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Herb Information
Name: Arka
Biological Name: Calotropis gigantea, Asclepias gigantea

Asclepiadaceae family

Other Names: Gigantic Swallowort, Aka, Arka, Akado, Akanda, Akda, Akra, Alarka, Arbre-a-Soie, Arkamu, Badabadam, Byclospa, Ekke, Ekkemal, Erikka, Erikku, Erukku, Jilledu, Khok, Khark, Madar, Mandara, Mandaramu, Mudar, Surya pattra, Yercum

This Ayurvedic herb, abounding in milky juice, is found in parts of India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malay Islands, and South China. It is found mainly in wastelands.


Various principles of the Calotropis bark and sap are:

bulletMadar alban
bulletMadar fluavil
bulletblack acid resin
bullet Caoutchouc (free)
bullet yellow bitter resins (active principles)
bullet Akundarin

The root-bark from the older plants has a higher percentage of acrid and bitter resinous matters than that from the younger plants. Therefore, the older the plant the more active is its bark in its effects.

This drug is acting like digitalis on the heart. The physiologically active substance is found in the milky juice of the plant.

Parts Used: Root, root-bark, leaves, inspissated juice and flowers.
Medicinal Applications 

This herb acts like digitalis on the heart.

The root-bark: mucilaginous, bitter, alterative (when used at the rate of 3 to 10 grains thrice daily), tonic, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, purgative, expectorant, and in large doses emetic (when used at the rate of 30 to 60 grains/day).

This herb increases secretions (especially the evacuation of bile) and has a sedative action on the muscular fibers of the intestines, (especially the colon and the rectum), allaying all pain, and irritation. It is thus very useful for relieving all dysenteric symptoms. Useful for leprosy, syphilis, dysentery and elephantiasis. Also useful in the cure of epilepsy, hysteria, fits, convulsions and paralysis.

It is a great remedy for syphilitic affections. It is called 'vegetable mercury' because of this reputation. 

The herb is useful for fevers because of its antiperiodic and diaphoretic actions. Other uses include: bile secretion, heart diseases (used like digitalis), parasitic infection, difficult/painful urination, abdominal disorders, hemorrhoids, and edema.

Flowers: digestive, stomachic, and tonic. When given internally in small doses, it stimulates the capillaries and acts powerfully upon the skin. Hence, it is useful for elephantiasis, and leprosy. The flowers also has beneficial effect on asthma. 

Juice: caustic, a purge for phlegm, depilatory, and the most acrid of all milky juices. It has emetic, diaphoretic, alterative and purgative properties. 

Milky juice is a violent purgative and gastrointestinal irritant. In India, it has been used illegally for inducing abortion or causing the death of new-born infants, by forcing it down the throat or applied locally, usually a stick smeared with the juice is pushed up into the uterus and left there until uterine contractions are induced. In some parts of India if is also used as a cattle poison.

Leaves and branches : anesthesia, paralysis, resolvent, toxic asthma.

All parts of the plant are considered to have valuable alterative properties when taken in small doses. 

Action and Uses in Ayurveda and Siddha

lndications: arsas, gulmam, kapodaram, kandu, kushtum, vishim, vranam.

Red flowers: arsas,  grahi, gulmam, kaphaharm, krimi, in kushtam, madhura in raktapittam,  rasam, sodam, tikta rasam.

Flowers: aphrodisiac, in aruchi, dipanim, kasam, lagu, pachanam, swasam

Milk: lagu, snigdam, tikshnam, ushnam, virechanam, indication in 

Action and Uses in Unani

 aches, antheimintic, balgham, caustic, dropsy, piles, skin

Other Uses

Arka is a main ingredient of Arka Tailam, an ayurvedic herbal oil. This oil is useful in eczema and eruptive skin diseases. It relieves the pain and burning  in scorpion and insect bites. It is used by women for removing hair from parts of body. It is a useful local application for the relief of painful joints and swellings, and for ringworm of the scalp.


Inspissated juice 1-2 grs. 
Root-bark 1-5 grs
Juice of the leaves 1 to 5 drops.

Preparations. Paste or emulsion, Pills and powder of root, and leaves. Ash and fluid extract of leaves and oil.


CAUTION: This herb is poisonous.

Do not use while pregnant. Use this herb only under the supervision of a qualified professional.

No other information is available on its side reactions.

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