Pharmacology of Ayurveda
According to Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of medicine, illnesses are caused by an imbalance of the Doshas (humours). A complete cure will be possible only by restoring the equilibrium. Medicines derived from rare herbs are used to achieve this.
Ayurvedic pharmacology is termed Dravya Vijnan (wisdom about the substance). Ayurveda believes in the classification of Dravya into five- Parthiva (Earth), Apya (water), Thaijasa (fire), Vayavya (Air) and Nabhasa (Ether).
Based on this, the material medica of Ayurveda is also been classified into five: Taste (Rasa), Potency (virya), Action (karma), Healing property (guna) and taste of the digestion product (vipaka).
The Guna or quality of a substance in expressed through the Rasa or taste. There are six rasas — sweet (madhura), sour (amla), salty (lavana), sharp (tikta), bitter (katu) and astringent (kasaya). Each taste is composed of two of the five elements.
The properties (guna), are grouped in ten pairs, each one complementary to the other: heavy and light, cold and hot, fat and dry, slow and sharp, stable and labile, soft and hard, clear and slimy, smooth and raw, fine and massive and viscous and liquid.
The potency (virya) of a drug is defined as its capability to express its property. Sometimes, potency is grouped in the same way as the property, but for practical reasons, it is usually expressed in terms of hot (ushna) and cold (shita).
The specific property (prabhava) distinguishes two drugs that have the same taste, taste after digestion and potency. This might be due to the composition of the drug or the location in the body where the drug acts.
Finally the action (karman) of a drug on the body is expressed in terms of the three doshas. A drug can increase or decrease the vata dosha, the pitta dosha and the kapha dosha.
The drugs used in Ayurveda are made by several processes from vegetable and mineral raw materials. Mostly plant alkaloids are the active ingredients. Obviously barring some chemical changes it is mostly natural deviates.
RASA It is an important quality manifested at the level of tongue and is the only principle or quality which can be directly perceivable. The Rasa or taste which is cognized first (by impact with the tongue) is considered as Rasa (Primary taste) and the Rasas which are less apparent or cognizable are called Anurasas (Secondary Taste). Scholar of Dravya Guna of Modern Ayurveda namely Acharya Priya Vrat Sharma has discussed concept of Rasa basing on the Physico-Chemical constitution of substances as follows: Madhura - Sugar, Fat and Amino Acids Amla - Acids Lavana - Salts Katu - Essential Oils, Phenols etc., Tikta - Certain Alkaloids and Glycosides Kashaya - Tannins According to his hypothesis “carbohydrates and proteins are present in Madhua Rasa Dravyas. All the Amla Rasa Dravyas have shown Acidic Reaction and all the Dravyas in Lavana Varga are containing Sodium Chloride. All the Dravyas of Katu Varga are containing essential oil while 50% of Katu Dravyas contain alkaloids or glycoside or phenols. All the Tikta Drayvas contain alkaloids and only 10% of Dravyas contain Glycosides. Many of the Kashaya Rasa Dravyas contain tannin”. Professor Dwarakanath has attempted to evolve a method known as “Taste Threshold” for quantitative determination of Rasa in a given substance. The test is meant for
Basic concepts of Ayurvedic pharmacology16 evaluating the intensity or degree of the taste which finally depends on the tongue only and not with any other laboratory instruments. The taste perception and taste sensibility are complex Bio-Physical and Psychological events and translation of Rasa cannot be exactly evaluated without the help of tongue. Rasa & Guna Panchabhoutic combination and primary physical qualities or Gunas of different Rasas are mentioned in the Ayurvedic Classics. Though it appears that Gunas are intimately related to Rasas it is a fact that both are separate principles co-existent in the Dravya. This statement reflects that Rasa acts by its own Prabhava independent of the Gunas attributed to it. “Of the six Rasas Katu, Amla and Lavana possess consecutively Ushna Virya in progressively increasing degrees. Likewise, Tikta, Kashaya and Madhura Rasas possess consecutively Sita Virya in progressively increasing order”. According to this reference the six Rasas finally exercise their general actions by two principles or gunas namely Sita & Ushna and specific action on malas by another pair of Gunas namely Ruksha (Badda Mala – Binding of waste products) and Snigdha (Srishtamaltwa – Proper elimination of waste products). Another pair of Gunas namely Guru and Laghu are attributed to six Rasas. Lavana, Kshaya and Madhura Rasas possess Guru Gunas in progressively increasing degree (relatively superior) and similarly Amla, Katu, Tikta relatively attributed with Laghu Guna. Brimhana and Langhana are the actions of Guru and Laghu Gunas and the specific action of Rasas on Dhatus can be interpreted with Guru and Laghu Gunas. In a nut shell, the Shad Rasas (six tastes) are bestowed with the ability to participate in Shad Upakarmas (six therapeutic measures) with the
Basic concepts of Ayurvedic pharmacology17 help of six Gunas namely Ushna-Sheeta, Sringdha-Ruksha and Guru-Laghu
