Devadaru is Sanskrit is a name for a medicinal tree which is used for Ayurvedic medication since ages in India. While it’s Botanical name is Cedrus Deodara (thickest known tree of Pinaceae family), it’s also called Himalayan Cedar by layman’s name in English. Origins of its Sanskrit name are explained in 2 words- Dev meaning Divine/ Godly and Daru means Tree. It’s also called Suradaru in Sanskrit which means “the one which grows in the land of Gods”. This Divine Tree is native to the Indian subcontinent and also spread vastly over Western Himalayas including Pakistan.
Medicinal references to this tree are made in Ayurvedic works of literature of the Susrutasamhita and the Carakasamhita. In the medical literature from the 7th Century – Madhavachikitsa, it is mentioned to be highly useful in the treatment of all major fevers. Other benefits include treatment of neurological disorders, asthma, infested wounds, headache, fever, pruritus and arthritis.
Scientific name: Cedrus Deodara (Pinaceae family)
Devadara plant grows up to be a large coniferous evergreen tree which bears flowers, new leaves and fruits all year through and has a sweet fragrance surrounding it like a divine aura. Found at an altitude of 1200-3000 meters above sea level, leaves are long and needle-like (usually 2.5-5cms long) and shoot is long, single tough with a few dense clusters of short shoots emerging from it. Seeds are shed in the winter season and flowers bloom by September and October. Drained soil and high moisture are ideal for its growth. It needs ample space and sunlight to reach is grand growth potential. It’s extremely adaptable for growth in varied pH of soils.
It is mainly grown as an “Ornamental” tree in Europe and Western U.S owing to its beauty and its beautiful looking fruit is used for decorative purposes in houses.
In ancient times, Devadara forests have been a favourite place for practising meditation by Hindu Sages to please Hindu Lord Shiva. In Vedic times, various temples were made from its aromatic timber and incense made of the same was used there. It is said that sitting in its shade helps to cure Asthma and many other diseases. It is said that a Devdar tree can live for a thousand years or more.
The wood of the plant is bitter, slimy, light and hot in potency which is used to alleviate Vata disorders and Prameha (urinary disorders).
Uses Other Than Medicine:
- Its long singular shoot is ideal for making durable furniture due to its rot-resistant quality. It has been used to make religious temples and houseboats in the past.
- The inner core of the wood from Devadara is very aromatic and is cut to make Incense sticks.
- It is an Ornamental tree and the fruits are widely used for decorative purposes.
- Essential oil is also extracted from the inner wood and used as an insect repellent on the feet of horses, camels and other kettles.
- Meats and food grains are stored and preserved in vessels made of Devadara due to its insect repelling quality.
- Antifungal qualities of Devadara make it ideal to control fungal infestation in spices.
- Soaps, perfumes, insecticides, household sprays and floor polishes are made from its essential oil.
Cedrus Deodara is the National tree of Pakistan.
Medicinal Properties of Devadara Tree
Major medicinal properties of Devadara plant are enumerated below:
- Anti-inflammatory (Shotha in Sanskrit): reduces swelling and inflammation. Leaves of the tree and oil extract from its wood have potent anti-inflammatory properties.
- Carminative: relieves flatulence.
- Diaphoretic: that which induces perspiration.
- Diuretic: that which induces urination.
- Antipyretic: cures all fevers.
- Anti-leprotic: that which is used to treat leprosy.
- Anti-allergic: Cedar heartwood powder is anti-allergic in nature.
- Anti-fungal: effective in killing the fungus.
- Expectorant: promotes the secretion of mucus from airways and relieves cough.
- Analgesic: Wood oil is used as a topical analgesic.
These actions make it useful in a wide variety of health conditions.
Devdaru Uses And Benefits
Various parts of the tree are used for a varied range of medicinal benefits like Deodar bark, heartwood, cedar oil, leaves and resin. Heartwood contains Terpenoids, Flavonoids and Glycosides as its main constituents.
Devadaru For Skin Disease And Wounds
- Anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties are helpful in treating pruritus and infested wounds by topical (external) application of Himalayan Cedar oil.
- Extracts from the oil of the wood have 2 constituents OCD and Benzyl Benzoate which are effective acaricides (kills ticks and mites) and are also effective against Sarcoptes skin infections like Scabies.
- Oil helps greatly to relieve pruritus (itching) in various skin diseases like psoriasis and many kinds of eczema.
- Oil extracted from the heart-wood, when taken orally in prescribed doses, purifies the blood and thus cures skin disease.
