Forms of preparation of Ayurvedic Medicines

Arishta and Asava / Ayurvedic wines:

A very important therapeutics form of Ayurveda. Arishtas (also named Rishtas) and Asavas are self-generated herbal fermentations of traditional Ayurvedic system. Like Ghan, these are the most effective forms of preparatons. They are alcoholic medicaments prepared by allowing the herbal juices or their decoctions to undergo fermentation with the addition of sugars (molasses or honey). They contain naturally generated alcohol. This alcohol acts as the medium for active ingredients of the herbs to dissolve in it. A small amount of alcohol allows the active components to instantly enter the bloodstream.

Though Arishta and Asava contain alcohol, they are quite safe to prescribe and to consume.

Arishtas are made with decoctions of herbs in boiling water while Asavas are prepared by directly using fresh herbal juices.

These medicinal wines have several advantages, like better keeping quality, enhanced therapeutic properties, improvement in the efficiency of extraction of drug molecules from the herb and improvement in drug delivery into the human body parts.

Arishtas and Asavas like Ghan, are the most effective forms of treatment. They use only extracts (pure juice) of herbs, while powders contain crushed stems, leaves, fruits or rhizomes of plants, depending on the formula of the drug.

Ghan is the most effective form of medicine in terms of activity and effects on the body. This is a dehydrated broth. It is very difficult to make even in our time. Only very large Ayurvedic companies can authorize the production of such forms of medicine.


Is a liquid preparation obtained by distillation of certain liquids or drugs soaked in water using the Arkayantra (a type of steam distillation apparatus) or any convenient modern distillation apparatus. It is a suspension of the distillate in water having slight turbidity and color according to the nature of the drugs used and smell of the predominant drug.

Method of preparation of Arka:

First, the herbs are cleaned, left to dry, and then coarse powder is made. Some water is added to the powdered herbs to soak and leave overnight. By soaking herbs over night makes them soft and releases the essential volatile principles easily when boiled. The moistened herbs are poured along with the remaining water into the yantra arch or distillation apparatus. Add some more water (the proportion is 1:4, i.e. for 1 kg of herbs add 4 liters of water). When it starts boiling, the vapors get condensed and collected in a receiver. The collected essence (Arch) is stored for cooling, and then collected in a bottle. Its cork should be air tight so that volatile extract will not get evaporated and potency of Arka remains for a longer period.

Important! It is found that, in the beginning, the vapors consists of only steam and may not contain the essential principles of the herbs. So it is better to discard that part. The last portion also may not contain therapeutically essential substance and should be discarded.

Characteristics of Arka:
– is a suspension of the distillate in water;
– has slight turbidity;
– the color of the Arka will be according to the nature of the herbs used;
– the smell of the Arka will be according to predominant drug.

Avaleha / Lehyam:

Is complex jam of many ingredients. Is one of the forms of Ayurvedic medicine which is semi-solid in consistency. After strained decoctions (Kwath) are boiled down, sugar or jaggery is added to it. These are herbal jams and are highly popular due to convenience in consumption. The most popular being Chyawanprash. Avaleha is also termed as Modaka, Guda, Khanda, Rasayana, Leha, Lehyam etc. ‘Leha’ has been derived from ‘Lih’ means to lick. The formulation which can be licked by tongue is called Avaleha. The medicine in avaleha form gets easily assimilated in the body tissue as digesion of a Lehyam starts right from the tongue.

In all types of Avaleha preparations there generally have following ingredients:
– Herbs or drugs with the addition of:
– Kashaya (decoctions) or other liquids like Swarasa (drug juice);
– Gur/ Guda/ Sharkara (Jaggery, sugar or sugar candy);
– Churna (Powders or pulps of certain drugs);
– Ghrita (Ghee) or Tailam (oil);
– Madhu (honey).

Bhasma / Pishti / Rasa

Is powdered ashes. A rare category of drugs, the preparation of which uses precious metals and even repeatedly purified mercury. This form is prepared by burning herbs and roots in closed clay vessels without oxygen. The heating process is repeated several times. The process of preparing these forms is pure alchemy, and the technology of preparation is kept secret by the manufacturers. In classic Ayurvedic texts it is indicated that this is one of the most effective ways to influence the affected body. This is a Rasayan class drug. They can be both in tablet form and in powder. These are rasa-preparations (rasayana), which contain various minerals or ashes (bhasmas) of minerals. Due to their very high concentration, they have a very small dosage. From 1 gram and below. Mostly prescribed from 15 mg. up to 125 mg. per day.

Churna / Choorna / Ayurvedic herbal powder:

These are powders which are to be consumed with water, milk, honey or any other liquid as directed by the physician. Churna is the type of ayurvedic medicines in which single herb or a specific number of herbs are ground to make a fine powder. In addition to herbs, Churna can also contain fine powder of salts, sugar, and other ayurvedic ingredients. Some ingredients like Hing (Asafoetida) may also be roasted before grinding them into a powder.