Basic concepts of Ayurvedic pharmacology24 and Kashaya Rasa may undergo Amla Vipaka. Some interpret Vipakas as the specific mode of Pancha Bhoutic structure of the elemental units of the ultimate metabolic products. According to Hemadri “that evokes taste perception is Rasa and all the rest are Gunas. Particular or distinct Visishta Rasa or taste that occur as the result of Kayagnipaka is Vipaka and generated Guna at this stage is known as Virya”. The substances are identified by two varieties of tastes i.e., Rasa (general) of a Dravya at tongue level (Shad Rasas) and Rasa (specific or Visishta) of a Dravya which has undergone Paka and specially named as Vipaka. Rasa and Vipaka are the two forms for the identifying the actions of substances either by direct perception at tongue level (Nipata) and by inference assessed through final action (Nishta Paka). The final action achieved by Dravya continues as long as the bodily contact with engendered Guna or Virya through Vipaka maintains (Adhivasa). The action ceases when Virya (Virya Yukta Dravya i.e., Drug Molecule) is excreted or expelled out of the body. The action attributed to Rasa, Virya and Vipaka are explained in terms of Guna only. Charaka has tried to explain regarding the identification or recognition of these Gunas at various contact points in the body during the journey of the drug such as Gunas identification at tongue level with the help of Rasa (Nipatat) by direct perception and through inference at Dhatu (tissue) level; with the terms such as Vipaka (Nishtapaka) and Virya (Adhivasa)
Basic concepts of Ayurvedic pharmacology25 Prabhava: Prabhava has been defined as the special property of a substance which produces actions different from and contrary to those ascribed to Rasa, Guna, Virya and Vipaka. The concept of Prabhava appears to be generally resembling the concept of isomerism and isomerides of modern physical compositions and yet exhibit different properties. The chemical composition which largely determines the secondary qualities of a Dravya such as Rasa, Guna, Virya and Vipaka does not determine a chemical compound. The Rasa, Guna, Virya and Vipaka of Danti and Chitraka being apparently identical, the former produces purgation, whereas the latter does not produce this action and the specific purgative action of Danti is attributed to its Prabhava (inexplicable nature). It is easy to evaluate or assess different Karmas (pharmacological actions) of drugs through various experimental models but it is a tough task to evolve objective methodology for demonstration or identification of principles of drug action. Acharyas of Ayurveda clearly mentioned that Gunas are inferred by their Karmas or actions which are perceivable. In order to test the medicinal value of any drug, three methods i.e. (i) Clinical, (ii) Pharmacological and (iii Experimental are in practice from a time immemorial. In those days the experimental trial was in rudimentary stage and the clinical evaluation was very common. Now a days, though more stress is being given on animal experimentation. But this does
Basic concepts of Ayurvedic pharmacology26 not help to that extent, in order to declare the utility of a drug, as is confirmed after clinical testings. Moreover, the results obtained in experimental animal are often found to be different to that of human beings. Thus, it becomes evident that the ancient drugs having clear cut indications, ascribed in the texts should not be ignored or accepted only on experimental basis, until they are tested clinically both with active principles (isolates) as well as total drug
Basic concepts of Ayurvedic pharmacology43 GUNA The Gunas are of three types – (i) those constituting the distinctive features of the five elements, (ii) those common to five elements and (iii) those relating to the soul. The Gunas of the first category are sound (Sabda), touch (Sparsa), vision (Rupa), taste (Rasa) and smell (Gandha) constituting the distinctive features of Akasa, Vayu, Agni, Ap, and Prithvi respectively. Those of the second category are heaviness (Guru), lightness (Laghu), coldness (Sita), heat (Ushna), unctuousness (Snigdha), roughness (Ruksa), dullness (Manda), sharpness (Tikshna), immobility (Sthira), mobility (Sara), softness (Mridu), hardness (Kathina), non-slimness (Visada), sliminess (Picchila), smoothness (Slaksana) and liquidity (Drava). The Gunas of the third category are intellect (Budhi) including memory (Smriti), consciousness (Chetana), patience (Dhriti) and ego (Ahamkara) etc., desire (Iccha), hatred (Dvesa), happiness (Sukha), misery (Duhkha), efforts (Prayatna) predominance (Para), subordination (Apara), propriety (Yukti), number (Samkhya), combination (Samyoga), division (Vibhaga), separation (Prithakiva), measurement (Parimana), transformation (Samskara) and repetition (Abhyasa). The one which is a substratum of the qualities and actions and which is a concomitant cause is the matter. By definition, matter happens to be the substratum of qualities and
