Agaru (Agarwood) Aquilaria agallocha Uses, Research, Side Effects

Agaru, Aquilaria agallocha is a fragrant tree, commonly known as Agarwood, Aloeswood, Eaglewood etc. It is used in treating diseases related to ear, nose, throat, asthma, cough etc. 

Botanical Name-Aquilaria agallocha Roxb.
Family- THYMELAEACEAE

Vernacular names

Names in different languages:
English Name – Agarwood, Agilawood,
Hindi Name- Agar
Bengali Name- Agaru
Telugu Name- Agaru
Tamil Name- Aggalichandanam, Agalichandanam
Gujarati Name-Agar
Bengali name- Agaru
Malayalam name – Akil

Sanskrit synonyms

Krumija, Krimijagdha, Anaryaka, Vishvaroopakam, Pravara, Jongakam, Shreshta Vruksha, Rajarha, Vamshika
Loha – It is heavy and black, similar to Iron.

Classical categorisation

Charaka –
Sheeta Prashamana – Group of herbs to relieve feeling of coldness, moistness.
Shvasahara – Group of herbs that relieves asthma, bronchitis
Shiro Virechanopaga – Group of herbs useful in Nasya treatment
Tikta skandha – Bitter tasting group of herbs.

Sushruta- Salasaradi, Eladi,
Sleshmashamana – Kapha balancing group of herbs.
Vagbhata- Salasaradi, Eladi

Properties

Physical properties of Agarwood:
The bark of agaru exhibits a pleasant aroma and thus finds a place in the groups of medicines used for fumigation type of treatment used in conditions of non healing skin ulcers exuding discharges to desiccate the surface of the ulcers.

Varieties

In Dhanvantari Nighantu another variety Kaleyaka is mentioned.
Sodhala Nighantu explains about three types –  Agaru, Krishna Agaru and Kakatunda Agaru.
Rajanighantu quoted four varieties viz.
Krishna agaru (black)
Kashta agaru (yellow)
Dahagaru and
Mangalyagaru.

The agaru is of two varieties based on the colour of the bark –
1] Whitish [shveta aguru] and
2] Blackish [Krishna Agaru] – This is considered superior.

Distribution

Found in the eastern parts of India in July- august. Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Maipur, Nagaland, Tripura.
It is also found in Bhutan, Myanmar, Sumatra and Malaysia.

Major chemical constituents

Agarospirol, Aquillochin, Holocellulose, Lignan, Pentosans, Essential ois viz. Agarol (a sesquiterpene alchol, the main odoriferous component) a-and b- Agarofurans; nor- keto- agarofurans, Jinkohol, Jinkoheremol,Dihydrokaranone, Kusunol, agarotetrol etc.
(Reference: Illustrated Dravyaguna Vijnana, Vol. II, by Dr JLN Shastry)

Therapeutic properties

Aquilaria agallocha therapeutic Properties-
Rasa (taste) – Katu (pungent), Tikta (bitter)
Guna (qualities) – Laghu (lightness), Teekshna (strong, piercing)
Vipaka- Katu – Undergoes pungent taste conversion after digestion.
Veerya- Ushna – hot potency

Effect on Tridosha: Balances Kapha and Vata Dosha

Part used, dose

Part Used – Aromatic resinous wood, oil – called as Agarwood oil, Aloeswood oil.
Dose – powder 3-5 grams in divided dose per day. Oil – 1 – 5 drops.

Medicinal uses

Aquilaria agallocha medicinal uses
???????????? ??????????????????? (Charaka Sutrasthana 25th chapter)– Application of Rasna (Pluchea lanceolata) and Agaru (Aquilaria agallocha) is best in removing coldness, on external application.

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Dushta Vranashodhana – Cleanses wounds
Kushtahara – useful in skin diseases
Krumihara – useful in worm infestation, infected wounds
Kaphahara – relieves sputum, useful in cough, cold, asthma
Anilahara – Balances Vata Dosha

Sanskrit verse

Aquilaria agallocha medicinal uses

By the virtue of the bitterness and pungentness of taste in addition to the sharp penetrating and lightness attributes, the agaru appeases the kapha doSha and increases the pitta doSha.
The innate hot potency of agaru becomes the cause for appeasing the vata doSha.

Usage in Ear, nose and throat disorders: 
Shruti Netrarujahara – useful in ear and eye disorders. Hence it is used as ingredient in Anu tailam – a very famous Ayurvedic oil used as nasal drops to treat ear, nose and throat related disorders.  It is also an ingredient in Arimedadi Thailam – Used for oil-pulling or gargling. It helps to improve strength of teeth and sense organs.
Because of Agaru’s fragrance and utility in ear, nose, throat related disorders, it is used as ingredient in Ayurvedic herbal smoking.

Kushtanut – relieves skin diseases
Pittala – increases Pitta
Tvachya, Twakdoshahara – useful in skin detoxification.
It relieves bad breath, acts as digestive and carminative.
2 drops of Agarwood oil is applied to betel leaf and given to the patient to eat, to treat asthma.

Ayurvedic pharmacodynamics

The Ayurveda pharmacodynamic of Agaru: 

In cold seasons the paste of hot potentiated agaru is smeared over the surface of the skin exposed to the cold weather to mitigate the cold effect caused by the frost.