- The paste of Devdaru, Haldi (turmeric) and Guggulu mixed together is beneficial in treating indolent swellings. It is also used in the treatment of Leprosy.
- Cedarwood oil is also being used commercially as insecticidal against Housefly and pulse Beetles.
- Fungal skin diseases are also cured effectively.
- Oil is used externally and also orally for the treatment of Syphilis.
- Cedarwood essential oil works against secretion of excess sebum in sebaceous glands of the skin and hence prevents acne. 2 drops of this oil with 1ml of Almond oil is massaged on the face for a subtle glow on the face.
Devadaru For Neurological Disorders and Epilepsy
- Himalayan Cedar balances Vata dosha and hence useful in varied Neurological disorders.
- The alcoholic extract from the heartwood of C.Deodara plant exhibits an anti-convulsant property by acting on GABA levels in the nervous system. Studies on mice have shown an increase in onset of tonic-clonic seizures in PTZ (Pentylenetetrazole) and also decrease the time in tonic extensor phase in MEZ (Maximal Electro Shock).
- Wood oil is used to treat neuralgia (nerve pain) and paralysis.
- Devdarvyarishtham formulation improves peristaltic movements of the gut and helps in the more complete evacuation of stools and prevents the formation of Ama (toxins produced in the body due to the presence of undigested food which is the root of many diseases). Thus it is used to treat piles/haemorrhoids.
- Powder decoction from the Bark (not heartwood) is used to treat diarrhoea and dysentery.
The decoction made of wood powder or kashyam is used orally to treat fevers.
- The oil extract (which is a volatile liquid) from its wood has been used externally in the treatment of arthritis due to its potent anti-inflammatory quality. Helps relieve stiffness in arthritis and cervical spondylosis.
- Wood oil is potent anti-inflammatory as it stabilizes mast cell and inhibits leukotriene synthesis.
- Devdarwadi kwath is a formulation of Devdaru which is used to treat gout and rheumatism.
- The powder made from the heartwood of C.Deodara is beneficial in saving brain and nervous system from free radical damage due to its antioxidant property.
- Cedarwood essential oil is very rich in antioxidants, tightens the skin tissues and thus tones and illuminates the skin.
- Himachalol is a main constituent of the wood powder and has anti-allergic potential which is beneficial in Asthma. Running nose, hiccups and sinusitis are also relieved as they have allergic disease component.
Devadaru For Cough
- Balances Kapha dosha and is beneficial in controlling productive cough. Also prescribed in Tuberculosis.
- 1 drop of Cedarwood oil mixed with 1 drop of Davana oil when added in water for steam inhalation, helps in decongestion (expel out phlegm and mucus from the respiratory tract) of cough, cold, flu and sinusitis.
The oral formulation of Devdarvyarishtham is detoxifying to the body by improving liver function which in turn removes impurities from the blood. Infections of blood like sepsis; bleeding and vascular disorders are cured by Himalayan Cedar.
Urinary Tract Problems
- Chandraprabha vati and Devadarvarishta preparations of Deodaru are used to treat Urinary Tract problems like dysuria and pyuria.
- Ancient medical literature clearly mentions its use in Prameha (Obstinate Urinary Tract Diseases).
- The decoction of wood (Kashyam) is given to treat painful urination.
- Cedarwood essential oil has sedating and calming effects on the brain. It is prescribed in Aromatherapy for insomnia, depression, stress, anxiety and fear states. It acts by converting serotonin to melatonin in the brain which in turn relaxes nerves and soothes the muscles of the body.
- In aromatherapy, it relieves anxiety and increases the feeling of self-acceptance and security.
- Due to its calming capabilities, old Hindu sages used to meditate under Deodara trees. During Pranayama in Yoga practices and meditation, it helps in enriching divine thoughts and invigorating a connect with the heavenly power.
Oral and topical formulas containing Devadaru are used to treat backache after delivery and otherwise too.
When taken orally, certain preparations of Devadaru is beneficial for ovaries and uterine health. Certain active ingredients in C.Deodara stimulate the expulsion of the egg from the ovary. Thus it is being used for the treatment of Anovulation, Dysmenorrhea, Amenorrhoea, Leucorrhoea and sluggishness of uterus.
Charak Samhita has mentioned Udvartana (application and massage of its wood powder) for treating Obesity.
Hair Loss / Alopecia
Topically Cedarwood oil is being used as assistive therapy to cure alopecia by helping eliminate excessive dandruff, scalp irritation and promoting hair growth. It is also a great ingredient in various hair growth oils and an excellent anti-fungal quality (fungal infections are also one of the main cause of many types of hair loss problems).
