Ayurvedic properties of Berberis aristata – Daruharidra / Tree Turmeric

Which is the ayurvedic root bark which has anti inflammatory, anti fungal, anti-viral, and anti diabetic properties which is great to use for skin both as a lepa or as a dusting powder? Well to be honest, given the vast pharmacopoeia of herbs available in Ayurveda, this could refer to any one of the thousands of amazing Ayurvedic herbs. But, in this post, it refers to Daruharidra or the “Tree Turmeric” herb in Ayurveda.

Where does Daruharidra grow?

Daru haridra is a wild shrub found in altitudes of 5000 feet and above, typically in the Himalayas and Nepal – it is also found in high altitude regions in the Nilgiris in South India.

Daruharidra is a wild shrub endemic to the Indian sub continent found in high altitudes

The shrub itself grows between 5 – 10 feet in high. We have also seen it growing like a semi creeper “climbing” on hilly rock faces in high altitude regions. In our use of Daruharidra in hair and skin care, we usually use harvested roots and stems.

However the leaves, flowers, etc are all high in medicinal properties. The flowers are highly laxative in nature.

Ayurvedic formulations daruharidra is used in:

As we have seen, Daruharidra, like Haridra is an excellent ayurvedic herb used in eye, skin, and pitta aggravation diseases like anemai, jaundice, and pitta-kapha aggravation disorders like diabetes.

In skin disorders like eczema, dermatitis and oozing slow healing wounds, Daruharidra is used in Ayurveda with other healing herbs like Durva, Khadira, Nimba, etc. It also forms a part of hoary ayurvedic skin formulations like Kumkumadi tailam which we have blogged earlier about.

Daruharidra is used in several skin diseases in its choornam form

Daruharidra is asked to be variously used in kushta (skin disorders) as a lepa (paste applied on skin, snana aid (for bathing), as a seka (decoction used to irrigate the wound) and as a Kashaya (deocoction) that is added to bath water, drunk internally etc

In eye disorders a special extract of Daruhridra called Raaut / Rasnjana is used where the Kashaya of daruharidra is boiled along with goats milk until a solid mass forms. This solid mass is made into Anjana (collyrium) paste / stick and applied to the eye.

Due to its hot and bitter potency this extract helps clear out Mala from the eyes by inducing profuse watering. It also helps shrink styes in the eyes, inflammation of the eyes, etc.
It also forms a part of hoary ayurvedic skin formulations like Kumkumadi tailam which we have blogged earlier about.

Should we be using Berberine in its extracted form instead of the whole herb daruharidra?

Obviously with all herbs there is a lot of excitement around the Isolates extracted. Every herb is a powerhouse of nutrient benefits and pure potent action – most importantly when used in their natural form, they are much lower on side effects and work extremely holistically.

In order to create IP protectable formulae , many companies are in a rush to isolate the botanical “actives” in herbs. Berberine, is one active found in daruharidra. It is also found in other herbs like Goldenseal, Oregon grape, etc. It is an isoquinolone alkaloid and across hundreds of studies has been found to have potential benefits in diabetes, helps regulate metabolism, and is studied to cause a major reduction in sugar levels.

Berberine isolate can be extracted from many plants. However Ayurveda says that instead of focusing on extracts and isolates we should study the property of teh whole herb

As a pure Ayurvedic company, we have an issue with the unnatural focus on one active among a potential set of thousands of actives that *could be found in each herb, perhaps even in each plant part.

It also makes sense that the Berberine isolate found in Daruharidra would have different markers and different effects compared to the Berberine found in the Oregon grape, for example. Everything including the soil, country and climate are different from the Himalayan Daruharidra and the Oregon grape, so it makes little sense to treat their isolates as identical.

Also, ayurvedic acharyas have repeatedly stayed away from isolate extraction methods. Ayurveda is certainly not crude or unsophisticated in its approach to pharmaceuticals . The Acharyas have understood and practiced several powerful concepts like Anupana (medium through which a drug is absorbed well), complementary drugs and herbs and most importantly, using the same drug in different compositions, dosage , anupana and extraction methods according to the prakriti of the patient.