In fevers with chills too the aguru lepa [smearing of paste over body surface] is beneficial.

The innate potency of heat of agaru stimulates the bhrAjaka pitta present underneath the surfaces of the skin, at a quicker rate.

In kapha doSha predominating condition of tamaka shvAsha [bronchitis],  the prAnavaha srotases [respiratory tract] gets obliterated with the presence of mucous.

Hence based on the principles of Ayurveda the patients of tamaka shvAsa are subjected to purgatory and emetic procedures of purificatory therapy [shodhana] of panchakarma.

Post shodhana therapy, provision of agaru powder mixed with honey helps in mitigating the remnant doshAs within the channesl ofprANavaha srotases.

The mucous adhered within the bronchioles gets liquefied and loosened from the mucosal surface and get expectorated thereby providing relief from the status of wheezing and dyspnoea caused by the bronchitis.

The fumigation of agaru inhaled through the nostrils and exhaled through the mouth too benefits in providing the expectorating effect of the mucous adhered to the mucosa of bronchioles by the virtue of its uShna and tIkShNa properties.

Exposing the surface area of the non healing ulcers with fumigation of the agaru chUrNa desiccates the exudation from the ulcers.

The smearing of agaru lepa over the affected portions of the physique of health seekers,  provides comfort from pain caused by  Osteo arthritis, gouty arthritis, rheumatic joints and vatic diseases.

In eczematous skin lesions when agaru lepa is applied, it acts as an emollient and softens the skin surface by removing the roughened flakes from the surface of skin.

The agaru based oil preparation, when used as ear drops appeases the otalgia [ear ache] and suppurative otitis [pus in middle ear].
The pain and inflammation of the eyes gets relieved when a thin paste of agaru is smeared over the surfaces of the eyelids.

External application

Its paste applied externally acts as stimulant, relieves pain, bad odour, skin disorders and inflammation.
In rheumatoid arthritis and osteo arthritis, its paste is applied over the joints to relieve pain and inflammation.
Because it is an aromatic tree, it is used as ingredient in many Ayurvedic oils. Example:
Himasagara Tailam  – Ayurvedic oil used in various neuro-muscular conditions and Vata diseases.

Research

Analysis of essential oils
Effect on immediate hypersensitivity reaction
Anti-pyretic, analgesic and anti oxidant activities

Side effects

Because it slightly increases Pitta, care needs to be exercised while administering it to people with Pitta body type.
It is used in low quantities in children and during lactation. It can be used in pregnancy, but only under medical supervision.

Interaction with medicines, supplements

Can this be used while taking Homeopathic medicine?
Yes. This product does not react with homeopathic medicine.

Can this medicine be continued while taking supplements like multivitamin tablets, Omega 3 fatty acids etc?
Yes. Generally, this product goes well with most of the dietary supplements. However, if you are taking more than one product per day, please consult your doctor for an opinion.

With western medicines
Seek your doctor’s advice if you are taking this product along with other western (allopathic / modern) medicines. Some Ayurvedic herbs can interact with modern medicine.
If both Ayurvedic and allopathic medicines are advised together, then it is best to take Allopathic medicine first, wait for 30 minutes and then take the Ayurvedic medicine.

Ayurvedic medicines

Ayurvedic medicines with Aloeswood ingredient:
Ayaskriti –
It is mainly used in anaemia, weight loss therapy, skin diseases etc.
Rasnadi Kashayam – It is widely in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and osteo arthritis.
Khadiradi Vati – used in Ayurvedic treatment of bad breath, oral ulcers, diseases of teeth etc. It is advised to keep this tablet in mouth and swallow its pieces slowly.

Agarwood oil side effects

Agarwood oil is usually well tolerated when used as essential oil for taking smell or when applied externally.
If inhaled excessively it may cause nausea and temporary dizziness for a few minutes. In such a case, drink good amount of water, take fresh air and lie down for a few moments.

If applied  excessively, then it may cause local redness, irritation or increased warmth. In such cases, wash off with cold water with a thin stream of water for 3 – 5 minutes.

Upon oral intake in excess, it may cause nausea, vomiting or heart burn (burning sensation in stomach). Having a few pieces of cucumber or taking 10 raisins soaked in water, can help.

11 thoughts on “Agaru (Agarwood) Aquilaria agallocha Uses, Research, Side Effects”

  1. Hello Dr Hebbar , is there any relation between this herb agaru and agarbatti that we use in poojas . As far as I know agarbatti sticks are made of bamboo .

    Reply
    • In Agarbatti (incense sticks), the bamboo stick is just for the central wood puprose, to make the wood erect. Agaru is added as a fragrance material in some incense sticks.

      Reply
  2. How to check if agarwood oil I bought is original or not. As I heard, it can be also made of synthetic materials! Kindly advise. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Dear Mr Ram, Many thanks for value addition. I have added Malayalam name to the list of names above.

      Reply
  3. Merhaba
    Kızımda geniz eti ve bademcik sorunu var.Bende udi hindi otu(ÖD ağacı) ve misvak kabuğunu kaynatıp içirdim. İki ayın sonunda kusmaya başladı,bende bıraktım. Ne kadar kullanmam gerekiyordu.?

    Reply

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