Asava and Arishta are very important theraputic forms of Ayurveda. They contain naturally generated alcohol. This alcohol acts as the medium for active ingredients of the herbs to dissolve in it. In general, all Asava and Arishta have 5 – 10 % of alcohol. Though these Ayurvedic medicines contain alcohol, they are quite safe to prescribe and to consume.
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General method of preparation of Arishta
Usually in Arishta manufacturing, (like Ashwagandharishtam),
First Kashaya is prepared by boiling herbs in water and filtered.
To this Kashaya, specified amounts of jaggery (guda) / sugar candy / honey is added. Mixed well and then filtered again.
To this, fermenting agent – Dhataki flower (Woodfordia fruticosa) or Madhuka flower (Madhuca indica) is added.
To this, Prakshepa Dravya – certain spices like pepper, long pepper, clove, cinnamon etc are added.
This is taken in a vessel, kept closed under heap of husk / hay/ any place where temperature is around 35 degree Celsius.
It is kept for fermentation for 15 – 45 days, as per the specific formula.
During this time, the sucrose in jaggery / sugar candy gets converted into alcohol with the help of fermenting agents.
While the natural alcohol production takes place, the water soluble active principles in the Kashaya and the spices get dissolved in the alcohol medium.
After the said period, it is taken out of the vessel and stored in bottles for dispensing.
In many cases, remnant portion of previous arishta is used as the seed to induce fermentation. (called as Sura beeja – mother yeast).
Examples of Arishta
Dasamoolarishtam – used in treating cold, cough, anemia, after delivery care of mother, female infertility, etc.
Draksharishtam – used in cold, cough, asthma, throat infection, intestinal disorders.
Saraswatarishtam – used to improve memory, concentration, immunity. Also acts as cardiac tonic.
Amritarista – used in treating fever
Arjunarishta – used in cardiac disorders, cold, cough etc.
Ashokarishta – used in heavy periods, fever, bleeding disorders, bleeding hemorrhoids etc.
Manufacturing of Asava
Usually, herbs are mixed with required amount of water. This is taken in place of Kashaya (here, kashaya is not prepared, but there are a few exceptions).
Rest of the procedure is same as above.
Examples of Asava
Are these medicines, containing alcohol safe?
These medicines contain self generated alcohol, which dissolves active principles of herbs and spices in it. Hence it is quite safe to use in therapeutics.
Without any hesitation, since 5000 years, these medicines are used in Ayurvedic treatments.
Dose of Asava and Arishta
Whenever safety of a medicine is discussed, it is always in relation with the dose. Hence administration in proper dosage is very essential. Classical dose of Asava and Arishta are – 48 – 96 ml. Approximately 50 – 100 ml, in divided dose, per day.
In very weak patients, it can be diluted with equal amount of water, before administration.
Safety in children
Safety of usage of Asavam and Arishtam in Children –
In proper dose, if the disease requires it, then these medicines can be used even in an year old kid. Usually, Aravaindasava, Draskhasava and Pippalyasavam are quite commonly used in pediatric conditions.
As per Dr MS Krishnamurthy,
For an infant of 6 months up to 1 year of age – just 2 – 3 ml, after diluting with equal / double quantities of water.
For one year old kid, dose is usually 4 – 5 ml, after diluting with equal / double quantities of water.
For kids of 5 – 6 years, dose is 10 ml, with dilution
So, with proper judgement and in proper dose, even Asava and Arishta medicines can be used in children.
Side effects in children
Probable side effects of Asava and Arishta in children –
Children are very tender, many of the organs are not fully organised and functional to its full strength. Hence, in some individuals, usage of these type of Ayurvedic medicine might cause some irritation and side effects.
Gastric irritation and increased warmth, feeling feverish are the two common side effects, if administered in a high dose.
Hence in children, it is best to give a test dose first. After confirming absence of any side effects, medicines can be continued.
Apart from consideration of dose, strength of medicine should also be considered before prescribing. For example, Kutajarishta, used in treating diarrhea associated with fever, may cause constipation in some children. In such circumstances, it makes sense to choose Mustakarishta, which is milder in action, though both have same disease indications.
Advantanges of Asava and Arishta medicines –
A. Shelf life – – Shelf life of Asava and Arishta is up to 10 years. (related – expiry dates of Ayurvedic medicines) While other Ayurvedic medicine forms like Kashaya, tablets etc cannot be stored for very long, Asava and Arishta have considerably very high shelf life.
पुराणा: स्यु: गुणैर्युक्ता आसवा धातवो रसा: ॥ Sharangdhara Samhita Purvakhanda
This is the verse explaining that Asava and Arishta have very long shelf life. Often this verse is confused as – older the Asava / Arishta, the better. The potency increases with age. But it is not true. Potency is retained at maximum levels, till a long period of time.
