shelf life or expiration date of Ayurvedic medicine

The general belief that Ayurvedic medicines do not have any expiration date and their shelf life is infinite is not true. Ayurvedic medicines generally made of herbs, do tend to lose their herbal medicinal qualities over a period of time. As a  consumer of Ayurvedic medicine, it is very important for you to know about the expiration date of Ayurvedic medicine.


expiration date of Ayurvedic medicinesDefinition of expiration date of medicine: The time from the date of manufacturing of the medicine to the time till which the medicine has sufficient potency to bring about the desired therapeutic action can be termed as shelf life or expiration date.

When put in simpler words, the time till which the medicine has sufficient strength to bring about the desired action is termed as expiration date or shelf life.
The expiration date of medicine (also known as expiry date) is largely dependant upon

  1. The quality of herbs and ingredients used in the Ayruvedic medicine.
  2. The nature of herbs used in a formulation – wet or dry
  3. The dosage form of the Ayurvedic medicine (Herbal powder, herbal jams, ghees, oils etc)
  4. Usage of particular herbs that usually contribute to the anti oxidant / natural preservative property to the Ayurvedic medicine.

For example, If Amla powder in a particular medicine (say Chyawanprash), it contributes to the shelf life by its anti oxidant property.
In an Ayurvedic sugar syrup, if the quantity of sugar is about 66.6 %, then the sugar syrup itself acts as natural preservative.

As a general rule, The expiry dates are explained in detail in Ancient Ayurvedic test books. taking that into consideration, the Government of India has established the shelf life period of the Ayurvedic medicines, which is found below. So, if you have any Ayurvedic medicine in your shelf, which has exceeded the expiration period, then simply throw out the medicine.

1. Churna (Herbal powder mix) – two years. (This  applies if the Churna jar is kept airtight closed. As a general rule, once opened, the Churna jar should be finished within 2 – 4 months)
Kwatha Churna (powders for preparing herbal teas) – 2 years
Lepa churna – powders to prepare external applicable ointments – 2 years
Danta Manjana – tooth powders – 2 years

2. Ayurvedic tablets / Vati / Gutika / Kashayam tablets –
tablets prepared with herbal and mineral ingredients – 5 years from the date of manufacturing.
tablets prepared from herbal ingredients – 3 years
tablets prepared from mineral ingredients – 10 years

3. Tablets in which mineral ingredients are used, or Guggulu is used (guggulu tablets) – 5 years

4. Avaleha / Leham / lehyams/ herbal jams/ Paka – 3 years.
Khanda Paka (eg: Haridra Khanda) – 3 years from the date of manufacturing
Guda – jaggery based herbal jams – 3 years from the date of manufacturing.

5. Louha (Iron containing Ayurvedic medicines) – 10 years

6. Ghrita (Ayurvedic Herbal ghee)  – 2 years

7. Taila (Ayurvedic Herbal Oils) – 3 years

8. Arka (Distilled herbal extracts) – 1 year

9. Lavana, Dravaka, Kshara, (Salts and Alkalis) – 5 years

10. Lepa  Churna (Herbal powder for external paste application) – 3 years

11. Herbal dental powder / Herbal dental paste – 2 years

12. Herbal syrups – 3 years

13. Kashayam  (Herbal teas)– 3 years (when added with preservatives)

14. Mineral preparations – Quality increases with time.

15. Ayurvedic ear drops/ nasal drops – Karna Bindu, Nasa Bindu – 2 years

16. Ayurvedic Eye drops – Netra bindu-  1 years

Anjana Kalpana  prepared with herbal ingredients – 1 year
Anjan prepared with herbal and mineral ingredients – 2 years from the date of manufacturing.
Anjan prepared purely with mineral ingredients – 3 years
Asava and Arishta – liquid medicines containing self generated alcohol – 10 years from the date of manufacturing.
Dhupana Kalpana  – 2 years from the date of manufacturing
Kupi pakwa rasayana – 10 years from the date of manufacturing.
Malahara kalpana – ointment s- 2 years
Mandoora kalpana – 10 years from the date of manufacturing
Naga Bhasma, Vanga Bhasma, Tamra Bhasma – 5 years
Bhasmas (except Naga, Vanga and Tamra) – 10 years
Parpati – 10 years
Pishti  – 10 years
Pravahi Kwatha – 3 years
Rasayoga – excluding Naga, Vanga and Tamra – 10 years
Rasayoga – herbal and mineral ingredients or with guggulu – 5 years
Satva – 2 years
Sharkara, Panaka, Sharbat, juices – 3 years
Shweta Parpati – 2 years
Varti – 2 years.