To prepare churnas, herbs (parts of herbs) mentioned in a particular formulation are cleaned and dried properly. They are finely powdered and sieved. Where there are a number of drugs in formulation, the drugs are separately powdered and sieved. Powder of each drug is weighed separately and mixed thoroughly. This will ensure proper mixing in comparison to mixing the drugs and preparing the powder of the drug-mix. In industry, however, all the drugs are cleaned, dried and powdered together by disintegrators. Mechanical sifters are also used. Salt, sugar, camphor (the material with water content, when mentioned) are mixed with the rest at the end. Asafoetida and salt may also be roasted, powdered and then added. Sometimes it is necessary to use plant ingredients in fresh form in such a case drug paste is prepared, dried, and then added. The powder should be fine at least of 80 mesh sieves. It should not adhere together or become moist. The finer the powder, the better is its therapeutic value.

Ghan / Ghan vati / Kwath (in liquid concentrated form):

Ghan is a dried aqueous extract. Ghan – Pure Evaporated Extract. It is the solidified mass prepared by evaporating all the aqueous portion from ‘kwath’. Ghana is available in pill form. One package of the drug in the form of a ghana replaces 3-5 packages of powder or tablets. In addition, due to the high effectiveness of this form, often one package of the drug is enough for treatment, so the treatment does not stretch for months. But this form requires accurate dosage, and also requires discipline of the person during therapy.

Partially dehydrated liquid concentrated form of Kwath is, like Ghan, one of the most effective forms of Ayurvedic preparations in terms of activity and impact on the body. This is a dehydrated broth. It is obtained by boiling the powdered plant material in required quantity of water till all the active ingredients are extracted completely in the water. The retained liquid after boiling is then filtered through a muslin cloth. The filtrate so obtained is termed as ‘kwaatha’- the decoction. The reason for boiling the plant material in water is to extract the entire water soluble ingredients. The quantity of water required to be added and to be retained after boiling varies from plant to plant. According to some experts whatever quantity of water is added, three-fourth part of water needs to be evaporated and the fourth part retained to achieve this objective.

Ghrita / Ghritam:

These are oily compounds, when cooled they are ointments, and when heated, their consistency is similar to that of jam or very concentrated oil. They are made on the basis of ghee and vegetable oils for a very powerful cleansing of the body.

Their use ranges from the treatment of gastrointestinal imbalance, urogenital, nervous disorders and to joint pain.

Since gritha has an oil base, herbs in this type of Ayurvedic formula can penetrate very deeply into the body’s tissues (more than tablets). They have a lubricating and nourishing effect. The Gritas balance Vata and Pitta dosha and, depending on the composition, can have a balancing effect on Kapha dosha.

Guggul / Guggulu:

Is an exudate (Niryaasa) obtained from the plant Commiphora mukul. Preparations having this exudate as main effective ingredient are known as Guggulu. There are five different varieties of Guggulu described in the texts. However, two of the varieties, namely Mahisaaksha and Kanaka Guggul are usually preferred for medicinal preparations. Mahisaksha Guggulu is dark greenish brown and Kanaka Guggulu is yellowish brown in color. They are purified by boiling the raw material with different liquid materials till a soft mass is obtained and repeatedly processed to obtain its purified form known as sodhita guggulu. Its potency is supposed to be retained for two years when used as ingredient with products of plant origin and indefinitely when prepared with metal and mineral based products.

Kashayam / Kashay:

Kashayam is, in simple words, a strong infusion of herbs, although correctly it is called decoction. Kashaya is an extracted and specially prepared herb. In appearance and method of brewing, they are similar to granular tea. Granules allow you to preserve the properties of herbs for a long time at their high concentration. A wide range of Ayurvedic Medicines is in the form of water-soluble herbs called decoction. They are prepared by boiling herbs and medicinal plants in water to form a thick runny solution. Water and herbs are main ingredients of these preparations. However, herbs can be different according to the propose of use and therapeutic indications. These formulations contain water extract of prescribed herbs and highly beneficial for providing quick relief in the most of diseases. Kashaya like Ghan, is the most effective form of treatment. It uses only extracts of herbs, while powders contain crushed stems, leaves, fruits or rhizomes of plants, depending on the formula of the drug.

Kwath / Kadha – Ayurvedic wellness Tea:

Kwath is a coarse powder. Commonly used for making infusions. Sometimes, it makes sense when you need a large amount of infusion, and buying a finished one is quite expensive. Brewed kwath this is a kashayam (infusion of herbs). Also in the southern Ayurvedic school, the word kwath is used for tablets consisting of a mixture of powder and extract. The partially dehydrated liquid concentrated form of kwath is similar in properties to Ghan.

 Lepam / Lepana:

Lepam is an ointment, paste, patch. This composition in some cases is applied to the skin, and in some cases it is taken orally. One of the most famous representatives of this group is Kailash Jeevan ointment and others.

Maha-… :

“Maha” is a prefix for the name, which means the enhanced formula of the drug with an increased dose of the main ingredients.


