Varahikanda – tuber of Dioscorea bulbifera is an excellent aphrodisiac herb, used for the treatment of diabetes, eczema, psoriasis, intestinal parasites etc. It is also called air potato.
Botanical name- Dioscorea bulbifera Linn, Dioscorea sativa,Linn.
Names in different languages:
English name – air potato, potato yam.
Hindi name – Suralu, Zami kanda, Gaithi, Genthi, Barahi khandh, Barahikhandha
Gujarati name – Dukar kanda, Dukkar Kand, Suvariya, Dukkar Kand.
Kannada name – Heggenasu, kuntu genasu.
Malayalam name – Kattu kachi, kattu kachil.
Tamil name – Pannu Pilangu
Telugu name – Nela dumpa
Bengali name – Banalu, pitalu.
Konkani name – Karamdo.
Marathi name – Gathalu, Manu kand, Gorkan, Kukar Kand
Oriya name – pitalu.
Assamese name – Kathalu, Mati alu.
Japanese name – Benkei imo.
Chinese name – T’u uh, un kau tou.
Dioscorea bulbifera chemical Constituents-
Three furanoid norditerpenesdiosbulbins A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H; diosbulbinosides.
Dioscorea bulbifera medicinal Properties
Guna (qualities) – Laghu – light to digest, Snigdha – unctuous, oily
Rasa (taste) – Madhura – sweet, Katu – Pungent
Vipaka- Katu – Undergoes pungent taste conversion after digestion
Veerya – Ushna – Hot potency
Effect on Tridosha – Balances Kapha Dosha and Vata Dosha. Slightly increases Pitta Dosha.
Prabhava – Special effects:
Rasayana – anti aging, causes cell and tissue rejuvenation
Vrushya – aphrodisiac, improves vigor
Part used- Tuber, bulbils
Dosage-3-6 g per day
How to take?
The tubers are administered directly or made into choorna & administered in a dose of 3 – 6 grams per day, with milk as Anupana.
Varahikand – Dioscorea bulbifera uses:
Shukravardhana – improves sperm and semen quantity and quality
Ayurvardahana – Rasayana – anti aging, causes cell and tissue rejuvenation
Svaravardhana – improves voice, useful in throat infection and related disorders
Agni Vardhana – Due to Katu Vipaka (taste conversion after digestion), it improves digestion strength
Balavardhana – improves strength and immunity
Kaphahara – balances Kapha, useful in productive cough, asthma, bronchitis, chest congestion
Vatahara – useful in treating disorders of Vata Dosha imbalance such as neuralgia, paralysis, constipation, bloating, etc
Hrudya – acts as cardiac tonic, congenial for heart
Indicated in –
Kushta – skin diseases
Meha – diabetes, urinary tract disorders
Krumi – worm infestation
Garavisha – chronic poisoning
Arti – relieves aches and pain
Powder of varahi tuber mixed with honey is suspended in milk and taken after it is eligested milk, ghee and boiled rice should be taken as diet(s.s.ci.27.11).
Fresh varahi tuber should be taken with milk keeping on milk diet without cereals for a month and then for the next month on milk and cereals(A.H.U.39.58-59)
Those of wild form are bitter and acrid, but can be rendered edible by coursing with ashes and steeping in cold water(D.G.S.P V Sharma)
Sinus – Nadi vrana
Varahi tuber should be mixed with oil and then applied to the sinus(S.S.Ci.17.36).
Ulcers and wounds – The dried powdered tubers are used as an external application for ulcers. They are also used to treat piles.
Side effects of Varahikanda –
Because it can slightly increase Pitta Dosha, people with Pitta body type or Pitta imbalance should avoid it or take it along with milk to nullify Pitta effect.
There is a research article sighting its hepatotoxicity. Hence, overdosing should be avoided.
Acharya Vrinda has mentioned charma karaluka as its substitute.
Varahikanda is used as substitute for Riddhi and Vriddhi drugs of Astavarya in Ayurveda.
Because it is used as substitute for 2 of Asthavarga herbs – Vruddhi and Riddi, it is used as ingredient, wherever these two herbs are used – as in Chyawanprash, Dasamoolarishtam etc.
Synthesis of silver nanoparticles using Dioscorea bulbifera tuber extract and evaluation of its synergistic potential in combination with antimicrobial agents – Development of an environmentally benign process for the synthesis of silver nano-materials is an important aspect of current nanotechnology research. Among the 600 species of the genus Dioscorea, Dioscorea bulbifera has profound therapeutic applications due to its unique phyto-chemistry. In this paper, rapid synthesis of silver nanoparticles by reduction of aqueous Ag+ ions using D. bulbifera tuber extract was reported.
