Asthma, also known as bronchial asthma, is a major non-communicable disease and affects adults and children. Inflammation and narrowing of the airways in the lungs cause asthma. Shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing are common symptoms. It has multiple causes as allergy and nonallergic. Onset wise it has two major types like pediatric asthma and adult asthma. Sometimes occupation, exercise and environment also play important roles. To treat this disease bronchodilators, anti-inflammatory medicines and inhaler therapy are available from the allopathic side in the market. It is seriously affecting the world population that’s why WHO is committed to improving the diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of asthma to reduce the global burden of non-communicable diseases and make progress towards universal health coverage.
In Ayurveda, many drugs and formulations are mentioned in different classical texts. Acharya Charak has described Swasa hara Dashemani in Mahakashay Gana (Ch. Su.4). They included Shati, Pushkarmula, Amlavetasa, Ela, Hingu, Agaru, Surasa, Tamalaki, Jivanti and Chanda in this group. Here I am going to elaborate on the drug Pushkarmula from this group which is also referred to in Agrya gana by Acharya Charak. Ch.Su.25.
Botanical name is Inula racemosa belongs to family Asteraceae. In Hindi it is called as Pokharmul and in English, it is called as Elicampane. In Ayurvedic texts, many synonyms are attributed to this drug like Padmapatra, Kashmir (shows its habitat at the Himalayan region) and Kustha bheda (similar to other drugs Kustha- Saussurea lappa), Svasari (useful in Svasrog), Sugandhikam (aromatic). This plant is a native of the western Himalayas, Nepal, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
In the Indian market many times it is replaced with another drug Kustha which one is Saussurea lappa botanically and belongs to the same family. It is difficult to identify both these samples morphologically, but some microscopic characters can help us to define the original one. Iris germanica, Inula royeliana and Hedichyum spicatum are also reported as adulterants of Pushkarmula.
It is a tall, stout herb. Stem 30-150cm high, rough, and grooved. Leaves are leathery, rough above, densely hairy beneath, crenate. Flowers in heads/racemes, very large 3 to 5cm in diameter. Fruit achene, slender, hairless. Useful part is the root. This plant has been introduced as an ornamental plant and medicinal herb in many countries. The roots are widely used as an expectorant and as a tonic in veterinary medicine.
Alantolactone, isoalantolactone, inunolide, inunolise, alantodiene etc are major chemical constituents available in this plant.
Acharya Charak has included this drug in Swash har and Hikkanigrahana groups. It has properties like Tikta, Katu rasa, Veerya Ushna, Vipak Katu and Guna is Laghu and Tikshna. It is indicated for Hikka, Kasa, Svasa, Parsvasula, Hrdroga, Shotha, Adhmana and Pandu. Research studies also show it has antipyretic, sedative, antiviral, hepatoprotective, anti-asthmatic and antifungal properties.
पुष्कर्मूलं हिक्का कास श्वास पार्श्वशूलहराणाम्।
(चरक संहिता सूत्रस्थान २५).
As Acharya Charak has mentioned Pushkarmula is useful for diseases like Hikka (hiccup), Kasa (cough), Svasa (asthma) and Parsvashula(chest pain). In Kasa- Svasa its root powder should be administered with Dasamula kashaya. In Parsvasula (pain in sides) its powder is given with honey. Powder of Inula is used as tooth powder for toothache and various tooth diseases. External application of its powder is helpful for abscess and boils. This drug is used in different formulations like Ashav, Kashay and Churna. Its recommended dose is 1-3 g for adult people.