So in disease conditions like Prameha (diabetes), Daruharidra is used along with Amla in an anupana of Madhu (honey) – this is a potent and powerful combination which treats many manifestations of prameha including excessive teekhsna agni, blocked Ama in the body, tendency towards Kapha aggravation, etc and not just blood sugar levels taken in isolation.

If you would like to take Daruhridra for its benefits, make sure you consult a good Vaidya and take it in an appropriate form , and preparation that will suit your Prakriti and disease condition.

How does Krya use Daruharidra?

At Krya we use Daruharidra extensively for its skin healing properties. For our Classic Skin Oil serum and the Moisture Plus Skin serum, we extract Daruharidra both in its Kashaya and kalpa form (as a herb decoction) and as a wet herb paste.

These 2 extraction methods are recommended in Ayurveda when you want to extract the botanical nutrients of a herb into an oil.

The Krya classic skin oil is designed for providing balanced nourishment to Pitta prakriti skin. Here we find that the skin tends to have a lot of open pores and textural ups and downs due to frequent clogging, acne, etc. The use of Daruharidra helps heal these minor skin issues and make the skin texture more even. Plus due to its hot and dry potency, Daruharidra is able to provide a holistic anti bacterial and anti fungal effect on the skin and balance out excess sebum production.

In the Moisture plus skin oil we are addressing a slightly different set of problems. Here the skin tends towards being very dry due to aggravated vata. So here Daruhridra with its hot and intense potency is able to penetrate deep into skin and allow the action of the other botanicals in the oil to help with vata aggravation. Here we use the herb for its deep and penetrative ability and its skin healing property.

Daruharidra in Krya’s Sensitive range of products:

Krya has a Sensitive Range of products for both toddlers and adults. Here we address the issues of contact dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis in skin. The skin we deal with is often patchy, thickened with production of scales, is sometimes filled with oozing clear liquid, is intensely itchy and irritable.

To calm down the skin and to cut down on skin thickening, skin discoloration we use Daruharidra as a key ingredient in both the Sensitive Skin oil and the Sensitive Skin bodywash (choornam).

When used in the sensitive skin bodywash, we use Daruharidra in its processed form as an Ayurvedic powder. When used in this format either as a wash off product or as a dusting powder, the herb helps dry and cut down skin thickening, provides a strong anti inflammatory effect and also has a noticeable anti fungal and anti bacterial effect.

Some experimental products we have used Daruharidra in:

We have also used Daruharidra in a few experimental Krya products. We have used it in a Kashaya preparation meant as an additive to Snana (bath water) for post partum women. Here we utilise the ushna veerya and teekshna property of Daruharidra to help drive down Vata aggravation.

As per the suggestion given in Bhavaprakakasha Nighantu, we have also tried Daruharidra both stand alone and in a multi herb product which is a dusting powder meant for psoriasis and eczema. Additionally , we have experimented with Daruharidra in a toothpowder formulation meant for kapha aggravated conditions like gum inflammation, frequent caries, etc.

In all of these the hot, intensive, sharp, bitter , kapha reducing and skin healing properties of Daruharidra are very ideal.

To sum up: the benefits of daruharidra for skin care

So there you have it: that’s a brief glimpse into the properties of Berberis arista /  Daruharidra which goes into Krya’s skin care products. Daruharidra is a potent skin healing , wound healing and and skin restoring Ayurvedic herb that has been discussed in the Brhat Trayee texts and across other Ayurvedic texts.

We harness Daruharidra’s potent skin healing properties across a wide range of skin care products at Krya, specifically our healing and restoring skin serums and oils.

A word of caution: although this post discusses several ways that Daruharidra can be consumed internally, all Ayurvedic herbs are potent and strong, and must always be tailor made using the right anupana to suit your constitution. Do not attempt to self medicate. If you feel internal consumption of Daruharidra could help you, please meet an Ayurvedic Vaidya who can diagnose your condition and prescribe Daruharidra in the right dose and right format for you.

We do herb posts at Krya to give you a glimpse into just how potent, powerful and good for us the plants used in Ayurveda are. We hope you found this post inspiring and useful. Do leave your thoughts and comments on this post below. If you would like us to write about a specific herb , do leave that in your comments as well.

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