Right Method of Rasayana Therapy, Role of Immunomodulators in Rasayan

Question: What is the best method of application of Rasayana treatment in the present day?
Rasayana therapy is the Ayurvedic anti aging treatment.  For Rasayana treatment, there are specific norms. “Shuddhasya sruta raktasya vishudhasyena sarvada“. Before starting Rasayana, you should conduct all Panchakarma treatments. Then only it  will be fruitful. This is because,
अविशुद्धे शरीरे ही युक्तो रासायनो विधि: ।
वाजिकरणो मलिने वस्त्रे राग इव अफल: ॥
aviśuddhe śarīre hī yukto rāsāyano vidhi: |
vājikaraṇo maline vastre rāga iva aphala: ||

Rasayana therapy

If you want to dye your cloth, you have to wash it first. First make it clean, then only you can color it. Otherwise the cloth will become more dirty and useless. Similarly, if you want to rejuvenate your body, first remove the dirt from the body. Here body toxins, accumulated waste products etc are the dirt.

Rasayana based on climate video

In Ayurvedic terms, this dirt is called as Dosha imbalance. So, this dirt is to be removed, or imbalanced Doshas should be expelled out of the body first by means of Panchakarma treatment.

Without removing the dirt, by doing Panchakarma, doing Rasayana treatment will not be so useful. But as a quick fix remedy, there is Vata Atapika Rasayana – Anti aging treatment that can be undergone while  someone is not admitted to a hospital, he can attend to his daily routines but still undergoes anti aging treatments like taking Chyawanprash, daily oil massage etc.

But even for this Vata Atapika Rasayana also, some sort of purification procedure is essential. At lease some Virechana. Unfortunately Chyavanaprasam etc are publicized and sold. People do not know about rules about it.

When I was in Russia, there were some old women. They were taking half teaspoon of Chyawanaprash everyday. If they forgot taking Chyawanprash for a day, they used to tell “Oh! I forgot Chyawanprash today, I am very tired.”

This indicates that it is only a mental slavery to the medicine. Chyawanprash is to be consumed in high quantities. Even for Vata Atapika type of Rasayana, at least a tablespoon of Chyawanprash per day is necessary. So, taking this in lesser quantity might just have psychological effect rather than real therapeutic effect.

Like Nasya treatment is basically of two types – Marsha (higher dose, for short term period) and Pratimarsha (low dose for daily use), similarly Rasayan therapy is of two types – Kuti Praveshika (where one remains confined within a treatment room for specific days and undergoes treatment) and Vata Atapika.

Vatatapika type of  rasayana can also be administered to patients, but the effects will be lesser. Sometimes Kuti Praveshika is deleterious also, to some patients, in some places. For example, in Moscow, we applied Chyawanaprash and Brahma Rasayana to 36 mentally retarded patients. It was in summer, when they had vacation. So, as part of treatment, they were put in treatment facility, without allowing them to go out and play. There were participants of even 12 years of age.

There was drastic improvement. There was significant improvement in their hand writing skills etc. pediatricians, psychologists, psychiatrists, biochemists – the observing team was very large. All of them certified that their condition did improve significantly. But the biochemist reported that their calcium levels were down, after taking Chyawanprash.

The Russians get good sunlight only during summer. They manufacture Vitamin D only during summers. They store their Vitamin D in their body, sufficient for one year during summer. When these students were restricted to treatment rooms, they were not permitted to go under sun. So, had we permitted them to go under Sun, this would not have happened. So, Kuti Praveshika is also sometimes not helpful to some patients, based on region. In them, Vata Atapika was enough for them.
So, one has to judiciously consider all the aspects of patient and administer Rasayana treatment.

Immunomodulators In Rasayana Therapy

By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Physical and mental health is dependent on the balance of our immune system. The quality of our healthy living also depends on the same. When immunity becomes less we become targets of wide array of disorders, many of which may pose threat to lives. So it is very important to keep our immunity system healthy.
Read – Doshas And Ayurvedic Immunology


These are the substances that help to support our immune system functions. They do this by modifying the response of immune system to a threat in a beneficial way.

How do immunomodulators work?

  1. Innate immune function and inflammatory response – When any pathogen strikes the body a rapid and non-specific response is almost immediately initiated by our immune system through its innate immune function. Due to this response some symptoms are manifested as a result of body’s inflammatory response. These symptoms include pain and swelling.
  2. Adaptive immune system response – This happens after the initial innate response and is a slower and specific response to the pathogen. This response is executed by the adaptive immune system of body. This part of immune system has long standing memory. Once the pathogen has been identified, this system doesn’t allow the same pathogens infecting us yet again.

