Food Poisoning: Ayurvedic Concept, Remedies, Herbs, Diet

Imagine having a meal in a restaurant and developing skin allergies, bloating, digestive, respiratory and energy issues. That can be considered as food poisoning. Food poisoning is explained as consuming food that is spoiled or contaminated with bacteria, virus, germs, parasites etc. In Ayurveda, this is explained as Garavisha. There are many remedies and therapies to treat food poisoning.

GaraVisha, Dushi Visha

Charaka Samhita, Chikitsa Sthana 23rd chapter
There is another variety of poison called Garavisha which is prepared artificially by the mixture of various substances. It produces diseases. Since it takes some time for this type of poison to get metabolized and to produce its toxic effects, it does not cause instantaneous death of a person.

Dushi Visha
Dooshi Visha is a type of artificial poison that vitiates blood and produces symptoms like eczema, allergic dermatitis, psoriasis and urticaria. This is more dangerous than Garavisha and can potentially kill a person.

Krutrima Visha
Kritrima means artificial.
कृत्रिमं तु विषं ख्यातं पक्षान्मासाद्विबाधते । आलस्यं कुरुते जाड्यं कासश्वासौ बलक्षयम् ॥
रक्तस्रावो ज्वर: शोफ: पीतचक्षुश्च लक्षयेत् । – Yogaratnakara
kṛtrimaṃ tu viṣaṃ khyātaṃ pakṣānmāsādvibādhate | ālasyaṃ kurute jāḍyaṃ kāsaśvāsau balakṣayam ||
raktasrāvo jvara: śopha: pītacakṣuśca lakṣayet |

pakṣāt māsāt vibādhate – It affects after 2 – 4 weeks of poison ingestion / exposure.
ālasyaṃ kurute jāḍyaṃ- it causes lethargy, fatigue
kāsa śvāsau balakṣayam – cough, difficulty in breathing, depleted immunity, strength
raktasrāvo – bleeding disorders
jvara: – fever
śopha: – inflammation
pītacakṣuśca lakṣayet – yellow discoloration of eyes


Suppose you had a heavy meal in a restaurant and developed
severe bloating,
burning sensation,
diarrhea, stomach discomfort and vomiting,
after that and over a period of time develop lack of energy, fatigue,
sleep disturbance,
depression, anxiety, phobia,
depleted vision, hearing capacity
gradual weight reduction etc.
Such a food can be considered as Garavisha.

Symptoms enlisted by Master Charaka

• Pandu – anemia,
• Karshya – emaciation, weight loss
• suppression of the power of digestion,
• Visha – poisoning,
• Palpitation of vital organs (like heart),
• flatulence,
• edema in the hands and feet,
• Jathara (obstinate Syndrome),
• chronic respiratory disorder
• Gulma (phantom tumor, abdominal tumor),
• Consumption,
• fever etc.

Acharya Charaka goes on to explain –
Signs and symptoms of such other diseases
Such a patient usually dreams of cats, Jackals, wild animals, mongooses and monkeys, and dried trees, withered trees, etc.. If he is of white complexion, he dreams himself to be dark complexion. He dreams himself to be without ears and nose, and to be with distorted sensory organs.

Vomiting Therapy

When an intelligent physician comes across such a patient, enquiry is made about the type of food he had taken in whose company and when he had taken the food. Having ascertained these facts, the patient should instantaneously be given emetic therapy by the physician.
Yogaratnakara treatise explains that high dose ghee should be administered (Snehana) before vomiting treatment.

Recipes for Vomiting therapy (Vamana)
For this, calx of copper, Tamra bhasma – 125 to 250 mg per day is administered along with a teaspoon of honey. This induces vomiting and cleanses the heart. (Charaka)

Yogaratnakara, Visha Chikitsa –
Vomiting is induced by giving bitter tasting ridged gourd herbal tea, mixed with honey and ghee.

Swarna Bhasma Gold Calx

Ash or calx of Gold is explained as a very good antidote to a wide variety of poisons.
After administering copper calx and the patient has vomited, the patient is given 125 mg of Swarna Bhasa (Calx of gold).
Acharya Charaka says

हेम सर्वविषाण्याशु गरांश्च विनियच्छति|
न सज्जते हेमपाङ्गे विषं पद्मदलेऽम्बुवत्||२४०||
hema sarvaviṣāṇyāśu garāṃśca viniyacchati|
na sajjate hemapāṅge viṣaṃ padmadale’mbuvat||240|

It means,
āśu – very quickly
hema Swarna Bhasma
viniyacchati – relieves or detoxifies
sarva viṣāṇi – all types of poisons
garāṃśca – including Garavisha – food poisoning.

padmadale ambuvat – Like a water droplet which does not stick on to a lotus leaf,
hemapāṅge – In a person who is accustomed to Swarna bhasma, or who has consumed
na sajjate viṣaṃ – the poison will not affect him.

