The Benefits of Arjuna

Health Benefits, Uses, Tips, and More

Arjuna is an herb long used in ayurvedic medicine (a form of alternative medicine that originated in India). Typically sourced from the bark of the Terminalia arjuna plant, it's widely available in dietary supplement form. In alternative medicine, arjuna is used to treat a variety of health conditions, including problems with heart health.

Research suggests that arjuna contains a number of compounds known to influence health, such as antioxidants, minerals, and tannins (a class of natural substances with anti-inflammatory effects).

Uses for Arjuna

In alternative medicine, arjuna is often used for the following health problems:

According to practitioners of ayurvedic medicine, arjuna can also help to balance the three doshas.

In addition, arjuna is said to enhance libido and boost sports performance.

Health Benefits of Arjuna

For a report published in the American Journal of Cardiovascular Drugs in 2012, researchers sized up the available research on the use of arjuna in treatment of cardiovascular disorders. Although they found preliminary evidence that arjuna may be beneficial for patients with high blood pressure, heart failure, and ischemic heart disease (a condition characterized by narrowed arteries and reduced blood flow to the heart), the report's authors note that well-designed clinical trials on arjuna and its potential cardiovascular benefits are lacking.

The available clinical trials testing the health effects of arjuna include a study published in the Journal of the Association of Physicians of India in 2001. For the study, 105 patients with heart disease were split into three groups: the first group received a placebo, the second group received vitamin E, and the third group received capsules containing arjuna.

After 30 days, those given arjuna showed a significantly greater improvement in cholesterol levels (compared to those given the placebo or vitamin E). Both arjuna and vitamin E appeared to increase the participants' antioxidant status as well.

In a study published in the Indian Heart Journal in 2002, 58 men with angina received arjuna, isosorbide mononitrate (a medication commonly used in the treatment of angina), or a placebo for one week at a time. After all participants had completed one week of treatment with each therapy, the study's authors determined that arjuna was most significantly associated with a decrease in angina frequency.

For a 2004 study published in the same journal, researchers tested arjuna's potential to improve function in the endothelium (the layer of cells lining the inside of blood vessels) in 18 healthy male smokers. After taking arjuna for two weeks, the participants showed significant improvement in smoking-related endothelial abnormalities.

In addition, a 2010 study from the International Journal of Ayurveda Research shows that arjuna may help improve exercise performance.

For the study, 40 healthy volunteers were assigned to eight weeks of treatment with arjuna, ashwagandha, a combination of the two herbs, or a placebo. by the study's end, those given arjuna (or a combination of arjuna or ashwagandha) showed an increase in cardiovascular endurance during exercise. 

Caveats

More research is needed to determine the safety of long-term or regular use of dietary supplements containing arjuna. However, there's some concern that arjuna may cause several side effects (including headache and stomach upset).

Since arjuna may affect cardiovascular function, it's crucial for individuals with any type of heart condition to consult a physician prior to using arjuna. 

Keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals. While consumers face such risks when purchasing any dietary supplement, these risks may be of greater magnitude in the purchase of Ayurvedic products containing a variety of herbs in varying doses.

Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established. You can get further tips on using supplements here.

Where To Find It

You can purchase dietary supplements containing arjuna in some natural-foods stores, drugstores, and stores specializing in dietary supplements, as well as online.

Using Arjuna for Health

Due to the limited research, it's too soon to recommend arjuna as a treatment for any condition. It's also important to note that self-treating a condition (such as heart disease) and avoiding or delaying standard care can seriously harm your health. If you're considering using it, make sure to consult your physician first.

Sources

Bharani A, Ahirwar LK, Jain N. "Terminalia arjuna reverses impaired endothelial function in chronic smokers." Indian Heart J. 2004 Mar-Apr;56(2):123-8.

Bharani A, Ganguli A, Mathur LK, Jamra Y, Raman PG. "Efficacy of Terminalia arjuna in chronic stable angina: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study comparing Terminalia arjuna with isosorbide mononitrate." Indian Heart J. 2002 Mar-Apr;54(2):170-5.

Dwivedi S, Jauhari R. "Beneficial effects of Terminalia arjuna in coronary artery disease." Indian Heart J. 1997 Sep-Oct;49(5):507-10.

Gupta R, Singhal S, Goyle A, Sharma VN. "Antioxidant and hypocholesterolaemic effects of Terminalia arjuna tree-bark powder: a randomised placebo-controlled trial." J Assoc Physicians India. 2001 Feb;49:231-5.

Maulik SK, Katiyar CK. "Terminalia arjuna in cardiovascular diseases: making the transition from traditional to modern medicine in India." Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2010 Dec;11(8):855-60.

Maulik SK, Talwar KK. "Therapeutic potential of Terminalia arjuna in cardiovascular disorders." Am J Cardiovasc Drugs. 2012 Jun 1;12(3):157-63.

Parveen A, Babbar R, Agarwal S, Kotwani A, Fahim M. "Mechanistic clues in the cardioprotective effect of Terminalia arjuna bark extract in isoproterenol-induced chronic heart failure in rats." Cardiovasc Toxicol. 2011 Mar;11(1):48-57.

Saha A, Pawar VM, Jayaraman S. "Characterisation of Polyphenols in Terminalia arjuna Bark Extract." Indian J Pharm Sci. 2012 Jul;74(4):339-47.

Sandhu JS, Shah B, Shenoy S, Chauhan S, Lavekar GS, Padhi MM. "Effects of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) and Terminalia arjuna (Arjuna) on physical performance and cardiorespiratory endurance in healthy young adults." Int J Ayurveda Res. 2010 Jul;1(3):144-9.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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