Dictionary of Dravyaguna in Ayurveda

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Item Code: NAF773
Author: Dr. Amritpal Singh
Publisher: CBH Publications
Language: English
Edition: 2014
ISBN: 9789383811144
Pages: 366
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5 inch x 5.5 inch
Weight 350 gm
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Book Description
Back of The Book

In modern medicine, drugs have been classified according to pharmacological actions. Ayurveda has its own concept as far as drug formulation is concerned. Today we can witness changing scenario as far as Ayurveda is concerned. Ayurveda has documented Dravya, Guna, Rasa, Virya, Vipaka, Prabhava and Karma for all medicinal agents and these represent the pharmacological aspects of formulations used in Ayurveda.

In this book, Dictionary of Dravyaguna, documentation has been made on the properties of each of the medicinal plants based on Dravya, Guna, Rasa, Virya, Vipaka, Prabhava and Karma. The interesting aspect is the documentation of therapeutic research on these medicinal plants from different research institutes from all over the world. In several cases the composition of the medicinal plants have been documented based on its composition. An essential and important reference source on medicinal plants.


About The Author

Dr. Amritpal Singh, took his B.A.M.S. and post graduate degree on Ayurveda Vachaspathi, MD (Ay), from Guru Nank Dev University and B. R. Ambedkar Bihar University, Muzaffarpur, respectively. After taking a certificate course in Photochemical techniques from Madras University, took his MSc in Medicinal Plants from Nagaland Open University. Starting his career as Ayurvedic Medical Officer, in Sohana, He became a herbal consultant for several years, h e joined as external faculty in National Institute of Pharmaceutical Research. Continued his career as Senior Lecture in Lovely Professional University, and Dhanvantari Ayurvedic college. Chandigarh. Presently he is a Herbal consultant to several national and international organization.



I feel honoured in presenting this work, titled Dictionary of Dravyaguna before Dravyaguna fraternity and undergraduate and postgraduate scholars of Ayurveda. Dravyaguna is essentially a compilation of ancient Indian medical knowledge. According to one estimate, 850 medicinal plants are used in Ayurveda, the Traditional Indian Medicine. Scholars in the medieval times composed several Nighantu. The roots of the word Nighantu lie in nigama; which means a secretive thing. Nighantu are considered to be nucleus of Dravyaguna.

Compiling a dictionary on a vast subject like Dravyaguna was a long journey and continuous hard work of ten years. A viability of standard dictionaries on specialty subjects of Ayurveda are lacking in the market and this work is a humble effort in that direction. The drugs (herbal, metallic and marine) discussed in the dictionary has been arranged alphabetically in Sanskrit (official language of Ayurveda) for reader's ease. Botanical name, family name, Ayurvedic synonyms, English name, Hindi name, distribution, description, chemical constituents (phytochemitry), action on three biological humours, therapeutics, parts used in medicine, pre-clinical and clinical research is intergral part of all entries in the text. Information on adulterants and substitutes of principal drugs is salient feature of the dictionary.

To make the dictionary more useful, an introduction on the principles of Dravyaguna has been included and it is hoped that this will help the introduction of the subject to the novice as well to the serious lay reader, who would like to use the book as a source reference. Dravyaguna is an essential subject of undergraduate course of Ayurveda i. e. Ayurvedacharya or Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (B. A. M. S). Central Council of India Medicine (C.C. I.M), Dept. of AYUSH, under OUG REGULATION has prescribed Minimum Standard of Education in Indian Medicine (Amendment) Regulations, 2012 and undergraduate syllabus of Davyaguna has been radically changed. Similarly, under PG REGULATION. C. C. I.M. has framed Indian Medicine Central Council (Post-Graduate Education) Regulations, 2012. Several universities across India are awarding M.D. Ayurveda (Vaid VAchaspati)-degree in Dravyaguna. It is hoped that the Dictionary of Dravyaguna Shall be handy for undergraduate and Postgraduate courses and those related to Ayurvedic Pharmaceutical Science like (B.Pharma or D. Pharma and M. Pharm).

I sincerely hope that dictionary of Dravyaguna shall be handy to academicians, researchers and scholars of Ayurveda. Despite all efforts, some mistakes may have crept in the text. Potential readers are requested to send suggestion to increase contents of the dictionary.

Lastly, I am thankful to Sri. M. Easwaran, Editor, for his rigorous efforts, and Smt. M. Girija, Proprietor, CBH Publications, to make the publication possible.



