NaturHeals - Medicinal Plant - 6 Oroxylum Indicum - Shyonaak - This is a Tree (Dashamoola Herb)

Medicinal plants have been used since time immemorial as a source of medicine. Plants as medicines are used in Ayurvedic, Allopathic, Greek, Islamic, and Chinese systems of medicine. During the past decade, the traditional systems of medicine have gained importance. Natural products have played a crucial role in the healthcare of humans since their evolution, and they continue to play an important role in the modern state of art therapeutic era.

One such plant is Oroxylum Indicum or Shyonaaka. 'Oros' in Greek means mountain, and 'Xylon' means wood or tree. 'Indicum' refers to the country of its origin, India. Shyonaak is one of the Dashmoola herbs and an important ingredient in Dashmoolarishtha, Brahma Rasayana, Narayan Taila, and Chyavanprash. This plant is also grown as an ornamental plant due to its strange looks. The sword-like fruits or twigs of Shyonaaka have been used by farmers to kill crabs in paddy fields. Tribals in Assam believe that pods of Shyonaak hung on kitchen walls or near the dining area help prevent choking while eating food. Flowers and fruits are used as a vegetable in Thailand. You get a yellow dye from the bark of the Shyonaak, which is rich in tannins.

Different Names of Shyonaak

The English names for Shyonaak are Midnight Horror (during dark nights when there is lightning and thunderstorms, the tree casts horrifying images), broken bones plant (the leaf stalks wither and fall off that resembles a broken limb bone), Indian trumpet flowers (flowers resemble a trumpet), Tree of Damocles (The long-podded fruits hang down from branches looking like dangling swords or sickles in the night), Indian Calosanthes, and Indian Caper.

In Hindi, the plant is called Sonapatha, Shallaka, Shyonak, Patrorna, Sauna, Son, Vatuk, Putivriksha, Shuran, Aralu, Urru, Dhirghavrinta, Bhut-Vriksha (Ghost Tree), Manduk, or Kutannat. In Sanskrit, it is called Nat, Katvanga, Shyonaka, Prithu Simba (fruits are flat and long), Sukanasa, Dirghavrinta, Tuntuka (the flowers are bell shaped), Kutannata, Mandukparana, Katammar, Patroma, Mayurjangha, Aralu, or Bhalluka. In Kannada, it is called Alangi, Ane-Mungu, Tattuna, Patagani, Bunepaale, Tigadu, or Sonepatta. In Gujarati, it is called Tentu. In Telugu, it is called Mandukaparamu, Dundilamu, Nemali, Chettu, Pampena, Suka-nasamu, or Pampini. In Bengali, it is called Sona (Gold), Sona Patha (inner layer of bark is golden yellow in color), Kani-Dingi, Khonha, Paharijora, Thona Gach, Hanghoal, Krong-Sa-Bang, Aklong-Singh, Kaak-Rakung, Naori Chilana, Kanai-Dingi, or Kharung. In Konkani, it is called Davamadak. In Tamil, it is called Cori-Konnai, Achi, Venga Maram, Arandei, Pana, Puta-Puspam, Palaiyutaicci, Peiarlanke, Peimaram, Vangam, Peruvaagai, or Palagaipayani. In Marathi, it is called Tayitu or Tetu; In Malayalam, it is called Vellapathiri, Vashrppathiri, or Palaqapayyani. In Assamese, it is called Dingdinga, Toguna, or Bhatghila. In Oriya, it is called Phanphania, Tatelo, or Archangkawm, and in Mizo, it is called Archangkawm.

Ideal Soil and Climate

Shyonaak is usually found in tropical and sub-tropical areas, humid forests, along the banks of water streams, and on mountain slopes between 500 to 1200 m altitude. It is widely distributed throughout the Indian subcontinent in the Western and Eastern Ghats and the North-Eastern region of India. In China, Shyonaak is also grown in the cities like Guangdong, Fujian, Guizhou, Yunnan, Guangxi, and Sichuan. Shyonaak is also native to Nepal, Bhutan, Malaysia, Cambodia, Taiwan, Philippines, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka.

The Shyonaak plant grows well in tropical areas that receive rainfall between 85 cm to 130 cm per annum. This plant grows well in medium to deep black soils. However, sandy loamy fertile soil is best suited for good growth of the Shyonaak.


