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Ayurvedic Medicine

How Is Time Of Medicine Administration Decided In Ayurveda?

There are many factors to consider while deciding on time of Ayurvedic medicine administration. Those factors are – patient’s strength, digestive health, disease condition, nature of medicine etc. Let us study these factors in detail.

Allopathic view point

The modern system deals with synthetic medicine. Medicine is a chemical molecule. If the food in the stomach alters the absorption/ metabolism of the medicine, the medicine is give before food. If the medicine has a chance to cause  or worsen gastritis, it is usually given after food.

Ayurveda viewpoint

Ayurvedic medicines are not considered as chemicals. They are herbs. The dose of Ayurveda medicine is usually large when compared to Allopathy. Ayurvedic medicines can be compared with fruits, nuts and vegetables. So, more often than not, the medicine has to be broken into minute particles and has to get digested in the stomach and intestine, before getting into blood circulation and before reaching the target organ and bring about treatment action. So, in Ayurvedic medicine administration, digestive strength is an important criterion.

Time of Ayurvedic medicine consumption

On empty stomach

Empty stomach – Giving medicine on empty stomach.

It is for 
a. Kapha disorders because, on an empty stomach, Kapha is very low and Vata and Pitta are high. Hence further decreasing Kapha with medicine is very easy at this point of time.

b. Strong patients – Medicine that are given on empty stomach will have maximum effect on the body. Because, the stomach does not have any other thing to digest, it digests the medicine very well. If the patient is strong and can tolerate, then for him, the ideal time to give medicine is when the stomach is empty.

c. For weight loss – If the medicine is intended to decrease the hunger, thereby helping the patient to eat less, it is usually given on empty stomach.

d. If the disease is very strong, then the medicine has to act to its maximum potential to save the patient. Hence empty stomach is preferred.

e. On an empty stomach, the stomach and intestines are fully available for effective medicine absorption. Hence, maximum therapeutic efficacy can be expected.

f. Contra indication: This time of medicine intake is best avoided in women, children and elderly people, because they may not tolerate the strength of the medicine.

Before food – (Pragbhakta)

It is preferred in cases of Apana Vata imbalance disorders like constipation, diarrhoea, menstrual disorders, etc. In learning about types of Doshas, we have learnt that the place of Apana Vata is large intestine and it controls the excretion process. Medicines that are administered before food, undergo digestion and reach the large intestine, before the food reaches there. So, medicines will bring about their therapeutic action swiftly.  

Because the medicine is soon followed up by food, there will not be distress due to medicine effect. This time is suitable for children, elderly and women.

In between food

It is preferred in cases of Samana Vata imbalance. Samana type of Vata resides in stomach and intestines and it controls the process of digestion. If medicine is taken in between food, it stays in the intestines for a longer period of time. Hence, all the digestive disorders related to intestines can be targeted easily.
In Pitta disorders also, this time is preferred.

After food

a. in disorders of Vyana Vata (which is situated in chest / heart, circulates all over the body and is cause for flexion and extension of hands, legs etc.)  medicine is given at the end of morning food.
b. In disorders of Udana Vata (which controls speech, enthusiasm, memory etc), medicine is given after dinner.

c. To gain weight, after food time is preferred. Because, for weight gain, Kapha Dosha needs to be boosted. Soon after food intake, at the starting phase of digestion, there is Kapha dominance. Hence, improving on Kapha Dosha quality is very easy at this point of time.

Basically, to treat imbalance of Dosha, which resides in chest region, medicine is given after food.  

In between morsels of food

Grasantara – This time period is useful for disorders of Prana Vata. (which controls peristalsis movement and respiration). Prana vata imbalance leads to vomiting, breathing difficulties (as in Asthma) etc. So, sandwiching medicines between two morsels helps the patient to normalize peristalsis (down movement of food).

This time period is useful for disorders of Prana Vata. (which controls peristalsis movement and respiration). Prana vata imbalance leads to vomiting, breathing difficulties (as in Asthma) etc. So, sandwiching medicines between two morsels helps the patient to normalize peristalsis (down movement of food).

Mixed with each morsel of food

Sagrasa– In case of lack of taste, anorexia, indigestion, medicine is mixed with food and given to the patient. It helps in masking the taste of medicine and aids in improving digestion strength and thus helps to treat anorexia. Aphrodisiac medicines, are usually administered in this time period.

Repeated dosage

Muhurmuhu– in diseases produced by poison, vomiting,  hiccup, thirst, dysponea and cough. These disorders develop symptoms throughout the day and medicine is required throughout the day to keep the symptoms under check.

Mixed with food

Mixed with food / cooked with food – in anorexia, low digestion strength, and when the whole body is affected by disease, and when the body is injured, the medicine is cooked / mixed along with food and is given to the patient.

Before and after food

in tremors, Akshepaka (convulsions), in hiccups,  to treat Doshas which have occupied the upper and lower parts of the body, this time is preferred. Digestive Avalehas and Churnas are usually administered in this period.

In between two meal times

Previously, people were taking only two meals per day. So, in the afternoon, when the breakfast is digested and at about mid night, when the dinner is digested, medicine was given. Cardiac tonics, medicine to improve mental strength, to improve digestion strength, medicines that are to be taken for a long period of time, and in some Vyana disorders, this time period is preferred.