B. Best taste – Asava and Arishta are the best tasting Ayurvedic medicines. Avalehas (herbal jams like chyawanaprash) are also equally good to taste. But dose fixation is quite difficult in case of Avalehas, compared with Asava and Arishta.
C. Transportation – If they are prepared properly, they do not get spoilt / contaminated during transportation. Such as spoilage may happen in case of Kashaya (water decoction), Churna (herbal powders) etc.
D. Appreciation – Because of colour, consistency, aroma and taste, they are highly appreciated by the patients.
Disadvantages of Asava and Arishta –
In children, we cannot use it in higher dose and much precautions are required.
Some women patients might not like these medicines because of alcohol content. Especially, in menopausal age, with use of Asava and Arishta, some women may feel increase in hot flushes, perspiration,
Some elder patients may also feel increased warmth in the body, gastric irritation, hair fall, constipation etc.
Manufacturing precautions to be taken
Some use yeast to induce fermentation and some use steel or plastic containers as fermentation vessel. This is not as per Ayurvedic principle. Ayurveda has explained Madhuka / Dhataki flowers as fermenting agent. Ayurveda recommends usage of chemically inert containers such as earthen pots, wooden vessels, porcelain jars, etc for the purpose of fermentation.
Can Asava and Arishta be called as Herbal wines?
For example, Drakshasava / Draksharishta – which is prepared with dry grapes, cannot be equated to grape wine. The method of preparation, purpose are quite different.
With Asava and Arishta – they are prepared with many herbal ingredients, some of them are used for preparing kashaya and some are used as Prakshepa (spices), which act as bio-enhancers.
Unlike in wine preparation, here, fermentation initiators like yeast, or fermentation inhibitors (added at the end), are not used in Asava and Arishtas. The spices added themselves act as fermentation moderators. So, commercial alcohol preparations cannot be compared with Asava and Arishta.
Can different Asava and arishta be mixed together and used?
Answer by Dr. Hebbar :
If it is just 1 – 2 products, then they can be mixed, just before consumption.
If there are multiple Asava / Arishta medicines, then you have to check with your doctor before mixing them because, some products may not be compatible with others.
Can Asava and Arishta be cooked along with food?
No. These are strong Ayurvedic medicines and mixing them with food is not a good idea.
Is Arishta medicines contra indicated in Kidney disorders?
No. In fact, many Arishtas like Punarnavadyarishta are used in treating kidney disorders.
Can diabetic patients take Asava or Arishta?
These liquids contain some amount of carbohydrates in it. Hence, if the blood sugar is under good control or near to normal and if the the dose of the prescribed Asava / Arishta is less, then it can be consumed.
This decision largely depends on the prescribing doctor.
Can other Ayurvedic medicines be taken along with Asava or Arishta?
Yes. Based on disease, your doctor may choose one Arishta / Asava along with other medicines such as herbal powders, tablets, syrup, capsule etc.
Is it a good idea to mix Kashaya and Aristha just before taking?
No. It is not ideal to mix Kashaya medicines with Arishta before taking.
Liver damage concerns of Asava Arishta
Should people with liver disorders avoid taking Asava and Arishtas, because they contain alcohol?
Contrary to this belief, some Asava and Arishta preparations are indicated in chronic liver disorders, ascites, fatty liver disorder etc.
Parpatakrishta – traditionally indicated in Kamala (jaundice), Pandu (early stage of liver disorder), Udara (ascites), Halimaka (Chronic stage of liver disorders)
Abhayarishta – Ashta Udara – All types of ascites
Dashamoolarishta – Udara, Kamala – ascites and liver disorders
Guggulasava – Kamala, Udara, Pleeha – jaundice, ascites, hepatomegaly and splenomegaly.
In the asava and arishtas, the alcohol is not in its free form. Although, the lab test will show you that it is alcohol. It is not actually alcohol.
If it was just alcohol, there was no need for the elaborate procedure of preparing Asava Arishtas at all. So, they would have easily taken the alcohol, mixed some herbs and filtered. If the final intention was to just have some alcohol and herbs, this could have been the easier method.
The Acharyas wanted to extract the alcohol soluble active principles slowly and gradually, through the process of fermentation. Just like kashaya (decoctions), hima and phanta (infusions) are different from water,
Asava Arishta are different from alcohol.
tea and coffee are not equal to water.
Ayurvedic herbal ghee is not equal to ghee,
Ayurvedic herbal oil is entirely different from sesame oil.