Note:
Above mentioned expiration date is for the medicines when brought in sealed condition. However, if you have opened the jar of medicine and are using it, then you need to empty it a little faster. Learn more about expiration date of ayurvedic medicine, once after opening the jar.

Shelf life explanation as per Sharangdhara Samhita:
Generally, Ausadhis (medical recipes) lose their Potency after one year of their Preparation, churnas after two months, gutikas and lehyas after one year, ghruta and taila after 16 months (according to some scholars 4 months), recipes laugh paka which will be digested easily and quickly, become poor in action after one year.

While asavas and datus (metal and mineral recipes) become more potent as they become old. If in a Prescription, drugs included are inappropriate for the diseases, the wise Physician should omit them, and can include drugs suitable for the disease even though not mentioned in the prescription.

Saviryata Avadhi of different preparations: 
Texts of Ayurveda recommended for Ausadha and Ahara Kalpana’s and their Saviryata Avadhi (Diet and Medicinal formulae and their expiry dates, i.e., the period for which they can retain potency). The following are intended to serve as guidelines for the purpose.
Swarasa                                                                                    Sadhyosevana (to be consumed immediately)
Kalka                                                                                         Sadhyosevana
Basti Kalpana                                                                          Is used immediately after preparation
Manda Kalpana                                                                       Sadhyosevana
Tandulodaka                                                                            Sadhyosevana
Mamsa Rasa                                                                             Sadhyosevana
Pramathya                                                                                Sadhyosevana
Krsara                                                                                        Sadhyosevana
Peya                                                                                            Sadhyosevana
Kambalika                                                                                 Sadhyosevana
Raga                                                                                            Sadhyosevana
Shadava                                                                                      Sadhyosevana
Vatyodana                                                                                  Sadhyosevana
Sikta                                                                                            Sadhyosevana
Veshavara                                                                                   Sadhyosevana
Udasvita                                                                                      Sadhyosevana
Mathitha                                                                                     Sadhyosevana
Katvara                                                                                        Sadhyosevana
Sankadrava                                                                                 Sadhyosevana
Aschyotana                                                                                  Sadhyosevana
Tarpak                                                                                          Sadhyosevana
Putapaka Swarasa                                                                      Sadhyosevana
Kavala                                                                                           Sadhyosevana
Gandusha                                                                                     Sadhyosevana
Upnaha Kalapna                                                                         Till it is in hot state after the preparation
Kwatha Kalpana                                                                          With in 4 Yamas (12 hours)
Ksira Paka Kalpana                                                                     1 day (is used in sukoshna state only)
Anna Kalpana (Bhakta Kalpana)                                              1 day (is used in sukoshna state only)
Yavagu Kalpana                                                                            1 day (is used in sukoshna state only)
Panaka Kalpana                                                                            1 day
Mantha Kalpana                                                                           1 day
Udaka Kalpana                                                                              1 day
Takra Kalpana                                                                               1 day
Peya Kalpana                                                                                 1 day
Yusa Kalpana                                                                                 1 day (is used in sukoshna state only)
(Akruta Yusa, Kruta Yusa)
Vilepi Kalpana                                                                              1 day
Dadhi Kalpana                                                                               1 day
Dadhi Kurchika Kalpana                                                             1 day
Lepa Kalpana                                                                                 Prepares lepa for 1 day
Laksa Rasa Kalpana                                                                      7 days
Saktu Kalpana                                                                                1 Month
Khanda kalpana                                                                             1-4 month
Choorna kalpana                                                                            2 month
Malahara kalpana                                                                          2-month
Paka Kalpana                                                                                  2 – 4 months
Dhumrapana Kalpana                                                                  4 months
Sarkara Kalpana                                                                             4 months (If kept in good condition, can stay upto 1 year)
Ksara Sutra                                                                                      4 – 6 months
Sneha Kalpana (Ghrta & Taila)                                                   4 months (According to some scholars 16 months)
Dhupana Kalpana                                                                   6 months (can stay till the volatile principles and smell is lost)
Amla sandhana
a. Arnala                                                                                    6 months
b. Dhanyamla                                                                           6 months
c. Sukta                                                                                      6 months
d. Kanjika                                                                                  6 months
e. Tusodaka Dried Herbs                                                       6 months
Arka Kalpana                                                                            1 year
Ghana Sattva Kalpana                                                             1 year
Masi Kalpana                                                                             1 year
Rasakriya Kalpana                                                                    1 year
Lavana Kalpana                                                                         1 year
Varti Kalpana                                                                             1 year
Kasta Ausadi                                                                              1 year
Gugulu kalpana                                                                         1year
kshara kalpana                                                                          1-5 years
Vati kalpana                                                                               1 year
Kumbha Ghrta                                                                          100 years
(the ghrta kept in earthen pot and called Purana ghrta)
Ayaskrti Kalpana                                                                      Older the better
Asava – Arista Kalpana                                                           Older the better
Parpati Kalpana                                                                         Older the better
Bhasma Kalpana                                                                        Older the better
Pottali Kalpana                                                                           Older the better
Madya Kalpana                                                                           Older the better
Khanija sattva                                                                              Older the better

