The oldest known and documented system of medicine in history, Ayurveda, is approximately 5000 years old. Ayurvedic formulas though, have evolved so much from ancient times to now. In this article, Ayurvedic formulas have been explained and a detailed Ayurvedic formulas list is included.
In Ayurveda, there are five basic formulas which have been explained in various Ayurvedic texts.
Renowned Ayurvedic scholar Charak has also explained these five basic Ayurvedic formulas in his text Charak Samhita in the fourth chapter of the first section called Sutra sthana. The name of the chapter is Shad virechana shatashriteeya adhyaya which refers to 600 purgatives.
Panchvidha Kashya Kalpana: Five Basic Preparations
The panchavidha kashya kalpana or five basic Ayurvedic formulas listed here, are the essential preparations.
*Swarasa – Swarasa is juice extracted from an herb.
*Kalka – Kalka means paste or bolus prepared from an herb.
*Shruta or kwaath – Shruta or kwaath means herbal decoction of an herb. Here, the herb is boiled and it is called shruta or kwaath kalpana.
*Sheeta – Sheeta means cold infusion. In this preparation, the coarsely grounded herb is boiled in water. After boiling, it is preserved overnight. This is called sheeta kalapana.
*Phanta – Phanta means hot infusion. In this kalpana, the herb is boiled in water. After boiling, the herb is squeezed. This squeezed filtrate is known as phanta kalpana.
Among these five Ayurvedic formulas (kalpanas), swarasa kalpana is considered the strongest kalpana as it is more concentrated. It is given to a person with good digestion because it is the hardest to digest among all preparations.
Phanta is considered to have the least strength. It is easy to digest because it is less concentrated.
Ayurvedic Formulas List
Here are other Ayurvedic formulas and formulations.
Medicated Ayurvedic Ghee Or Ghrita
Ghee is also called clarified butter in English. It has penetrating qualities. It is used as anupana or vehicle to carry herbs and their active ingredients deep into tissues.
Herbs are also cooked with ghee and herbal ghee preparations are made. Shatavari ghrita is an example of herbal ghee.
Medicated Ayurvedic Oil
There are two basic categories of Ayurvedic oil.
Base oil: Base oil is pure and organic. It is formed from a natural source like sesame seed oil and coconut oil.
Herbal oil: In herbal oil, the base oil is infused with the decoction of one or more Ayurvedic herbs to induce herbs qualities in the oil.
In medicated oils and medicated ghee preparations, the oil or ghee is boiled with prescribed kashaya or decoction and kalka or fine paste of ingredients according to the formula. This process ensures the absorption of the active therapeutic properties of the ingredients used, into the oil base.
In these preparations, three ingredients are necessary. One is sneha. Sneha means ghee or oil. Second is drava. Drava means liquid. The liquid can be decoctions, expressed juice etc. The third is kalka which is the fine paste of the ingredients.
The ratio of the ingredients and method are followed properly as mentioned in the Ayurvedic texts to make the medicated oil and ghee. The ratio of the ingredients, in general, is four parts oil, one part kalka, and sixteen parts liquid. There are exceptions to this as well.
The paaka or cooking stage has been categorized into three parts. These three parts are mridu or soft paaka, madhyama or moderate paaka and khara or hard paaka. Every cooking stage or paaka has a different role. For example, mridu paaka has been used for nasya or nasal insufflations and medium paaka is being used for oral administration and enema. Khar paaka is used for bathing.
Asavas And Arishtas
In Ayurveda, asava and arishta have an important place among the Ayurvedic formulas list, because of their long shelf life as compared to the five basic Ayurvedic formulations. The fermentation procedure adopted to prepare asava arishta is called sandhaana kalpana.
Arishtas are prepared by using decoctions of herbs in boiling water. While asavas are made directly using fresh herbal juices. Asava and arishta are made by fermentating herbal ingredients. However, these preparations have some self-generated alcohol in them along with sugar.
Sugar (jaggery is used in general but other sources can be used) along with dhataki flowers (Woodfordia fruticosa) is added to induce the fermentation process.
They are sweetish along with slight acidity and an agreeable aroma. The presence of alcohol in this preparation also has its advantages.
These include better keeping quality, enhanced therapeutic properties, improvement in the efficiency of extraction of active molecules from the herbs and improvement in drug delivery into the human body.
Many renowned Ayurvedic texts like Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita, Astanga Hridaya, Bhaishajya Ratnavali, and Sarngadhara Samhita have described asava and arishta preparations. However, it always advisable to take these preparations under supervision only.
Arka is a liquid preparation. Arka used to be obtained by the distillation of certain liquids or drugs soaked in water using the Arkayantra (a type of steam distillation apparatus) in older times.
However, nowadays many convenient modern distillation apparatuses are available. Arka is a suspension of the distillate in water having slight turbidity and color. The turbidity and color depend on the nature of the drugs used.
It also has a smell of the predominant drug.
Avaleha is a semi-solid preparation of drugs. It is a jam-like preparation that is meant for licking. It acquires the consistency of a thick paste. First, decoctions from herbs are made. Thereafter, the strained decoctions are boiled down and finally, sugar or jaggery is added to this decoction to make avaleha. Modaka, guda, khanda, lehya, praasa are more or less similar preparations to avaleha.
Churna is a fine powder of a single ingredient or more than one ingredients. While making a churna the ingredients are cleaned and dried properly.
Then they are finely powdered and sieved. In ancient times, mortar pestle was used to make churna. Whenever there is more than one ingredient, every ingredient is powdered and sieved separately.
Then this powder is weighed separately and later mixed with other ingredients according to the requirement. Salt, sugar, and camphor, when needed, are powdered and mixed with the rest at the end. The powder should be fine (at least of 80 mesh sieves). The powder should not stick together or become moist. The finer the powder, the better its therapeutic value.
Ghana is a dried aqueous extract. First of all, a kwatha is formed then its aqueous portion is evaporated. As a result, a solidified mass is formed which is called ghana. The kwatha is subjected to slow heating. As a result, the water content of kwatha evaporates. The kwatha first changes into semi-solid from clear liquid, then it turns into solid through the process of heating.
Guggulu is an exudate or niryaasa of a plant named Commiphora mukul. Any preparation having this exudate as the main ingredient is known as guggulu. Five different varieties of guggulu have been described in the textbooks.
However, two of the varieties, namely mahisaaksha and kanaka guggulu are usually used for medicinal preparations.
Lepa is used in the form of a paste. It is used for external application. The ingredients are made into a fine powder. Then it is mixed with some liquid or other medium and a soft paste is made. This is often used in Ayurvedic spa treatments.
Sattva is the water-extractable solid substance which is collected from a plant. The plant is cut into small pieces, soaked in water, and kept overnight. Then it is strained through a cloth and the solid matter is allowed to settle.
The liquid which floats above the precipitate is drained. The remaining sattva is washed with water and decanted. This process is repeated many times. The sattva sediment thus far is dried and powdered. It is then preserved in a closed container.
Vartis, Netrabindus And Anjana
All these medicinal preparations are meant for external application to the eyes.
Vartis are made by grinding the fine powders of the ingredients with fluids in the formula to form a soft paste. This is then made into thin sticks of about 2 centimeters in length and dried in shade. Netra bindu are Ayurvedic eye drops. Anjana is corrylium.
Vatis And Gutikas Or Gulikas
These are Ayurvedic preparations in tablet form or in pill form.
***This is a general list of Ayurvedic formulas. It is best to consult your Ayurvedic practitioner to gain complete knowledge of any formulation before use.