Soma Uses, Research articles and Medicines

Soma- Ephedra gerardiana is an Ayurvedic herb used for the treatment of asthma, fever, weakened cardiac muscles, difficulty in urination and muscular pain. 

Latin name- Ephedra gerardiana Wall., Ephedra distachya, Ephedra vulgaris
Family- Gnetaceae

Names in different languages:
Hindi name- Somakalpa, Trutigrantha, Tootgant, Som, Somakalpa, Tutgantha,
English name- Joint-pine, Brigham tea
Gujarati name- Sandhiavel, Chirodi
Kannada name- Somalata, Hambukalli
Malayalam name- Somalata
Marathi name- Ransher
Punjabi name- Asmaniya,  Asmania, Budagur
Tamil name- Pulichakodi, Somakodi, Somamum, Kotikkalli
Telugu name- Kondapala, Somalata, Palmakasturi
Chinese name – Mahuang
Japanese name – Maoh Mupen
Sutlej name – Phok
Russian name – Kuzmicheva trava,
Ladakh name – Tipal, Trani

Morphology of Ephedra giardiana:
It is a small shrub growing to a height of 1 to 4 feet and is found in the upper Himalayan belt of Sikkim and Kashmir. The stem of the plant has nodules with dark green branches. The leaves are small and round. The flowers are 6-10 mm long and unisexual in nature. The fruit of the plant is sweet, round in shape, red in color and has 1-2 seed.

Rasa (Taste) – Kashaya (Astringent)
Guna (Qualities) – Laghu (Light for digestion), Ruksha (Dry in nature)
Vipaka – Katu (Undergoes Pungent taste after digestion)
Veerya (Potency) – Ushna (Hot)
Karma (Actions) – Kaphavata shamaka (reduces vitiated kapha and vata dosha)

Part used- Branch, Fruit
Dosage- Powder- 1 to 2 g

Chemical composition: Ephedrine is the major content of the plant.

Uses of Soma:

  • Powder of Soma with honey is useful to treat cough and asthma.
  • The powder of Ephedra gerardiana is given with Arjuna bark (Terminalia arjuna) to improve the functioning and increase the strength of cardiac muscles.
  • Cold infusion of the bark of Soma is given in a dose of 25-30 ml to treat fever and rhinitis.
  • The powder of the bark of Ephedra gerardiana is made into paste and applied over the place effected with swelling and pain.
  • Cold infusion from the bark of the soma plant is given in a dose of 20-25 ml to treat difficulty in micturition and dysmenorrhea.

Hrudya – acts as cardiac tonic, congenial for heart
Rasayana – anti aging, causes cell and tissue rejuvenation

Indications as per traditional Ayurveda:
Shwasa – asthma and chronic respiratory disorders
Trushna – excessive thirst
Shosha – emaciation, dehydration

Adverse effect:
Alkaloids obtained from the species of Ephedra in herbal medicines containing synthetically prepared pseudoephedrine and ephedrine can cause cardiovascular events. These events have been associated with arrhythmias, palpitations, tachycardia and myocardial infarction. Caffeine consumption in combination with ephedrine has been reported to increase the risk of these cardiovascular events.

Ayurvedic medicines containing Soma:
Bronkasava liquid: It is a proprietary Ayurvedic medicine. It is useful in asthma, with broad spectrum action to ensure easy breathing.

Branchozen syrup: It is a proprietary Ayurvedic medicine, useful as an anti-cough preparation used both for dry & productive cough.

Asthmin capsule: It is a proprietary Ayurvedic medicine useful to treat asthma, cough, bronchitis etc.

Research articles related to Ephedra gerardiana:
Anti- microbial action: The present study was aimed at evaluating the crude extracts of Ephedra gerardiana (root and stem) with different chemicals for antioxidant and antimicrobial (fungal and bacterial) potential. The results revealed that the ethyl acetate fractions of E. gerardiana (root and stem) have significant free radical scavenging potential.

Anti- asthmatic action: Ephedra gerardiana Wall. has anti-inflammatory properties and in some instances smooth muscles relaxing effects. Since inflammation and airway smooth muscle contraction are two major components of asthma, the present study is going to investigate the effects of Ephedra gerardiana Wall. on airway inflammation and airway resistance in a mouse model of asthma. Ephedra gerardiana wall at 100 and 200 mg·kg–1 significantly reduced the total number of cells (p < 0.001; n = 6),eosinophils (*** p < 0.001)in BAL compared with the untreated group of OVA sensitised mice.

Classical categorization:
Bhavaprakasha- Guduchyadi varga
Kaiyyadeva Nighantu- Oushadhi varga
Raja Nighantu- Guduchyadi varga

Sanskrit Synonyms:
Soma, Somavalli, Trutigranthasoma, Salkapatra, Somaksheeri
Dwijapriya – Liked by Sages, Brahmins
Dhanvataru, Yajnaneta – used in Homa, Havans
Raktaphala – red coloured flowers
Pakshapatra, Mahagulma, Mukhaprabhu, Dhanurlata, Gulmavalli

24 Soma Varieties as per Sushruta:
Amsuman, Manjavan, Candramah, Rajataprabha,
kanyan, Svetaksa, kanakaprabha, Durva-soma, ratanavan,
talavrnta, Karavira, Amsavan, Svayam-prabha, Maha-sama,
Garudahrta, Gayatrya, Traistubha, Pamkta, Jagata,
Sakkara, Agni-stoma, Ravivata, Yathokta and udupati,

Author: Dr.B.K.Prashanth M.D (Ayu), Ph.D
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