Basic concepts of Ayurvedic pharmacology44 actions and it is also the concomitant cause of another matter and qualities as well as actions.The capacity to produce something out of its own rests only in the matter.Neither the qualities nor action can produce something out of their own.So the matter and not the qualities or action can constitute concomitant cause. Guna possesses inseparable concomitance; it is the cause and devoid of efforts. Chakrapani interprets that “Unlike Karma, Guna is devoid of any (curative) efforts.Besides, Guna has also inseparable concomitance as distinct from Akasa, etc.Which though devoid of efforts do not have inseparable concomitance as their substrata.Similarly, Karman is quite distinct from gross matter which forms the substratum for action. Unlike generic concomitance (Samanya), variant factor (Visesa) and inseparable concomitance (Samanya), which do not constitute causes, Guna represents a causative factor as well.However, to say that the Guna is the cause is only partially correct.” KARMA (ACTION) Karma (action) present in the matter is the cause of combination and separation. Karma is the action relating to something to be achieved.It does not require any other factor for its action. Action is simultaneously the cause of combination and separation. While combination does not cause separation and Vice Versa, the action present in the matter causes both combination as well as separation. Karman does not require any other subsequent help in the process of causing separation from the previous position as well as combination with
Basic concepts of Ayurvedic pharmacology45 the subsequent position.Although matter is simultaneously a factor for causing combination and separation, still it is so only when it possesses Karma.Karman, on the other hand, does cause combination and separation as soon as it is produced without requiring any other subsequent help except the proximity to the substratum of the combination and separation. By definition, Karma here implies only the action relating to something to be achieved (like the action of drugs, etc.) and not something like Vamanakarma (emetic therapy) or Adristakarma (invisible past action). Charaka categories dravyas into three groups i.e. Doshaprasamaka (alleviate doshas), Dhatu pradushana (vitiate dhatus) and Swasthahita (maintenance of positive health).In this classification Doshas include Dhatus and vice-versa.So the drugs that are designated as alleviators of the doshas also alleviate dhatus. Similarly the drugs that are designated as vitiators of the dhatus do as well vitiated doshas.The drugs under third category are those which have potentialities to prevent the diseases.These drugs are useful for maintenance of the equilibrium of the tissue elements so that they are neither aggravated nor decreased and help in the normal functioning of the body
Basic concepts of Ayurvedic pharmacology48 3.Snehopaga – The drugs that help the process of unction achieved by fats etc., are known as Snehopagas.Such drugs are known as Vamanopagas as they help madanaphala etc. for emesis viz., honey, yashtimadhu etc. 4.Purisha Virajakeeya – such drugs as eliminate the vitiated doshas from faeces are known as purisha virajaneeya. 5.Mutra Virechaniya – Drugs which increase diuresis are known as Mutra Virechaniyas. 6.Udardaprasamana – Udarda in this context is to be taken as Sitapitta (Urticaria) but not the disease described in Maharogadhyaya (Sut.20). Otherwise the prescription of Tinduka etc. for the relief of udarda cannot be justified because these drugs are not useful for vata. 7.Sonitasthapana – Drug which restores blood in its pure form after eliminating its eliminating its vitiating doshas. 8.Vadanasthapana – In the event of physical pain, the class of drugs which eliminates that pain and restores the body to its normal state is known as Vedanasthapana. 9. Samjnasthapana – It is the category of drugs that restores consciousness. 10. Prajasthapana – The drug which eliminate procreational defects and thus restores embryo are known as prajasthapana. 11. Vayasthapana – The drugs useful for restoration of youth are known as vayasthapana. Sarangadhara has enumerated the following pharmacological actions; 1. Deepana (Appetisers) 2.Pachana ( Digestives) 3. Sodhana (Expungents)
Basic concepts of Ayurvedic pharmacology49 4. Samana (Palliatives)
5. Anulomana (Aperients)
6. Sramsana (Laxatives)
7. Bhedana (Purgatives)
8. Rechana (Cathartics)
9. Vamana (Emetics)
10. Chedana (Sacrificants)
11. Lekhana (Anti-obese)
12. Grahi (Water absorbants and bowel binders)
13. Sthambhana (Constipative and bowel binder)
14. Rasayana (Rejuvenator)
15. Vajeekarana (Aphrodisiac)
16. Sukrala (Spermagogue)
17. Sukra pravartaka (Semen ejaculator)
18. Sukra Sthambhaka (Semen anti-ejaculator)
19. Sukra Soshaka (Semen dehydrant)
20. Sukshma (Subtle Penetrator)
21. Vyavayi (
22. Vikasi (
23. Madaqkari (Intoxicants)
24. Pramathi (
25. Abhishyandi (Obstructants)
Susruta has introduced certain pharmacological actions of the drugs indicated in various surgical procedures Viz; Romasnjanana (Hair growth promoters), Romasatana (Depilators), Savarnikarana (Inducer of pigmentation), Vranaropana (Wound healers) etc.
Basic concepts of Ayurvedic pharmacology50 Ayurvedic pharmacological science identified certain novel pharmacological actions viz.
Sukrasodhana (Semen purifiers)
Sthanyasodhana (Breast milk purifiers)
Sonitasthapana (Blood purifiers)
Medhyarasayana (Brain tonics / Memory boosters)
Chakshusya (Eye tonics)
Kesya (Hair tonics)
Dantya (Tooth and Gum tonics)
The scientists of modern pharmacology may take another century to develop the drugs possessing the actions enumerated above. If the blood culture report shows the growth of infective organism and the semen analysis indicates the presence of pus cells one has to accept that blood and semen are not pure and requires drugs which can restore normalcy of these tissues / liquid substances.Modern medical scientists have initially not accepted the claims of Ayurvedic aphrodiacs. After the invention of Viagra they are constrained to accept the pharmacological actions described in the Ayurvedic medical science
Charaka has furnished the following pharmacological actions with certain examples.
