In ayurvedic medicine, Terminalia arjuna is one of the most widely prescribed herbs for treating cardiovascular problems. It has been found that the bark of arjuna tree encloses valuable substances, including tannins, calcium salts, magnesium salts and glucosides. The bark of the tree is considered to be an energizer, a tonic and an astringent and is extensively used to heal hemorrhages, dysentery, diarrhea, edema, and skin disorders as well as bone fractures. Apart from the above mentioned remedial properties of the arjuna bark, studies have found it to possess antimutagenic and antibacterial properties. The medical condition specific benefits of using herbal medications are discussed in brief below. Angina, Congestive Heart Failure and Heart Attack: The basic advantage of using Terminalia arjuna is enhancement of the functioning of the cardiac muscles as well as augmented pumping actions of the heart. It is generally thought that saponin glycosides contained in the herb are responsible for the positive impacts caused by administering medications prepared with arjuna in treatment of several conditions, especially those related to the cardiovascular system. Arjuna encloses oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs) and flavonoids, which facilitate reinforcement of the blood vessels and simultaneously possess antioxidant actions. In fact, the herb is extensively used in the treatment of heart failure and edema (extreme build-up of serous fluid in tissue spaces or a body cavity), especially in the ankles and legs as the heart is unable to circulate adequate amount of blood to these body parts. During a study conducted over three months on angina patients taking arjuna, Indian medical practitioners pursued several health indicators, such as high density lipoprotein (HDL or 'good' cholesterol) cholesterol, blood pressure as well as the rate of angina attacks endured by the subjects. In general, these physicians found that the patients experienced around 50 per cent decrease in the rate of angina attacks having lesser systolic blood pressure and somewhat enhanced levels of HDL cholesterol. It was also found that during the initial three months of treatment with arjuna, the herb provided comparatively lesser relief from the condition when angina was unstable in the patients. Nevertheless, a double-blind research conducted with arjuna on angina patients for the duration of more that 24 months resulted in decreased symptoms, enhanced movements by the patients, who asserted that they experienced an improvement in their quality of life. It has been confirmed that the habitual use of Terminalia arjuna for a minimum period of one year will fortify as well as maintain the heart in its best health. Gonorrhea: Studies undertaken by scientists at the Arizona State University have ascertained that a bio-available compound present in Terminalia arjuna - luteolin, is effective in combating Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the bacterium responsible for developing this sexually transmitted disease (STD). The influence of luteolin may also aid in explicating the effectiveness of the herb in the treatment of heart ailments, as an associated microorganism known as Chlamydia is likely to be associated in the development of atherosclerosis (a widespread ailment of the arteries wherein raised areas of deterioration and cholesterol deposits plaques form on the internal surfaces of the arteries hindering blood circulation). In fact, Terminalia arjuna functions as a biological maintenance agent for the heart. The herb endorses the usual functioning of the heart, provides energy to the heart muscles, sustains the functioning of platelet as well as maintains the normal blood pressure level. That the herb possesses properties that can regulate cholesterol levels in the blood stream is evident from the fact that arjuna has the aptitude to encourage the lipid absorption by the blood. Overall, the herb is effective in sustaining the health of the heart and thereby, diminishes the consequences of anxiety and uneasiness on the heart. Herbal medicine practitioners in ancient India utilized the dried and pulverized bark of arjuna tree to provide relief from the excruciating chest pain caused by 'hristshool' or angina as well as other cardiovascular problems. The bark of Terminalia arjuna encloses vast amounts of flavonoids, glycosides, tannins and other valuable minerals. It has been established that flavonoids are responsible for anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and lipid lessening effects. Similarly, glycosides present in the arjuna bark serve as a tonic or stimulant for the heart. Hence, these therapeutic properties possessed by Terminalia arjuna makes it an exceptional medicinal plant among all the herbs used by physicians currently. This review of the remedial properties of Terminalia arjuna endeavours to deliberate on different characteristics of the herb's pharmacognostical, ethnomedical, pharmacological, phytochemical and clinical significance or consequences vis-�-vis the different cardiovascular conditions. Several investigational researches undertaken with Terminalia arjuna have shown that the bark of the tree wielded noteworthy inotropic and hypotensive influence enhancing the flow of blood in the coronary artery and simultaneously protecting the heart muscles or the myocardium against ischemic discharges or secretions caused by poor blood supply to the heart muscles. In addition, the arjuna bark has also been found to possess moderate diuretic, prostaglandin E2 augmenting, antithrombotic (protecting against thrombosis) and hypolipidaemic (disorders caused owing to poor levels of lipids in blood stream) actions. In fact, researchers have several clinical verifications of the fact that the bark of arjuna alone possesses valuable remedial properties that are effective for treating coronary artery disease. In addition, this herb may also be used effectively in combination with statins to cure coronary heart problems. Many scientists are of the view that taking into account the herb's anti-ischemic actions and its capability to improve dyslipidemia (a medical condition distinguished by abnormal concentrations of lipids or lipoproteins in the blood), decrease left ventricular mass and augment left ventricular ejection fraction, there is a need to undertake further in-depth investigative studies regarding the actions of arjuna when taken in combination with statins. Substantiating their view, these scientists assert that this is essential to ascertain the precise role of arjuna in the general administration as well as prevention of coronary artery disease.
Arjuna is available commercially in the form of capsules. In fact, ayurvedic medications containing Terminalia arjuna are prepared by combining approximately more than 30 herbs that are also known to be effective for the health of the cardiovascular system. It is important to note that arjuna has a very potent effect on the muscles of the heart and, hence, it should be taken to treat angina or congestive heart failure only after checking with a qualified medical practitioner.