1. Definition of Dravyaguna

Dravyaguna is integral part of Ayurvedic system of medicine. Dravya refers to constituent of the universe and guna signifies property. Study of Dravyaguna is based on seven parameters (Dravya, guna, rasa, vipaka, virya, prabhava and karma), which are described as nucleus of Ayurvedic drug formulation. According to Ayurvedic concept, all the constituents of the universe are medicinally useful. As far as origin of drugs is concerned. Ayurvedic formulations are based on medicinal plants, minerals, animals, poison or marine source. Ayurveda has eight divisions and all are inter-disciplinary. In modem terminology, Dravyaguna of the ancients can be compared with Materia Medica. Keeping in view, the emerging trends in Ayurveda, the study of Dravyaguna has become more significant,

Caraka Samhitii and Susruta Samhita are Ayurvedic classical texts on medicine and surgery, respectively. Botanical identity of the medicinal plant is of utmost importance as numbers of plants have been documented with same name. Drug identity is a bit controversial subject in Ayurveda although most of plants described in Ayurvedic texts have been assigned Latin names. Ayurveda was practiced in commentary form and students were taken to forests for identity of the plant. Even toady we are dependent on herbal vendors and folklore medicine for tracing valuable remedies.

Caraka has divided Dravya into following categories:

l. According to origin, plant and animal source.

2.According to medicinal activity like digestive, appetizer, cardiac tonic etc.

Ayurveda is interdisciplinary science, and involves medicine, yoga, meditation, gem and metaphysical approach. When we discuss the medicinal use of the drug, Ayurveda unlike Allopathic system of medicine, uses the drug as a whole. Drugs are dispensed as aromatic water, powder, infusion, decoction or concoction, ointment, syrups or confections.

Materia Medica proper is defined as knowledge of natural history, physical characteristics, and chemical properties of drugs. It _ includes study of herbs, minerals and drugs from animal kingdom. The Ayurvedlc equivalent for Materia Medica proper is Dravyaguna. which is study of medicinal herbs in Ayurvedic terms. Now days the term Matena Medica proper is better known as Pharmacognosy.

The Ayurvedic texts describe a term 'virya' which seems to be the Ayurvedic equivalent of active constituent: Caraka. Samhita has mentioned that therapeutic activity of a medicinal plant is due to factor known as virya. The formulations used in ancient texts are based on plant in natural form. They do not believe in extracting the active constituent from the plant. According to experts, significant virtues of the plant are lost during extraction.

With introduction of scientific procedures, the scenario for Ayurveda, particularly Dravyaguna has changed. The fundamentals of Ayurvedic drug formulations were well established by Caraka , Susruta, Atreya, Vagabhatta, Kasyapa, Madhava, Agnivesa and many more. The advancement these people made is really astonishingg keeping m view the lack of scientific procedures. Organoleptic testing of the drug seems to be principal method for testing the potency of the drug. Although these types of methods are difficult to describe in modem language and scientists are trying hard to understand basic of Ayurvedlc drug formulations.

Today the concept of research in plant based medicine has changed. It was Sterner who isolated morphine from Papaver somniferum L.(Ahiphena of Ayurveda) and showed the world that plant based medicines contain chemicals; which are responsible for biological action. Indian scientists have also isolated chemicals from medicinal plants used in Indian System of Medicine. In recent years, numbers of papers and books have been published on plant based medicine.

Dravyaguna is a vast subject and for its better application in Ayurveda, knowledge of botany, chemistry and pharmacognosy is must. As we have already discussed, scientists are more interested in chemical aspects of plant based medicine. Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna) is reputed Ayurvedic remedy for heart ailments but we do not know exactly which compound is responsible for cardioprotective activity of Tarjuna. Recently compounds like arjunetin and fridelin have been studied as possible active constituents of Tarjuna.

Studying the Ayurvedic drugs at chemical levels may unreveal the mechanism of action which has eluded the scientists for long time. A far as disease segment is concerned, hepatology and rheumatology are two areas where Ayurvedic remedies are even prescribed by Allopathic physicians. Silybum marianum L. is well-documented western herbal remedy used for liver diseases. In India, we have Picrorhiza kurroa (Kutki), which is a priced drug for liver diseases. P.kurroa when compared with S. marianum, the hepatoprotective effect of P.kurroa was found to be similar, or in many cases, superior to the effect of Silybum marianum. But we can see S. marianum more popular than P.kurroa. Silymarin, the active constituent of S. marianum has been isolated and purified and above all pharmacological and pharmacokinetic data is available for the drug. Pharmacological data are missing for drugs used in Indian System of medicine.

Ayurvedic remedies have been tried for centuries but not documented. Today we can witness Ayurveda as global phenomenon but still people are reluctant to adopt it as primary healthcare system. Dravyaguna is the subject which should be properly explored. For better understanding of the subject basic botany and chemistry should be Studied along with Dravyaguna. If we look at Western Herbal Medicine, chemistry, botany, microbiology and biochemistry are fundamental subjects of academic study and new subjects like Phytopharmacognosy, phytochemistry and ethnopharmacology are emergingg.

