Processing in Ayurveda

Processing in Ayurveda is called kalpa which is derived from the krip dhatu  of Sanskrit having various meaning out of which samartha or competent or able or feasible or possible is taken in the sense of Ayurveda. Hence the processing of medicinal substances or food materials or body it self called as bheshaja kalpa,Ahara kalpa and kaya kalpa respectively and performed to increase its potency by improving the palatability and adding quality. It is also called samskara which is defined as “ संस्कारो हि गुणान्तराधानम्”The word kalpana derived from the kalpa which is classified as Bheshaja kalpana(pharmaceutical processings) and Ahara kalpana(processings of Dietetic matarials).

Bheshaja kalpana (Pharmaceutical processings)
Concept of Ayurveda is very clear that there is nothing in this nature which cannot be used as medicine ‘जगत्येवमनौषधं” as every thing in cosmos is created out of the conglomeration of five elements ie.ether,air,fire.water,and earth including the body Accordingly  medicines are derrived from almost all natural sources of Raw materials viz plants,Minerals,Metals,Animals and marrine products after their suitable processing for efficacy,safety and palatability.

Plant meterials are processed in five basic process called panchvidh kashaya kalpana they are-swrasa,Kalka,kwatha,phanta and hima.It is impossible to convert a plant material in the form of drug unless it is processed through these processing. Some of the formulations need to be processed either by using one of the process or by the processing with more than one. Therefore these processes are called basic processes  for any herbal (plant) material.

Fundamental principles of pharmaceutical processing

  1. Paribhasha(Definitions)
  2. Man (weights&Measures)
  3. Panchavidha Kashaya kalpana(Five types of processings)
  4. Ras Guna virya vipaka prabhav(Five therapeutic mode of action)
  5. Anukta or visheshokta(un said or specially said)

Paribhasha (Definitions)
Ayurvedic medicines are prepared on the basis of its description and methods of preparations mentioned in authentic literature. These classical literatures does not deal every aspect of drug manufacturing and its processings in a crystal clear manner. Some of them has not explained at all, some are explained in hazy manner and some are explained in abstract form and able to create an element of doubt in the mind of executer. Therefore the learned scholars developed the system of defining the contents in order to provide clarity of the subject material in the context of pharmaceutical processing.

अव्यक्तानुक्त्लेशोक्तसन्दिग्धार्थप्रकाशिकाः I
परिभाषाः प्रकथ्यन्ते दीपीभूताः सुनिश्चिताःII(वैद्यक परिभाषा प्रदीप् )

Terminology like Trifala(Three fruits of Myroblan)Dashmula(Ten roots)Trikatu(Three bitters)panchakola(five in the dose of kola)have their well-defined meaning and accepted by all from the period of charaka (1000BC) first treaties on Ayurveda itself. Without having the knowledge of such definitions it is impossible to prepare a formulation for therapeutic use.

Mana(Weights and measures)
Weights and measures are vital for the processing in Ayurveda as without the detailed knowledge of the subject combination of raw materials for pharmaceutical and dietetic processing are impossible.
Acharya charaka has described two kinds of weights and measurement they are called kalinga mana and magadh man and opined that the magadh man is superior to the kalinga. Apart from that, three other varieties namely poutava mana,druvay mana and payya mana are also found mentioned in ancient indian literature for the measurement of weight,capacity and length respectively.

Panchavidha Kashaya KalpanaFive types of  processings)
There are various meanings of the Sanskrit word Kashaya and used in different context like extract,taste,colour,cosmetic pastes but in the context of processing there are five basic pharmaceutical and dietetic processings/ forms found in Charaka Samhita Ie. Svarasa (juice), Kalka (paste), Kashaya (decoction),Shita (cold infusion) and Phanta (hot infusion) Sushruta has mentioned six forms (Shadvidha  kashaya kalpana) ) i.e. - Kshíra,Rasa, Kalka, Kashaya, Shita and Chúrna and added  Kshira Kalpana (processings withmilk).However in Ashtang Samgraha, similar five Kalpana (processing)  have been described as found in Charaka Samhita with different names- Niryasa, Kalka, Niryúha, Shita and Phanta.

