Syed Akbar Sita-Ashoka or true Ashoka is a highly revered tree in Indian traditions. It has beenassociated with the Ramayana and the life of Goutam Buddha. Ayurveda and Unanipractitioners regard it as a miracle tree for women, since most of its medicinalproperties solve many gynaecological issues. Here is a word of caution. Sita-Ashoka, scientifically called Saraca indica or Saracaasoca, is a true Ashoka tree mentioned in the ancient Indian, Arab and Greek medicaltexts. It should not be confused with the false Ashoka tree (Polyalthia longifolia)largely grown in parks and on road dividers in cities. The true Ashoka is a small treewhile the false Ashoka grows much taller. Though the medicinal properties of Sita-Ashoka have been known for ages, it’s onlyrecently that they have been scientifically validated. Its leaves, bark and flowers areused in traditional systems of medicine in several parts of the world. Its propertiesinclude fighting tumours, excessive or irregular bleeding in women during monthly cyclesor bleeding resulting from fibroids in uterus, and controlling infections. According to a recent study by Dr P Pradhan and others from Rajasthan, Saraca is capableof killing different organisms such as Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli, Salmonellatyphosa, Staphylococcus aureus, (plant pathogen) and Agrobacterium tumefaciens. The team found that the anticancer principle from Saraca flowers indicated 50 per centcytotoxicity (in vitro), with no activity against normal lymphocytes but preferentialactivity for lymphocytes derived from leukemia patients. ------------------- Quick remedies ------------------- Readymade Ashoka extracts and tonics are available in the market, but before purchase oneshould make it sure that they are not adulterated with derivatives from false Ashoka tree. Women with the problem of irregular or excessive bleeding may try the decoction obtainedfrom the bark of Ashoka. The decoction should be prepared fresh everyday beforeconsuming. It should be taken during the periods to check excessive loss of blood.Herbalists generally suggest that along with water a little quantity of milk can be usedto obtain decoction from the bark. A teaspoon may be taken twice daily. Dysentery is often accompanied by blood. Those who notice blood may try the Ashoka barkdecoction. They may also try the dried flowers of Ashoka.Herbal medicine practitioners also recommend Ashoka dried flowers for diabetics tomaintain their blood sugar levels within the prescribed limits. More importantly, Ashoka extracts are sold as “female tonic” to keep the womenreproductive system in healthy condition. The decoction of Saraca bark is also used in treating bleeding piles.