“The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest their patients in the care of the human frame, in Diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.”(Thomas Edison)
There is no substance in the world, which is not a medicine, and everything is useful in many ways. There is no common medicine for a disease. Ready of the shelf medications cannot have the desired effect as you are individual and your constitution differs from others with the same or similar ailment and the medications have to also be specially made. The medicine changes from person to person for the same disease. The determination of the drug, its potency, dose, time of administration etc should be appropriate to the dosha imbalance, strength & stage of the disease, the diseased (person), and the digestion. Very subtle are the variation in different states of doshas, drugs, regions, time, strength, digestive activity, food, tastes, accustoms, mental make up, constitution, age etc. which if not considered deeply will lead to complications. Ayurvedic Medicines can be divided in to 2 groups:
- Medicines of plant origin
- Medicines of metals and mineral origin
These in turn are presented in various forms as:
1. Asavas and Arishta (Herbal wines):
Herbal wines are self generated herbal fermentation. They are prepared similar to grape wine in big wooden vats or earthen vessels.
2. Avaleha (Herbal jams):
Herbal jams are prepared with raw sugar such as jaggery, honey as the base. They are herbal confections. The sugar acts as a preservative, improves the taste of the herbs and enhances tonic properties. Not all of them however taste good and may have a pungent taste.
3. Kvatha (Concentrated herbal decoctions):
It is prepared by boiling the chipped herbs/plant parts in water. The taste of this preparation is usually bitter/astringent. This is the most common form of internal medication used, which is highly effective if you can compromise with taste.
4. Ghrutha (Medicated ghee):
Ghee from cow's milk is used as the base to extract the active components from the raw herbs. It will not increase your weight/cholesterol as they are combined with special herbs.
5. Choornam (Herbal powder):
Fine powder of dry drugs. It can be used internally or externally mixed with food and other liquid materials like honey, warm water, buttermilk etc.
6. Taila (Medicated oils):
Medicated oils are prepared mainly with sesame oil and sometimes, coconut oil, castor oil, bee wax etc. They are used for external and internal use. We use many tonic herbs prepared in oil for external nourishment as well as more special analgesic herbs.
7. Vati or gutika (Tablets/pills/capsules): Tablets however are not made only of powders. We use herbal pastes and herbal extracts, which give them a superior quality over simple tableted powders.
8. Rasa preparations: These are special, very powerful Ayurvedic herbal preparations using minerals. The toxic metals are purified by various procedures. The result is usually a white powder an oxide of the metal/gem, which is humanized or rendered safe for human consumption.
• Kupipakwa rasayana - Special preparation of mineral and metallic origin.
• Parpat - In flakes form.
• Lauha - Preparation of metallic ash.
• Mandura - Mineral medicine.
• Bhasma - Ash of herbs or minerals got by calcification.
9. Swarasa (Herbal Juice): Crushing and squeezing the fresh herbs makes it. Boiling with water or keeping in water for 48 hours can make it from the powder of dried herbs as well. As this form is highly potent the maximum dose required is 25 ml. Most often the taste is bitter/astringent.
10. Varti - Medicated paste in the form of dry sticks.
11. Netrabindu - Eye drops.
12. Anjana - Medicated collyrium.
13. Satwa - Water extracted from dry herbs.
14. Pisti - Triturating the drugs and exposing to Sun or Moonlight.
15. Avarthi - Potency of the medicine is multiplied by repeated process.
16. Guggulu - Exudates of herb Commiphora mukul is the main ingredient.
17. Arka - Liquid medicines obtained from distillation process.
18. Kshara - Alkaline substances obtained from the ash drugs.
19. Lepa - Ointment or medicated paste for external application.
Irrespective of the above there are single herb therapy, which is also unique to Ayurveda.