Immunomodulator foods – Some immunomodulatory molecules can also be consumed through our diet. This, in the form of diet will help the body to defend against pathogens. This action is rendered by adjusting the normal immune response to respond effectively when a pathogen has been detected to attack our system.
Immunomodulator drugs – An immunomodulator can also be defined as a chemical agent that modifies the immune response or the functioning of our immune system. This is done by stimulation of antibody formation or by inhibiting the activity of white blood cells. Example – methotrexate, azathioprine etc.
Read – Immunity In Ayurveda: Concept, Diet, Herbs, Medicines, Exercise


Immunomodulation is achieved by regulatory adjustment of immune system. It has 2 broad forms –
Natural immunomodulators / Homeostasis in immune system – In this the immune system in our body self regulates so as to adjust its immune responses to adaptive rather than maladaptive levels by means of many pathways including regulation of T cells and cell signaling molecules.
Human Induced Immunomodulators – This forms a part of immunotherapy. Here the immune responses are induced, amplified, attenuated or prevented according to the therapeutic goals of immunotherapy. It includes administration of immunomodulators in the form of chemicals (drugs) or food molecules or both.
Read – Strength And Immunity Of Person In Different Dosha Constitution

1. Immunomodulation in Ayurveda and role of Rasayanas as immunomodulators

The modern scientific aspect of immune modulation would relate to enhancing immune responsiveness against a pathogen by activating the immune system in a nonspecific way. From an Ayurveda aspect, this modulation of immune responses shall be administered using immunomodulatory agents of plant origin i.e. herbal way of modulating immune responses.

Though the understanding of immune system is changing from time to time, the modern medicine too is looking towards understanding the concept of immunomodulators from the perspective of neuro-endocrine-immune axis. The concept is also being understood from the perspective of looking at the influence of exercise, seasonal variations, circadian rhythms and different mind states on the immune system and the methods of working with them in an effective way. The pursuit of these measures are bringing the modern way of understanding the immunology to the doors of Ayurveda since this ancient science had already elaborated these concepts in terms of maintenance of comprehensive health and boosting one’s immunity and homeostasis way back.

The concepts of bala, ojas and vyadhi kshamatva explain the ancient way of understanding the innate and induced immunity and immune responses in a comprehensive way. The Rasayana therapy explains the methods of enhancing immune responses and bringing about immunomodulation effectively. Ayurveda medicines target towards enhancing body’s resistance to the disease and disease causing agent rather than attacking the agent itself. The chemotherapeutic drugs used in modern medicine on the other hand would attack the disease causing agents.
Read – What is Ojas? How To Increase Ojas During Health And Disease?

Rasayana and Vajikarana as immunomodulators

For ages, the Rasayana and Vajikarana therapies are used as immunomodulators and immune enhancing herbs, formulations and diet in Ayurveda practice. The definition and explanation of properties and therapeutic uses of Rasayana clearly explain the immune modulating, immunity enhancing roles of the therapy. Apart from this Rasayanas also have a broad spectrum action. They are also disease modifying agents and are also curative in action. Vajikarana therapy which comprises of aphrodisiacs are also said to have a Rasayana like role.
Read – Rasayana Therapy (Anti Ageing, Rejuvenation) Benefits, Meaning, Medicines

Medicine has been classified broadly as –

  1. Swasthasya urjaskaram – to enhance and guard the health in already healthy individuals – preventive medicine
  2. Aturasya vikara prashamanam – curing the diseases in the diseased person – curative medicine

Master Charaka tells that the properties of these two kinds of medicines is interchangeable i.e. the preventive medicines can be curative and curative medicines can be used as preventive medicine.
Read – Ayurvedic Preventive Healthcare: Swastha Urjaskara Chikitsa

The first category of medicine i.e. predominantly preventive medicine is once again classified into two kinds –

  1. Rasayanas – rejuvenation / anti-ageing / immune-modulating / tissue enriching therapies and medicines
  2. Vajikarana – aphrodisiacs

Again Master Charaka tells that Rasayanas in some conditions can act as Vajikarana and Vajikarana medicines would give the effect of Rasayanas many times. Taking the essence of the whole explanation, Rasayana and Vajikarana medicines serve the purpose of each other and both can be preventive as well as curative.

