Rasāyana is a unique branch in Ayurvedic system of medicine. In a simple way we can attribute rasāyana as a rejuvenation therapy. It helps to attain longevity, to regain youthfulness, to provide healthy lustrous skin and to improve memory power and intelligence. It also helps to sharpen the sense organs and thus provides both physical and mental well being.
What does the word rasāyana mean?
It is a combination of two Sanskrit words- ‘rasa’ and ‘ayana’. ‘Rasa’ refers to the essence of food or the elixir of nutrients imbibed by the body after digestion. ‘Ayana’ refers to the path through which the nutrients transport through the whole body. So the word ‘rasāyana’ primarily refers to the transportation of the nutrients throughout the body.
How is rasāyana therapy done?
Different kinds of rasāyana therapies and rasāyana formulations have been explained in Ayurvedic literature. Most of the rasāyana drugs are effective anti-oxidants and good immune-modulators. A number of medicinal plants individually or in combination have been used as rasāyana drugs. The method of doing Rasāyana therapy by keeping the patient in a specially designed cottage with stringent treatment plan and food regimen is known as ‘kuṭīprāveśika rasāyana vidhi’. This is an intense way of administering rasāyana treatment and must be done only under the strict supervision of an expert Ayurveda physician. The other kind of rasāyana therapy is called ‘vātātapika rasāyana ’ and as the name suggests, is a toned down version that do not require stringent regimes or monitoring and can be administered without disturbing the daily routine, even if the person is exposed to external factors or influences. Hence, the latter method is ideal for imparting some benefits of rasāyana into the current way of life. Usually, the physician may advise a purification therapy (pañcakarma), before initiating a rasāyana therapy, as a preparatory procedure and to obtain the best results achievable with rasāyana.
What is unique about rasāyana medicines?
The rasāyana drugs are good immune-modulators and promote uptake of nutrients by the body and ultimately regenerates cells and body tissues and lead to improved immunity. Such herbs and plants are having major presence of phyto-constituents such as glycosides, flavonoids, coumarins, sapogenins, alkaloids, volatile oils and terpinoids and helps to modulate and strengthen the immune system.
Apart from the immuno-modulatory action, rasāyana drugs can be used for the cure of specific diseases. Preparations like Cyavanaprāśa, Pippali rasāyana and Agastya rasāyana can be used for chronic respiratory disorders. These drugs are proven to have the curative effect in chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders (COPD) which include chronic bronchitis, emphysema and small airway disease. Respiratory system easily gets affected by the external influences and is prone to disorders in persons lacking sufficient immunity. In cases of chronic respiratory illnesses, free radical damage can be effectively countered by the use of rasāyana drugs with their anti-oxidant property.
In the current scenario of Covid-19 outbreak, there is an immense role for rasāyana to strengthen the immune system. Cyavanaprāśa is the best choice of rasāyana which can be used by all age groups. It is a rich source of Vitamin C, acts as an effective immune booster and it is also a good nutrient. Agastya rasāyana is another choice of medicine which has effect on respiratory system and capable of curing chronic respiratory disorders and also has anti-oxidant effect.
Are there herbs with rasāyana effect?
Powder of giloy- (guḍūcī (San)- Tinospora cordifolia) is very much beneficial as an anti-viral drug and it is an effective anti-pyretic drug. Indian Gooseberry (āmalakī (San)- Phyllanthus emblica) is one of the best home remedy to boost immunity which is easily available and can be used daily as a practice of rasāyana. Indian Gooseberry is a main ingredient in most of the rasāyana preparations. It is highly nutritious and a rich source of Vitamin C, minerals and amino acids. Ascorbic acid in the fresh fruit is assayed as 1 g per 100 ml of fresh fruit juice. It is an effective anti-oxidant and having anti-diabetic and anti-cholesteremic action.
In today's world, it is a daunting challenges to maintain health with the current lifestyle, food habits, environmental pollution, stress, food habits, sedentary life style, overuse of electronic media and decreased moral values . In Ayurvedic literature rasāyana drugs are indicated for those who desires longevity and youthfulness. And it is advised to use with a calm and truthful mind and with at most cleanliness and righteous behavior and attitude. It refers to the importance of keeping a high physical, mental, social and spiritual health practice. There is an advise called ācāra rasāyana in the textbooks, which enlists the rules and regulations for positive physical and mental health have been widely described. It includes daily regimen (dinacarya), seasonal regimen (ṛtucarya), good conducts, moral duties, good behavior etc. All these are very relevant in the current situation. Rasāyana being a branch, deals with immunology and have to be practiced effectively to serve the society in the current situation as well as for a healthy and happy future of mankind.