Background: Karavīra, though considered as Upvisa, has been a part of Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia for treating many diseases. As a drug, karavīra and its various parts have been utilized in different dosage forms against various disease conditions through external and internal application. Classical texts are written at different time periods, since the origin of Āyurveda. These information have not been critically reviewed and published in a compiled format. A systematic review regarding the identification and use of this classical drug is the need of time.
Aim: To have a comprehensive review on karavīra like classification, synonyms, pharmacological properties, actions, varieties, and formulations containing karavīra or its parts as an ingredient from different classical texts and to present them in a systematic manner.
Results: After review, different opinions are found about the types of karavīra based on their flower color. Various synonyms are attributed to describe its morphological as well as pharmacological characters. Ayurvedic classics classified karavīra in varga based on various criteria. Karavīra has been used as an ingredients in 222 formulations having external and internal uses. Nerium oleander L. and Thevetia peruviana (Pers.) K. Schum. are source plants of karavīra reported for their therapeutic value and various pharmacological activities. All parts of these plants are having toxic properties because of their phytoconstituents present in them.
Conclusion: Karavīra described in classical texts of Āyurveda by using various synonyms, their varieties, varga, their rasapañcaka, karma, and a wide range of therapeutic importance in 222 formulations to combat 62 diseased conditions. Maximum formulations are indicated in the treatment of Kustha. Maximum dosage forms are Taila. External application of karavīra are found more as compared to internal application, which may be due to its poisonous character.
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