Arjuna, or Terminalia arjuna, is a tall evergreen plant with light yellow flowers and cone-shaped leaves. The bark of the arjuna tree has been used historically in Ayurveda to treat a variety of ailments. It is well tolerated by most people; although mild side effects such as gastric disturbance, headache and body pain have been reported. Arjuna may also interfere with certain prescription medications; hence, it is very important to talk to a doctor before using arjuna herb for any of the following health benefits.
A scientific correspondence published in the January 2008 edition of the journal "Current Science" states that arjunetin, a component of the bark of arjuna plant, possesses significant antibacterial activity against bacteria such as Staphylococcus epidermidis in the laboratory. However, more research has to be done to prove these benefits in actual clinical cases and until then, this herb should be used only under the supervision of a physician.
Drugs.com states that 500 mg of arjuna herb every eight hours can reduce angina or chest pain and increase exercise capacity in patients with cardiovascular diseases. In fact, it may be as effective isosorbide mononitrate, the most common drug used to treat angina. An animal study published in the July 2000 edition of "Pharmacy and Pharmacology Communications" also indicates that arjuna extracts may significantly reduce the serum cholesterol levels in rats by rapid excretion of bile acids, which in turn leads to increased absorption of cholesterol by the liver to make more bile acids. Although, arjuna has been used to treat heart disease since ancient times, it is best to consult a health care provider before using it to avoid complications.
Arjuna bark extracts can also induce programmed death of cancerous liver cells in the laboratory by initiating DNA damage in the tumorous cells, a researcher reported on a study in the February 2006 edition of "World Journal of Gastroenterology." Similar effects may be seen in humans as well. It may, however, not replace your existing cancer medications, and remember to talk to your doctor before using it.
According to another study published in the April-June 2006 edition of the "Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology," arjuna bark extracts also exhibit antioxidant activity and protect the body cells and organs from the harmful effects of free radicals. Free radicals are formed as a result of various metabolic processes in the body. They are unstable molecules that interact with the proteins and DNA of the human cells and damage them. Arjuna bark extracts interact with these free radicals and stabilize them. However, as with other benefits, it is important to consult a physician before using arjuna herb as an antioxidant.