Ayurveda is the very ancient Life science of India, which is being practiced for attaining the complete health. The benefits/aim of Ayurveda are preserving health of the healthy and mitigation/removal of abnormalities of the sick. For achieving these benefits of Ayurveda four limbs of treatment ( Bhisak, Bhesaja, Upastatha, Rogi) are described and known as Chikitsapada catustaya1. Among
Chikitsapada catustaya Bhesaja is the medicament or drugs. Bhesaja is essential in case of Dravyabhuta Yuktivyapasraya Chikitsa2. Hence, before using drugs, testing of dravya is mandatory. In Ayurveda, this can be attained with the help Dravya Pariksha Vidhi3 in Vimansthana of Charaka-Samhita. Drugs are to be examined about their nature, attributes, actions or effect, place of growth or cultivation, time or season of collection, method of storage, method of processing, and doses to be used in which disease and type of person it to be used, whether it expels out the dosa or pacifies those, what so ever other medicines having similar character are also included in this. Acharyas of Ayurveda have allowed the skillful use of similar Dravyas which are not explained by them in case of non availability of the one mentioned in the text.
According to Acharya Charaka, “Nothing in this world is devoid of medicinal
अनेनोपदेशेन नानौषधिभूतं जगति किंचिद् द्रव्यमुपलभ्यते…। (च.सू.-26/12)
Thus, Acharya Charaka’s view and guidelines proved to be a source of light or the basic guideline for the later researchers.
Concept of Dravya Pariksha Vidhi :-
As per the description in Vimansthana of Charaka-Samhita, Acharya Charaka has given guidelines for drug standardizations3, which are as relevant in today’s era too.
It indicates that a drug should be studied as follows :-
1) Edam evam Prakritim: Name, natural order of drug and botanical morphology.
2) Evam Gunam: Physical-Rasa, Veerya, Gurvadi Gunas and chemical Properties.
3) Evam Prabhavm: Therapeutic actions.
4) Asmin Deshe jatam : Botanical distribution
5) Ritu eva Grihitam: Time and method of collection.
6) Nihitam: Method of preservation.
7) Upaskritam: Sanskar,Pharmaceutical processing for its preparations.
8) Matra : Dosage
9) Vyadhi: Various diseases in which drug can be therapeutically used.
10) Evam Vidham Purushasya: Clinical trials or in which person it is probably useful.
1) Edam evam Prakritim (Prakriti of a drug):-
It includes Namarupa5 and nature of drug. According to Raj- Nighantu names are given on the basis of seven factors5.
- Rudhi (Traditional use) : Aatarusaka, Tuntuka
- Prabhava ( Effect) : Krimighna, Hayamara
- Desyokti (Habitat) : Magadhi, Kalinga
- Lanchana (Morphological character) : Rajiphala, Chitraparni
- Upama ( Simile) : Salaparni, Ajakarna
- Virya ( Potency) : Usana, Sita
- Itarahvaya ( Due to other factors) : Sakravaha, Kakahva
Understanding the features of drug is essential as it informs us about the source of drug. Ayurvedastressed to utilize the knowledge and experience regarding drug identification, of cowherds, hermits, huntsmen, forest dwellers etc. It helps in developing crude knowledge regarding identity of a drug and to ascertain it. It has reduced confusion regarding classification and identification of a drug especially in case of unknown or folklore medicine.
2) Evam Gunam (Guna) :-
The guna is the property of drug. Various actions of drugs depend to a great extent on the presence of guna. Guna can be defined as that which being located inherently in dravya is non inherent causative agent and itself is devoid of property and action6.
समवायी तु निश्चेष्टः कारणं गुणः। (च.सू.-1/51)
Gunas explain the action of drug on the body. They may even help in identification of drug. These properties will explain the therapeutic actions of drug and also help in identification and standardization of drug. It includes Rasa, Veerya, Vipaka, Gurvadi Gunas and Pancha-bhautikatwa of the drug.
A] Rasapanchaka of the plant:
The term Rasapanchaka refers to Rasa, Guna, Veerya, Vipaka and Prabhva. The information regarding properties of plant are explained in form of rasapanchaka in ayurvedic treatises.
- Determination of Rasa:
There are various means that ascertain the through knowledge of rasa. Rasa of a drug is gustatory appeal7. It is told by Acharya Charaka that
“रसो निपाते द्रव्यानाम” (च. सू.-26/66)
i.e. Rasa is perceived through the contact of dravya with gustatory sense organ
and is called gustatory perception. This is the best way to know about the rasa of a dravya5.
