Can similar Ayurvedic medicines be substituted with each other? Suppose Ashwagandharishta is prescribed by your Ayurvedic doctor. Can that be substituted with Ashwagandha rasayana or Ashwagandha Churna?
Let us take the example for the herb Ashwagandha – Indian ginseng. It is very well known for promotion of body strength. For making Ashwagandha rasayana is prepared with mixing Ashwagandha powder along with jaggery (or sugar candy), honey and ghee. In this combination, the medicine acts as a very good elixir – Rasayana (anti aging medicine). This is because qualities of honey, ghee and sugar candy are incorporated along with Ashwagandha. In the preparation of Ashwagandha rasayana, at first, heating process is involved. This process also adds heat qualities to the product, which makes digestion and assimilation of the product a lot easier.
When we consider Aswgandharishtam, it is also a good rejuvenator, elixir, but it is emphasized in the treatment of syncope (Murcha), epilepsy, neurological disorders etc. The reason is, in preparing ashwagandharishta, first the kashaya is prepared, then honey and other prakshepa herbs (spices) are added and subjected to fermentation. In the fermentation period, alcohol is originated. The active principles of Ashwagandha and other herbs get dissolved in the alcohol medium.
In case of Ashwagandha churna, a set of phyto-chemicals that are available to be digested and absorbed, get assimilated into the body. In case of Ashwagandha Avaleha, the water soluble and fat soluble constituents of Ashwagandha is available for absorption. In case of Ashwagandharishta, water and alcohol soluble phyto-chemical constituents are available for absorption.
Hence, though all the products contain Ashwgandha as main ingredient, the following changes differ in each medicines.
1. List of ingredients, inter-reaction of Aswagandha with other herbal ingredients,
2. The phyto-chemicals that are available for absorption,
3. Medium of administration. (ghee, water, alcohol etc).
4. Site of action, therapeutic benefits.
Hence, each product is unique and different from each other, hence they cannot be substituted with each other, without consulting your doctor.
The same principle holds good for such other formulations as well. Like Vasakarishta, Vasavaleha, Vasa Choorna (herbal powder), Kashaya and Vasa Swarasa (juice extract) and so on.