Dravyaguna is the science which deals with the Guna (principle) and Karma (action) of a drug. Dravyaguna can be considered both as a basic and an applied science and is interpreted as clinical pharmacology. It forms the backbone of rational therapeutics. The importance of Dravyaguna is well reflected in its being given a place among Ashtangas of Ayurveda by the author of Rajanighantu.
CCIM has distributed the subject of Dravyaguna under two papers for U.G. course and four papers for PG. course and the syllabus is being revised periodically. In the new syllabus of U.G. course CCIM has suggested 228 drugs in the place of 365 herbs quoted in the previous syllabus. In the present book in addition to the description of 228 drugs the information about the remaining 137 drugs is given under ‘Additional Drugs’ which includes the drugs mentioned in PG. curriculum.
The most relevant information from Ayurvedic classics and Nighantus with regard to each herb is mentioned along with precise botanical description. This work should be considered as the first book in the subject of Dravyaguna written by an Ayurvedic personnel and a modern botanist. The precise botanical descriptions of medicinal plants enumerated of this book will help to improve the identification skills of the students during the field study. The excellent color photographs of the medicinal plants incorporated in this work will further strengthen the knowledge of Namarupa-vijnan.
K. Nishteswar, currently working as Professor & HOD, Dravyaguna at I.P.G.T & R.A., Gujarat Ayurved University; Jamnagar He has obtained B.A.M.S. a Degree (1976) from Andhra University; M.D. (1980) from Gujarat Ayurved University and Ph.D. (1997) from University of Pune. He also completed Sanskrit Bhashakovida (1975) from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and Diploma in AIDS (2004) from IGNOU. He received State Best Teacher Award from Govt. of Andhra Pradesh during 2001. He was awarded several Gold and Silver medals in recognition of his merit and theses on various topics like Diabetes, Hypertension and Cardiovascular disorders. He delivered Keynote lectures and Guest lectures in several National aid International Seminars. So far he has written 42 books in Telugu, English and also in Hindi on various subjects of Ayurveda and published approximately 80 papers in various standard journals. He is a recognized Ph.D. guide for Dr. N.T.R. University of Health Sciences, Vijayawada.
Koppula Hemadri, Founder Chairman of Dr. Koppula Hemadri’s House of Tribal Medicine has born on 19” September 1938 at Gollprolu, E.G. District, Andhra Pradesh. He completed his B.Sc. (Chemistry), B.Sc. (Botany) Hons, and Ph.D. courses from Andhra and Bombay Universities. He has put in 35 years of experience in “Floristic Surveys” including Medicinal Plants of various parts of India. He served the Botanical Survey of India (8 ½ years) and Central Council or Research in Ayurveda and Siddha (27 years) and discovered 24 plant species & one genus new to the world Flora. He also discovered Gomutra Shilajit - a Natural exudates of Ayurvedic importance, from Rocky Mountains of Andhra Pradesh & Karnataka States (India). He has written 15 books in Telugu & English and published 62 research papers in various standard journals. In recognition of his contributions to the field of ethno botany, Academy of Ayurveda has awarded the most prestigious Millennium Gold Medal during the year 2000.
Dravyaguna is the science which deals with the Guna (principle) and Karma (action) of a drug. Dravyaguna can be considered both as a basic and an applied science and is interpreted as clinical pharmacology. It forms the backbone of rational therapeutics. Correct and skillful application of drugs is impossible without a proper understanding of their basic pharmacology Practice of medicine is transforming from experience (impression) based to evidence based.
One enigmatic question that teases our mind is “How our ancient seers identified and documented the various potentials of herbs?” As acknowledged by Charaka and Sushruta the forest dwellers were the true source for identifying the medicinal plants with their therapeutic potentials. The information gathered through field observations, was subjected to clinical evaluation generating data on the therapeutic profiles of various herbs. The information recorded in Ayurvedic classics may be categorized as evidence based data. Recent researches on herbs scientifically evaluated and confirmed classical claims.