1. Jeevaniya Varga (Invigorators)
2. Brimhaneeya Varga (Nourishing drugs)
3. Lekhaniya Varga (Reducing corpulency)
4. Bhedhaneeya Varga (Cathertics)
Basic concepts of Ayurvedic pharmacology46 5.Sandhaneeya Varga (Healers of wound) 6. Deepaniya Varga (Digestive stimulants) 7. Balya Varga (Strength Promoters) 8. Varnya (Complexion Promoters) 9.Kantya Varga (Useful for throat)
10. Hrudya Varga (Cardiac tonics)
11. Tripthighna Varga (Removes the sense of Pseudo contentment)
12. Arshoghna Varga (Anti-haemorroidals)
13. Kushtaghna Varga (Curatives of all skin diseases):
14. Kandooghna Varga (Anti pruritics)
15. Krimighna Varga (Anti- infectives)
16. Vishaghna Varga (Anti-toxics)
17. Sthanyajanana Varga (Galactogogues)
18. Sthanya shodhana Varga (Galacto-purificators)
19. Shukrajanana Varga (Spermatopoitics)
20. Shukra shodhana Varga (Spermato purificators)
21. Snehopaga Varga (Adjuvents of unction)
22. Swedhopaga Varga (Adjuvents of fomentation)
23. Vamanopaga Varga (Adjuvents of emesis)
24. Virechanopaga Varga (Adjuvents of purgation)
25. Asthapanopaga Varga (Adjuvents of decoction enema)
26. Anuvasanopaga Varga (Adjuvents of oil enema)
27. Sirovirechaneeya Varga (Adjuvents of for elimination of Doshas from the head)
28. Chardinigrahana Varga (Anti emetics)
29. Thrusna Nigrahana (Thirst restraining drugs)
30. Hikkanigrahana Varga (Anti- Hiccup)
31. Pureeshasangrahaneeya Varga (Anti – Diarrhoeal)
Basic concepts of Ayurvedic pharmacology47 32. Pureeshavirajaneeya Varga (Bowel Anti- discoloringagents)
33. Moothra Sangrahaneeya Varga (Anti diuretics)
34. Moothravivarjaneeya Varga (Urinary anti- discoloring agents):
35. Moothravirechaneeya Varga (Diuretics)
36. Kasahara Varga (Antitussives)
37. Swaasahara Varga (Broncho dilators)
38. Swayathuhara Varga (Anti inflammatory / curatives of oedema)
39. Jwarahara Varga (Anti pyretics)
40. Sramahara Varga (Fatigue relievers)
41. Dahaprashamana Varga (Curatives of Burning syndrome)
42. Sheethaprashamana Varga (Curatives of cold)
43. Udardaprashamana Varga (Curatives of urticaria) .
44. Shoolaprashamana Varga (Antispasmodics)
45. Angamardhaprasamana Varga (Bodyache relievers)
46. Sonithastapana Varga (Blood purifiers)
47. Vedanasthapa Varga (Analgesics)
48. Sangnasthapana Varga (Restoratives of conciousness)
49. Prajasthapana Varga (Anti-abortificiants or procreators)
50. Vayahasthapana Varga (Rejuvenators)
Basic concepts of Ayurvedic pharmacology54 Even day and night and some other imperceptible factors are responsible for the predominance of the one or the other of the Mahabhutas.Thus it is not that in the Hemanta (November-January) every drug and diet will always have sweet taste.There is a possibility of manifestation of other Rasas as well, depending on the effect of other imperceptible factors.As a matter of fact the predominance of Mahabhutas is responsible for the seasonal variations and vice-versa.This inter-dependence may be compared to the inter-dependence of the seed and the embryo. Guru (heaviness) and other Gunas (qualities) present in the Prithvivyadi Dravyas (substances of Prithvi and other Bhuta predominance) are residing in the Rasas (tastes of those substances); they (Gunas) are ascribed to (attributed to) the tastes, because of intimate co-existence. Actions of different Rasas: Madhura Rasa: Drugs possessing Madhura Rasa Wholesome to the body Add to the growth of seven body tissues Imparts long life Soothing to the six sense organs Promote strength and complexion Alleviate Pitta, Vata and effects of poison Relieve thirst and burning sensation Promote healthy skin, hair, voice and strength Soothing, invigorating and nourishing Bring about stability and heal up emaciation and consumption Soothing to the nose, mouth, throat, lips, tongue and relieve fits. Much liked by bees and ants. They are cold, unctuous and heavy. Amla Rasa:
Basic concepts of Ayurvedic pharmacology55 Drugs possessing Amla Rasa Add to the deliciousness of food Stimulate appetite Nourish and energize the body Enlighten the mind Strengthen the sense organs Promote strength Alleviate Vata Nourish the heart Cause salivation Help in swallowing, moistening and digestion of food Refreshing They are light, hot and unctuous. Lavana Rasa: Drugs possessing Lavana Rasa Help in carmination, production of stickiness, digestion, osnosia, excision and incision Sharp, mobile, Vikasi and laxative. Avakasakara (deobstructent) Alleviate Vata Cure stiffness, obstruction and accumulation Nullify the effect of all other tastes Cause salivation Liquefy Kapha Clarify the channels of circulation Bring about the tenderness of all the bodily organs Cause deliciousness and essential ingredients of food They are neither heavy & unctuous nor hot. Katu Rasa: Drugs possessing Katu Rasa Keep the mouth clean Promote digestion Help in absorption of food Cause secretion through nose, lacrimation Help proper action of sense organs
