Rasayana or Jara chikitsa is one eighth of the Ashtanga Ayurveda(8 branches of Ayurveda). Almost all the Ayurvedic treatises including the oldest of all the- Charaka Samhita have given due importance to the concept of Rasayana, with more emphasis towards the preventive aspect of the diseases. We can know the importance of Rasayana seeing the contribution of the very first chapter of the Chikitsa Stana(Section dealing with treatment aspects) to it by Acharya Charaka. Broadly the concept of Rasayana focuses towards the prevention of diseases, modulation and strengthening of the immunological process and enhancement of the life span of an individual enabling him to live a disease free healthy life for a longer duration. A curative perspective of Rasayana is also explained by the authors of ancient Ayurvedic treatises.
Acharya Charaka has dealt Rasayana under 4 sub sections called padas in the first chapter of Chikitsa Stana. Many formulations have been explained in these sections. An over all glimpse of these 4 sections gives us an idea that following and adapting Rasayana is not as easy as it looks. It is a tidious process and require a sincere and honest approach if the desired results are to be obtained.
Vardhamana Rasayana: A few Rasayanas are indicated to be taken in a Vardhamana krama i.e a particular indicated medicament is to be taken in a gradual increasing metered dosage until a specified quantity in specified number of days is achieved. Later the dosage is reduced in reciprocal form in as many days until the starting dose is reached on the final day. While doing so a specified dietic regimen has to be followed. Since Rasayana aims at enriching the quality of the dhatus or tissues, the vardhamana krama might probably be explained with an idea of saturating the dhatus with the active components of the drug or compound so as to strengthen them structurally and functionally, especially when the desired large doses cannot be given at one shot. One such Rasayana wherein Pippali or Long pepper is used in vardhamana karma is called Vadhamana Pippali and shall be discussed in this context.
Vardhamana Pippali Rasayana:
This Rasayana is explained in the 3rd pada or Karaprachitiya Rasayana padam of the first chapter of Chikitsa Stana of Charaka Samhita. In this the Pippali i.e Piper longum or the long pepper is used in the vardhamana karma. Though Charaka in his Sootra Stana has specified not to use Pippali in excess, he has prescribed a large dose of pippali to be consumed in this context. Seeing the form of prescription and the mode of administration the concept doesn’t look contradictory.
Mode of use: On the first day 10 pippali’s should be consumed. From there onwards the number of pippali’s should be increased by 10 every day(i.e 20 pippali’s on 2nd day, 30 on 3rd day, 40 on 4th day…and so on). This consumption of pippali in ascending order shall be followed for 10 days. On the 10th day 100 pippali’s shall be consumed. From 11th day onwards the tapering of number of pippali’s starts and the number of pippali’s shall be decreased in the same proportion as they were increased. This consumption of pippali in descending order shall be followed for the next 10 days. So within a span of 20 days a total of 1000 pippali’s would have been consumed.
Form of consumption:
- The people having uttama bala(good physical and mental strength, tolerance, courage) should take pippali in the form of pishta or kalka(paste)
- The people having madhyama bala(moderate physical and mental strength, tolerance, courage) should take pippali in the form of shruta or kashaya(decoction)
- The people having hrisva bala(less physical and mental strength, tolerance, courage) should take pippali in the form of choorna(powder)
Variation of dose or number of pippali’s in relation to Bala:
- The people having uttama bala should start with 10 pippali’s, increase 10 pippali’s everyday until 10th day and decrease the same number of pippali’s each day for the next 10 days and finish with the starting dose of 10 pippalis on the last day. Total number of pippali’s consumed within 20 days in this format is 1000.
- The people having madhyama bala should start with 06 pippali’s, increase 06 pippali’s everyday until 10th day and decrease the same number of pippali’s each day for the next 10 days and finish with the starting dose of 06 pippali’s on the last day. Total number of pippali’s consumed within 20 days in this format is 600.
- The people having hrisva bala should start with 03 pippali’s, increase 03 pippali’s everyday until 10th day and decrease the same number of pippali’s each day for the next 10 days and finish with the starting dose of 03 pippali’s on the last day. Total number of pippali’s consumed within 20 days in this format is 300.
Diet restrictions during Vardhamana karma:
When the consumed pippali’s are digested properly Shastika shali odana(rice prepared using shastika shali or the rice grown in 60 days) should be taken as diet with cow’s milk and ghee.
Benefits of Vardhamana Pippali Rasayana:
If the pippali is consumed in the above said procedure it is said to bestow many benefits as said below-
- Rasayana: Rejuvenates and strengthens the tissues, provides immunity
- Brimhana: Promotes bulk and induces enormous strength
- Swara bheda nashaka: Allievates hoarseness of voice and other vocal disorders and makes the voice strong, bold and resonant
- Ayu-Hitakari: Prolongs the life span and enables one to live a disease free life
- Pliha nashini: Cures hepatomegaly and spleenomegaly
- Udara vinashanam: Alleviates abdominal disorders, especially ascitis
- Vayaha Sthapanam: Delays ageing process, restores youth and energy
- Medhya: Tones the brain, improves intellect and memory
Analysis of Vardhamana Rasayana with due reference to pippali:
- Vardhamana Rasayana appears to be the first and oldest description of the concepts of a medicine being used in an increasing and tapering form mimicking that of the modern day use of steroids.
- Vardhamana Rasayana appears to be the earliest explanation of metering and monitoring the dose of a medicine especially when they are supposed to be used in large doses.
- Vardhamana Rasayana gives us the earliest evidences of the knowledge of divided doses.
- Since Charaka Samhita is one of the oldest written Ayurvedic treatises and Pippali is the first herb to be used in an ascending and tapering form pippali could be considered as the first ever known medicine with steroidal effect since pippali has its effect on many systems in the body just like a steroid.
- Consideration of bala and planning the dose according to bala indicates the mastery of Ayurvedic physicians over patient and problem analysis even in primitive times.
- Indication of strict diet during the karma indicates the extensive knowledge of food drug interactions in ancient times.
- Since Shodana or purificatory measures are said to be mandatory before undergoing Rasayana chikitsa – Vardhamana Pippali doesn’t form any exemption. Mild to moderate shodhana shall be given prior to the karma to obtain maximum benefits of the therapy
- Diet is recommended after the digestion of pippali. But the question is how to know that the medicine has been digested? No answer or explanation in this regard has been given in the samhita. But we can conclude that feeling of appetite shall indicate the proper digestion of the drug and the person shall wait till he feels hunger.
- Different forms of pippali have been used according to bala. This may be the earliest description of the drug tolerancein various people. Kalka, kashaya and choorna are lighter in that order.
Vardhamana Pippali Rasayana is one of the easiest mode of application of rasayana even in clinical level of practice. We can combat many a ailments using this simple rasayana. It helps in boosting the immunity of an individual when used prophylactically.
Why don’t we try this and share our thoughts and results with one another?
For details contact: Dr Raghuram Y.S,MD(ayu),
Arogya Ayurvedic Centre
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Bangalore – 82
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