Arka is a perennial shrub growing 2.5 meter high with various branches and sub branches. Leaves are simple, opposite, subsessile, ovate and cordate at base. It has bunch of waxy flowers that are white or lavender in color. Flowers consists of pointed five petals and a small beautiful crown, which holds the stamen. It has milky stem and contains cardiac glycosides, fatty acid and calcium oxalate.
Aak is known as “Arka” in Sanskrit. When we talk about the medicinal properties of this herb, it is mostly addressed with the name of Arka. Aak is a common Hindi name given to this plant which is familiar to the Indians as a perennial bush growing almost anywhere in the wild.
The tender light green stems of this plant when broken yield milky white exudates which is sticky and the plant is popular amongst the common population merely because of this peculiarity. This milky exudate is mildly poisonous and is considered as one of the plant toxins in Ayurveda. Though toxic, this exudate (latex) can be purified and put to use as a very effective antidote as well as herbal medicine.
The name of this plant is synonymous with Sun for the herb is very strong and astringent in action much like the powerful rays of Sun. It belongs to the Apocynaceae family of flowering plants.
Arka kasheera – Latex of arka plant is capable of vomiting and purgation. It is used in purgation and vomiting therapy.