Basic concepts of Ayurvedic pharmacology56 Cure diseases like Alasaka, Swayadhu, Udarda, Abhishyandi, Kandu, Vrana, Krimi Allay excessive growth of ulcers Corrode the muscle tissue Break blood clot and other obstructions Clear the passages They are light, hot and ununctuous. Tikta Rasa: Drugs possessing Tikta Rasa Promote deliciousness Antitoxic and germicidal Cure fainting, burning sensation, itching, skin diseases including leprosy, thirst and fever Promote firmness of skin and muscles Promote carmination and digestion Purify milk Cause dry and help in depletion of moisture, fat, muscle fat, bone marrow, lymph, pus, sweat, urine, stool, Pitta and Kapha They are ununctuous, cold and light. Kashaya Rasa: Drugs possessing Kashaya Rasa Palliative, constipative and promotive Produce pressure on the affected part Cause healing, absorption and stiffness Alleviate Kapha, Rakta and Pitta Absorb the body fluid They are ununctuous, cold and heavy. Drugs having sweet, sour and saline taste alleviate Vata; those having astringent, sweet and bitter (tastes) alleviate Pitta and those having astringent, pungent and bitter (tastes) alleviate Kapha
Basic concepts of Ayurvedic pharmacology66 regardless of Gunas, are due to Virya and therefore, there can be as many Viryas as there are actions. The other significant clarification offered by Hemadri which have direct bearing on the subject now under study is “that which evokes taste perception is Rasa and all rest are Gunas.Particular or distinct –Vishishta Rasa –or taste that occur as the result of Kayagnipaka is Vipaka and produced Guna at this stage is Virya.Arunadatta has stated that Gunas are only Viryas but not Rasa as the latter cannot withstand the influence of Kayagnipaka and undergo changes.Indu in his “Seshilekha “commentary also supported the concept of multiplicity of Virya. Among Laghutrayee Bhavamishra has mentioned Virya in terms of Shakti. Sarangadhara has written life span of Virya of different pharmaceutical preparations, eg. Churna will be possessing Virya Up to 2 months.Badanta Narguna envisaged the Karma Viryavada by furnishing a definition for Virya as “Karmalakshanam Viryam”.Guna Viryavada was subjected to severe criticism by Acharya Nagarjuna.He has described Chardaniya Virya, Anulomana Virya etc.Nimi has mentioned 15 types of Viryas such as Urdhwabhagahara Virya, Adhobhagahara Virya etc. Shivadas Sen has observed that Virya is a special power.The uniqueness of Virya has been stressed by him as he observes – Shakti is Virya.It alone is capable of performing powerful actions.These actions do not suffer from any limitations due to non–attachment of viryas to Rasas. Virya is intimately correlated to Gunas viz., Ushna, Sheeta erc.Since Virya inheres inseparably in Dravyas, it is considered to be complementary to Rasas.Shivadas Sen propounded a different type of definition of Viryas as
Basic concepts of Ayurvedic pharmacology67 follows-It is not the quality of the substance, but it is the fraction of substances itself, capable of performing a special action, and also derived from the very important part of the Panchabhutic structure of the Dravya itself.He has also mentioned Sahaja and Kritrima Viryas. Some of the scholar of twentieth century have interpreted Virya as active principles of the drug.Prof C. Dwarka Nath has interpreted Sheeta and Ushna Virya as potential and kinetic energies. To sum up and summarize, the fundamental principles of drug action Virya has been with in different aspects such as Shakti, Utkrishta Gunas and Karmas.Virya was numerically expressed as Dwividha, Ashtavidha and Bahuvidha.Recent scholars and scientists of present era have interpreted it as active principle and energy modalities such as potential and kinetic energies. Dwividha Virya vis-à-vis Ashtavidha Viryas: The term Virya has been described as Shakti or power to perform work of any kind. Both Charka and Susruta have described it as that which performs work and interpreted it into two or eight Gunas.Vagbhata has noted that, in the opinion of some, Viryas are two.They are Ushna and Sheeta.He has added that even though the things of universe as appeared to be diverse and represent a heterogeneity, they can be classified as of two kinds viz., Avyakta (Nominal) and Vyakta (phenomenal), and they never supercede the two most powerful aspects of nature viz., Agni and Shoma. On the other hand Ashtavidha Viryavada was postulated taking eight potent Gunas out of 20 viz., Mrudu-Tikshna, Snigdha –Ruksha, Guru-Laghu and Sheeta Ushna.Vagbhata has referred to authorities of eminence of Charaka,
Basic concepts of Ayurvedic pharmacology68 according to whom these 8 Gunas are relatively more important, in view of their being the essence of the twenty, their potency in action and their importance in the descriptions of the actions of Dravyas as compared to those of the Rasas.The twelve Gunas out of twenty disappear in Kayagnipaka and leave behind 8 Gunas. The eight Gunas on the other hand, are constant and they are generally not mutable.
