Large genus (Elaeocarpus Linn) of trees belonging to the family Eleocarpaceae are distributed from South and East Asia through Malaysia to Australia and Pacific Islands. About 25 species occur in India. Nepal has the largest spread of these trees that produce the healthiest and the largest varieties of these beads. Morphologically, the leaves are oblong with protruding veins an bright green in colour. Flowers are white in dense racemes, arising mostly from old leaf aisles. Drupe, deep or Bluish purple, globose or obovoid (0.5 - 1.0 in diameter) enclosing a hard, longitudinally grooved, tubercle normally five-celled stone. In which five seeds are embedded.
Rudraksha beads have mukhas or 'faces' that differ in number and this is what distinguishes them from each other. The percentage of mukhis that are 4,5,6 faced is more than those having 2,3,7,8,9,10 faced and the mukhis other than this are most rare. The therapeutic and spiritual attributes of Rudraksha beads is dependent on the number of 'faces' it exhibits. Beads having a single face to about twenty eight faces have been found. The Rudraksha is treasured by the followers of one of the Hindu trinity called Siva the Destroyer. According to the Siva Purana, It is impossible to describe adequately the benefits of wearing a bead as auspicious as Rudraksha.
In Ayurveda, Rudraksha is useful in the treatment of high blood pressure, allergies, neurological diseases, asthma, diabetes, cancer and many other Raktavaha Srotadhikara (blood circulatory disorders) and Manas Rogas (mental disorders), due to its Guru (heaviness), Snigdha Guna (greasy nature) Madhura Rasa, Madhura Vapaka and Sita Virya (cooling properties) and Vata Pitta samaka pharmacodynamic action.
On the basis of above mentioned pharmacodynamic properties and actions, the significance of various types of beads of Rudraksha (Actually it is a phalasthi (fruit) which is the used part of this tree) can be considered.
External therapeutic uses of Rudraksha can be performed by Darsana (By looking like tratak in Yoga) and Sparsana (By wearing the beads).
On the basis of pharmacological experiments by experts, it has been proven that Rudraksha is beneficial in the treatment of neurological and mental disorders. It has been found that smaller or medium sized Rudraksha beads are the most effective for wearing and japam. Moreover, during japam (meditation with chanting) using the Rudraksha mala and keeping the beads a little pressed between the thumb and the middle finger develops a pressure between the two, therefore improving blood circulation in the eye and brain (Acupressure Theory). The beads can be worn on the wrist, forearms, neck, chest, head, forehead, earlobes and around the midrib. A Rudraksha mala can be made of 108, 54, 36, 27 or 18 beads. But one must use only a stronger, well-formed and flawlessly grooved Rudraksha. The beads with the natural holes in the centre are the best.
Rudraksha is also administered in powdered form in dosage of 3-5 gm or mixed with other Ayurveda herbs. The internal administration improves their effectiveness and shortens the treatment period. It acts as an anticonvulsant and analgesic on the nervous system. The systemic action of Rudraksha is as follows:
Form of Uses: The Rudraksha beads are taken orally and externally in the form of Kvatham, Milk, Bhasma (ash), Vibhuti, Tailam (oil), Kalkam, Mandap, Kirtanan, Mala etc.