It is not enough to have the right herbs to treat a condition, one must use them in the right preparation. The herbs must be in a form in which their potency is enhanced and preserved. The knowledge of how to prepare medicines is called “pharmaceutics”. Correct knowledge of this is an important part of Ayurveda.
Ayurveda contains a vast pharmaceutical science for preparing pills, powders, herbal extracts, herbal wines, medicated oils and ghees, and herbal confections, as well as many special mineral preparations. Many companies in India today prepare hundreds of such Ayurvedic medicines both for doctors and for over the counter use. Ayurvedic herb and medicine stores can be found throughout the country. They require no prescription to buy or to use.
Ayurvedic medicines are divided into three classes, according to their material of origin:
While considering herbal medicines, many factors are important beginning with the part of the plant that is best for usage: The root, flower, stem, leaves, bark, or exudations like the resin. Similarly, the proper season for collection is noted and signs that the plant is ready for harvesting.
While. using mineral substances, the place where the minerals are found, their qualities like color, smell, and form, and their different varieties are important. In the case of animal substances, the creature’s habitat, age, sex, food habits, and the part of the animal used should be properly studied.
Properties of the medicine like taste, energy, post-digestive effect, specific action, and various qualities must be taken into account. The action of the medicine on the particular dosha, organ or disease contrition in the body to be treated must be considered. While preparing a medicine, a physician must know whether the substance is pure or impure – whether it can be used directly or if it requires special processes to remove its side effects and enhance its benefits. If it is impure, the methods of its purification must be known. If a particular substance is not available at a particular season, appropriate substitutes should be known.
List of Ayurvedic Preparations
Ayurveda employs an entire range of herbal preparations from the raw plant to complex pharmaceutical products.
- Kwatha, Decoction
- Phanta, Hot infusion
- Hima, Cold infusion
- Swarasa, Fresh juice
- Kalka, Crushed pulp of the plant
- Ghana, Decoction evaporated to solid
- Arka, Liquid extracts
- Avaleha, Herbal jellies
- Asava and Arista, Herbal wines or tinctures
- Churna, Powders
- Ghrita, Medicated ghee
- Kshara, Extraction of alkalis from plants
- Lavana, Salts
- Guggul, Resins and balsams
- Lepa, Pastes
- Upanaha, Poultices
- Malahara, Ointments
- Panak, Crushed fruit and their preparations
- Sattva, Active or concentrated herb principles and extracts
- Taila, Medicated oils
- Varti, Suppositories
- Guti-vati, Tablets
- Bhasma, Oxide ashes
- Sara, Resins
- Kshira, Exudations, like the milky juice from various tropical fig trees
- Anjana, Ointments
- Dravaka, mixture of ashes of plants, salts, and alkalies distilled to produce a liquid, like Shankhadrava
- Druti, Solid substances converted into liquids, like liquefied sulphur