Ayurvedic medicines are usually prepared as a combination of several herbs and other natural ingredients of high medicinal value. The recipe and methods of preparations are as prescribed by Rishis or sages who have passed on their over 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 5, collectively known as "panchakashaya kalpana".
Swarasa is the juice of the herb part that is used for medicinal preparation.This is done by cutting the herbs into small pieces, pounding it and then squeezing it through a cloth. For example, Amritha swarasa and vasa swarasa.
Kalka or wet bolus is made by crushing the herbs and plants to make a paste. It is usually used for external applications and if taken internal, the recommended dosage is 1 karsha (12g). For example, Nimba kalka, Rasona kalka.
Khwatha is prepared by boiling the herb (about 60gms 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 120g of decoction can be administered at a time, slightly warmed, after the food has digested. For example, Gudoochyadi kwatha.
Hima or cold infusion is usually used for treating disorders due to the pitta inbalance. 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 2 pala. For example, Drakshaadi seetha kashayam.
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 12hrs and filtered. The dosage is usually 2 palas. It is best suited for treating ailments related to vata and kapha imbalance. For example, Panchakola phanta.
The other forms of Ayurvedic medicines are:
Choorna is a dry form of Ayurveda medication. It is prepared by crushing and powdering the herbs. Choorna is very helpful in curing various internal imbalances. The recommended dosage is one karsha (12g) twice a day. For example, Triphala choorna, Avipati choorna.
Avaleha 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 colour and taste. For example, Chyavanaprasa and Kushmandavaleha. The other names of avaleha are Rasakriya and leha. Dosage is usually 1 pala.
Sneha kalpana is a special mixture of ghee and other medicinal drugs. Ghee has several medicinal properties which can help increase the element of Agni without causing imbalance in pitta. It is good for small intestine and can increase the ojus or the essence of energy. Especially suitable for vata related ailments, sneha kalpana is used for treating disorders of nerves and mind. It is prepared by mixing 1 part of kalka with 4 part of ghee or oil and 16 parts of decoction. The dosage is usually 1 pala. Examples are Sukumara ghrita, Narayana taila.
Sandhana kalpana or fermented liquids, otherwise known as Asavas or arista, is prepared by fermenting the drugs in airtight containers. Sweeteners are also added to the preparations. Asavas and arishtas differ in that Asavas are made from dry powders while arishtas make use of herbal decoctions.