Screening of antioxidant potentials –
It is traditionally used to lower glycemic index, thus providing a more sustained form of energy and better protection against obesity and diabetes. It also has anti-cancer properties. The present study was undertaken to investigate the antioxidant activity of Dioscorea bulbifera. The ethanolic extracts of tuber Dioscorea bulbifera were screened. The results have good significance, as this increase the innate antioxidant potential of Dioscorea bulbifera, which is useful in providing the antioxidants needs in the diet and thereby Dioscorea bulbifera accomplishes high value nutritive and natural store of antioxidant.
Ayurvedic medicines with Air Potato as ingredient:
(Click on the medicine name to know more about them).
Ajamamsa Rasayanam – It is a very famous Ayurvedic medicine. It is prepared both in herbal ghee or herbal jam form. It is used in treatment of Vata disorders like loss of strength, hemiplegia etc. Ajamamsa means goat meat. It is a non vegetarian Ayurvedic medicine.
Narasimha Churna – It is used in the Ayurvedic treatment for a wide variety of diseases such as respiratory conditions, male infertility treatment, etc.
Pancha Nimbadi Churna – It is used in the treatment of eczema, psoriasis, sinus, fistula, diabetes, etc.
Synthesis of silver nanoparticles using Dioscorea bulbifera tuber extract and evaluation of its synergistic potential in combination with antimicrobial agents
Mention of Varahikand in Ayurvedic text books:
Charaka only mentioned it as Sukari, as an ingredient of Mahapaishachika Ghrita (Charaka Chikitsa 9th Chapter – Unmada Chikitsa)
Sushruta used the synonym “Sabara Kanda” and also mentioned it as Varahi and Gostika (s.s.ci.9\9). He mentions it as Rasayana(s.s.ci.27\11).
Vagbhata quoted the term Varaha Kanda and also mentioned the term Varahi.
Bhava Prakasha-Guduchyadi Varga
Priya Nighantu.-Pipalyadi Varga
Raj Nighantu-Mulakadi Varga
Shaligrama Nighantu-Saka Varga
Dhanvantari Nighantu – Karaviradi Varga
Sub kingdom – Tracheobionta-(vascular plants)
Super division – spermatophyta-(seed plants)
Division – Magnoliophyta-(flowering plants)
Class – liliopsida – (monocotyledons)
Sub class – liliidae
Order – liliales
Family – Dioscoreaceae-(yam family)
Genus – Dioscorea-(yam)
Species – Bulbifera-(air yam)
Sanskrit Synonyms of Dioscorea bulbifera:
Varahi : “Varahasya iyam priyatvat iti Varahi” – It is dear to pigs.
वराहमूर्धवत्कन्दो वाराहीकन्दसंज्ञकः | Bhavaprakasha
Its tuber resembles face of pig (Varaha). This has synonyms such as Shukara, Sukari, for the same reasion. (Shukara is a synonym for pig).
Grushtika, Gusthi : “Garshati hinasti rogan” – That which cures the diseases.
Vriddhida: That which causes increase of dhatus.
Veera: That which makes person brave i.e. potent.
Maha virya/ Maha aushadhi: That which is highly potent medicine.
Amruta: That which is nectar like.
Magadhi: That which grows in magadha region.
Vanya, Vanamalini : That which grows abundantly in forest.
Vara – Vara means great. It is a great anti ageing and rejuvenating herb.
Mahaveerya, Mahaushadhi – very potent medicinal herb
Kharakanda – the tuber has rough surface
Kachi, Chakralu, Shabarakanda, Kirimoolaka, Vishvaksena Kanta
References in Ayurvedic text books:
- Charaka only mentioned it as Sukari(c.s.ci-9/53).
- Sushruta used the synonym “Sabara Kanda” and also mentioned it as Varahi and Gostika (s.s.ci.9\9). He mentions it as Rasayana(s.s.ci.27\11).
- Vagbhata quoted the term Varaha Kanda and also mentioned the term Varahi.
There is no reference in laghutrayis except Bhava prakasha where author has mentioned its synonyms, properties and functions.
- Raj nighantu has given its synonyms, guna, and karma.
- Priya nighantu mentioned its synonyms and guna.
- Kaiyadeva nighantu mentioned synonyms along with guna karma.
- Bhava prakasha nighantu mentioned synonyms, morphology, guna, prayoga and quantity used.
- Dhanvantri nighantu mentioned synonyms and uses.
- References of synonyms, guna and karma is also found in Siddha mantra nighantu, Shaligram nighantu, Madanpala nighantu.