Factors responsible for losing the potency:
Wind, sunshine, humidity, temperature, seasonal variation, dust, infection by microorganisms, shelf degeneration, evaporation hygroscopic nature etc, causes changes in color and taste.

Precaution for better shelf life period:
There are different technique used for better preservation, storage of packing etc. of various medical preparations in order to increase its shelf life period and we should take various precautions while performing this procedure. Deterioration of Pharmaceutical products may be due to chemical, physical, or biological effects.

Chemical:Chemical decomposition may be caused by oxygen, carbon dioxide, and water vapour present in the atmosphere. It may be due to the contamination of non sterile containers or lids.
Physical:Physical decomposition may result from extremes of temperature causing volatilization or precipitation or it may be caused by moisture in the case of substances which are hygroscopic or deliquescent.
Biological:Biological effects may be due to enzymes or micro-organisms which include bacteria, viruses, Yeasts and moulds.

This may be prevented by sterilization and storage in sealed containers or by the use of preservatives. The commonly used preservatives for medicinal products are:
Benzoic acid and Benzoates: As preservative for food, drugs and cosmetics – Concentration = 0.1 – 0.2% – (for oral preparations).
Salicylic acid and salicylates: Concentration – 0.1 – 0.2 % – for oral preparations.
Parahydroxy benzoates – The commonly used derivatives are methyl, ethyl, Propyl and butyl esters.
These are effective at low concentration and cause low toxicities. They are used as single esters or in combination.
The usual concentration used is 0.005 – 0.05%.
Phenyl mercuric acetate or nitrate: For cosmetic preparations. Concentration:Parenteral preparations & Eye drops. 0.01%.
Benzalkonium Chloride: For eye drops – 0.01 %
Phenols: Phenol (0.5%), cresol (0.3%), Chlorbutol (0.5%) and chlorocresol (0.1%) can be used for parenteral as well as lotions and such other externally used preparations.

Storage of drugs:
The medicinal preparations are stored under conditions that prevent contamination and deterioration as far as possible. Precaution is taken in relation to the effect of the atmosphere, heat and light. As a general rule, high temperature is avoided when storing raw material and medicinal products.

Medicinal agents should not be exposed to conditions of high temperature or humidity extreme fluctuations of temperature are avoided. Suspension in particular is stored at as even temperature as otherwise crystal growth may occur. Containers should not be exposed to direct sunlight even when they are light resistant.

Storage Temperature:
Cold place: Any temperature not exceeding 80C A refrigerator is a cold place in which the temperature is maintained thermostatically between O0 C – 80 C. A freezer is a cool place in which the temperature is maintained at 200C – 100
Cool Place: Any temperature between 80C – 150 C.
Room temperature: The temperature prevailing in a working area. Controlled room temperature is a temperature maintained thermostatically between 150C – 300C.
Warm Place: Any temperature between 300 C – 400 C
Excessive Heat: Any temperature above 400 C.
Protection from freezing:Freezing leads to the risk of breakage of the destructive alteration in the dosage form, hence the product is protected from freezing.

Packaging of Pharmaceuticals:
It is absolutely necessary to select the right package for a product; because the container or the package forms an integral part of the product. Proper packaging protects the integrity, Purity, Potency and quality of the product.

