Medical Reviewer: Dr Surabhi Rawat
The term “Ayurveda” might not have an ‘S’ but if it did, it would stand for Sariva. Sariva, or Hemidesmus indicus, is considered as ‘the healing herb’. Owing to its uncountable benefits, the medicinal world adores (if not worships) the shrub. It is commonly known as the Indian Sarsaparilla.
The shrub is native to South Asia. Sariva has aided the Ayurvedic medicine world for numerous years and still continues to do so. It is a Rasayana plant of Ayurveda. The uses are many if only one knows how to utilise it efficiently.
Sariva – Classification And Characteristics
Sariva Family – Apocynaceae
Sariva Botanical name – Hemidesmus Indicus
Sariva, Asphota, Utpala, Sariva, Shyama, Krsodari, Canadana, Gopi, Gopavalli, Ananta
Other common names: Uparsali, Kapuri
Varieties: Ayurvedic texts provide extremely detailed insight into Sariva. They mention two varieties of the herb – Shveta Sariva or White variety and Krishna Sariva (Cryptolepis buchanani and/or Ichnocarpus frutescens).
Sariva, as stated above, finds applications in lots of areas. This is because of the harmonious balance of chemicals it contains. These chemicals serve many medicinal purposes. Some chief chemicals/compounds found are:
- B- Sitosterol
Here is how even an untrained eye can identify Sariva plant:
- Roots – Woody, Aromatic
- Stem – Numerous, terete, slender and thick at nodes
- Leaves – Opposite, variable, with short petioles
- Flowers – Greenish exterior, purplish interior
Every single element in the Ayurveda universe possesses certain properties or traits. Sariva is no exception to this rule. Having identified the physical characteristics of Sariva plant, let us identify the hidden traits. In Ayurvedic terms, overall traits of Sariva can be explained as mentioned below:
- Rasa or taste
Madhur i.e. Sweet;
Tikta i.e. Bitter
- Guna or qualities
Guru i.e. Heavy;
Snigdha i.e. Oily or Unctuous
- Vipaka i.e. Final result of the biotransformation of the Rasa
Madhura. It turns sweet after digestion.
- Veerya or Potency of the drug
Sheeta, i.e. Coolant.
Uses Of Sariva
Thus it goes without saying that the benefits of Sariva are endless. Due to the uncountable benefits, Sariva finds use in many forms to treat many disorders and ailments. Sariva uses for skin are endless as well. It can be used in various forms – Sariva powder, paste, syrup, etc.
There is a black variety of Hemidesmus Indicus as well. It is much similar in action and possesses similar properties. Hemidesmus indicus uses are as follows:
- Sangrahi (as an absorbent; extremely useful in fighting diarrhoea)
- Trushna (helps get rid of excessive thirst)
- Shishira (as an effective coolant)
- Kaphavatajit (balances out Kapha and Vata)
- Raktapittahara (effective in tackling bleeding disorders like menorrhagia, nasal bleeding, etc)
- Aruchi (useful in fighting anorexia disorder)
How Sariva Is Used?
Most widely used ‘recipe’ :
Part of the herb utilised – Sariva root
Chief ingredients – Sariva root paste (5g), Sariva root powder (1-3g), water (50-100ml)
How it’s used – a decoction is prepared using Sariva and water.
Ayurveda puts Sariva to use in various different medicines. These medicines are known to cure the ailments and do away with the disorders easily and are much safer than artificial medicines full of artificial synthetic chemicals and compounds. Following are some Ayurvedic medicines that contain this herb, along with their uses:
- Sarivadi Vati – It is an Ayurvedic tablet used in the treatment of hearing problems like tinnitus, ear infections, etc.
- Sarivadyasava – This medicine is known to battle and relieves patients of gout. It cures certain skin diseases as well.
- Manasamitra Vatakam – This medicine is used to cure people suffering from speech impediments. It is also advised to treat mild to severe depression and many psychiatric disorders. However, it is to be understood that it doesn’t “cure” depression, but reduces the production of neurotransmitters that cause depression.
- Maha Manjishtadi Kashayam – This medicine targets skin diseases in particular and gets rid of them. It is also useful in the treatment of syphilis and some non-healing wounds.
- Mathala Rasayanam – This is used to treat diseases like common cold, cough, asthma, etc associated with the respiratory system. It treats several bleeding disorders as well.
- Maha Vishagarbha Taila – This is an excellent medicine for the treatment of sciatica, tinnitus, stiffness in joints, etc.
- Pregnant women, who have a tendency for abortion, are given Sariva.
Benefits Of Sariva
Sariva’s application in the field of medicines is due to its medicinal properties. Our ancestors realised it and counted it amongst important ayurvedic herbs. These properties are exhibited due to the fact that this seemingly still herb has non-stop chemical activities going on inside them. Some major medicinal properties of Sariva are:
- Anti-leucorrhea (helps fight vaginal discharge)
- Anti-rheumatic (used in case of rheumatoid arthritis)
- Aromatic (smells really good)
- Aphrodisiac (sexual desire inducing)
- Carminative (flatulence reliever)
- Demulcent (irritation reliever)
- Expectorant (treats coughs, promotes sputum secretion)
- Febrifuge (fever-reducing)
- Galactogenic (stimulates production and flow of milk)
Going by the classical norms, here’s how many properties of the herb are highlighted:
- Kushtahara – It is extremely useful in combating skin diseases.
