Prized as a spectacular immune-boosting herb, Jivaka forms an integral component of the Ashtavarga (ayurvedic formulation comprising 8 specific herbs) that helps to nourish body tissues and enhance overall strength and stamina. From archaic times, Jivaka has been one cherished herb that is mainly used by ayurvedic physicians and doctors in most formulations targeted toward mitigating stomach troubles and compromised immunity.
As per Ayurveda, Jivaka helps in the treatment and management of diarrhoea due to its Vata and Pitta normalizing traits. It plays a key role in shielding the skin from harmful oxidative damage. In addition, having antioxidant and anti-ageing properties, Jivaka also deters off the early signs of skin ageing. In Ayurveda, Jivaka is useful in mitigating joint pain owing to its Vata balancing property.
Jivaka also shows promising results in the case of bronchitis due to its Vata and Kapha balancing qualities. Jivaka being a potent Rasayani dravya also promotes the overall health and vitality of a person. Taking Chyawanprash made with Jivaka helps shield the body from microbial infections by strengthening the overall immune system.
Jivaka Plant Description
Jivaka which goes by the botanical name Malaxis acuminata belongs to the Orchidaceae family.
It is a short-stemmed terrestrial lithophytic orchid, that chiefly grows to a height of up to 30 cm. It has a pseudo-bulb at the apex and fibrous roots at the base. Leaves of Jivaka are simple, three or four, alternately arranged, and ovate or lanceolate in shape. The inflorescence seen in Jivaka is a long raceme with light brown rachis bearing numerous tiny flowers. Flower buds are usually green in hue, and turn yellow on maturing. The flowering usually happens during the fall around September.
Jivaka Habitat And Geographical Distribution
Jivaka is extensively found growing in shady places on clay, in tropical evergreen forests, and extending to sub-tropical mountain forests of India, China, and South-East Asia, at elevations of up to 1400 m. Jeevak prefers a hot to warm growing environment and primarily occurs on highly eroded, stratified limestone cliffs, and wet rocks, amidst moss and grass. It thrives well on properly drained, moist soil.
Common Names Of Jivaka
Jivaka has been used since ancient times for its innumerable therapeutic uses and medicinal properties. Some of its common names in vernacular languages include:
English/ Latin: Malaxis acuminata D.Don., Malaxis rheedii (Sw.), Microstylis versicolor Lindl, Malaxis versicolor (Lindl), Seidenfia rheedii (Sw.) (Szlach.)
Sanskrit: Jivakah, Jivya, Dirghayu, Cirajivi
Malayalam: Jeevakam, Jeevakom
Pharmacological Composition Of Jivaka
The alcoholic extract of this incredible herb showcases a plethora of amino sugars, hexosamine, glycosides, starch, free amino acids and protein. Phyto-chemical analysis of jivaka reveals the presence of alpha-linolenic acid, alpha-linoleic acid, palmitic acid, oleic acid, stearic acid, gamma linoleic acid, ecosanoic acid, and eicosadienoic acid.
Medicinal Properties Of Jivaka
Jivaka portrays the following medicinal traits:
- Digestive Stimulant
- Depurative (purifies blood)
Ayurvedic Indications Of Jivaka
Since the ancient ages, Jivaka is one of the most prominent therapeutic plants that is mentioned time and again in several Puranic scriptures just like the Vedas, Upanishads, and the textbooks Charak Samhita, Sarangadhar Samhita etc exemplifying the outstanding qualities of this magical herb. The holistic science of Ayurveda recognizes Jivaka as a Rasayani dravya and powerful aphrodisiac. Some of its ayurvedic indications include:
- Sangrahini (treats diarrhoea)
- Kustha (treats skin disorders)
- Varnya (improves complexion)
- Deepana (enhances stomach fire)
- Pachana (helps in digestion)
- Rochana (stimulates appetite)
- Amahara (treats indigestion)
- Vayasthapana (prevents ageing)
- Keshya (treats hair problems)
- Dahahara (relieves burning sensation)
- Triptighno (relieves pseudo-satiation)
- Shonitasthapana (prevents bleeding)
- Jvara (useful in fever)
- Rasayani (rejuvenates the whole body)
- Balya (improves muscle strength)
- Hikkanigrahana (controls hiccups)
- Pandu (treats anaemia)
- Krimihara (relieves intestinal worms)
- Hridaya (treats heart problems)
- Mehahara (treats urinary tract disorders)
- Arsha (treats piles or haemorrhoids)
- Krichra (treats painful micturition)
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Health Benefits Of Jivaka
Diarrhoea, a.k.a Atisara in Ayurveda, is a health constraint where a person suffers from watery stools more than 3 times a day. It mainly occurs due to the imbalance of Vata dosha when there is an entry of external toxins or microbes into the body through food and water. This irritates the functioning of the digestive fire (Agni) in the stomach and results in Agnimandya (weak digestive fire).
Jivaka blessed with potent anti-bacterial and anti-diarrhoeal properties is extensively used for removing bacteria from the intestines that cause diarrhoea and other intestinal infections. It also helps to retain digestion and digestive fire due to its Pitta balancing quality, thereby providing relief to diarrhoea. Jivaka formulations not only eliminate the toxins from the body but also effectively lessens the frequency of stools.