A package consists –
The container in which the product is placed
The enclosure which seals the container to exclude oxygen, moisture, bacteria etc and prevents loss of the product through evaporation
The carton or outer cover, which is made of a variety of materials such as card – board, plastic or polymer, which gives protection against mechanical and other environmental hazards.
The box in which multiples of the product is packed. The box usually contains suitable shock absorbers or cushioning, in order protect the product from mechanical shock.

Discussion:
The Saviryataavadi is said to be an important part in pharmacognocy. The shelf life period of each and every drug will differ according to many factors. It will depend upon the climate, container humidity, packing etc. So the shelf life of the drug will depend upon these many factors. After the shelf life period, the drug will lose its potency.

It can be prevented only by proper and careful preparation and packing. By proper and careful preparation and packing then also each and every drug will only last for certain period. Texts of ayurveda recommended for Aushada and Ahara Kalpanas and their Saviryatha avadhi. [Diet and medical formulae and their expiry date is period for which they can retain potency. Many of Ayurvedic texts has explained about Saviryatha avadhi. The modern texts has also explained about the expiry period. Each and every drug will have its own expiry period. It will change according to the drug.

Conclusion:
Thus by concluding this the “saviryata avadi” is very important. They are different product of shelf life for different medicines. If a physician does not know about the shelf life period of drug, he cannot prescribe the drug, because for example he wants to prescribe swarasa.

Its shelf life period is said to be “sadyosevana”. So if he is don’t know about it, he cannot tell about the dose of drug. The potency of drug will vary after that period. So it will not act. So it is important to know about “saviryata avadi”.

Bibliography: 
Sharangadhara samhita
Bhaishajya Kalpana Vijnana By Ramachandra Reddy
A Text Book Of Bhaishajya Kalpana By Dr. Shobha G Hiremath
Bhaishajya Kalpana Vijnana. By Siddhi Nandan Mishra


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Comments

  1. Very useful to know this….thank you!

  2. Dr.Sirisha Kaila says:

    When considered gritha, puraana gritha (more than 10 years) is said to be good. isn’t right dr ?

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      Even one year old ghee is also known as Purana Ghrita (reference: Bhava Prakasha)
      Purana Ghrita is not told to be used for all purposes. Only in certain ghritams, targeted for neuro-psychiatric conditions, Purana Ghrita is mentioned to be used. Once we prepare herbal ghee using Purana ghrita, for the said condition, its shelf life will be same as explained above.
      Hope the point is clear.

  3. Senthil says:

    Hello Dr. Hebbar, May I know what is the shelf life of pankajakasthuri powder? Some say 2 years/ some say 3 years. Please clarify

  4. hello Doctor,
    can i use draksharishta, dhanwantararishtam, and asokarishtam whose manufacturing date is 2011

  5. I have savouryn powder to be added for infant milk whose manufacturing date is 2011…can i still use it ?

  6. jamshid riza says:

    is there any preservatives required

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      Preservatives are used in many Ayurvedic medicines such as Kashayam, Avaleha etc.

  7. Vijay Bhide says:

    HI Sir ,
    Do will preservatives be added to ayurvedic Capsules ,lehyams etc?
    If artificial preservatives are added wouldn’t daily usage of some medicines cause side effects ?
    Or as you said each medicine has its own ‘natural preservative’ property ?

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      Hi, almost all Ayurvedic capsules contain added preservatives in limited, permissible quantities.
      For lehams, some companies add preservatives.
      Do these pose threat to health?
      Only permitted preservatives are added within limits (as per Drugs and Cosmetics act and rules). Hence, generally, no side effects or threat to health is observed.

  8. balbir surana says:

    any expiry date is require in dabur VRIHAT VATCHINTAMANI RAS.

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      As it contains metallic ingredients, its expiry date is not fixed. Generally safe till 5 years from the date of manufacturing.

  9. Dear Dr Hebbar
    There is apprehension that Ayurvedic medicine contains lead;which is used in its preparation. For this reason Ayurvedic medicines are not encouraged or even looked down. Common man needs to know the truth about this. Will you be kind enough to clarify.

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      Hi, 99 % of Ayurvedic medicines do not contain any lead ingredient.
      Only 1 % contain lead as ingredient. You can visit http://ayurmedinfo.com and use the search box to find out which contains lead and which does not.