Ras Guna virya vipaka prabhav(Five therapeutic mode of action)
These principles of therapeutics are directly related with the Ayurveda pharmacology however this is important to maintain the superiority of these principles while processing the raw material to medicine or diet in order to obtain optimum result of the product for elimination  and prevention of diseases apart from promotion of sound and holistic health.

Anukta or visheshokta(unsaid or specially said)
While describing various processing for the preparation of medicine and diet for the patients many raw meterials are just mentioned by name and their quantity or detailed description in respect of quantity ,usful  parts of the plants, species,time for the use of medicine e.t.c. remain hidden and some are told in codified language.Acharya sharangdhara in 13th century have given the detailed clarification and it has became the rule of law for the unsaid and specially said materials to be used in processing.Viz.If time for the consumption of medicine is not mentioned in any context of prescription it should be morning. If part of plant  is not mentioned in formula then jata (aerial root) is used. If the quantity is not specifically mentioned then equal quantity is taken for formulation. If pot remains unspecified then earthern pot is to be used,for un mentioned liquid water is taken,for unmentioned oil sesame oil is takenin the preparation of formulation.In case the same raw material is mentioned twice in the formula the double quantity is to be taken.If only word sandal(Chandan) is mentioned then red sandal is used,for salt Rock salt(saindhava)  for milk cows milk,for ghee cow ghee,for urine cows urine is to be used in processing of formula unless specifically directed under the rule of anukta(Un said).
Visheshokta(Specially said)are those which are literally different in drawing any relevance from the Raw material to be processed but it has the fixed meaning viz.Panchakol (five plants in the quantity of kola they are pippali,piplamula,chavya,chitrak,shunthi)Trifala(Three fruits they are  haritaki,vibhitaka,amalaki)Dshmoola(Ten roots) panchamoola,brihat panchamoola,laghu panchamool,kantak panchamooola, panchamrit,shadushana etc.

Processings and their self life
Ayurvedic therapeutic system includes various types of dosage forms, depending upon the consistency and its shelf life, viz. Vati (tablet),Churna (powder) as solid dosage forms; Swarasa (juice), Kwatha (decoction), Hima and Phanta (cold and hot infusion, respectively), Asava and Arishta (preparation containing alcohol) as liquid dosage forms where as semi-solid preparation includes Kalka (paste) and Avaleha (electuary),etc
Amongst of them, basic dosage forms like Swarasa, Kalka, Kwatha, Hima and Phanta are prescribed in fresh condition because of having short shelf life; while the derived formulations like Asava, Arishta and Avaleha, etc. can be used throughout year or more because of prolonged stability In Ayurvedic literatures, ‘Saviryata avadhi’ term is mentioned in context of the time period during which the Virya (potency) of any drug remains unaffected due to environmental/microbial deterioration; whereas in the contemporary system, the term ‘Shelf life’ is used to indicate the time period during which an API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient) or FPP (Finished Pharmaceutical Product) is expected to remain within the approved stability specification, provided that it is stored under the conditions defined on the container label. 

As per the citation given in the renowned Ayurvedic text Sushruta samhita, a drug whether it is fresh or old, can be utilized for therapeutic purpose up to which its qualities (appearance, taste, smell, etc.) remains in intact
Condition. These characteristics are just the subjective parameters of the physicochemical properties of drug which are generally utilized as the quality parameters of today’s era also and not on the basis of attainement of the product up to sub potent level established on scientific basis apart from deterioration.

