A practical guide for nutritional and traditional health care.
The varuna is native to India and Bangladesh where it is often grown in the neighborhood of temples. It is a large deciduous tree shedding leaves annually and grows to a height of 50 feet or 15 meters. The tree bears flowers that are light yellowish or creamy colored and has a gray and smooth horizontally wrinkled bark. The leaves of the tree are trifoliate and they are harvested during the spring. The bark of the tree is cut all the year around and used for its therapeutic properties. Known as the ‘three leaved caper' in English, the varuna bears fruits containing multiple seeds that are much akin to ovoid berries. The seeds of the tree enclose a yellowish fleshy pulp.
The varuna is found in abundance both in India and Bangladesh and its bark is cut throughout the year and used as an herbal medication. Traditionally, Indians have been using this tree for several centuries to help discharge surplus water from the body as well as to invigorate the functions of the liver. The tree encloses a chemical called lupeol that neutralizes enzymes that result in excruciating urination caused due to the swelling of the prostate. In addition, the varuna also possesses diuretic and stimulant (tonic) features. The bark, leaves and root bark of the varuna tree are used for remedial purposes.
The varuna tree is a member of the plant (Capparidaceae) family and belongs to Genus Crataeva and, hence, the Latin name of this deciduous tree is Crataeva Nurvula. In Hindi, varuna is known as ‘barun'. This species has a preference for wet soil with a pH of 7 and needs adequate sunlight to enable the photosynthesis process to convert carbon dioxide to sugars essential for their growth. Incidentally, some plants of this species require more sunlight than other for this purpose. Regrettably, this tree does not create a center of attention for any of the nectar feeding varieties of garden birds or the gorgeous hummingbird or sunbird.
This deciduous tree grows naturally along the river banks in many places in India and Bangladesh. The branches of the varuna have white patches on them along with purple and yellowish tinges. The fruits of the varuna have a resemblance to lemon and their color turns reddish when ripened. The tree bears flowers during spring and fruits during summer. As the varuna is a deciduous tree, it sheds all its leaves annually during the summers.
Bark, leaves, root bark.
Apart from what has been discussed above, varuna has multiple therapeutic benefits and is especially useful in certain conditions. Below is a brief discussion on the usefulness of varuna for precise health conditions.
Benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH): As mentioned before, in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, varuna has been extensively used to alleviate problems in urination owing to swelling of the prostate. This action of the herb is usually attributed to the chemical lupeol enclosed by the tree. In effect, lupeol is said to neutralize the enzymes responsible for manufacturing leukotrienes that bring on inflammation.
Kidney Stones: In Ayurveda, the bark of the varuna has been traditionally used to heal kidney stones for more than 3,000 years. Findings of several studies undertaken by contemporary scientists have authenticated that the herb neutralizes the enzyme called glycolate oxidase and this particular effect of the herb lessens the production of oxalates by the body. It may be mentioned here that the oxalates combine with calcium to develop into kidney stones. Another chemical enclosed by varuna, lupeol, helps to lower the intensity of several laboratory indicators of kidney damage.
Presently, herbal medicine practitioners primarily use varuna to treat kidney and prostate problems. The bark of the tree is particularly used to treat infections of the urinary tract, kidney stones as well as benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH). Researches undertaken by scientists have demonstrated that this particular herb's actions support the cardiovascular system by properly maintaining the suppleness as well as openness of the arteries.
In addition, it is believed that varuna has beneficial uses either as an effective diuretic or a herb that slows down or hinders the formation of stones inside the organs. Both the barks as well as the leaves of the tree are extensively utilized for preparing herbal medications. Moreover, varuna possesses diuretic, anti-inflammatory, demulcent (soothing or mollifying), lithontriptic (stone dissolving or destroying in the organs) and tonic (stimulant) properties. The bark of this tree generates ceryl alcohol, lupeol, friedelin, diosgenin and betulinic acid. The herb is also effective for treating conditions of the urinary organs, infections of the urinary tract, pain and burning micturition (urination), renal and vesical calculi (bladder stones).
Varuna is available in several varieties and may also be used as an ingredient in other remedial products. However, if you desire to use varuna to treat any of the conditions mentioned above, it is advisable to talk to your healthcare provider regarding the treatment of your precise health problems.
Habitat and cultivation
Varuna is native to India and Bangladesh and grows naturally along the river banks and is also cultivated in the temple premises. More or less all plants of this species are grown in gardens and they require adequate fertilizers for them to achieve optimal growth. The recommended fertilizers for use for healthy growth of varuna plants would normally be a combination of three parts of nitrogen (N), two parts of phosphorous (P) and three parts of potassium (K).
Side effects and cautions
The use of varuna or any medication prepared with it is generally considered to be safe and without any adverse aftereffects provided the herbal medication is taken according to the dose recommended by your physician or healthcare provider. It is important to bear in mind that this particular herb is not meant to be an alternate or a replacement for knowledgeable medical recommendation or care. However, the safety of the herb's use in children, pregnant women, nursing mothers as well as individuals suffering from acute kidney or liver problems is yet to be ascertained.
Varuna may be taken internally in various forms - tea or even as a tincture. This herb is promptly and easily available with any Ayurvedic practitioner and, hence, should always be taken as per the instructions or directions of the physician or healthcare provider who is recommending its use.
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