2. Dravya (Substance)

According to Caraka Samhita dravya is an organized moiety. Ayurvedic system uses drug as a whole instead of isolating active bioactive constitutes; again a point based on organized nature of the dravya. When we isolate the active constituent, the dravya no longer remains organized and chances of having side effects are more.

As we have already discussed that study of Dravyaguna involves study of seven parameters (see under introduction). Dravya can be defined as store house of guna and karma. For example, atoms combine to form molecules and similarly molecule can be dissociated into basic atoms. The combinations and separations are karma. All these changes take place at the molecular level within the substance and cannot be seen with the naked eye. According to Ayurvedic concept guna also resides in the dravya as when two things combine together to form a new thing and only after extensive investigation it can be said that the new thing has extra property.

3. Classification of Dravya

3.1 According to origin

A. Audbhida: It includes dravya derived from plants. Majority of the natural products are derived come from green flora. Majority of the systems of medicine are dependent on medicinal herbs for obtaining drugs. Until the discovery of antibiotics and analgesics, plant based medicines were the primary healthcare system. Today we see the reemergence of plant based medicine. According to W.H.O sixty to seventy percent of drug used in synthetic system of medicine are derived from herbal source. With development of disciplines like botany, biochemistry and chemotaxonomy the study of medicinal plants has taken a new path. Keeping in mind, the non-availability of scientific devilment, the scholars of Ayurveda did a tremendous job in classifying the audbhida dravya into four distinct classes.

a. Vanaspati: It includes herbs, under shrub, shrub and trees.

b. Vanspatya: It includes plants in which fruit appears after flowering.

c. Ausadi: Dravya which gets destroyed after maturation.

d. Virudha: This group includes climbers and twiners.

B. Jangama: This group includes man, animals, birds and insects.

Drugs obtained from animal source are included in this group. They are further divided in to four distinct classes:

b. Jarayuga: It includes animals from mammalia.

c. Andaja: It includes birds and fishes.

c. Swedaja: This group includes insects.

Udbhija: It includes animals from phyllum ambrosia.

3.2. According to usage

A. Ahara.: It includes routine diet consumed by human beings for maintaining optimal health. Rasa is predominant in A-hiira dravya.

B. Ausada: It includes drugs taken in various forms for alleviating diseases.

3.3. According to specific action

A. Dosa prasamana, In Ayurveda, the disturbed biological humours, vata, pitta and kapha are considered to be the root cause of all diseases. Texts have described various drugs or methods to pacify the disturbed humours. Oil application and internal administration is best option for pacifying vata.

B. Dhatu. Pradusaka: Some drugs aggravate the biological humours and disturb the function of body tissues. Ayurveda has described various diet incompatibilities and contraindications for drugs. For instance, a drug aggravates pitta humour in a person or produces pathology ill blood tissue; this is refereed to dhatu pradusana.

C. Swasthahita: Some drugs help in maintaining good health of human body and mind.

3.4. According to elemental composition

According to Ayurveda, all the dravya are made of five elements. Depending on the predominance of the elements the dravya can be Akasiya, vayavya, Agneya, Apya or Parthiva.

3.5 According to therapeutics

Drugs are used for pacifying disturbed biological humours (Sansamaa dravya). Sometimes drugs are used for removing humours from the body (Samsodhana dravya). In modern science, drugs are lowering blood sugar is known as hypoglycemic agent.

3.6 According to pharmacological action

Caraka has classified drugs according to pharmacological action. For example a drug which is used in the treatment of jvara (fever) is known as jvaraghana (febrifuge).

4 Guna (Property)

Guna (Property) is a vast topic. Most probably, guna represents specification of the drug. Ayurveda has described forty-one properties. Guna represents partly physical and chemical properties and partly physiological properties of drugs.

These are further divided into

1. Gurvadi guna (20)

2. Paradi guna (10)

3. Vishist guna (5)

4. Adyatamika guna (6)

Paradi guna have specific role in medicine. A brief description is given below:

A. Para: In Ayurvedic language para signifies best. What is best for the patient, diet or medicine; this is represented by para. In clinical practice, doctor prescribes complete bed rest in some disease for speedy recovery. Diseases like diabetes and arthritis require rational approach. Mixed blend of medicine, diet and exercise in must for keeping symptoms in control.

B. Apara: It signifies what is harmful for the body. Ayurvedic system of medicine treats diet as medicine and vice-versa. Like consumption of proteins in gout and consumption of Solanceous vegetables in rheumatoid arthritis can aggravate the problem. Similarly, intake of pain killers in patients having history of peptic ulcer is harmful.