Basic concepts of Ayurvedic pharmacology71 In the Aupanishadic view, Anna or Shoma and Agni or Prana are in a state of mithuna or embrace and are inseparable, The inseparability of the two has been described as Rayi. In this view, all things orf the universe represent the two inseparable and fundamental modes of nature, namely, Agni, or Prana and Shoma or Anna, corresponding to Energy and Matter respectively.In the light of this concept, Ushna and Shita Viryas are, at the microcosmic levels-specially, at the bio-physical and bio-chemical levels-comparable to the two modes of Energy viz., the Kinetic and the potential. A concept, similar to the one referred to above, marks a more recent development in the field of modern theoretical physics. This has been succinctly described by I.Harris in his thought provoking book entitled “MAN’S PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE” as bellow:- Energy is a force which makes the universe a working concern. Although it forms the basis of the most materialistic of all sciences – physics – it – is nevertheless, an invisible thing, imponderable, without shape or form.Energy becomes recognizable, as such only by its manifestation.All action and reaction of the living universe is merely an assertion of this all pervadingpower.Heat, light, chemical, gravitation, energy, all are cosmic forces which shape existence. All forms of energy are interchangable and can be transformed into another. Perhaps, the most significant fact in regarded to energy is that, in accordance with Einstein formula, E = MC2, matter can be transformed into energy.The electron, positron, in fact the whole material world is dissolvable into something which in terms of shape and form, are nothing. The visible and perceptible are mortal, finite, transitory, perishable. It is the realms beyond material existence in which we find the only thing which is permanent, eternal–energy.
Basic concepts of Ayurvedic pharmacology72 “Energy is found in two conditions in a latent, dormant, potential state or in a kinetic, that is active state.The potential and kinetic energy are of equal value.One state of energy incessantly passes over into another; incessantly it engenders metamorphosis in different forms-light, heat, life- energy.The whole living universe is simply a manifestation of this energy. Now it is dormant, now it is kinetic.It follows from one object to another but it never weakens, never spends its force.The sum-total of energy is the same now as it ever has been and remain the same for all time”. Proceeding on the basis of the earlier Ayurvedic concepts of Energy and Matter and, a similar concept developed by modern (theoretical) physics (extracted above), the twenty Gunas-comparing ten each of the opposites- represent the two fundamental modes of Energy.These groups can be broadly classified under two general categories viz., Anna and Parana or Shoma and Agni or Anudbhuta Shakti and Udbuta Shakti or Shita Virya and Ushna Virya
Basic concepts of Ayurvedic pharmacology94 drugs may be done in all seasons. All drugs are verily more potent when fresh, except honey, ghee, Jaggery, Pippali and Vidanga. Vidanga, Pippali, honey and ghee – these are wholesome when old, other drugs should be taken fresh and free from defects. All verily with latex (sap) are potent.If these (honey etc.) are not available in very old state, those of beyond one year should be taken. Collection of Animal Products: Blood, hairs, nails etc. should be collected from adult animals.Milk, urine andfeaces should be collected after food is digested. Potentiation of Drug Action: In addition to adding to the potency of the recipe, it is necessary to impregnate the ingredients of a recipe with the juice or decoction of other drugs.When properly impregnated even a small quantity of the drug becomes exceedingly effective.Therefore, ingredients of a recipe should be impregnated with the juice or decoction of other ingredients having identical potency. By virtue of appropriate Samyoga (addition of ingredients), Vislesha (elimination of ingredients), Kala (appropriate time of administration) and Samskara (processing) even a small quantity of a drug may produce more powerful effects, and otherwise even a recipe in large quantity may produce very mild effects. If a drug is added with ingredients having identical potency, then the effect of the recipe taken even in small quantity becomes more powerful. Similarly, if a drug is added with ingredients having opposite potency then
Basic concepts of Ayurvedic pharmacology95 the effect of the recipe taken even in large quantity becomes milder.In certain cases, the milder effect of the recipe is necessary in order to make it suitable to the requirement of the nature of Koshtha (nature of bowel). In the same way, the effects of Vislesha (elimination of ingredients), Kala (time of administration) and Samskara (processing) can be explained and illustrated. The following factors are responsible for increasing the strength of a recipe: 1.The ingredients are not impaired by exposure to water, fire and insects; 2.The ingredients are imbibed with the beneficial attributes of the soil and season; 3.The recipe is administered in a slightly higher dose; 4.The ingredients are appropriately impregnated with drugs having similar potency; and 5.The patient is administered oleation and fomentation therapies. Sahayoga (Adjuvants): Different adjuvants are required to be used along with these drugs in accordance with the Doshas involved in the causation of the disease.These drugs should be impregnated and mixed with Sura, Sauviraka, Tusodaka, Maireyaka, Medaka, Dhanyamla, Phalamla (juice of sour fruits like pomegranate), Dadhyamla (sour yoghurt), etc., for the treatment of diseases caused by Vayu.For the treatment of diseases caused by Pitta, these drugs are to be used by adding Mridvika, Amalaka, Madhu (honey), Madhuka, Parusaka, Phanita, milk, etc.For the treatment of diseases caused by Kapha,
Basic concepts of Ayurvedic pharmacology96 these recipes are to be added with Madhu (honey), Mutra (urine), Kashaya (decoctions of Kapha-alleviating drugs), etc. In different recipes, alcohol, etc., are added as constituents, vehicle or expicients to the main drugs like Madana-Phala.In these recipes, Madana- Phala, etc., are the main ingredients, and alcohol, etc., play only a secondary role.Therefore, these recipes are named after the principal ingredients, and not after the ingredients like alcohol, however, follow the effects of the principal drugs used in the recipe. Some times the drugs of secondary nature have antagonistic potency. Even then they do not contradict the effects of the principal drug.If these drugs of secondary nature are similar in potency as that of the principal drugs, then the recipe becomes all the more effective therapeutically. Principal drugs like Danti, etc., have strong action, and meat-soup, etc., added to the recipes of Danti are mild in action.Ela, etc., which are cardiac may reduce the emetic effect.Combination of these drugs having opposite potency, however, does not affect the effects of the principal ingredient.On the other hand, not with standing their opposite potency, they actually help emetic and purgative effects of the principal ingredient. If the drugs of secondary nature have the potency similar to that of the principal drug, then obviously the effect of the compound recipe becomes all the more potent. Drugs of antagonistic potency are added to a recipe in order to impart desirable colour, taste, touch and smell.Such addition also helps to effectively cure the diseases.
