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Terminalia arjuna

Terminalia arjuna (Arjuna) is a tree that has its bark used medicinally, usually for the purposes of cardioprotection. It appears to reduce pressure and pulse rate, and may increase aerobic exercise capacity.

Our evidence-based analysis on terminalia arjuna features 84 unique references to scientific papers.

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Summary of Terminalia arjuna

Primary Information, Benefits, Effects, and Important Facts

Terminalia Arjuna (usually simply referred to as Arjuna) is a tree bark that is used medicinally in Ayurveda for the purposes of cardiovascular health pertaining to the heart itself. It has a large variety of bioactives, with the water extract showing promise at improving left ventricle function of the heart without any observable toxicity of side effects when taken at 500mg thrice a day (every 8 hours).

There are numerous human studies conducted on Arjuna bark, although many of them are low in sample size. Nevertheless, the water extract appears to be effective in improving cardiac function in persons who have recently undergone cardiac trauma or injury; Myocardial Infarction is the most commonly researched ailment in this regard. Only one study exists on otherwise healthy persons, but Arjuna showed benefit in improving left ventricle function in an exercise test and the benefits may affect a person regardless of health state.

In animal models, this extract appears to exert protection on cardiac tissue in response to various cardiac insults including beta(2)adrenergic agonists (like ephedrine, although isoproterenol was used in the studies) and catecholamines themselves.

The water extract appears to be effective for improving cardiovascular health, particularly at the level of left ventricle function. The studies in humans are underpowered at this moment in time and only one in healthy humans (preliminary evidence), but all evidence appears to be promising and in the same positive direction. The water extract appears to be quite safe

Other extracts such as ethanolic or acetone, with different bioactives, may not have similar cardioprotective effects (no human trials, but some in vitro evidence suggesting the bioactives are not in these extracts) yet appear to be somewhat cancer protective. Tumor growth in animal models is reduced with either the ethanolic extract or isolated Arjunolic Acid (commonly seen as the main bioactive) as is reduced DNA damage in response to mutagens, and these are attributed to the antioxidative capacity of Arjuna which is comparable to Vitamin C on a per weight basis. Due to the anti-cancer effects of the ethanolic extract having some cytotoxic properties, and LD50 has actually been established with this extract and it is possible that side-effects may occur. Additionally, the anti-cancer evidence is somewhat limited as although cytotoxicity has been established in cancer cells a lack of evidence exists to assess healthy cells (a good anti-cancer drug will be highly selective in killing cancer cells, which Arjuna does, and not healthy cells, which Arjuna has not been sufficiently tested for).

Other possible uses of Arjuna include ulcer protection in the stomach with potency similar to Rantidine in one study (associated with the ethanolic extract), protection to the liver and kidney likely mediated by antioxidative properties (ethanolic extract) and the cardiovascular properties may increase anaerobic cardiovascular performance in healthy persons (with the one study using sprinting as a test) although this last claim has a lone study in support of it and no replication.

Ethanolic extracts have potent antioxidative and potentially potent anticancer effects, but although there are no reported side effects with the ethanolic extracts currently (due to a lack of human interventions) it is theoretically plausible that higher than recommended doses could be harmful related to the anticancer effects (cytotoxicity)

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How to Take

Medical Disclaimer

Recommended dosage, active amounts, other details

A standard dose for the purposes of cardiac health appears to be 500mg of the bark (water extract) taken daily in the morning without food (no evidence exists to suggest that taking it with food is bad or anything). For persons who suffered cardiac trauma (such as Myocardial Infarction), this dose tends to be taken thrice a day every 8 hours

The leaf extracts and ethanolic extracts appear to be more related to the cytotoxic and anti-tumor effects, but not enough evidence exists to recommend an active dose of these extracts for human consumption.

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Human Effect Matrix

The Human Effect Matrix looks at human studies (it excludes animal and in vitro studies) to tell you what effects terminalia arjuna has on your body, and how strong these effects are.
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
Notes
grade-c Minor - See study
Able to increase intermittent sprint performance
grade-c Minor Very High See 2 studies
Appears to increase LVEF in person suffering from cardiovascular ailments; preliminary evidence suggests that this is not limited to myocardial infarction
grade-c Minor - See study
Appears to reduce mitral regurgitation in persons with cardiac complications
grade-c Minor - See study
Power output has been noted to be increased in sprint tests, which is thought to be secondary to pulmonary effects of terminalia
grade-d Minor - See study
A decrease in cardiac mass has been noted in persons who suffered heart failure and were given Terminalia Arjuna
grade-d - - See study
No significant influence on liver enzymes during standard testing of safety

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Things to Note

Is a Form Of

Other Functions:

Primary Function:

Also Known As

Arjuna, Dhavala, Kakubha, Nadisarja, Veeravriksha, Partha, Indradru

Goes Well With

  • Ashwagandha (appears to benefit cardiovascular function on parameters that Arjuna does not, and combination therapy in health persons has at once been shown to confer additive benefits to exercise capacity with both being effective in isolation)

  • The water extract (used for cardiovascular health) and ethanolic/acetone extracts (used for cancer prevention and antioxidant purposes) are markedly different and, for all intents and purposes, should be treated as different supplements

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Click here to see all 84 references.