C. Yukti: It can be described as 'doing something in a schematic manner'. The formulation described in Ayurveda are prepares after keeping in mind the aggravated humour (vata or pitta or kapha), patients constitution and when to be administered.

D. Sankhya: It signifies number. For example Ayurveda considers virya (potency of drug) of two types; hot and cold. Two types of jaundice are mentioned in Ayurvedic texts kostasrita (confined to abdomen) and sakasrita (confined to limbs) whereas in modem medicine jaundice is if three types haemolytic, hepatic and obstructive.

E. Sanjoga: It can be defined as combination of two or more substances. While preparing Triphala, we incorporate definite proportions of Haritaki (Terminalia chebula), Vibhitaka (Terminalia hellerica) and Amalaki" (Phyllanthus emblica).

F. Vibhaga: It can be defined as separation of one substance from another. It can be simply compared with extraction of bioactive constituents from medicinal plants. Drugs like vinblastine and vincrisitne have been isolated and purified from Madagascar periwinkle (Vinca rosea) are potent anticancer drugs. According to Ayurvedic experts, vibhaga also stand for ability of our body to distinguish between two substances.

G. Parimana: It signifies measurement of liquid or solid. Like one teaspoonful (5 ml) tablespoonful (15 ml) for liquids. Similarly Ayurvedic system of medicine has its own concept of measurement like rati, masa or tola.

H. Samnskiira: Ayurveda has described some medicinal plants as poisonous. They are properly purified before using in preparing in a formulation, All the processes adopted to render pant less toxic are referred to as samnskara. While doing phytochemical screening, a plant is selected for tasting. Let us say that an alkaloid or glycoside is active constituent of the plant and we wish to isolate it. A plant contains number of chemical constituents and numbers of procedures are adopted by plant chemists to separate the active constituent.

5. Rasa (Taste)

Rasa (taste) has got significant place in Ayurvedic medicine. A diagnosis of a disease is based on three biological humours (vata, pina and kapha) and treatment is based on six tastes (sweet, sour, salt, pungent, bitter and astringent). Our tongue experiences the tastes when drug is administered orally. The taste parameter actually reveals dynamic of Ayurvedic preparations.

5.3: Composition of tastes

Water is primary constituent in composition of tastes. When water element interacts with other elements, evolution of tastes takes place. The taste of a particular thing depends on the predominance of the elements.

5.4: Taste and humours

Enhancing effect

1. Vata is increased by bitter, astringent and pungent.

2. Pitta is increased by sour, pungent and salt.

3.Kapha is increased by sweet, salt and sour.

Retarding effect

1. Vata is decreased by salt, sour and sweet.

2. Pitta is decreased by bitter, astringent and sweet.

3. Kapha is decreased by pungent, bitter and astringent.

5.5: Taste and dhatu (tissues)

I. Sweet, sour and salt supplement the body tissues.

2. Pungent, bitter and astringent reduces the body tissues.

5.6: Taste and mala (waste products)

1. Sweet, sour and salt enhance the removal of waste products.

2. Pungent, bitter and astringent causes retention of waste products.

5.7: Actions of tastes

1. Sweet: Nootropic, demulcent, tonic, expectorant and mild laxative.

2. Salt: Laxative, appetizer, digestive, expectorant and emetic (large doses)

3. Sour: Carminative and appetiser,

4. Pungent: Stimulant, carminative; diaphoretic,. broncho dilator and anthelmintic.

5. Bitter: Alterative, anthelmintic, febrifuge, bitter tonic and cholagouge.

6. Astringent: Styptic and antidiarrhoeal.

The evolution, properties and' functions of" six tastes have been Summarized below:




1 Introduction to Dravyaguan i
2 Dravya-Substance ii
3 Classification of Dravya iv
1 Origin iv
2 Usage iv
3 Action iv
4 Elemental composition v
5 Therapeutics v
6 Pharmacology v
4 Guna vi
5 Rasa vii
1 Evolution of taste viii
3 Properties of tastes viii
4 Composition of tastes ix
5 Taste of humours ix
6 Taste and dhatu ix
7 Taste and mala ix
8 Action of Tastes ix
6 Virya (Potency) x
1 Types x
2 Virya and Humours xi
3 Action of Virya xi
7 Vipaka xi
1 Samanya pratyarabhadha xi
2 Vichitra pratyarabdha xi
8 Prabhava xii
9 Karma xii
1 Classification of Drugs in Ayurveda xii
  A: Drugs acting on Digestive system xiii
  Purgatives xiii
  B: Drugs acting on Respiratory system xiv
  C. Drugs Acting on Heart xiv
  D. Drugs acting on Circulatory system xiv
  E. Drugs acting on Nervous system xv
  F. Drugs acting on Kidney xv
  G. Miscellaneous drugs xv
10 Description of Guna xvi

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