Varuna is and Ayurvedic name for the Crataeva nurvala plant that belongs to the Capparidaceae family. Native to Bangladesh and India, varuna is now spread throughout the temperate zones of the world. The plant grows as a small tree reaching up to 30 feet high. The light brown bark has crack marks, and the purple or yellowish branches are dotted with white spots. The tree blooms in spring months, producing yellow flowers, and the lemon-like fruits appear is summer. They later turn red when ripening. And in late summer varuna tree loses its foliage.
The genus gets its name in honor Greek botanist Crataevus, who studied the herb.
Varuna prefers growing in moist soils, along the rivers and water sources. In India it's found in Bengal, Assam, Kerela and Madhya Pradesh. The plant is also tolerant to dry conditions and produces the trees in boulder dry grounds of sub-Himalayan zones.
Active medicinal compounds are concentrated in varuna's stem bark, root bark and leaves. The preparations based on leaves extracts are applied for external conditions (wounds, abscess, rheumatic joint pain); herbal extracts of bark are good against urinary disorders and gastric conditions, and the root possesses lithontriptic and laxative properties.
Varuna extracts should be prepared according to the Ayurvedic traditions to be effectively and safely used. The most common traditional forms are tincture and tea based on the plant's extract. The herb is also commercially available in pills, capsules and decoction.
Lupeol is the basic chemical isolated from varuna. It is proved to be an effective agent in treating urinary tract disorders – increased concentration of oxalate, urolithiasis, and inflammation. It also provides analgesic activity. Other potent chemicals found in the plant include glucosinolates, tannins, triterpenes, flavonoids and saponins. Varuna is used in herbal medicine as anti-inflammatory, diuretic, antilithic (dissolving urinary stones) and tonic herb.
For years varuna's primary use has been that for urinary tract, prostate and kidney conditions. The active chemicals in plant's bark work by reducing inflammation of the urinary system, relieving symptoms of painful urination both in cystitis and enlarged prostate, dissolving urinary sand and purifying the urinary tract. For more than 3000 years Ayurvedic medicine has used varuna for dissolving kidney stones and inhibiting the glycolate oxidase enzyme, which reduces oxalate formation. Combined with calcium, it forms kidney stones.
By treating the dysfunction of prostate, varuna enhances male potence and generally improves sexual health.
Anti-inflammatory properties of the herb are applied for the variety of conditions. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis use topical applications based on varuna leaves extract for reducing swelling and pain of inflamed joints. The leaves are also beneficial for weight loss when cooked as a vegetable.
Decoction of varuna skin is used as a general tonic that purifies blood, reduces body fat and relieves abdominal pain and flatulence. Its laxative properties are beneficial for indigestion, and the herb is known to be good for fighting intestinal worms and helminthiasis.
Varuna is also known for its appetizer qualities and hence is suggested for the patients with anorexia.
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