- General sense of taste : By direct perception (Pratyaksha)
- Specific sense of taste : By inference (Anumana)
- Experimental knowledge of taste : By authoritative statement
Anurasa is perceived in the end after the manifestation of chief rasa.
(ii) Determination of Gunas :
The term Guna literally means the properties or qualities of any substance. But in Ayurveda it means physicochemical or pharmacological properties of the dravyas. Thus, they are either Bhautik (physical) or Karmuk (pharmacological) properties of a Dravya. While considering Gunas of a Dravya, Karmuk Gunas are expected to be considered. The Gunas inherent in a Dravya can be inferred by their Rasa, applications and biological responses. They can be inferred also by its known Pharmacological actions.
(iii) Determination of Veerya:
Veerya is known by both pratyaksha and anumana. The virya of some drvya is known from nipata directly on tongue or skin, some known from adhivasa and some by both adhivasa and nipata5.
|Nipata (contact with body)||Pratyaksha (perception)||Maricha (tikshna)|
|Adhivasa (stay in body)||Anuman (inference)||Anupa mamsa|
|Nipata- Adhivasa||Pratyaksha- Anumana||Maricha (usna)|
Classification of Ashtavidha Veeryas8
- Sheeta Ushna
- Guru Laghu
- Snigdha Ruksha
- Mrudu Teekshna
(iv) Determination of Vipaka:
In Ayurveda, Vipaka is associated with the Rasa i.e. a fixed Vipaka is associated with corresponding Rasa.9
कटुतिक्तकषायाणां विपाकः प्रायशः कटु। अम्लोSम्लं पच्यते स्वादुर्मधुरं लवणस्तथा ।। (च.सु.-26/58)
Thus, it can be assessed by the knowledge of Rasa. Vipaka of a drug is inferred by its properties after it has undergone digestive and metabolic transformations. Thus, Vipaka can also be assessed by its action produced on Doshas, Dhatus and Malas. It can also be assessed on the bases of the available literary information, regarding its properties and actions. It would be based upon the Trividha Vipaka Vada of Ayurveda.
(v) Determination of Prabhava:
Prabhav is a unique action of a drug. It can be defined as an action of a dravya which we cannot attribute to any of its Rasapanchaka. Such examples are very few and no test parameters are available for its assessment. It is applicable only in case of few drugs.
B] Determination of Pancha-bhautika constitution5:
Panchabhautik constitution of dravya can be determined on the basis of predominant rasa present in them as specific Rasas are having dominance of specific Mahabhutas.
|S no.||Rasa||Predominant mahabhuta (As per Charak)||As per Shusruta|
|Madhura||Jala + Prithvi||Jala + Prithvi|
|Amla||Prithvi + Agni||Jala + Agni|
|Lavana||Jala + Agni||Prithvi+ Agni|
|Katu||Vayu + Agni||Vayu + Agni|
|Tikta||Vayu + Akasa||Vayu + Akasa|
|Kasaya||Vayu + Prithvi||Vayu + Prithvi|
3) Evam Prabhavm (Prabhav):
This Prabhava is diferrent from the Prabhav mentioned in Rasa-Panchak.
• Prabhava here, stands for Specific Action of a Drug. It is the property of drug which is responsible for peculiar action10.
रसवीर्यविपाकानां सामान्यं यत्र लक्ष्यते। विशेषः कर्मणां चैव प्रभावस्तस्य स स्मृतः।। (च.सू.-26/67)
• In modern terms, Prabhav is ‘Pharmacodynamics’ of a drug. i.e. effects of a drug on various organs, body systems are studied. It can also be inferred, on the basis of available literature references regarding the action of drug.
4) Asmin Deshe jatam (Desha):
It means the Habitat of a plant. The soil, air, temperature, rainfall, sun-light and altitude are the important factors for the growth and development of plant. Since, they vary from place to place, knowledge about the habitat of any drug is very important. Some plants are found in specific regions while some can be found everywhere. Even if the plant is available everywhere, its chemical constituents vary in amount, which is proved by many researches. According to Ayurveda, a drug should be collected from Prashasta Desh. Thus, study of ecological conditions play an important role in drug study.
- As a general opinion Acharya Sarangdhar says that all usna virya dravya are to be collected from Vindhya hills and Sita virya are to be collected from Himalayan ranges.
