Methods for Making Ayurvedic Preparations

Different pharmaceutical processes are used to make Ayurvedic remedies. The most important forms are:

  1. Juice
  2. Power
  3. Decoction
  4. Paste
  5. Infusion
  6. Cold Infusion
  7. Milk Preparation
  8. Linctus or Jam
  9. Medicated Oil and Ghee
  10. Alcoholic Preparations
  11. Pills or Tablets
  12. Scale Preparations
  13. Medicines Prepared by Sublimation
  14. Collyrium

These different methods or processes for making Ayurvedic preparations are discussed in detail below, along with some common examples.

1. Juice (svarasa)

This is generally obtained from leaves, flowers, fruits and Tender stems. These parts are first of all washed well and cold-pressed to take out the juice. Sometimes, these plant-parts are made to a paste by adding water. Then the juice is extracted by squeezing through a cloth. In some cases, special methods are also required to be used.

Kumari (Aloe barbadensis) is a very useful drug for girls. It is commonly used for their menstrual disorders and hormonal imbalance, and liver disorders in both the sexes. Because of its fleshy nature, it is slightly difficult to extract the juice. For this purpose, the plant should be either steam-boiled or roasted over the fire first and then juice should be taken out after squeezing through a cloth. This juice has a bitter taste.

Bilva (Aegle marmelos) is commoly used for the cure of diabetes and stomach disordes. For extracting the juice of this drug, the leaves of this plant are wrapped with mud and made into a bolus form. This bolus is heated in fire and the juice is squeezed out after breaking the bolus.

2. Powder (churna)

Generally, leaves, stems, barks and roots are used for Preparing powder. For this purpose, these plant parts are dried in the shade and then powdered. Certain plants may also be exposed to the sun while drying. These should be powdered only when these are completely dried; otherwise these may be infested with fungus. This powder should be stored in dry and airtight’ glass bottles. It remains therapeutically effective for one year. Generally, powders of different drugs are mixed together to make them more effective.

Some of more woody and fibrous plants can only be ground with the help of some kind of machine. Madhuyasti (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is such type of fibrous drug. The powder of madhuyasti (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is a good laxative. It is also used for the treatment of rheumatism and as a rejuvenating medicine.

Bhringa raja (Eclipta Alba) is a plant, which is commonly used in hair oil. It is also taken internally to correct the function of the liver. To this powder, the powder of katuki (Picorrhiza kurroa) is added along with the powdered rock salt.

3. Decoction (kvatha)

This is prepared by boiling the drugs in water. According of the hardness of the drug, either four, eight or sixteen times of water is added to the drug and boiled till one fourth remains. This decoction is filtered and the filtrate is used medically. Sometimes various things are added, like butter, honey, sugar jaggery or oils.

4. Paste (kalka)

The leaf, flower, bark, stem or root is ground by adding Some water for preparing paste.

5. Infusion (phanta)

These are mostly hot infusions of herbs in water; for example the classical herb teas, such as mint, rose, and jasmin. The herbs are steeped for a few minutes and then the infusion is strained. While steeping, the herbs should be covered.

6. Cold Infusion (situ kasaya)

The powder of drug is soaked in water and kept overnight. The next morning, it is strained out through a cloth and taken by adding honey, sugar, or another sweetener. Generally, one teaspoon per tumbler of water is used for this purpose.

Triphala (a collective name of amalaki or Emblica officinalis, haritaki or Terminallia chebula and bibhitaka or Terminalia belerica) is commonly used like sita kasaya. It is astringent in taste. It is taken internally by adding honey and also externally for washing the eyes. It promotes eyes sight as well as the power of resistance.

7. Milk Preparation (ksira paka)

This is prepared by boiling one part of the drug with eight parts milk and thirty two parts of water. When it is reduced to one fourth, it should be filtered and the filtrate is to be taken by an adding sugar, etc.

8. Linctus or Jam (avaleha, lehya, paka, prasa or khanda )

This is a typical Ayurvedic preparation. Generally, the powder or paste of the main drug (1 part), sugar (4 parts), jaggery (2 parts) and liquid, such as the decoction or the juice of the drug (4 parts) are mixed and cooked over fire. When the recipe becomes semi-solid in consistency, the powder of mentioned drugs should be added as praksepa and stirred well. Then the recipe should be taken out from the fire, allowed to cool and honey should be mixed. This linctus should be stored in a ghee smeared porcelain jar. If pumpkin is mentioned in the formula, then first the ghee or oil is to be heated and the pumpkin is to be fried. Then afterwards, the liquid, jaggery, and drugs should be added and cooked according to the procedure.

Cyavana prasa is perhaps the best preparation of linctus. It is an excellent tonic which is rich in amalaki (Emblica officinalis). It is useful in curing chronic lungs diseases like chronic bronchitis, tuberculosis, cough and asthma and also acts as a wonderful tonic for everyone.

9. Medicated Oil and Ghee (taila and ghrta)

These are prepared by cooking The ghee or oil with the juice or the decoction and paste of the drugs. For the preparation of medicated ghee or medicated oil, the following three components are generally used:
(a) Drava or liquid. It includes decoction, juice, milk, buttermilk, meat soup etc. This liquid may be one or more.
(b) Kalka or paste. A fine paste of the drug.
(c) Sneha dravya or fat. It includes taila (oil) and drugs (ghee).

