Why So Many Dosage Forms In Ayurveda? Six Scientific Criteria

Ayurveda pharmaceutics explains a variety of dosage forms. Dosage form means, forms of medicine. Example – Kashayam, Asava, Arishta, Vati (tablets), Avaleha (herbal jams) etc. This discussion helps to know why so many dosage forms are explained in Ayurveda, whether all of these are necessary in today’s world etc.

Dosage forms video

Dosage form is termed as Kalpana in Ayurvedic pharmaceutics. Kalpana refers to various kinds of preparations, prepared based on necessity of the chemical constituents, required for the particular purpose. In Sanskrit, it is told,

kalpa: vidhi: vidhane samskare  |

Types of dosage forms

Depending upon the sequence or depending upon the step or depending upon the special pharmaceutical process, i.e. Samskara, what kind of chemical constituents are required in a particular medium, accordingly we are preparing specific pharmaceutical preparations, like
Swarasa – fresh juice extract
Kalka – medicated paste,
Kwatha – decoctions,
Hima – cold infusions, (Example: Coriander infusion)
Phanta – hot infusions,
and their derived dosage forms like Taila (herbal oil), Ghrita (medicated ghee), Asava and Arishta (naturally fermented alcoholic preparations like Dasamolarishtam), Avaleha (herbal jams),  Churna (powders), Kshara, Lavana, etc so many preparations are there.

Based on chemical constituents

Based on requirement of particular chemical constituents:
If water extracts are needed in a disease, then usually, Kashaya is preferred. Example: Triphala Kashayam
If fat soluble principles of herbs are needed, then Taila / Ghrita dosage form is preferred.
If volatile oils are to be used, then Churna / Hima (cold infusions) dosage forms are preferred.

In primordial text like Charaka Samhita, more than 160 such dosage forms are mentioned. While explaining the utility of each and every formulation,

Based on patient’s comfort

Choice of dosage form based on patient’s comfort –
Acharya Charaka correctly refers,

Means, every individual has particular likes and particular dislikes, Depending upon the particular likes and dislikes of the patient, we should choose appropriate dosage forms. If a person who does not like Swarasa (fresh juice), we should not compel him to take Swarasa, because psychological factors do have impact on the efficacy of the medicine. Because, swarasa will be usually bitter and pungent in taste and patient may not like it to have.

Based on disease

Choice based on patient’s disease – Another difficulty is, for a patient of diabetes, we cannot administer Asava and Arishta in large doses, or for long period of time, because these dosage forms have sugar content. In such a condition, Kashaya  or tablet etc can be chosen.

Based on stage of disease

Choice based on stage of disease –
In a patient, the choice of dosage form can be made by looking whether the disease is new or old.
In acute conditions, it is not suitable to administer any kind of oleaginous dosage forms like Ghrita, Taila or Avaleha. Whereas in chronic conditions, administration of basic dosage forms like Swarasa or Kalka might not be very helpful.
In chronic conditions, we should chose Asava, Arishta dosage forms / Lehya preparations (like Ajamamsa Rasayanam) or ghrita, taila (for oral administration), etc.

The reason for this is, digestion strength.
Ayurveda focuses on digestive strength as a primary consideration point. When the digestive strength is low in early stages of disease, patient might not be able to digest heavier dosage forms like Avaleha or ghrita. If these dosage forms are administered in a newer disease, a condition called as Aushadha Ajirna may occur. Here, medicine itself causes indigestion. This may lead to further increase in morbidity (Dosha worsening) and disease may become more difficult to cure.

In initial stages of disease, usually Kashayam (herbal decoction) is preferred. Because, Kashaya, by nature itself, has capacity to digest. They innately have digestive and carminative quality. (Deepana and Pachana quality).
But natural Deepana and Pachana effect will not be there in Taila, Ghrita etc.

Based on digestion strength

When the patient already has good digestive capacity, unnecessary adoption of Asava and Arishta dosage forms may be harmful. Because, it may damage the tissues.
This is why, even in Panchakarma procedure, before administering Snehakarma (high amounts of ghee), first, Deepana and Pachana treatment is done to improve Agni (Digestion power) in the patient. Hence it is told,

deepanai: paacanai: snehaistan svedaishcha parishrutaan | |
Shodhayet shodhanai: kaale yathaasannam yathaamalam ||

Before the administration of Panchakarma purification procedures like Vamana (emesis), Virechana (purgation treatment), Nasya (nasal drop treatment), etc, First of all, Deepana (improving digestion strength) and Pachana (digesting the remnant Ama in the stomach) treatment is administered. Then the Dosha is brought to Koshta (GI tract) by Snehana (oleation) and Swedana (sweating treatment) and is eliminated out either through oral route for Kapha (because stomach is the site of Kapha) or through anal route (because of intestines is site for Pitta and Vata Doshas). Read more – site of Kapha Dosha

Based on Dosha dominance

Whenever Kapha is dominant, we should prefer Churna Yogas.
Whenever Vata Dosha is dominant, we should prefer Taila or Ghrita yogas.
Whenever Pitta is dominant, we can opt for Hima Kalpana (cold infusion) or Phanta Kalpana (hot infusion).

4 thoughts on “Why So Many Dosage Forms In Ayurveda? Six Scientific Criteria”

  1. Wow Aushadha Ajirna, is something possible, i never knew it. Rest of the article is really informative. Thanks and Regards.

  2. DearDr.Hearty congratulations for bringing out good articles of ayurveda.Article on dosages forms is good.Most of us r not concentrating on correct dosage form while prescribing medicines.This mistake makes Oushadha Ajeerna in the patients.U pointed out the best thing.thank u.


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