Allotropes are primarily harvested owed to its distinctive medicinal properties. It is commonly referred to as ark, swallow-wart, or milkweed. It is frequently found in Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Indian subcontinent as wasteland weed.
Calotropis belongs to the Ark or Asclepiadaceae family and is mainly spread across the tropics and sub-tropics and rarely in the cold regions of the world. The ark plant with white flowers is a superior variety and is referred to as Calotropis Procera while the one with lavender color flowers is referred to as Calotropis gigantea. Its milky latex is rich in lupeol, calotropin, calatoxin, and uscharin.
Uses described in Literature
Plant extract is used as bronchodilator56; flower buds of Calotropis, along with black pepper seeds and salt, are crushed to make pills the size of small peas. Two pills are taken twice daily for 3 days to cure malaria57; and warmed leaves, smeared with oil, are applied on the aching part to alleviate rheumatic pain58. ‘Muscle & Joint Rub’11 is a highly effective ointment for backaches, muscular sprains, and joint pains. ‘Arkavaleha’59, made from this plant, is given to cure irritation of the stomach, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, etc. Eight patients were found on the medicinal uses mainly for anti-tumor and antidotal activity60, and bronchial asthma61.
The plant is toxic and is one of the few plants not consumed by grazing animals. Due to its toxicity, the latex extracted from the stem was traditionally used to make poison arrows. The extracts from different parts of the ark plant are of much healing value.
The whole plant when discharged and consumed is a good tonic, anthelmintic, and an expectorant. The roots together being endowed with similar qualities serve as an effective laxative.
Traditionally the treated root is powdered and effectively used to cure bronchitis, asthma, leprosy, eczema, and eleventhiasis. The ark latex is processed and finds use in treating vertigo, baldness, hair fall, toothaches, intermittent fevers, rheumatoid/joint swellings, and paralysis. Leaves of the ark are heated in oil and are of much medicinal value in treating joint pain and in reduction, it’s waving.
Besides Ayurveda, Homeopathy also makes use of Calotropis as medicine. The pungent latex extracted from the leaves and flowers of Calotropis Procera is processed and used in the commercial preparation of eye tonics. The alcoholic extracts of the plants have known to induce spermicidal and anti-microbial properties as well.
Seeds of Apple of Sodom, Calotropis procera, a tree in the desert
A study on the ovariectomized female rats with the alcoholic extract of Calotropis procera is known to stimulate the estrogenic activity in the reproductive tract. This was evident from the increased protein content and increased the uterine weight of the target animal under study. In addition, there was an alteration in the biochemical environment of the track which probably leads to antifertility.
The inner bark of Calotropis is used to make strong fibers called madar and is used to make weave carpets, rods, sewing thread, and fishing nets.
However the side effects of its consumption it is reported to have caused blisters, lesions, and eruptions when consumed by patients in the treatment of joint pains and gastrointestinal ailments. The preparations of Calotropis Procera is to be used under the careful surveillance of a capable medical practitioner. Calotropis is home to many insects.
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