Oroxylum Indicum is a species of flowering plant belonging to the genus Oroxylum and the Bignoniaceae family. It is a medium-sized, soft wooded perennial tree growing up to 27 m tall and the trunk 40 cm in diameter. The bark is brownish or greyish, soft, and covered by various corky lenticels. The leaves of Shyonaak are opposite, imparipinnate, grouped towards the apex, ovate, elliptic, 5 to 12 cm long, and 3 to 10 cm broad. Inflorescences are long erect terminal racemes carrying numerous hermaphroditic flowers on a 3 to 6 cm long pedicel, with 2 to 4 cm campanulate calyx up to 4.5 cm long, funnel-shaped corolla with five lobes. Flowers are large, red or purple on the outside, and yellow or pink inside. The flowers that open at night have a fetid smell that attracts bats for pollination. The fruits are flat, woody, saber-shaped, bivalved capsules with flattened seeds having hyaline papery wings.

Principal Constituents

The phytochemical constituents present in the root bark of Shyonaak are chrysin, dehydrobaicalein, oroxylin, and baicalein. The stem bark contains flavonoids, such as scutellarin-7-rutinoside, oroxylin, baicalein, p-coumaric, and chrysin. The leaves contain aloe-emodin and anthraquinone. And the Heartwood consists of isoflavone-prunetin and β-sitosterol.

Medical Benefits

Ayurveda describes Shyonaak as Bitter (Tikta), Sweet (Madhura), Astringent (Kashaya), Light to digest (Laghu)), Dry (Rooksha), Pungent (Vipaka), and Hot (Ushna) in potency. The Shyonaak is effective against 'Kapha' and 'Vata' doshas in our bodies. As per the Classical categorization mentioned in the Ayurvedic texts like Charaka Samhita Sushrut Samhita, Shyonaak is - Shothara (anti-inflammatory group of herbs), Sheeta Prashamana (cold and cough subsiding group of herbs), and Anuvasanopaga (group of herbs used in oil enema).

The roots are anti-diabetic, antiarthritic, carminative, diuretic, diaphoretic, anti-tumor, anthelmintic, febrifuges, and expectorant. The root bark of Shyonaak has astringent properties and is useful in fever, dysentery, leukoderma, inflammation, asthma, bronchitis, and anal troubles. Tender fruits and seeds are stomachic and used as a bitter tonic, purgative, and expectorant. The fruit is also useful in treating problems related to the heart, gynecological disorders, and childhood psychological disorders. Using powdered seeds can increase the chances of conception.

1) Cancer Prevention

Due to its cytotoxic and anti-metastasis properties, Shyonaak is a potential herb against cancer. An ethanolic extract shows an antiproliferative effect on Hep 2 cell lines.

2) Treatment for Gastritis

Improper digestion leads to the build-up of toxins in the body. Shyonaak is a powerful ayurvedic herb that reduces gastric ulceration and thus gives relief from stomach pain. It helps to reduce flatulence and bloating, thus increasing appetite and promoting better absorption of nutrients in the body.

3) Helpful with Diabetes

Anti-diabetic properties of Shyonaak have been evaluated in animals. The methanolic and aqueous extract helps to restore serum biochemical parameters such as biomarker enzymes, fasting glucose, serum creatinine, lipid profile, SGOT, serum SGPT, and ALP to normal. The production of insulin becomes active after consumption of Shyonaak, helping to reduce the breakdown of starch into glucose. Hence, Shyoonak helps in managing Diabetes.

4) Strengthens Immunity

The root bark of Shonaak contains immuno-modulatory activity. This ayurvedic herb helps to improve energy levels in the body. The bioactive ingredients present in Shyonaa help to reduce weakness, fatigue, and debility. It helps to revamp the body with essential nutrients and build a strong immune system.

5) Improves Kidney Heath

The leaves and root decoction of Shyonaak are used as a prophylaxis for kidney problems. It promotes proper functioning of the kidneys by aiding proper uric acid level and excretion of excess uric acid, thereby preventing gout. It helps to eliminate kidney stones, reduce the size of any stone present, and formation of kidney stones.