–  Is a sweet fruit preserves.
–  It can be a delicious organic marmalade prepared from the pulp of the fruit and sugar or fruits in sugar syrup. Usually it is made from fruits, sugar and spices.
–  Murabba from fruits (amla, bael, etc.) and roots (ginger, etc.) of medicinal plants are used as Ayurvedic supplements for health.


Is the water extractable solid substance collected from a plant. The plant is cut into small pieces, macerated in water and kept overnight. Then it is strained through cloth and the solid matter is allowed to settle. The supernatant liquid is decanted and the remaining Sattva is washed with water and decanted and the process is repeated several times. The Sattva so sedimented is allowed to dry and is powdered. This can be preserved in a closed container.


It’s the expressed juice obtained from freshly collected plants. Swarasa is a raw plant juice. Parts of herbs are cut into small pieces and with the help of a press the swarasa or extract is obtained. Dravyas of a semi-woody nature are cut into small pieces, crushed and then ground into a paste. The paste is then squeezed for the extracts.

Tailam / Thailam / Taila:

This is an oil infusion of herbs. Commonly used for instillation into the nose, ears or for application to the skin. This form also contains herbal extracts, which in combination with oils can achieve very good treatment results. Massage oils are also available in taylam form. Ayurveda also uses pure oils from certain plants.

> Siddha Tailas (Medicated oils) and Siddha Ghritas (Medicated Ghee)- are preparations in which oil or ghee is boiled with prescribed kasaayas (decoction) and kalkas (fine paste) of drugs according to the formula. This process ensures absorption of the active therapeutic properties of the ingredients used, into the oil base. In these preparations three ingredients are essential- sneha (ghee or oil), drava (liquid)- which may be decoctions, expressed juice etc., and kalka-the fine paste of the ingredients. The ratio of the ingredients, unless specified otherwise, is oil four part, kalka- one part and liquid sixteen parts ( however, there are several exceptions). During preparation the fine paste and liquids are mixed together and then oil or ghee is added and boiled on mild fire and continuously stirred to ensure that the fine paste does not stick to the vessel. The boiling is continued till the liquid portion gets evaporated, at this stage the moisture of the fine paste starts evaporating. This is tested with the help of a ladle to determine the paaka (cooking stage). The paaka is categorized in to mridu (soft)- if the paste is waxy when rolled between fingers, madhyama (moderate) if the paste is hard and fires without cracking noise when put in to fire and khara (hard) if it burns with cracking sound when placed in fire. The ideal condition of the medicated oil is attained when uniform froth comes out and subsides in case of medicated ghee. This is the general procedure- depending upon the ingredients used, different modifications have been mentioned.

Varti / Netrabindu / Anjana:

Eyes health. These are medicinal preparations meant for external application to the eyes.
Vartis are made by grinding the fine powders of the drugs with the 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.
Netrabindu is prepared by dissolving the semisolids of drugs to be applied with Netra-salaka (type of drug applicator to the eye).
Anjana – thick viscous drops, creams and ointments . In general, there are 2 types of Anjana: Souviranjana – should be used daily and Srotoanjana – is comparatively strong and should be used once in a week.

Vati / Gutika /Tablets:

A method of medicine preparation in which herbal extracts are concentrated into tablet or pills form. They are made of one or more drugs of plant, animal or mineral origin. The plant ingredients are dried and made into fine powders, separately and ground to soft pastes before they are rolled in to pills. Sometimes minerals are also used as ingredients in such cases the mineral is converted to Bhasmas (calcined metallic compounds) and used as ingredients.

These are Ayurvedic tablets. They are becoming increasingly popular these days due to ease of storage & consumption. They are also called Gutika, Vataka, Vati or Bati. Tablets are usually taken orally.
Apart from oral dosage forms, drugs administered through other routes of administration such as per-rectal, per urethral, per vaginal, nasal etc.
Preparations meant for routes other than oral routes:

  •    Basti – per rectal administration of medicated oils and emulsions.
  •    Guda varti – per rectal insertion of suppository.
  •    Uttar Basti – per-urethral, per-vaginal administration of medicated oils and emulsions.
  •     Nasya  Nasal – instillation and inhalations (nasal insufflations).
  •     Aschyotana – eye drops.
  •     Anjana –  eye creams and ointments.
  •     Karnapurana – ear drops.
  •     Ksaara a sutra – surgical thread coated with caustic or acrid drug material.

Sheeta / Hima:

The cold water infusion. Heat sensitive plant material is subjected to cold water infusion and the product so obtained is termed as ‘Sheeta’ or Hima. Finely powdered plant material is soaked overnight in six parts of water. The contents are then filtered through a four layered muslin cloth. The filtrate so obtained is ‘Sheeta’.


The hot water infusion. ‘Faanta’ is prepared from the plant material requiring low grade temperature for extraction of water soluble ingredients- which are likely to be sensitive to high temperature. Finely powdered plant material is soaked in hot water and thoroughly mixed. The mixture is then filtered through a four layered muslin cloth. The filtrate so obtained is termed as ‘Faanta’.