Unless otherwise specified, for such recipes, paste of drugs should be one-fourth the amount of ghee or oil and the liquid should be four times that of the ghee or oil. If no liquid is specified in the recipe then water should be used. When liquids are four or less than four, then each one of them should be four times that of ghee or oil. When liquids are more than four, then each of them should be equal to the quantity of oil or ghee.

For preparing medicated oil or medicated ghee, the paste, liquid and oil or ghee are mixed together and cooked. The recipe should be stirred constantly to avoid the paste at the bottom from getting charred. If more than one liquid is mentioned then these are to be added one after the other. The second liquid should be added only after the first liquid gets evaporated. After the moisture of the liquids is evaporated, the moisture of the paste will start evaporating. This is the time when the recipe should be stirred more frequently to avoid the paste getting burnt at the bottom of the vessel.

When a medicated taila or oil gets properly cooked, a large amount of foam appears at the surface of the oil. On the other hand, when the medicated ghrta or ghee gets properly cooked, a large quantity of foam, which had already appeared over its surface, subsides. Thereafter, the recipe should be strained out. If salt or any alkali preparation is to be added to the recipe, then it should be added after the oil is strained, and mixed well.

The cooking of medicated ghrta or taila should be over mild fire as excessive heat is likely to spoil the recipe. These preparations should be stored in glass or polythene containers. Medicated ghtrta or taila retain their therapeutic utility for about one and a half years.

10. Alcoholic Preparations (asava and arista)

These are the varieties of herbal wines prepared by natural fermentation with yeast. The maximum alcohol percentage of this preparation is 15. In the case of arista, the drug is used after boiling and making a decoction. While for making an asava, the drug is not boiled, it is simply added. All the drugs, decoctions, juices, etc. are fermented in a suitable container. In the old days, an earthen pot was used. The inside border of this pot is smeared with a little turmeric powder and ghee to prevent  the mixture from becoming sour. This pot is sealed and then kept for about a month in underground cellar in a heap of barley, etc.

11. Pills or Tablets (gutika, vati and modaka)

This type of medicine is prepared in pills or tablet form. Individual ingredients of these preparations, namely vegetable products, animal products, metals, minerals and gems are first of all to be cleaned of external impurities and internal poisonous effects. The vegetable drugs should be dried and made to a fine powder, separately. Then prescribed liquid is added and triturated well until a fine paste is prepared. If more than one liquid is mentioned, they are to be added one after another. If no liquid is mentioned, water should be added. Out of this mixture, pills of specified size are prepared. They are dried in the shade or sum as mentioned in the text. Sugandha dravya (fragrant drugs) like karpura (camphor), kasturi (musk), etc. are added at the end and triturated. If jaggery, sugar, etc. are mentioned in the recipe, then paka (syrup) of these drugs should be made on mild fire and then mixed with the powder of drugs . If parada (mercury) and sulphur are mentioned, then kajjali (collyrium like black fine powder) should be made first and thereafter other drugs should be added.

Instead of pills, nowadays these recipes are being prepared in tablet form by a tablet making machines. For this purpose, binding material like gum-arabica is added. If guggulu is one of the ingredients, then no binding material is needed.

These pills should be stored in airtight clean and dry glass bottle. These retain their therapeutic effect for two years. Pills containing minerals can be used for an indefinite period.

12. Scale Preparations (parpati)

These are generally prepared by Pouring a melted substance on a leaf. First of all kajjali (collyrium like fine black powder) of parada and gandhaka and the powder of other drugs (if mentioned) are put in an iron vessel and kept over fire. This melted substance should be poured on banana leaf or eranda (Ricinus communis) leaf spread over fresh cow-dung. Then another leaf is covered over it and gently pressed by spreading fresh cow-dung. After it is cooled, the scale like preparation is to be powdered.

13. Medicines Prepared by Sublimation (kupipakva rasayana)

This means literally rejuvenating agent prepared in a glass bottle. For preparing it, drugs of mineral and metallic origin, are mixed together in fine powder form, then are placed in a glass bottle (kaca kupi), one-third of its capacity. The bottle is smeared with mud smeared cloth in seven consecutive layers. This bottle is heated in valukayantra. The mouth of the bottle is kept open in the beginning, later it is closed. In this way sulphur gets sublimated. A red-hot iron rod is inserted in to the bottle through its opening, so that bottle may not be choked by a thick coating of subliming sulphur. When the bottle gets cooled, it is removed carefully and broken in the middle. The sindura deposited at the neck is carefully scraped off and collected. These preparations are generally red, yellow, or dark in colour. They retain their therapeutic effect for indefinite period.

Pisti can then be prepared by triturating the drug with the specified liquids. After purification, the drug is generally triturated by adding rose water, unless otherwise mentioned. Thereafter, it is dried in sun or moonlight glass bottles. They contain their therapeutic effects indefinitely.

14. Collyrium (anjana)

These are special preparations for eyes. For their Preparation, the fine powder of drugs should be well triturated by adding specified liquid to form a soft paste. From out of this, thin sticks are made.

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