Bhaishajya in Ayurveda versus Western Herbology

By DILEK KOKSAL

BLOCK 3 Practitioner Student

Bhaishajya Kalpana is composed of two words, Bhaishajya - Drug and Kalpana - Processing.
Bhaisajya is in turn derived from ‘Bhisag’ meaning a physician, a vaidya.

Etymologically ‘Bhaisajya’ is a substance used by a ‘Bhisag’ the physician as a means of treating a patient. ‘Bhaisajya’ is also known as ‘Ausadha’ meaning a substance imparting health.

Concept of ‘Drug’ is principally based on the type of activity of a substance on the human body. Thus, Bhaishajya Kalpana is the most important branch of learning in the field of Ayurveda. With the art and skill of formulation, a poisonous drug can be transmuted into a safe and effective drug.

Ayurvedic classics also give emphasis to the elimination of inherent constituents of the drug which arebinappropriate in specific clinical condition and toxic in nature and which enter into the formulation if notbremoved.

To meet this requirement basic materials are sometimes subjected to purifying process known
as “sodhana’.

The pharmaceutical procedures for any drug involve various steps starting from identification andbcollection of authentic raw material, application of standardized processing techniques, and production of quality drug to packaging and storage of the produced drug. Ayurvedic pharmaceutics is not an exception to this. A quote from Caraka Samhitaa (Caraka Samhitaa Vimana Sthaana 8/87, 1984) says raw

material of specified type having specific characteristics and therapeutic action, grown on a specific soil in a specific geographical area in specific atmospheric conditions should be collected in a specific season.

Only such raw material will produce the expected therapeutic effect provided it is used judiciously in proper dose.

The components soluble in water are extracted in water whereas solvents like fat, oil or alcohol are required to extract ingredients soluble in those solvents. A combined solvent system is also used sometimes. Depending on the requirement, different procedures are adopted to extract therapeutically useful ingredients.

Avipattikar Churna and Avipathi Choornam – both these are Ayurvedic medicines in herbal powder form. Both have got similar set of ingredients. But have lot of differences between them, in terms ofindication, method of administration etc.

In the West, tincturing was originally developed as a means of dealing with fresh plant materials; by soaking them in alcohol and straining out the plant mass, one could preserve herbs for future use.

A large proportion of Western herbs are flowers and leaves, which have a very poor shelf-life if simply dried.

Each manufacturer has its own method of extracting plant medicine, which is then used to make salves and tinctures that are sold nationwide.

Different extraction methods illustrate the contrasting philosophies pulling at the ends of contemporary herbal medicine. One supports the highly scientific method of standardization, which involves measuring and extracting specific compounds believed to be responsible for the herbs’ medicinal effects.

The other is the traditional “whole herb” school of thought, which asserts that all of a plant’s compounds contribute to its ability to heal and protect health, and plucking out one or a few compounds means losing that synergy.

References:
http://www.pspmngo.org/index.php/departments/rasashastra-bhaishajya-kalp...
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3025621/
http://www.motherearthliving.com/health-and-wellness/herbal-extracts.aspx