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Dhataki - Woodfordia Fruticosa, W. floribunda in Gynecology

Dhataki [Woodfordia fruticosa] is common in Sri Lanka, South Konkan and on the Ghats and ascends the Himalayas to 1500 m, but is rarer in South India. Dhataki (Fire Flame Bush) is a spreading, leafy shrub, small in size but very conspicuous on dry, rocky hillsides from December to May, when the masses of little fiery bells give a bright touch of color to the drab terrain.  It is a deciduous shrub, usually with a much-fluted stem. The grey bark is exceedingly thin and peels off in flakes. When in flower the bush appears twiggy and formless but entirely swathed in red. This is because the small flowers grow singly or in groups all the way along the branches and side twigs, and it is at this time that the leaves fall.

The extracts of Woodfordia fruticosa flowers showed the presence of carbohydrates, gums, flavonoids, sterols and phenolic compounds/tannins. HPTLC studies of extract 1 at 254 nm showed the presence of four spots (with Rf of 0.04, 0.19, 0.32, 0.40), extract 2 showed the presence five spots (with Rf of 0.06, 0.20, 0.32, 0.40, 0.56), extract 3 showed the presence six spots (with Rf of 0.06, 0.19, 0.32, 0.40, 0.57, 0.67). The plates were sprayed with 5% alcoholic FeCl 3 reagent to check the presence of tannins. Extract 1 showed three blue-black spots at Rf of 0.05, 0.19, 0.34; extract 2 and extract 3 each showed two blue-black spots at Rf of 0.21, 0.34, indicating the presence of tannins.

Medicinal Uses:
The flowers are acrid, astringent, styptic, depurative, utreine sadative, constipating, antibacterial, corrective of urinary pigments, febrifuge and alexeteric. They are useful in the conditions of kapha and pitta, leprosy, burning sensation, skindiseases, diarrhoea, dysentery, fever, headache, hemorrhoids, herpes, internal hemorrhage, leukorrhea, liver disorders, menorrhagia, ulcers, wounds. Juice of leaves are used in bilious sickness. They are also valued as a stimulant in pregnancy.

Studies on Woodfordia fruticosa :
1) Anti-fertility activity:
Anti-fertility activity of dried flowers of Woodfordia fruticosa Kurz is studied with various solvents and individually with water and aqueous alcohol (50:50). Antifertility activity of successive alcoholic, individual aqueous and individual hydroalcoholic extracts was studied in female albino rats.

Proven fertile male and female Wistar rats (150-200 g) were used for the study. The protocol was approved by the IAEC (No. CUSCP/IAEC/02/2002-2003). The rats were maintained at room temperature with natural daylight and given a standard pellet diet with water ad libitum. Female rats were divided into the following four groups: Group I - control group - received distilled water orally. Group II - received successive alcoholic extract (100 mg/kg body weight). Group III - received 50% hydroalcoholic extract (100 mg/kg body weight). Group IV - received water extract (100 mg/kg body weight).

The average number of implantation sites for all the treatment groups was lower as compared to the control. This is an indication of antifertility activity. There was no significant difference in the average size of implantation sites for control and all the treatment group animals. For extract 1, which was successive alcoholic extract, the average number of implantation sites was 7.0, but the average number of litters delivered was 4.0. This decrease in number of implantation sites may be due to resorption of foetus. This is a strong indication of abortifacient activity. For individual hydroalcoholic extract (extract 2) and individual aqueous extract (extract 3), the average number of implantation sites was 6.2 and 7.0 respectively, but the average number of litters delivered was 5.0 and 6.2 respectively. Among all the three extracts tested, successive alcoholic extract showed maximum abortifacient activity of 43%, which was found to be statistically significant ( P < 0.05) [Table - 1] . Individual aqueous and individual hydroalcoholic extract, though, showed moderate activity of 12 and 20%; however, it was not statistically significant [1].

2) Anti-leucorrhea activity:
A clinical study of Majuphala powder & Dhataki pushpa powder to assess the effect in leucorrhea is undertaken on 30 patients, were divided in three groups Group A of 10 patients were received Majuphala Churna for 21 days & internally Yonidhavan done with Majuphala Decoction for 10 days. Group B 0f 10 patients received internally Dhataki pushpa powder externally yonidhavana with Dhataki pushpa powder for 10 days. Group C of 10 patients (Control group) were received wheat flour in above said same manner.