Among these, Rasayanas have broad spectrum role and are used as immune-modulators in Ayurveda. The tissues of our body form and provide the primary defense against diseases. Strong tissues can protect the body from diseases by fighting against internal forces (vitiated doshas) and external forces (infections etc) causing the disease. Once the tissues become weak the body becomes susceptible to diseases. Weakening of tissues will also lower the immunity. The same effect can be seen when the channels forming and transporting the tissues are contaminated or blocked leading to inadequate or mal-formation of tissues. Rasayanas are defined as the interventions which help in making best quality tissues in the body. With the help of Rasayanas, the tissues can be enriched with their properties and consequently the immunity can be enhanced in the body. Therefore Rasayana therapy can be said to be the richest source of immunity enhancing and immune-modulator medicines, methods, measures and foods in Ayurveda.
Read – Decrease Of Tissues – Dhatu Kshaya – Reasoning, Symptoms

The same goals can be achieved by following Achara Rasayana and medicines for enhancing ojas in the body. Ayurveda has also explained the concept of vyadhi-kshamatva, which is translated as ‘immunity’ and the study of vyadhi kshamatva and components of the body contributing towards the same can be considered as ‘Ayurveda immunology’. The definition of vyadhi kshamatva implies that its meaning is broader than the concept and definition of immunity. According to master Chakrapanidatta, vyadhi kshamatva is defined as

  • ‘vyadhi bala virodhitva’ i.e. ‘anything which counteracts and destroys the disease and
  • ‘vyadhi utpada pratibandhakatva’ i.e. ‘that which inhibits / stops the (effect of) causative factors of the disease and manifestation of diseases’

Rasayanas and Vajikarana medicines provide effective vyadhi kshamatva since they satisfy the definition of the same. The above discussion sums up to – Rasayanas have immune modulation role and can be considered as Ayurveda version of immunomodulators. But is the reverse is also true? Can the foods and drugs which are proved to have immune modulation role be used in Rasayana Therapy?
Read – Importance Of Diet (Pathya) For Specific Diseases

2. Role of Immunomodulators in Rasayana Therapy

Rasayanas effectively can boost up the innate and adaptive immune responses. Both, immune modulating foods and herbs explained in Ayurveda as described in the above context shall be considered to have Rasayana like effect, and hence are beneficial in Rasayana Therapy.

Pathya as immune modulating foods / rasayana – Ayurveda has advised the pathya-apathyas i.e. beneficial and harmful diets in each and every disease context. The pathyas should be put into practice and apathyas can be kept away. Pathya also means ‘that which is beneficial and conducive for the channels and ducts of the body’. These channels are responsible for nurturing every tissue and component of the body. Therefore practicing pathya for longer time not only helps in balancing the health of these channels of the body but also help in formation of healthy tissues, keep tissues in optimum state of health, formation of immune components like ojas and prevent diseases on long run. Pathyas help in preventing the recurrences of the diseases. So, pathyas can be considered as immune modulating foods. Apathyas act in opposite way and are harmful for all tissues and components of the body. Since they can modulate immunity in a positive way, pathyas too can be considered as Rasayanas.
Read – Similarities between Rasayana and Pathya (Healthy Diet)

Similarly many herbs explained in Ayurveda in the context of Rasayanas or otherwise have been tested for their immune modulation role. Those which have the capacity to boost or modulate immunity in a positive way can be considered to have Rasayana like effect.

Aushadha / immune modulating drugs / herbs as Rasayana – In recent days, a number of plant based principles have been isolated and found to have potent immunomodulatory role and activity. This proves the logic behind using them as Rasayanas in the past. This also opens up the scope of their utility in Rasayana Therapy. This also forms a basis for further research in this perspective so as to prove if the same herbs can be used in a biphasic way, as part of immunomodulatory medicine in modern medicine or as a supplement or replacement for the same or as a part of Rasayana Therapy with much authentication.
Read – Rasayanam Medicines Mentioned In Chakradatta


Research works related to immunomodulators of plant origin
Many plants / herbs used in Ayurveda medicine contain immense treasure of pharmacological properties. Ayurveda medicines / herbs used in the treatment include many ethnopharmacological activities including immunostimulation, neurostimulation, anti-ageing, adaptogenic, tonics, antiviral, anticancer, antirheumatic principles etc.