- The land may be categorized on the basis of five mahabhuta predominance and drugs for different purposes are to be collected from soil of different mahabhuta dominance as mentioned by Maharshi Sushruta11.
|Dravya||Collecting place (predominant mahabhuta)|
|Virechana dravya||Prithvi and jala mahabhuta|
|Vamana dravya||Agni, akasha, vayu|
|Ubhayaja dravya||Soil of all mahabhuta predominant|
|Samana dravya||Akasha mahabhuta|
- Plant grown near temples, valmika(anthill soil), kutsita(vibhatsa
sthana), anupa(marshy land), smasana(burial grounds), usara
pradesha (saline soil), marga(walking lanes), jantu pidita, agni
dagdha and himavyapata are
unfit for therapeutic use12.
5) Ritau Grihitam :
This is time and method of collection of plant material. Drug should be collected, in Prashasta Kala. Time is important factor as it imparts direct effect on potency of drug. In Ayurveda, Prashasta Rutu for drug collection i.e., time of collection and storage method are well described (C.K.1/10). Even modern science states that a standard quality drug can be obtained only if it is collected by Good Collection Practise.
|Plant part||Classical view13||Conventional view (WHO guidelines)14|
|Moola (root and rhizome)||Grishma and Shishir (summer and late winter)||Annual- shortly before flowering, Biennial- autumn after the first year of growth, perennial – same but after 2nd year|
|Kanda (bulb)||Sharad (autumn)||Late autumn after plant had flowered and fruited|
|Twak (bark)||Sharad (autumn)||Autumn after leaf fall or spring before development of leaves|
|Shakha- patra (leaves and stems)||Vasanta and Varsha (spring & rainy season)||Dry weather|
|Pushpa ( flowers)||A/c to flowering season||Dry weather in mid of day|
|Phala (fruits)||A/c season of maturity of food||When fully grown & ripe|
|Bija (seed)||———||At the completion of ripening, some collected slightly earlier, eg. Cardamom|
|Saar (heartwood)||Hemanta (early winter)||————-|
|Niryas (latex)||Sharad (autumn)||————–|
6) Nihitam3 :
This is the method of preservation of drug. Good Storage Practice related guidelines must also be followed as it may affect the physical as well as chemical properties of a drug. Any drug material which is collected should be stored in suitable conditions to retain the inherent drug properties until the drug goes into a preparation. For this, the most primary thing which we require will be suitable containers.
7) Upaskrit3 :
This is the pharmaceutical processing of dravya. Many preparations can be made from single drug to make it more potent, preserved, palatable and clinically effective. Ayurveda has mentioned many pharmaceutical preparations under Bhaishajya-kalpana. Information about pharmaceutical preparations mentioned, related to the study drug can collected and an attempt could be made to consider its use in various Ayurvedic-Kalpas.
This is fixing the dosage or Posology of a drug.The general dosage can be acquired by literature sources. But in Ayurveda, it is fixed according to severity of disease, age, time, Koshtha and Agni of the patient. General dose of some drugs are given below:-
|Swarasa||½ pala (24 ml) – 1 pala|
|Kalka||1 karsa ( 12 gms)|
|Kwatha||2 pala (96 gms)|
|Kshara||2-8 ratti (250 – 1000 mgs)|
|Sattva||½ -1 gm|
|Guggulu kalpa||1 karsa|
|Sneha kalpa||1 pala|
|Lepa||For external use|
|Upnaha||For external use|
It gives the idea about various diseases in which drug can be useful. A single drug can be used in different diseases, symptoms at different places. Hence knowledge from different people in different places regarding its use should be
compiled. The applicability of the drug as a possible therapeutic agent can be decided according to its uses mentioned in literature sources studied. Some of its possible applications can also inferred according to its assessed Rasapanchaka.
10) Evam Vidham Purushasya3:
It can be correlated with Clinical-trials or Person to whom it is to be administered The results gained by applying above methods are said to be totally based upon Anumana, until we prove them. For verification of these, it is needed that the drug should be studied in clinical trials, which would provide more valid base for the acceptance of a drug, as it is the best way to evaluate any drug’s medicinal utility. Thus, it is needed to be studied according to Ayurvedic perspective of clinical trials but not before verifying its safety profile.
Modern Concept of Drug Standardization14:
A significant identification and examination of crude drugs is important in processes of herbal formulation. Standardization is an evolution that serves as a basis to evaluate the pharmaceutical products.
General protocol for standardization of drug :-
- Authentication :- The first stage is identification of the plant species or botanical verification by the currently accepted latin binomial name and synonyms. The steps involve in authentication are taxonomic , macroscopic and microscopic studies. Records should be maintain for stage of collection parts of the plants collected, regional status botanical identity ,etc.
- Foreign matter:-Medicinal plant material should be entirely free from visible signs of contamination by other part of same plant, another plant which is similar, very different plant, moulds or insects and other animal contamination, including animal excreta.