Basic concepts of Ayurvedic pharmacology97 Emetic and purgative recipes (therapies) are administered for the treatment of several diseases.But the disease cannot be fully cured simply by emesis or purgation.Therefore, in emetic and purgative recipes, some other drugs (Even those having oppositepotencies) are added so that the recipe as a whole becomes effective to cure the disease
Basic concepts of Ayurvedic pharmacology116 VIRYA VIS –A – VISSAMPRAPTI STAGES In the foregoing pages we have incorporated the Rasapanchak into the Ashtavidha Virya.Simultaneously we have also tried to fix up the site and area or jurisdiction of the Ashta Vidha Virya.It is time now for us to collaborate all the above said ideas with the Samprati Vighatana of diseases. Drugs do certain action to bring about certain effects corresponding to ‘Yat Kurvanti Tat Karma’ and ‘Yat Sadhayanti Tat Phalam’ Obviously, therefore, the therapeutic utility of drug is studied by observing its effect on the disease and its mode of action to achieve that effect. In the rational definition of treatment, the Samprapti Vighatan is given due importance.Any therapy that dismantles the Samprapti at any of its stages is called treatment.In other words cure of disease is nothing but correction of Samprapti.The Samprapti is a chain of events caused by the vitiated Doshas starting from Koshta, and, from there, spreading into different Srotamsi ultimately interacting with a particular Dushya at a particular place to engender a particular disease. The stages of Chaya and Prakopa take place in the Koshta in the respective abodes of the Doshas.The prasara and Sthahasamsraya stages involve Srotamsi and the Vyakti stage biochemically relates to Doshadushya Samoorchana wherein the dushyas are mainly involved affecting the Srotamsi and causing sroto-dushti.Thus Koshta, Dushyas and Srotamsi are involved in the pathogensis of the disease. In the preceding pages the relations of Ashtavidha Virya with different sites, viz., Mrudu-Tikshna at the tongue level, Snigdha – Ruksha at Koshta level, Guru - Laghu at Dhatu level, and Sheeta-Ushna at Srotamsi level, was postulated so that the different stages of Samprapti related to different sites such as Koshta, Dhatu and Srotamsi may be dismantled by Snigdha-Ruksha, Guru-Laghu and Sheet-
Basic concepts of Ayurvedic pharmacology117 Ushna Viryas respectively. A very pertinent question can be asked here as to how are we going to determine a particular drug has dismantled the Samprapti by its particular Virya. This question can safely be satisfied by preparing a proforma of Symptoms of the disease in relation to pathogenic stages and the sites involved. Now give a drug and note down as to which of the symptom disappeared first.Find out the relationship of those symptoms with the site and stage of Samprapti and presume that the drug has acted on that particular stage.Now find out the Virya (Out of eight Viryas) of that drug and fix up the relationship of a particular Virya with that stage of Samprapti. Let us painfully admit that we cannot prove rationally of the drug action unless we prove these things on the above presumptions.If we do not start the hypothesis the present practice of haphazard description of rationality drug action would continue to deteriorate the scientificity of Ayurvedic therapeutics. VIRYA VIS- A- VIS SHADWIDHOPAKRAM One of the prime objects of Ayurvada is to mitigate or cure the disease. Obviously, therefore, the concepts of treatment have been very rationally and scientifically evolved.Despite different types of classification of treatment, the more suitable and comprehensive classification comprises of six therapies called ‘Shadwidhopakram’.The arrangement and division of treatment in to these six therapies encompasses every other classification of treatment. The fundamental principle of treatment is to dislodge the Samprapti, which involves dosha, dushya and srotamsi. The Shadupakramas, therefore should aim at the rectification of the morbidity of either the doshas or dushyas or srotamsi as the case may be.As a matter of principles, therefore, it become imperative for a thinker to locate and understand the
Basic concepts of Ayurvedic pharmacology118 relationship between the pathogenic events and these Shadupakramas. Elsewhere in this paper only, it was pointed out and concluded the logical necessity and scientific utility of fixing up of different stages of pathogenesis in relation to the treatment thereof.