The poison does not stick to (afflict) his heart if he has taken gold Bhasma, as water does not stick to a lotus leaf.
For this reason, people who do not get a chance to eat home made cook, who are dependent on restaurants and hostel mess, should take Swarna bhasma regularly.

Dose of Swarna Bhasma
125 mg of Swarna Bhasma, or Swarna bhasma tablet – once a day along with honey, for 2 weeks can be taken 2 – 3 times in a year.
Read related: Swarna Bhasma Benefits, Dosage, Ingredients, Side Effects.

Purgation treatment

After this, Acharya Charaka mentioned Virechana – purgation treatment with herbs such as Danti, Croton tiglium, etc.
The set of vomiting and purgation therapy helps to reset the digestive enzymes and cleanses out the digestive system.

Ayurvedic medicines and remedies

Sour substances such as tamarind, lemon, orange, citron fruit etc. should be consumed.
Dried Black pepper fruits should be administered for chewing and eating (Yogaratnakara)

Pippalyadi agada –
Long pepper, coriander, Jatamansi, Lodhra, cardamom, black salt / sarja kshara, black pepper and Balaka (Pavonia odorata) and red ochre (purified gairika) are made into decoction and administered along with honey.

Svarna Makshika Bhasma for artificial poisons (Kritrima visha, explained above)
Svarnamakshika bhasma (Copper Iron pyrite calx) is mixed with sugar and made a linctus. It is administered.

Putrajeeva roxburghii fruit – 12 grams is made into paste with cow milk and administered.
The Grihadhooma – soot of the fireplace is made into paste with water, added with slender amaranth and ghee. Herbal ghee, thus prepared, is orally administered.

Saindhavadi Yoga –
Rock salt, black pepper and lemon seeds are taken in equal quantities. It is added with honey and ghee. This is administered as a general remedy for all types of poisons of plant, mineral and animal origin. (Reference: Yogaratnakara)

Medicinal formulations for Sarva Visha mentioned in Sahasra Yoga Text Book
Bilwadi Gulika
Suchimukha Rasa
Dasanga Gulika
Mritasanjivani Gutika
Panal Patiryadi Ghrita (Alarka Vishahara)

Important herbs

Amaranth (Tanduleeya)
Pravala – Coral Calx
Swarnamakshika Bhasma
Rajata bhasma (silver calx)
Gandhaka (purified Sulphur)
Tankana Bhasma – Purified borax


Rice, kodo millet (Koradusha), gotu kola, garlic, pomegranate, haritaki, wood apple, Nagakeshara, Beautyberry (Priyangu), green gram (mung bean), fresh sesame oil, eggplant, pointed gourd, amla, jivanti, amaranth, rock salt, cow urine, goat urine, buttermilk, cold water, candy sugar, saffron, honey, turmeric, sandalwood, Musta, musk, bitter and sweet substances, swarna bhasma are advised.

Bhojanagre sadaa pathyam lavanardraka bhakshanam – It is best to eat a combination of fresh ginger and rock salt before food consumption. It improves digestion and takes away the poisonous effect of food.

अन्नपानकृतान्दोषान्वातपित्तकफोद्भवान् | हरीतकी हरत्याशु भुक्तस्योपरि योजिता ||२९||
annapānakṛtāndoṣānvātapittakaphodbhavān | harītakī haratyāśu bhuktasyopari yojitā ||29||
Bhavaprakasha Nighantu Haritakyadi Varga

Discomfort and ill health caused due to food and drinks are relieved by consuming Haritaki fruit after food.


Wrong food combinations, betel nut, anger, hunger, fear, physical activity, sex, excessive exposure to wind, herbal smoking, and sleeping during day time are to be avoided even after taking treatment for poisoning. (Yogaratnakara, Bhaishajya Ratnavali)

Skin allergy

Addressing skin allergy symptoms are addressed in the line of allergic rhinitis management.
Nalpamaradi taila, neem oil, pongamia oil, turmeric are commonly used for local application.
A cup of Sesame oil, mixed with a tablespoon of turmeric can be used for massage.
Ayurvedic medicines such as
Haridra Khanda,
Lakshmi Vilas Ras,
Gandhaka Rasayana
Arogya Vardhini Vati
Vilwadi gulika
Sanjivani Bati,
Kaishora Guggulu etc are used, based on symptoms.

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