- Organoleptic evaluation:-Organoleptic examination refers to evaluation by means of organs of sense and includes the Macroscopic appearance of the drug, its odour and taste occasionally the sound of its fracture and the feel of the drug to the touch. Colour: Examine the untreated sample under diffused daylight. The colour of the sample should be compared to that of the reference sample.
- Microscopic character:-Comparative studies are made in the microscopic characters of the targeted raw materials with the characters of authentic material deposited in herbarium and museum with the help of various types of microscope. Eg: stomatal index and palisade ratio.
- Volatile oil:- The determination of volatile oil in a drug is made by distilling the drug with mixture of water and glycerin, collecting the distillate in a graduated tube in which the aqueous portion of the distillate is automatically separated and return to the distilling flask and measuring the volume of oil.
- Ash Value :- The ash value is designed to measure the total amount of material remaining after ignition. The ash value is divided into three classification :-
- Total ash value:- This includes both physiological ash which is derived from the plant tissue itself and the non physiological ash which is residue of extraneous material.
- Acid insoluble ash :- This is the residue obtained after boiling the total ash with dilute HCl and igniting the remaining insoluble matter.
- Water soluble ash :- Water soluble ash is the difference in weight between the total ash and the residue after treatment of the total ash with water.
- Chromatographic profile :- Chromatography is any one of the several processes for separating and analyzing various gaseous or dissolved chemical materials according to difference in their absorbency with respect to a specific substance and according to different pigments. The result of chromatographic separation are expressed in terms of Rf value. It is defined as the distance travelled by the sample substance / distance traveled by the solvent.
- Marker component :- Markers are chemically defined constituents or
group of constituents of herbal substance, an herbal preparation or an herbal
medical product which are of interest for control purposes independent of
whether they have any therapeutic activity. Eg. Ginsenoside, phyllanthin,
andrographolide (biological marker of kalmegha), bacoside, kutkoside ( present
- Pesticide residue :- Standard limits of pesticides have been set by WHO and analysis FAO ( Food and Agriculture Organization). Some common pesticides that cause harm to human beings, such as DDT, BHC, taxophene and Aldrin should be analyzed.
- Microorganisms :- Microbiological contamination can be measured according to parameters methods describe in the ayurvedic pharmacopoeia as well as the Indian pharmacopoeia. Microbiological analysis of limits of E. coli and molds, total viable aerobic count, total enterobacteria and their count, aflatoxin analysis.eg. Bacterial limit = 10,000 per gram.
- Radioactive contamination :- We use isotopes for decontamination and sterlisation.
- Heavy metals :- Permissible limits of heavy metals :
|Heavy Metal Contents||Permissible limits|
Correlation of Ayurvedic concept of dravya pariksha with modern Drug standardization
|Sl.No.||Ayurvedic Concept of Dravya pariksha||Modern Concept of Drug Standardization|
|Evam Gunam||Organoleptic characters, Morphological characters|
|Evam Prabhavam||Chemical constituents|
|Asmin Deshe jatam||Habitat|
|Asmin Ritav Grihitam||Time & season of Collection|
|Evam Nihitam||Storage Practice|
|Vyadhi||Applicability of the drug|
|Evam vidhasya purushasasya||Clinical-trials|
The study of any new drug by ‘Dravya Pariksha Vidhi-Charak Samhita Vimansthana 8/87’, would facilitate its inclusion to the Ayurvedic compendium. It is most applicable for the study of Anukta Dravyas i.e. unknown drugs which have no mention in Ayurvedic literature or folklore medicines. Thus, it thereby facilitates the applicability of the drug in Ayurvedic therapeutics. When a drug is studied according to the ‘Dravya Pariksha Vidhi’, it is studied according to the attributes of Ayurveda, thus, we can get a complete standard profile of the drug according to the Ayurvedic point of view. It would facilitate the use of drug in Ayurvedic practise once its Rasapanchaka, Gunas, etc. are known. Ayurveda has an ‘Individualisticapproach’ of treatment. So, an increased compendium facilitates physician in finding out the most suitable drug, for an individual .
Thus, it can be concluded that if a drug is studied according to the
“Ayurvedic perspective” as well as by modern Pharmacognostic view, it would
provide a more firm base for its acceptance in Ayurveda therapeutics.
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- CARAKA SAMHITA of Agnivesha (vol-1) elaborated by Caraka and Dridhbala edited with ‘CARAKA CHANDRIKA’ Hindi commentary by Dr. Brahmanand Tripathi. Published by Chaukhambha Subharti Prakashan, Varanasi; ( C. Su.-26/67)
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