The subject matter of Dravyaguna is divided into four branches viz., Nama- rupa-vijnanam (Pharmacognocy), Gunakartna-vijnanan (Pharmacology), Amayikaprayoga-vijnanam (Therapeutics) and Kalpana-vijnanam (Pharmacy).
During the British rule several botanists have made attempts to study Ayurvedic herbs and Indian medicinal plants. Hortus Malabaricus (Heinrich van Rheede), Flora of British India (Hooker), Flora Indica (Roxburgh & Wallich), Pharmacographia Indica (Dymock, Warden & Hooper), Dictionary of Economic Products (Watt), Indian Materia Medica (Nadkarni), and Indian Medicinal Plants (Kirtikar & Basu) are some of the important works with notable contributions on Indian Medicinal Plants.
Towards the end of British rule, separate institutions of Ayurvedic education have been started. Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM) was started during 1970 with a view to streamline education and to evolve uniform standards for Indian systems of medicine. Ashtanga Ayurveda (Ayurveda with eight specialties) has been subdivided into 14 subjects and curriculum was evolved. The subject of Dravyaguna is included among 14 departments. CCIM has distributed the subject of Dravyaguna under two papers (U.G. Course) and accordingly the syllabus is being periodically edited. In the new syllabus CCIM has suggested 228 drugs in the place of 365 herbs quoted in the previous syllabus. Out of 228 drugs, only 110 drugs are given under derailed study, and 128 drugs under non-derailed category. Information of the remaining 137 drugs is, however, given in the present work under ‘Additional Drugs’.
The most relevant information from Ayurvedic classics and Nighantus with regard to each herb is mentioned along with precise botanical description. This work should be considered as the first book on the subject of Dravyaguna written by Ayurvedic personnel and a modern botanist.
The color photographs for the majority of the medicinal plants are given at the end of the book. In the Annexture - 1, a list of PG. syllabus drugs is given. In the Annexure - 2, brief information of details of the herbs prescribed in the new CCIM syllabus is presented.
We believe that this book will serve the purpose of UG as well as PG students in the subject of Dravyaguna. We extend our heartfelt thanks to Dr. R. Vidyanath, Professor and Dr. K.J. Lavanya Lakshmi, Lecturer, Dr. N.R.S. Government Ayurvedic College, Vijayawada for their assistance in the proof reading. We profusely acknowledge the whole ream of Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishtan, Delhi for publishing this book.
The importance of Dravyaguna is well reflected in its being given a place among Ashtangas of Ayurveda by the author of Rajanighantu. Salient features of Dravyaguna are as follows:
1) Acharyas of Ayurveda discussed content and scope of Life Science under three principles (Trisutra) viz., Aetiology (Heturjnana), Symptomatology (Lingajnana) and Therapeutics (Oushadhajnana) for promotion of health and curing of diseases.
2) Charaka opines that the characteristic of best medicine lies in its curative potentialities. Best medicine should possess requisite curative properties. Accomplishment of main objects of Ayurveda i.e., prevention and cure of disease implies proper application of medicine.
3) Health depends on the equilibrium of Doshas. Any deviation from Dosha-samyata (equilibrium of Doshas viz., Vata, Pines and Kapha) engenders disease. Basing on this principle the drugs are classified into three categories viz., Drugs which pacify the aggravated or vitiated Doshas, Drugs which vitiate Dhatus, and Drugs which are useful for the maintenance of positive health (Rasayana & Vajeekarana).
4) A physician who possesses the knowledge of proper application of medicine (Yogajnana) Long with knowledge of identification (Namarupajnana) is regarded as the best physician. The adage that “a good physician is a good pharmacologist too” reflects the concept of Zharaka’s Names, Rupa and Yogajnana. Emphasizing the need of the knowledge of proper application of the drug, Charaka quotes that un know drag kills the patient instantaneously like poison, weapon, fire and thunderbolt and, well administered drug acts as nectar. Even an acute poison becomes an excellent drug if it is properly administered.