Rasayana is one among the eight elite branches of Ayurveda. Master Charaka has dedicated an entire chapter for the discussion of ‘Rasayana’. This chapter has 4 sections. The herbs and medicines explained herein are said to promote physical and mental health, enhance longevity, delay ageing process, improves strength, health and endurance and improves the defense mechanism of the body. These attributes are almost similar to the adaptogenic agents explained in modern texts. Adaptogenics provide protection to the human physiological system against diverse stressors. Many medicinal herbs explained in Rasayana context have been claimed to have immunomodulatory activity. Example – Withania Somnifera (Ashwagandha), Guduchi etc. Different plants exhibit different properties which include antioxidant, antihistamine, antiarrhythmic, anti-inflammatory, cardio-tonic, diuretic, hepato-protective, antifungal, hypo-cholesterolemic and other activities. (Read more)

Below mentioned are the examples of such plants (having immune-modulation activity) –

Sl NoHerbs mentioned in Ayurveda having immune-modulation activityBotanical name
1GuduchiTinospora cordifolia
2PunarnavaBoerhavia diffusa
3BrahmiCentella asiatica
4ShankapushpiEvolvulus alsinoides
5PippaliPiper longum
6TulasiOcimum sanctum
7KalameghaAndrographis paniculata
8ArjunaTerminalia arjuna
9KumariAloe vera
10ShigruMoringa oleifera
11ShatavariAsparagus racemosus
12MusliChlorophytum borivilianum
13KanchanaraBauhinia variegate
14AtibalaAbutilon indicum
15NagabalaUrena lobata
16KatukiPicrorhiza kurroa
17PathaCissampelos pareira
18KhadiraAcacia catechu
19ShallakiBoswellia serrata
20MadanaRandia dumetorum
21BhringarajaEclipta alba

Plant derived immunomodulators, their chemistry and mode of action

Sl NoChemicals having immunomodulatory activityPlants having these immunomodulatory chemicals
1GlycosidesPicrorhiza scrophulariiflora
Andrographis paniculata
2Flavonoids – including apigenin, isoflavonoids, flavones, anthocyanidins etcTerminalia arjuna
3Coumarins – are also type of glycosides and exert immunomodulatory activitiesCitrus limonia, Artemisia capillaries, Euphorbia lathyris, Angelica dahurica etc
4Sapogenins – like triterpenoid and diterpenesGymnema sylvestre, Boswellia serrata, Randia dumetorum and Chlorophytum borivilianum
5AlkaloidsAchillea millefolium, Cissampelos pareira and Actinidia macrosperma
6ThiosulfinatesAlium hirtifolium
7Volatile oils and TerpenoidsOcimum sanctum, Andrographis paniculata Achillea millefolium
Bauhinia variegate
8PolysaccharidesCistanche deserticola
Salicornia herbacea

Rasayanas are not just immunomodulators. They are rejuvenators, antioxidants and nutritional supplements. They are known to exert antagonistic action on oxidative stressors, giving rise to the formation of different free radicals. They are anti-ageing agents and are used for combating effects of ageing, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, atherosclerosis etc. They are said to operate through one or more of the below mentioned activities –

  • Immunosuppressant activities
  • Immunostimulant activities
  • Immunoadjuvant activities

The phyto-extract may modulate the immune responses through stimulatory or suppressive activity. This will help in maintaining a disease free state in normal or unhealthy people. These agents, by activating host defense mechanisms can provide supportive therapy to conventional chemotherapy.

Large number of compounds is traced in the phytochemical analysis of Rasayana plants. They include flavonoids, tannic acid, ascorbate, curcumin, polyphenols, tocopherol, carotenoids etc. All these have potent immunomodulatory properties. Traditional herbal compounds used in Ayurveda may stimulate immunomodulation activity since they contain plants with immunomodulatory properties which probably act synergistically. To add to this effect, they are free from toxicity and do not have side effects. Thus, there are many medicinal plants which exert immunomodulatory activity in experimental models at a particular dose. To determine their pharmacological activity, in vivo and in vitro methods of screening are employed. Some medicines may stimulate the immune system like Ocimum sanctum, Tinospora cordifolia, Terminalia arjuna etc and some may suppress the immune response Ex – Alternanthera tenella etc. Similarly many kinds of secondary metabolites as explained above may exhibit a wide range of immunomodulating activity. They include – alkaloids, glycosides, saponins, sterols, glavonoids, coumarins.

Other Rasayana formulations from Sahasra Yoga Text Book
Narasimha Choorna
Aswagandadi Lehyam
Chyavanaprasa Lehya
Madanakameshwari Lehya
Kameshwari Lehya
Abhaya modaka
Kusmanda Rasayana
Agasthya Rasayana
Kukkuta Rasayana

Click to Consult Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ayu)

4 comments on “Right Method of Rasayana Therapy, Role of Immunomodulators in Rasayan

  • Euvrard

    15/07/2014 - 2:01 pm

    Very interesting, thank you.

    Reply to comment
  • haridatt

    15/07/2014 - 7:03 pm

    i am totally convinced. kudos.

    Reply to comment
  • tatiana

    26/07/2014 - 11:48 pm

    article does not answer the question: how to apply to get Chyavanaprasam a good effect Rasayana Treatment . although the question posed. please verify

    Reply to comment

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