Ayurvedic treatments involve a whole lot drugs and herbal medicines. One among these popular drugs used for Ayurvedic treatment is arishtam. Arishtams come in different formulations and there are different arishtams for different diseases. These are mainly decoctions and are some of the most common and widely used formulations in Ayurveda. They are so popular that even allopathy lovers are familiar with arishtams such as Dasamoolarishtam and Jeerakarishtam. A unique quality of an arishtam is that their distinctive medical formulations increase their shelf-life and thus they can be preserved for a long time without damage. The classic texts on Ayurveda define arishtam as ‘Naa rishyathe ethi arishtam’: that which does not deteriorate is arishtam.
Arishtams follow a long manufacturing process. These are prepared by soaking the drug materials either in powder form or as water extracts (kashayam) in a solution of sugar or jaggery, as the case may be, for a specific period of time. One essential ingredient in the formulation is the powdered Thathiri Pushpam (flower of Woodfordia floribunda) which acts as a natural fermenting agent. These compounds undergo fermentation in a properly closed container either in a special room or in a cellar to ensure normal fermentation. This process facilitates easy extraction of the active principles contained in the drugs. A constant temperature is maintained during the process as varying temperature may impede or accelerate fermentation.
The medicinal properties of drugs in arishtams are very active and give immediate results as they are in the medium of self-generated alcohol and are hence easily digested and absorbed. Alcohol also ensures more shelf-life for arishtams compared with kashayams (water extraction) or choornams (powder).
The average adult dose of arishtams is 25-30 ml twice a day. This can be varied by the physician according to the severity of the disease and the body constitution of the patients. Since arishtams contain sugary material, extra care is needed when administering them to diabetics.