5) MI the drugs and diets are composed of all the five Mahabhutas viz., Prithvi, Jabs, Tejas, Vayu and Akasa. According their predominance (Vyapadeshastu bhuyashah) the drugs are designated as Parthiva, Jaliya etc.
6) Charaka concludes that there is nothing in the world which doesn’t have therapeutic values. Even straw and dust are useful for therapeutic purposes like fomentation etc.
7) Some drugs act by virtue of their own nature (Dravya-prabhava) and some other drugs act by virtue of their qualities (Guna-prabhava).
8) In a Dravya the attributes like Rasa, Guna, Virya, Vipaka and Prabhava participate in the process of initiating action.
Rasa (taste) - Madhura, Amla, Lavana, Tikta, Katu, Kashaya
Guna (attribute) - Guru, Snigdha etc., 20 in number
Virya (potency) - 2 types (Sheeta, Ushna) or 8 types (Sheeta, Ushna, Guru, Laghu, Snigdha, Ruksha, Mridu, Tikshna)
Vipaka (biotransformation) – 2 types (Guru and laghu) or 3 types (Madhura, Amla and Katu paka)
Prabhava (empirical)- Innumerable
9) Determination of pharmaco-dynamic principles can be made either by direct perception or by inference. Rasa or taste of drugs can be ascertained after their contact with the tongue; Vipaka by final action; Virya either by its association with the body or after contact with body or tongue potency (Virya) may either be natural (natural heaviness of Masha) or artificial (Laja — parched rice).
10) Certain drugs manifest their action by virtue of their Rasa, and some by virtue of their Virya or Vipaka or Prabhava. It Rasa, Vipaka, Virya and Prabhava are of equal strength by nature, Rasa is superceded by Vipaka, both of them in turn are superceded by Virya and finally Prabhava overcomes all of them.
11) Rasa or taste helps to anticipate other Gunas like Virya or Vipaka of a specific drug, when these Gunas are in conformity with Rasa. This general rule has got its own exception in case of Vichitra pratyayarabdha.
General rule is:
Rasas- Should have
Madhura- Sheeta virya and Madhura vipaka
Amla- Ushna virya and Amla vipaka
Lavana- Ushna virya and Madhura vipaka
Tikta- Sheeta virya and Katu vipaka
Kashaya- Sheeta virya and Katu vipaka
Katu- Ushna virya and Katu vipaka
Certain drugs like Arka, Aguru, Guduchi though possess Tikta ram, their Virya is considered as Ushna instead of Sheeta. So the activity of Vichitra pratyayarabdha drugs can not be explained only by Rasa.
12) The drugs become capable of producing maximum therapeutic effects when their Virya (potency) is augmented by Deshasampat (collecting the plants from appropriate habitat), Kalasampat (collecting the herbs in the appropriate season), Gunasampat (collecting herbs when they are enriched with excellent attributes) and Bhajanasampat (properly stored in appropriate containers).
13) Period of collection of a drug can modify the therapeutic response. Acharyas of Ayurveda specifically indicated the period of collection (in various seasons) for different parts of the plant. Ayurvedic classics clearly indicated seasons to be preferred while collecting different parts viz., root in Sishira or Grishma etc. Seasons influence the quantity of active principles present in different parts of the plants.
14) To potentiate the activity, the drugs are to be impregnated with the juices or decoctions of similar drugs and the dosage of the drug can be minimized.
15) The total response of the drugs depends on:
- Potency of the drug
- Addition of Anupana (vehicle)
- Routes of administration
In the contemporary scientific world Herbal research is carried by isolating certain active principles to prove the pharmacological actions through animal experimentations. For example Curcumin - isolated from Haridra and which appears to be yellow in color and bitter in taste should be considered as a Dravya which may possess certain Gunas like Tikta rasa, Ushna virya and is expected to undergo bio-transformation (V4taka). Thus, Modus operandi of every active principle can be explained with Ayurvedic principles of drug action i.e., Rasadi panchaka. In the following pages herbs are described both from Ayurvedic and Botanical perspectives.
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