body temperature. Additionally, being a Pitta pacifier, it detoxifies the gut, while simultaneously fortifying the vital organ and enhancing cellular growth and tissue regeneration. Owing to the intrinsic properties and doshas, Kutki portrays a positive effect on the various Dhatus (i.e., body tissues) which are Rasa (i.e., Plasma), Rakta (i.e., Blood), Mamsa (i.e., Muscles), Asthi (i.e., Bones) and Shukra (i.e., Reproductive Fluids).
The ayurvedic properties that help in portraying the following main prabhabs on the body are Deepana (digestive stimulant), Grahi (anti-diarrhoea), Sthoulya-har (reduces obesity), Kapha-har (pacifies the Kapha/mucous), and Sotha-har (reduces swelling).
Atis is widely available in the form of churnas, kashayams, arishtams and gutikas and even as dried root or rhizome. Owing to its pungent-bitter taste, one can consume it alongside honey to mask the taste.
The accurate therapeutic dosage of the Atis may vary from person to person depending upon the age, severity, and condition of the patient. One must consult an ayurvedic doctor or practitioner, as he or she will thoroughly examine the indications and prescribe the effective dosage for a specific period of time. It can be taken twice a day, after meals alongside honey or as directed by the physician.
Atis Side Effects:
Thanks to the presence of potent bioactive components, Atis exhibits no recorded side effects when used in the correct proportion. It is extremely effective in normalizing the aggravated levels of Sama Pitta doshas and Kapha doshas in the body. But an excessive amount of it can lead to nausea, vomiting, dryness of the body and mouth, sweating, weakness, tremors, heart and breathing problems. However, since there is no reliable information of the effects of Atis during pregnancy or lactation period, it is suggested that pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers should avoid using this bitter herb without medical supervision.
Atis is one such powerful herb that is blessed with a quarry of health benefits. Thanks to the goodness of the essential bio-active ingredients, and host of curative qualities, it is widely used for treating gastrointestinal disorders like constipation, indigestion, diarrhoea, dysentery, piles, flu and feverish conditions, managing cough and cold, sore throat, treating respiratory diseases, relieving inflammatory conditions etc.