The research work was concluded as follows-
- Group A (Majuphala) & B (Dhataki) had shown highly significant results in both cordial & associated symptoms of leucorrhea as compared to control group.
- In local pathology group A (Majuphala) & Group B (Dhataki) showed significant results in group A (Majuphala) in cervisitis the results were significant.
- Group B (Dhataki) showed significant results in Hb% [2].

3) Immuno-active constituents in W. fruticosa
Fermentation of both preparations (Asava & Arista) is brought about by the addition of a source of sugar with dhataki (Woodfordia fruticosa Kurz) flowers. Dhataki is fermentation initiator and jaggery as a source of sugar in Asava & Arista manufacturing. The use of Woodfordia flowers in model preparations resulted in a substantial increase of the inhibition of both human complement activity and chemiluminescence generated by zymosan-stimulated human polymorphonuclear leukocytes. It was established that the increased biological activity was not due to microbial interference, but to immuno-active constituents released from the Woodfordia flowers. Experiments performed with yeasts isolated from commercial Nimba arishtas showed, in agreement with empirical findings, significantly raised alcohol content upon addition of Woodfordia. [3].
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Division: Magnoliophyta
Species: Woodfordia Fruticosa, W. floribunda
Sanskrit: Dhataki, Parvati, Bahupuspika, Tamrapushpi
English: Fire Flame Bush, Red Bell Bush
Hindi: Dhawai, Dhai phul
Marathi: Dowari oTamil: Velakkai
Malayalam: Tatiripuspi
Telugu: Jargi seringi, Godari
Kannada: Tamrapuspi
Oriya: Dhobo
Konkani: Dhauri
Urdu: Jetiko
Gujarati: Dhawani
Part used - Flower, Bark, Leaves
Pharmacological data
Rasa (taste): Kashaya (astringent), Katu (pungent)
Guna (quality): Laghu (light), Ruksha (dry)
Virya (energy): Shita (cooling)
Vipaka (post digestive effect): Katu (pungent)
Prabhava (Special quality): none
Dosha Effect: KP-
Dhatus (tissues): Rakta, Majja
Srotas (channels): Raktavaha, Annavaha
Principal Constituents:
Woodfordins A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I and were identified from the flowers.
Ayurveda Actions
- Dashaprasamana - decreasing burning sensation.
- Jwaraghna - anti pyretic
- Krumighna - destroys Parasites
- Kushthaghna - skin conditions
- Mutravirajaniya - normalises colour of urine
- Rakta Pitta Shamaka - pacify rakta pitta disorders
- Rakta sstambhana - stops bleeding
- Sandhaniya - bone fractures
- Stambhana - prevents expulsion of fluids
- Swedajanana - promotes sweating
- Vranaropana - wound healing properties

Important Combinations
- Dhatakyadi churna (skin diseases, menorrhagia, diarrhea, UTI, fever); Dhatakyadi taila (Skin diseases),
- Laghu gangadhara churna (gastric ulcers, diarrhea
[1] Khushalani H, Tatke P, Singh KK. Antifertility activity of dried flowers of Woodfordia fruticosa kurz. Indian J Pharm Sci [serial online] 2006 [cited 2012 Mar 16];68:528-9. Available from:
[2] N. P. Patil, A comparative study Majuphala & Dhataki puspha in the management of sweta pradara, RGUHS, 2007
[3] Kroes BH, Vanden Berg AJJ, Abeysekera AM, De Silva KTD & Labadie RP, Fermentation in traditional medicine: the impact of Woodfordia fruticosa flowers on the immunomodulatory activity and the alcohol and sugar contents of Nimba arishta, J Ethnopharmacol, 40 (1993) 117-125. []

The Author, Dr. K. Shiva Rama Prasad is working as Vice-Dean, Ayurveda in MAHATMA GANDHI AYURVED COLLEGE HOSPTIAL & RESEARCH CENTRE, SAWANGI (Meghe), DATTA MEGHE INSTITUTE OF MEDICAL SCIENCES, Wardha, Maharastra