- Jvarahara – It is useful in fighting a fever.
- Mehanashana – It fights diabetes and many disorders related to the urinary tract.
- Kanduhara – It is useful to relieve itching.
- Durgandha nashana – It helps get rid of bad odour.
- Atisarahara – It helps fight bad diarrhoea and dysentery.
- Amahara – It relieves Ama, which is an outcome of changed metabolism and indigestion.
- Vishapaha – It is anti-toxic in nature.
- Shukrala – It improves sperms – both quantitatively and qualitatively.
- Agnisada – It is extremely helpful for people to have weak digestion.
- Shvasa, Kasahara – If a person is suffering from respiratory ailments, cough, cold, or asthma, it is extremely helpful.
- Pradaranut – It helps patients fight menorrhagia.
Hence, it is only obvious that this herb has not one or two, but many benefits. This is precisely why Charaka Samhita, an extensive and invaluable piece of Ayurvedic literature, classifies and puts Sariva amongst various different groups of herbs, namely –
- Jvarahara (fever-fighting herbs),
- Stanya shodhana (herbs responsible for cleansing and detoxification of breast milk)
- Madhura skandha (herbs that taste madhura or sweet)
- Pureesha Sangahaniya (herbs that are helpful in improving the bulk of faeces)
- Daha Prashamana (herbs that are helpful in relieving burning sensation)
One of the chief highlights of Hemidesmus Indicus benefits is that it is an efficient Tridoshanashaka, i.e. it balances out Tridosha; it is exemplary in balancing the three doshas – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
Some popular Sariva medicines can be prepared at home as well. For example –
#1. Sariva Sharbat
Sariva sarbath also referred to as Sarsaparilla sharbat, is a popular homemade drink that has the goodness of Sariva/Indian Sarsaparilla. Like any other sharbat/juice, it is generally served chilled.
- Sariva (100g approx.)
- Sugar/jaggery (400g approx.)
- Water (1 litre)
Method of preparation:
- Take about 100g of Sariva and add 1-litre water to it.
- Mix them completely and then filter out the residue.
- Add about 400g of sugar or jaggery to the above mixture. Stir.
- Boil the mixture on a medium flame, constantly stirring it as you go. Continue it till the mixture gets dense and attains thick consistency, that of a syrup.
- Stop heating, take the syrup and let it cool down.
- Once cooled down, store the syrup in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
It is generally advised to refrigerate the bottle. Even if it’s not refrigerated, it can easily last up to 3-4 months.
How to consume: Mix half a cup of Sariva syrup with half a cup of chilled water. Drink. Some also like to consume it with hot water.
Benefits: It is a natural coolant. In the scorching summer heat, the sharbat cools your body and hydrates you. It is low in calories and has the benefits of Sariva.
In cases of Leptospirosis or certain diseases caused by rat poison, this herb can be used. It tackles the ailments and relieves the patient.
- Peel off the outer skin of the rootstock of Sariva.
- This is followed by preparation of a thick paste of the peeled root.
- Make the paste into multiple small boluses.
How to consume: The bolus is consumed with pure cow’s milk for 21 days, without any day off.
Benefits: It cures Urinary Tract Infections (UTI), dysuria, leucorrhoea, burning sensation, cough, skin diseases, etc.
#3. Cure For Burning Micturition And Yellowish Urine
It can be used to cure unbearable micturition and yellow urine.
Ingredients: Root, milk.
Instructions: A decoction is prepared; milk is boiled with Sariva.
How to consume: 25ml of the decoction is consumed daily, twice a day.
Side Effects of Sariva
It is one of the very few Ayurvedic herbs that have the least to no side-effects at all. However, it is necessary to consume it with caution. While too little dosage might turn out to be ineffective, the excess dosage can have certain side-effects.
- Excess consumption may lead to mild stomach irritation.
- Pregnant women must consider a skilled practitioner before consuming Sariva.
- It is considered safe to consume the herb during lactation.
- It is safe for children as well.
- While it doesn’t interact with homoeopathic medicines, Sariva might interact with certain other medicines. It is generally not advised to take allopathic medicines and ayurvedic medicines together. There should be a considerable gap between the consumption of the two (at least 30 minutes).
There are no other side-effects associated with Sariva. It is safe to consume for all. All you need to do is take care of the dosage.
It is sold professionally by –
There are many other sellers available online. However, one must do some background research before buying and make sure that the seller is authentic and credible enough. Avoid falling for fraudulent products and websites.
Hemidesmus Indicus indeed is a prized possession of the treasure trove of Ayurveda and it is especially useful for women health. Its various uses, endless benefits, coupled with zero side-effects makes it the perfect medicine. Ayurvedic practitioners stress upon the use and preach as well as practise the same. Not only is it extremely easy to use, but also readily available. However, it is generally advised to consider a practitioner in order to enjoy the benefits to the fullest.
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