Nishi

At night, bed time – for diseases affecting head and neck.  For example, Triphala home remedy for eyecare
Usually aphrodisiac medicines are administered at night. For example Satavaryadi Churna, along with milk, at night. (Sarngadhara Samhita, Madhyama khanda, 6/ 154- 155)

The above set of rule is one basic criterion for time of medicine administration. But there are other criteria as well.

Based on nature of dosage form

After food – Medicines which cause gastric irritation, like Guggulu containing medicines, Strong Asava and Arishtas (alcoholic preparations), etc are usually given after food. Because, food is already there in the stomach and medicines will not directly attack the inner lining (mucosa) of stomach.   

Based on Dosha

Vata Dosha is dominant in the evening. So, if a person has a Vata disorder, symptoms will be more seen in the evening. Hence a strong Vata balancing medicine will be administered in the evening.

Similarly, for Pitta – afternoon and for Kapha – morning.

Efficacy of medicine

If at night, medicines are given to induce sleep, and if the person is getting too much of sleep and is not able to get up in the morning, then the sleep inducing medicine is adjusted to evening so that he can sleep and wake up at proper timings.

Product specific time of medicine administration

For some Ayurveda products, the instructions about time of medicine administration is already given along with the product description.

Example:
Dhatryarishta – In anemia disease, it should be taken in empty stomach. Food should be taken only after the medicine is completely digested.

Hingwashtaka Churna – This is also called as Ashta Choorna. It is administered along with the first bolus of food, with ghee.

Gulgulasava – For this medicine, one among four timings should be followed – Before food, between food, along with each morsel or in between two morsels of food.

Shilajitwadi Bati – It is administered early in the morning along with Shaivala kashaya.

Request – Using the above information, please do not quarrel with your doctor about the time of medicine intake that she has prescribed to you. As there are lot of factors involved, chances of your doctor being right is higher.

View Comments

  • Doesn't ayurveda prohibits drinking of water for atleast one hour after meals? In that case, if one takes medicines after food (say after 15 minutes) and consumes water along with the medicines (in case of tablets and capsules), will it not hamper the digestion of the meal? Will it be more useful to wait for an hour atleast to consume medicines after food?

    • In case of medicine intake, there is no need to wait for one hour, assuming that the water intake is just sufficient to send medicine down to the stomach.

  • Can you please clarify the difference between:

    (a) "In between food – It is preferred in cases of Samana Vata imbalance"

    and

    (b) "In between morsels of food – This time period is useful for disorders of Prana Vata."

    Is (a) a one-time ingestion of the medicine during a meal, and (b) administered between every two morsels of the meal?

    Thank you,

    • In between food means, taking the medicine at the middle of meals. Only one time, per meal.
      In between morsels means, throughout the meals, taking food and medicine alternatively.

  • Hello
    Suppose I take a medicine after food but that was supposed to be taken before food. Will it create any damage to the body or will it give any side effect ? will it worsen the disease ? Please clarify.

    What the name of the book that deals with diagnosing and treatment of disease ?

    thank you

    • Hi,
      It does not cause any harm. Only probability is that the effectiveness of the medicine might be reduced to some extent.

  • Some medicines are to be taken after meals. It means exactly after the meal, or with some time gap? Tell me the same for before food medicines?

  • Hi
    I want to learn about how to diagnose a disease and finding the right ayurvedic treatment for it. Is there any text book that is prescribed in ayurvedic colleges in this subject ?

    Thank you

    • To learn about diagnosing the disease, please read Madhava Nidana and Ashtanga Hrudaya.
      To learn about treatments, please read Ashtanga Hrudaya, Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita and Bhaishajya Ratnavali.
      There is no one single book which would explain everything.
      Ayurveda has to be learnt starting from principles.

  • Dr I always feel very sleepy after having lunch...what can be the primary reason for this ? I know that it is not good to sleep in the daytime...but I feel very dizzy and sleep after lunch.. what should I do to cure this problem ? Please give me some advice

    Thank you

  • After food -
    a. in disorders of Vyana Vata (which is situated in chest / heart, circulates allover the body and is cause for flexion and extension of hands, legs etc.) medicine is given at the end of morning food.
    b. In disorders of Udana Vata (which controls speech, enthusiasm, memory etc), medicine is given after dinner.

    Dear Hebbar, again Nice article. But, like explanation for other timing ,you have not enough explanation for above 2 points -- relation of Vyana & after food
    or Udan & after dinner.

    • Dear Prof. Deshpande,
      Probable reason for Udana Vata disorder, medicine is given after dinner is, The place for Udana Vata is chest, and it is dominated naturally by Kapha. If we are giving medicine after food (first part of digestion, where Kapha is dominant) and in evening (wherein Kapha is dominant), this will help to target both Vata and Kapha together.

  • Dear docter,
    It is quite informative.I am very much impressed about your artical.thanq for this nice explanation.

    • Dear Dr Udaya Keerthi,
      Many thanks for your kind appreciation. Best regards, Dr Hebbar

  • Dr. Hebbar,
    As usual great article your easyayurveda.com is one of my most sought for destination to understand about ayurvedic treatments - medicines-herbs. Thanks for sharing the information around please keep the good work going.

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