A Tip: 3 drops of jatamansi oil and 3 drops of Cedarwood essential oils can be added to 5ml coconut oil and then massaged to the scalp for the above benefits.
How to Use Devadaru / Himalayan Cedar?
- Devadaru Kashyam is its powder which needs some preparation before application. 1 Tablespoon of heartwood powder is first mixed with 2 cups of water and then boiled till it is reduced to half cup by the evaporation process. The resultant liquid is then filtered and applied externally in a lukewarm temperature.
- In the ancient practice of Udvartana, powder and water is used to form a paste to be applied locally on affected areas to treat Obesity.
- Paste/ powder and oil forms of Devadaar are used by the external application.
- Deodar oil is also a rubefacient (generates heat like sensation on local application) and hence use in pain-relief oils and lotions.
- Cedarwood essential oil is formed by steam distillation of the wood. It is used both externally and in aromatherapy for varied benefits.
- Oil and sap of this tree is also being used externally for the treatment of psoriasis.
Medical Formulations Available For Use:
- Devdarvadi kashya: used in the treatment of body ache, asthma, cold and cough.
- Devadarvarishta: is a medical formulation with the main ingredient as Devdaru and has been used traditionally for use in diseases of Vata imbalances like Skin disease (especially associated with Diabetes and Diabetic neuropathy), digestive disorders and Urinary tract disorders like the difficult passage of urine.
- Anu oil (Anu Thailam): used in the treatment of sense organs above
- Pushkaramoolasav: also used in a respiratory disease like COPD (Chronic Obstructive Lung disease which includes Asthma and Bronchitis).
- Chandraprabha Vati: used for the treatment of diabetes, cough, asthma, rhinitis, piles, eczema and urinary tract infections.
- Maharasnadi Kashyam: is used mainly for Vata disorders as in Nervous system diseases like lower back pain, paraplegia, hemiplegia, neuralgia, neck pain and Parkinson’s disease.
- Devdarwadi kwath: is used for digestive ailments, gout, rheumatism and syphilis.
- Sahacharadi Kashyam: is used in relieving pain, especially in the hip and lower back regions.
Himalayan Cedar balances 2 Doshas: Vata and Kapha.
Bark powder: 1-5 grams.
Heartwood powder: the recommended dose is 3-6grams.
Kashya: decoction of wood is called Kashyam and is used in the range of 50-100ml per day in divided doses for various disease.
Oil: doses vary according to different preparations and disease e.g Anu oil 30-40 drops. White for cedarwood essential oils, doses may be lesser.
Devadarvyarishtam: 10-30 ml after food mixed in equal amounts of water once or twice a day. Usually given for 2weeks to 4 months duration.
Expiry date varies with different preparations and formulations of Cedrus Deodara e.g. Devdarvyarishtham expires after 10 yrs of manufacture while Chandraprabha Vati expires after 3 yrs.
So please refer to particular medicines for accurate details.
- Deodar wood chips
- Devdarvadi Kashya
- Devdar wood powder
- Chandraprabha Vati
- Cedarwood Essential oil
- Deep relax Aromatherapy oil – Mix of Cedarwood, vetiver and yin-yang
There are no major side effects of oil or powder forms of Cedrus Deodara in prescribed dosages. Oil and powders, when used topically, are usually safe in pregnant and lactating mothers however advice must be taken by a registered practitioner before using.
Oral formulations of Himalayan Cedar may cause some side effects. E.g. Devadarvarishtam in high doses causes gastritis.
- Always take oral medicine after food as it may lead to stomach upset in empty stomach in some individuals.
- People taking oral preparations of C.Deodara should be careful of pre-existing gastritis problems. Individuals with pre-existing gastric problems should start medication in low doses orally and then graduate up. Always take expert opinion before starting.
- Oral preparations may not be safe in pregnancy but acceptable in the lactation phase. Since Devadaru has emmenagogue (that which stimulates and increases menstrual flow) action and it acts of female hormones, pregnancy is not the right time to take it. So strict medical supervision is advisable.
- Devadaru has a Hot potency and so not advisable for people with aggravated Pitta dosha.
- Some Ayurvedic texts advice to avoid the use of Devdarvyarishtham in girls below 18 yrs of age.
- Its formulation of Chandraprabha vati contains salt during preparation and hence should be used with caution in patients with high Blood pressure.
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