Basic concepts of Ayurvedic pharmacology123 remaining Rasa, Vipaka, Guna, Virya are implied by ‘Guna Prabavata’.The statement further adds the consideration of Adhikarana and also the actions and results. It is, therefore, imperative for us to explain the mode of action in relation to the site of action.The mode of action according to us would be to rectify the discordance in the Dosha, Dushya and Srotamsi and these even though present throughout the body have certain prominence and locations. This is one aspect.The another aspect is that the drug acts by virtue of Rasa, Vipaka, Guna and Virya. If the drug acts by Virya (ENA KURVANTI TAT VIRYAM) and if the drug action as per the foregoing statement is done by Guna Prabhava, some of the prominent Gunas should be involved in explaining the actions through Rasa, Vipaka and Virya.And this postulation is true because even the Rasa and Vipaka are said to exert their influences on the tongue or on the Koshta mala and mutra by virtue of qualities they have. This is the main basis on which Ashtavidha Virya Vada stands and this is why, on an overall assessment of the relevant facts and literature, we are tempted to prefer Ashtavidha Virya Vada to explain drug action in Ayurveda.However this does not amount to deny the Dwividha Virya Vada as it is also included in Ashtavada.Being a clinician Maharshi Charak seems to attach more importance to Dwividha Virya Vada. But he himself never condemns the Ashtavidha Virya Vada. When different but unconflicting approaches are made to one problem, a comprehensive approach is preferable and this is what makes us to support Ashtavidha Virya Vada. A comprehensive study of the general and specific principles of drug in Ayurveda reveals one fact beyond doubt that drugs act by Virya which is entertained and interpreted in different ways keeping in view the chemical, biological and therapeutic equivalences including Rasapanchak vis-à-vis the Dwividha and Asthavidha Viryas with special reference to the mode of
Basic concepts of Ayurvedic pharmacology124 action, selective affinity and therapeutic utility.At the very outset the Virya has been divided in two groups – chintya Virya incorporating the Rasa, Vipaka, Guna and Virya and the Achitya Virya denoting the Prabhava.The scientific rationality rests with the Rasapanchaka sineque non for drug action finding its final expression in Dwividhor Ashtavidha Virya pari pasu the therapeutic utility envisaged in shadupakrama. There is, inter alia, a relationship between these principal postulates at the chemical and therapeutic levels, their independent identity - not withstanding.The concept of Ashtavidha Virya is a comprehensive, nonetheless, all – inclusive approach to drug action, which purports to dismantle the Samprapti at any particular stage so as to avail of the ultimate desired therapeutic effect.In the preceding pages it is attempted to collaborate and corroborate Raspanchaka with Ashtavidha Virya in relation to Samprarti Vighatana. The preference to Ashavidha Virya depends on its being inclusive of Dwividha Virya.An attempt has been made to define and determine specific place with specific function on the one hand and specific quality, the specific therapeutic utility the other.Thus the whole chain of Samprapti, inevitably and invariably involving the Doshas, the Dushyas and Srotamsi has been located at the level of Koshta (Dosha), Srotas and Dhatu.Each of these three require to be corrected by stimulating or depressing as the case may be and, therefore, six most potent qualities have been picked up to be named as and included in Virya – Snigdha – Ruksha at the level of Koshta, Sheeta – Ushna at the level of Srotas and Guru-Laghu at the level of Dhatus.Moreover to insure drug identification along with its primary qualities and their local actions the Mrudu and Tikshna Gunas have also been accepted as Viryas at the tongue level.Thus Ashtavidha Virya encompasses all the aspects of drug action.The Shadwidhopakramas are but the expression of Ashtavidha Virya in therapeutic parlance. There is no controversy or contention between
Basic concepts of Ayurvedic pharmacology125 Ashtavidha and Dwividha ViryaVada, as the former, ipso facto, includes the latter. At length, it is now clear that a multi-farious and synthetic approach, on the applicability of various concepts of drug action was adopted in Ayurveda, showing thereby that these schools are not contradictory but they are rather supplementary to one another. VIRYAM TU KARMA NISHTAYA – AN ASSESSMENT OF VIRYA Despite tremendous advances in the field of research in drugs with special reference to Indigenous medicinal plants, nothing as yet could be finally said about modus operandi of Indigenous drugs, especially in the light of the latest principles of pharmaco-kinetics. It is explicitly stated that drugs do not act by virtue of their Gunas but in fact they act by virtue of their own Swabhava or Gunas or by both. Drug acts by Rasapanchaka i.e., Rasa, Guna, Virya, Vipaka and Prabhava and these principles are known as Gunas in general sense.According to Charaka certain drugs exercise their action by virtue of their Rasa, some by Guna, Virya, some by Vipaka and others by Prabhava. In case the Rasa, Vipaka, Virya and Prabhava are of equal strength, by nature, the Rasa in superceded by Vipaka, both of them in turn are superceded by Virya and Prabhava superceds all the other principles. These concepts of drug action need to be explored and demonstrated further on scientific lines to interpret the action the action of a particular drug. Rasa, Guna, Virya, Vipaka and Prabhava reside in dravya and exercise their own action.Rasas are six in number namelyMadhura,Amla, Lavana, Katu, Tikta and Kashaya.Each Rasa is having certain Gunas and
Basic concepts of Ayurvedic pharmacology126 the actions of Rasas on different components of the body like Doshas, Dhatus,Malas andSrotas could be explained through these Gunas