The concept of Saviryta Avadhi (shelf life) for different Ayurvedic dosage forms are not specified in major classics like Charaka, Sushruta, etc. but after 13th century, it was considered in various authentic Ayurvedic texts like Vanga Sen,Shrangdhar Samhita and Yogaratnakar. Along with the indication of best before use duration, the importance of quality of package and storage condition is also emphasized in classics.. Nowadays, due to development and adaptation of -packaging and storage technology by Ayurvedic industries, a need arise to re-study and re-establish the newer ones criteria. Recently,Government of India has also issued a Gazette notification and proposed the shelf life of the Ayurvedic formulations

Shelf life of Ayurvedic formulations
There is no any clear idea about shelf life of different Ayurvedic formulations in the classical texts before of 11th century AD. After about 12th AD, the scholars have provided a specified shelf life/stability period of different dosage forms . As per these texts, the Kwatha, Kalka and Swarasa are remain stable for up to one Prahara (3 hrs) while Churna (powder) formulation are having only 2-3 months of stability in its potency whereas nowadays, the airtight packed spices (turmeric, pepper, coriander, etc. powder) are used comparatively for longer period. Also the stability period of the Vati (pills) is mentioned to be up to one year which seems to be lesser in comparison to the tablets of allopathic system of medicine. Ayurvedic Formulary of India (AFI) also has specified some time period during which the formulation retains its efficacy. The longer stability in recent dosage forms is naturally the gift of the present packaging technology which was not much more developed in the ancient time. Also, the modern science has made some advances to control and regulate various aspects of pharmaceutical processing so as to minimize or even eliminate the drawbacks of ancient packaging.

Saviryta Avadhi of different Ayurvedic dosage forms as per classics
Dosage form                                                        Savirya Avadhi
                                                           vangsen     sharangdhar         YogRatnakar

Kwatha (decoction)                             ----------        --------------               03 hours
Kalka (paste)                                      ----------         --------------               03 hours
Swarasa (expressed juice)                 ----------         --------------               03 hours
Anjana (collyrium)                              ----------          -------------                03 Months
Churna (Powder)                                ---------           02 Months              03 Month
Vati (pills)                                            ---------           2 Months                ----------
Guda/Avaleha (electuary)                  2Months        12 Months               06 month
Ghrita & Taila(0ol&fat based)            06Months      16Months                12 Month
Asava (Alcoholic preparation)           -----------         Long term                ----------
Dhatu (Metallic preparation)               -----------        Long term                ----------
Rasa (Mercurial preparation)             ----------          Long term                ----------

Shelf life or date of expiry for Ayurvedic medicines.GSR No.764(E) Dated 15th Nov.2009 U/R 161B of D&c Act


Name of the group of Ayurvedic Medicine
Shelf life and date of expiry with effect from the date of expiry
Churna,Kwath churna
Gutika(Vati-Gutti,Pills,Tablets except Gutika with Ras)
(I)Gutika,Tablet containing Kasth aushadhi

(II)Gutika,Tablet containing kashth aushadhi and Ras,Uparas Matellic bhasmas and Guggulu

No Expiry Date
No Expiry Date
Lepa Churna
Dant Manjana Powder
Dant Manjana Paste
Lepa Guti
2 Years(one time)
Ghan Vati
Kupi Pakva rasayan
No Expiry Date
No Expiry Date
Svet Parpati
Pishti and Bhasma
No Expiry Date
Swarna,Rajata,Lauha,mandura,Abhrak Bhasma,Godanti,Shnkha bhasma e.t.c
No Expiry Date
Nag Bhasma, Vanga Bhasma,TamraBhasma
Capsule made of soft gelatine(Depending upon the content material)Containing kashth aushadhi with Rasa,Bhasma,Parad-Gandhak
Capsule of hard gelatin(Depending upon the content material) Containing kashth aushadhi with Rasa,Bhasma,Parad-Gandhak
Syrup/Liquid oral
(Karna/Nasa bindu)Ear/Nassal Drop

Eye Drop

Khand /Granule/Pak
Pravahi kwath (with preservatives)

Note 1-Item at Sl. No.4,5,19,20,22,23 have very long shelf life and become more efficacious with the passage of time and period of ten years shall be mandatory for keeping  the records of such items
Note 2 Bhasma at serial no.23 start solidifying after five years and they need one or two puta again before using in the dosage form.


  • PUBLISHED DATE : Oct 24, 2021
  • LAST UPDATED ON : Oct 24, 2021


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