“Ayusho vedah Ayurvedah” Ayurveda means the science of life. Ayurveda is the oldest holistic medical system in the world. However, it’s not only a medical system but also a lifestyle mainly optimised to have two main objectives, and they are: Maintain health in a healthy way (preventive aspect) and pacify the disease in the diseased (curative aspect). To obtain the aims, drugs play an important role. In Ayurveda, vayidyadi chathushpada has mentioned four elements that are essential to cure a diseased person; they are physician, attendant, drugs, and patient. Drugs play a similar importance as the physician.
Bhaisajjya kalpana is the process of drug preparation in Ayurveda. It is mainly divided into two sections; primary preparations and secondary preparations. Primary preparations contain swarasa, kalaka, kwatha, hima, and panta, while avaleha, gutika, taila, gritha, and sandhana kalpana are mentioned under secondary preparations. Among the secondary preparations sandhana kalpana plays a major role, due to their quick absorption, palatability, extra nutritional value, use as a food appetiser, and long shelf life.
These drugs are processed by using the fermentation process, and they are of two types: Arishta and Asawa. In order to manufacture these medicines, liquid basic drugs (juices or decoctions) are kept for fermentation as indicated in the classics. When a drug and water are allowed to ferment without a proper boiling that is known as Asava, and if the decoction is made and fermented that is called Arishta.
Arishta made according to the authentic texts will naturally gain its unique quality. In the process of preparing Arishta, the quantity of liquids are not mentioned, a doran of water, a tula of jiggery, fifty pala of prakshepa churna and one fifth tula of jiggery may be taken. Before these preparations of medicine the vessels that are used to prepare these medications must be disinfected in an authentic way. This will remove unwanted pathogenic microorganisms. Arishta (fermented decoctions), when used as an intoxicating drink, possesses properties of the materials which it is prepared from and is more concentrated. It is also superior in quality due to the combination of herbs and processing, and as such alleviates many diseases and pacifies doshas.
Nature of wines in general are sour in taste as well as vipaka and hot in potency. Arishta type of wine is useful in consumption pies, sprue, anaemia, anorexia, fever, and diseases caused by the vitiation of kapha. It is both digestive and carminative and cures the disease of the duodenum, haemorrhoids, dropsy, leprosy and other skin diseases, enlargement of the abdomen, abdominal tumors, worms (parasites), and disorders of the spleen: is astringent, pungent and aggravates vata. Fresh preparations are hard to digest, and increase all the doshas, whereas the old ones have the opposite qualities. They should not be used hot or with hot compounds, not by persons who are having purgation, and who are hungry, wines which are very strong or weak. The arista or asawa which are very clear or very turbid and those which are spoiled should not be used for drinking.
The modern society is having a negative impression towards the usage of arishta, because they suspect that consumption of arishta and asawa will lead to harm the vital organs and give deadly side effects to the body due to the variations of the quality of the Arishta and Asawa. These beliefs scare the society and minimise as well as prevent the usage of Arishta and Asawa even when it is prescribed for a certain disease by a physician. This attitude will lead to the downfall of the Ayurvedic medical system. Many researches have been done regarding this matter, and based on the levels of alcohol and other parameters, Arishta or Asawa will not give harmful effects to the body and will increase the quality and the strength of the body while curing the diseases.
Furthermore, a doctor’s prescription after a proper consultation is an essential factor when consuming any type of a drug specially, Arishta and Asawa. The patient must strictly follow all the guidelines and advice that the physician gives. Since Arishta and Asawa are one of the most debated products in the field of Ayurveda drugs, to provide the solutions to some extent for the present dilemmas, the products should be safety and quality controlled. Therefore, when buying a prescribed medication, remember to buy a safe and authentic product from the Ayurveda pharmacy.
Dr. R.H. Poornima
BAMS (Hons) – University, of Colombo
Msc in Food and Nutrition-University of Peradeniya (Reading)
Diploma in Panchakarma