Ayurvedic medicines are usually prepared as a combination of several herbs and other natural ingredients of high medicinal values. The recipe and methods of preparation are as prescribed by the Rishis or sages who have passed on their over the generations.
Ayurvedic medicine preparation calls for a lot of care and attention. Selecting the right ingredients collected fresh and at the right amounts, cleaning the herbal parts, drying them in the sunlight and processing - all these steps are very important in making the medicine effective as a remedy.
Depending upon the extraction process, Ayurvedic decoctions can be classified into five, collectively known as Pancha Kashaya Kalpana:
Swarasa - Swarasa is the juice of the herb part that is used for medicine preparation. This is done by cutting the herbs into small pieces, pounding it and then squeezing it through a cloth. Examples for Swarasa are Amritha Swarasa and Vasa Swarasa.
Kwatha – Kwatha is prepared by boiling the herb (about 60 gms or 1 Pala) in 16 parts of water in an earthen pot over a mild fire till it is reduced to 1/8 of the original amount. About 120 gm of the decoction can be administered at a time, slightly warmed, after the food has digested. Example of Kwatha is Gudoochyadi Kwatha.
Phanta – To prepare Phanta or hot infusion, the herbs, leaves seeds etc. are immersed in boiled water. For the infusion 1 part of the herb and 8 parts of water are used. This is left to stand for 12 hours and filtered. The dosage is usually 2 Palas. It is best suited for treating ailments related to Vatha and Kapha imbalance. Example of Phanta is Bruhmadooka Phanta.
Hima – Hima or cold infusion is usually used for treating disorders due to Pitha imbalance. It is prepared by seeping aromatic flowers and leaves and is usually made during the night time when there is maximum lunar energy. The ratio for preparation is 1 Pala of powdered drug in 8 Palas of cold water. The infusion is filtered in the morning and the dosage is same as that of Phanta.
Kalka - Kalka or wet bolus is made by crushing the herbs and plants to make a paste. A little water may be added for the preparation. It is usually used for external applications and if taken internally the recommended dosage is one Karsha (12g). Examples for Kalka are Nimbakalka, Rasona Kalka etc.
The other forms of Ayurveda medicines are:
Churna is a dry powdered form of Ayurveda medication. It is prepared by crushing and powdering the herbs. Churna is very helpful in curing various internal imbalances. The recommended dosage is one Karsha (12 g) twice a day. Examples of Churna are Pippalee Churna, Thriphala Churna etc.
Gulika or Pills are prepared by mixing the herbs with water, honey, jaggery or guggul and rolling it into pills. These are used commonly in the treatment of digestive and diuretic problems. Gulika is also referred to as Vati, Modaka, Vatiks, Pindi, Varthi etc.
Avalaha is prepared by boiling a Kwatha (decoction) and reducing it into a solid mass. Special attention is needed while preparing Avaleha. It should have the right consistency, pleasant smell, the right colour and taste. Examples are Chyavanaprasa and Kooshmandavaleha. The other names of Avaleha are Rasakriya and Leha. Dosage is usually one Pala.
Sneha Kalpana is a special mixture of ghee and other medicinal drugs. Ghee has several medical properties which can help increase the element of Agni without causing imbalance in Pitha. It is good for the small intestine and can increase the Ojas or the essence of energy. Especially suitable for Vatha related ailments, Sneha Kalpana is used for treating disorders of the nerves and the mind. It is prepared by mixing one part of Kalka with four parts of ghee or oil and four parts of decoction. The dosage is usually 1 pala. Examples are Sukumara ghritham, Narayana Thaila etc.
Sandhana Kalpana or fermented liquids, otherwise known as Asava or Arishtas, is prepared by fermenting the drugs in airtight containers. Sweeteners are also added to the preparation. Asavas and Arishtas differ in that Asavas are made from dry powders while Arishtas make use of herbal decoctions.