Adhatoda is the primary herb of the Ayurvedic system for treatment of coughs, bronchitis, asthma, and the symptoms of common cold. A yogic practice is to chew the leaf buds, alone or with a little ginger root, to clear the respiratory passages in preparation for the vigorous breathing exercises. It is an ingredient in numerous popular formulations, including cough syrups, in which it is frequently combined with tulsi (holy basil) and ginger. Its main action is as an expectorant and antispasmodic (bronchodilator); important active components include the alkaloids vasicine (aka peganine) and vasicinone. The former is under development as an herbal drug in India, as are semi-synthetic derivatives of the alkaloids: bromhexine and ambroxol. A secondary property of the herb is that it helps stop bleeding. The roots, leaves, and flowers of the plant are all used, and the alkaloids contribute a strong bitter taste; the plant also produces a fragrant volatile oil rich in heptanone, but less is known about its therapeutic contribution.
Formula for cough, bronchitis, and asthma
This formulation is based on the commonly used therapeutic group of adhatoda and basil supplemented by ginger and licorice for treatment of a wide range of respiratory disorders. Since the formula is designed to be suitable for treating chronic cough disorders that might require prolonged therapy (as well as for short-term use in treating common cold or intermittent asthma), there is added turmeric as a spicy aid to digestion (since good digestive power limits excessive production of phlegm) and belerica, a myrobalans fruit, which is astringent, expectorant, and tonic. The formulation is considered slightly cooling, which makes it useful for inflammatory conditions of the lungs as well as disorders accompanied by feverish feeling.