Manages Male Sexual Disorders
Jivaka is mostly indicated for improving men’s health. It has influential spermatogenic and aphrodisiac properties that are extremely beneficial for treating erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, asthenozoospermia (i.e., sperm motility), teratospermia (i.e., abnormal sperm shape) oligospermia (i.e., low sperm count), hypospermia (i.e., low volume of semen), and enhances spermatogenesis (i.e., sperm production). The herb comprising natural antioxidants enhances the production of male hormones like testosterone and luteinizing hormone. It effectively promotes blood supply to the penile tissue and induces erection during sexual activity. Being an innate adaptogen, Jivaka also helps in decreasing mental stress and anxiety and evokes hormones for increasing libido. It also boosts virility and stamina in men.
Relieves Pain And Inflammation
The wealth of anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic traits in Jivaka makes it the utmost choice for providing relief from pain and inflammation due to arthritis. Being a natural vasodilator, it is also used to deal with painful muscle spasms, sore muscles, arthritic conditions, and other inflammatory situations. Application of a powdered paste of Jivaka bulb is extremely helpful against Rheumatoid arthritis also known as Amavata in Ayurveda, a malady that stems due to the vitiation of Vata doshas and accumulation of Ama in the joints.Also Read: 5 Amazing Essential Oils To Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis
Thwarts Respiratory Issues
Blessed with dominant anti-inflammatory, anti-biotic, and anti-asthmatic properties, Jivaka plays a crucial role in treating a host of respiratory difficulties. The Kapha balancing trait of this herb is extensively used for dealing with the common cold, sore throat, cough and flu symptoms. It also actively reduces and slackens the catarrh components from the chest and nasal pockets and hence enhances breathing and helps the body to alleviate mucus. It is also extremely effective in treating bronchitis and asthmatic conditions.
Augments Skin Health
A disturbance of the Pitta doshas within the body may often lead to numerous skin infections like eczema, psoriasis, acne and pimples. Sanctified with antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory traits, Ayurveda affirms Jivaka as a go-to remedy for various skin woes. Moreover, the blood-purifying nature of the herb helps in wiping out toxins from the blood, which in turn helps in treating a host of skin infections as well. Additionally, it not only helps in safeguarding the skin from oxidative radical damage due to the harmful UVA and UVB rays, but also arrests the various signs of ageing like blemishes, spots, wrinkles, fine lines, and dark circles. It is also beneficial for treating allergic conditions like psoriasis, scabies, eczema, acne, pimples, and many more.
Staves off Infections
Thanks to the presence of specific flavonoids and antioxidants, the bulb extract of Jivaka helps in preventing and treating different infectious conditions. Additionally, Jivaka retains strong anti-fungal, antibacterial, and anti-parasitic qualities that especially hinder the growth and multiplication of fungi accountable for fungal infections, and parasites inducing intestinal worm infestation in the stomach, intestines and other body parts.
Treats Insect Bites
The anti-toxic effect of Jivaka helps to manage or reduce the poisonous effects of insect bite and also diminish the pain and burning sensation that arises. on the affected area due to its Vata balancing effect and Shita Virya.
Jivaka is naturally blessed with the following Ayurvedic characteristics:
Rasa (taste): Madhura (sweet)
Guna (physical property): Guru (heavy), Brihmana (nourishes body tissues), Snighdha (moist) and Pichhila (slimy)
Virya (potency): Shita (cold)
Vipaka (metabolic property after digestion): Madhura (sweet)
Karma (action): Shukrala (increases sperm count), Balya (increases body strength)
Effects on Doshas
It normalizes the Vata (air) and Pitta (fire and air) Doshas owing to its cold potency and an excess of it can aggravate the Kapha (earth and water) Doshas. Owing to its essential traits and doshas, Jivaka has a favourable effect on the various Dhatus (i.e., body tissues) which are Rasa (i.e., Plasma), Rakta (i.e., Blood), Mamsa (i.e., Muscles), Majja (i.e., cartilage), Asthi (i.e., Bones) and Shukra (i.e., Reproductive Fluids).
The helpful healing dosage of Jivaka may differ from individual to individual on basis of their age, physical stability, impacts on digestion, the harshness of the condition, and capacity of the patient. It is strongly instructed to consult an ayurvedic doctor or medical practitioner before taking the medication. It is mainly the bulb of Jivaka that is used for therapeutic purposes.
Churna/ Powder: 3-6 grams twice a day after meals or as suggested by the doctor
Although Jivaka is extremely beneficial in treating numerous health anomalies, it is still necessary to consume the herb in the prescribed amount as suggested by the ayurvedic practitioner or doctor. An excess of it may steer to certain side effects including stomach troubles, acidity, indigestion etc.
Since there is not sufficient reliable information regarding the consumption of Jivaka bulbs or the herb extract in case of pregnancy and lactation, women who are pregnant or are breast-feeding their babies, are strictly restricted to consume the herb in any form without the approval of their treating doctor.
Since ancient times, Jivaka has been mentioned in several ayurvedic scriptures as a supreme cure for numerous health anomalies. This incredible medicinal herb is classified as a powerful aphrodisiac, and hence it improves libido, deals with various infertility issues and enhances the reproductive health in men. It also ensures proper digestion, remedies diarrhoea, relieves inflammation, arrests ageing signs, relieves respiratory woes and thus enhances overall stamina and body immunity.