6) Reduces Inflammation

The anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties present in the Shyonak provide relief from soreness and swelling of the inflamed part. The Vata reducing quality is beneficial in curtailing pain arising due to joint and muscle pain.

7) Hepatoprotective activity

Due to the incredible hepatoprotective action of the phytochemical constituents present in the Shyonaak, it protects the liver against damage. It also improves liver health. It is a powerful herb beneficial in treating jaundice and hepatitis, safeguarding the liver from harmful toxins, and maintaining its normal functions.

8) Prevents Microbes

Shyonaak possesses antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. They help to hinder the growth and multiplication of fungi that are accountable for fungal infections, shielding the body from various microbial infections.

9) Antioxidant Properties

Antioxidants are effective in preventing and treating several diseases. Stress can adversely affect various tissues and vital organs of our body. The Shyonaak has antioxidants and flavonoids that protect against oxidative damage and high free radical scavenging activities.

Uses of Shyonaak

  • Gain appetite - Take the decoction of leaves.
  • Wounds and Boils - Apply the paste made from seeds.
  • Mouth Cancer, Scabies - Apply the paste of bark powder.
  • Tonsil - Apply the paste of bark to the neck and throat to get relief from tonsil pain.
  • Blood Purifier - Eat the fruit.
  • Ulcers - Apply the seed paste externally.
  • Cough - Take 1 gm of bark powder with ginger and honey.
  • Diarrhea - Take two teaspoons of bark juice daily.
  • Jaundice - Take the bark decoction.
  • Mouth Blisters - Use the decoction made of root bark as a gargle.
  • Digestive Health - Soak the bark of Shyonaak in one cup of water for four hours. Make a paste, filter the solution, and consume it twice daily.
  • Earache - Blend bark powder with water and sesame oil. Cook in low flame. After cooling, put 2 to 3 drops in the ears.
  • Fever - Take the bark decoction.
  • Stomach Ache Gastritis - Take the leaf decoction.
  • Allergic Dermatitis - Alcoholic maceration of fresh bark is to be applied.
  • Toothache - Put the poultice on the cheek to relieve pain.
  • Headache - Put the poultice on the head pain relief.
  • Tuberculosis - Take a decoction of the root.
  • Nasopharyngeal Cancer - Take a decoction made from the root bark.

Side Effects

As Shyonaak belongs to one of the Dashamoola herbs, its side effects are rare. It is safe to use the Shyonaak plant by pregnant women, during the lactation period, and for children. As the herb may react to certain medicines, it is always better to consult a doctor before consuming the herb.

Planting and Harvesting

The Shyonaak plant is propagated naturally by seeds that germinate at the beginning of the rainy season. The seedlings require moderate shade in the early stage. The plant is raised in polythene bags during the second half of March for seedling establishment. After the emergence of the seedlings, the plant is watered regularly to maintain optimum moisture levels. The polythene bags are filled with sandy-loam soil of good quality and well-decomposed farmyard manure (FYM) in a ratio of 2:1.

For good germination, the seeds must be soaked for 12 hours in water before sowing. The land is then tilled to make it friable, weed-free, and porous. Pits of size 60 cm x 60 cm x 60 cm are dug, and 150g of nitrogen, 10 kgs of FYM, and 250 g of single superphosphate are mixed in topsoil. A spacing of 2 m x 2 m is maintained to achieve an optimum crop of 2500/hectare. Short-term seasonal herbs are grown as an inter-crop. inter-spaces. After transplanting, around 20 kgs of decomposed FYM, 150 g of nitrogen, and 250 g of superphosphate are required at intervals of six months per plant for two years. Potash will be required in potassium-deficient soils.

The tree starts fruiting and flowering after three years. For harvesting of the root bark, the plants are uprooted after six to eight years. After uprooting, the roots are cleaned, the bark is peeled, and the roots are cut into small pieces. They are dried in shade to reduce the moisture to 12%. The dried roots are then stored in moisture-proof bags.


The Shyonaak plant is an endangered species in India. We, at Jaivik Farms, an agro-based organization, encourage farmers to grow the plant organically without using any chemicals or pesticides. Our team of experts guides the farmers and educates them to develop new strategies for a better yield. This, in turn, will help the farmers generate a good income.

For More Information, write to us on
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