  10. Ranjith Kumar says:

    Dear doctor

    I have been a regular user of general Ayurvedic products, particularly those from Kerala. For many years, I have been using Chyavanaprasham of Kottakkal.Arya Vaidya Shaala. Recently I have been using Chyavanaprash from other pharmas also like Patanjali, Himalaya, Dabur etc.
    It was after purchasing Himalaya that I came to know that preservatives are used in Chyavanaprasha also, particularly sodium benzoate. I have read that when Sodium benzoate reacts with citric acid, it generates Benzene which is carcinogenic, As amla is a citrus fruit, it is likely that the Chyavanaprasha (including Kottakkal, though they have not named any preservative) may generate benzene.
    Also it was spine chilling to read that Patanjali Amla juice and Patanjali Aloevera juice also contains sodium benzoate as a preservative, and I have been recently using these juices.
    To become more natural or organic, I deliberately avoid health drinks since childhood like Horlicks, Boost, Bournvita etc as it is well known that they contain artificial ingredients which could do more harm unlike Ayurvedic products. But my recent experience with Ayurvedic health drinks like C-Health from Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Pharma, it is shocking to see that these contain methyl paraben sodium and propyl paraben sodium as preservatives which are harmful. Some deliberately hide their preservative ingredients like Hiowna from Himalaya or Smriti Brahmi health drink from Nagarjuna pharmacy (Kerala based).

    The ones that I have mentioned are not specific medicines for any special diseases which need to be taken for a short duration to recover from illness. But these are general health medicines which is meant to be taken “everyday”, all throughout life time (provided the person is non-diabetic)…..

    Though the intention of these “general health medicines” is to make good like boost immunity, will these preservatives have an adverse effect on the long run? Will general health medicines like Chyavanaprasha OR health drink like Hiowna, C-Health OR juices like Aloe vera, Amla …. do more harm than good jus because they contain preservatives?

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      Hi, Chyawanprash does not contain Vitamin C. Vitamin C is highly sensitive to temperature. Here we boil Amla, fry in ghee by which time, all the Vitamin C will be extinct.
      If you still have doubts, anyone can do a test for benzene, if proven to be present, can complain to health department regarding it.
      I am totally against use of parabens in Ayurvedic medicines. But I believe that Ayurveda companies use them within permissible amounts.

      It is not good to continue any Ayurvedic medicine for long term, unless prescribed by an Ayurveda doctor.

      • Ranjith Kumar says:

        Thanks for your response.
        I have reduced the frequency of taking Amla and Aloe vera juice nowadays, and I am almost about to stop consuming them. The ones prepared by corporates does not have the effectiveness/quality as of having a fresh juice.

        Also for health drinks, I am using them less frequently, though not stopping them completely. Taking plain boiled milk itself is the best option rather than adding any health drink, be it ayurvedic or non-ayurvedic, unless prescribed by a doctor.

        But I continue with the daily usage of Chyanaprasha, particularly the one from Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Shala, though it may or may not contain benzoate/paraben.

        Also I use hair/body oils all from Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Shala like Dhudhuradi/patradi OR kuntalakanti OR Neeli bhringadi tailam, and Eladi OR Balashwagandhadi tailam, and rarely use massage oils like Dhanvantharam tailam/kuzhambu OR Murivenna OR Kottan chukkadi.
        But I frequently use three oils for my infant viz Lakshadi, Nalpamaradi and Chemparutyaadi kera tailam.
        I hope all these oils are free from any sort of preservatives or artificial chemicals.

  11. uma shankar says:

    very useful , thanks to Dr.Hebbar.

  12. Ramesh Chandra/Bala Chandra. says:

    I am in USA. I am suffering from cough & cold. I have Hamdard Joshanda packs. It’s expired two year’s ago. Is it safe to take it now to get relief from cough & cold?

  13. praveen srivastawa says:

    Sir I brought dabu shankh puspi.it contain sodium methyl parben and sodium propyl parben as preservative.where i can get chemical free syrup.if i brought single herbs powder then it will be chemical free .please suggest me sir.

  14. enlightened says:

    What is the shelf life of kadukkai podi (organic Haritaki fruit powder[terminalia chebula])? Thanks.

  15. g.reddy says:

    can we consume himalaya medicine for life time please reply.

  16. Dear Doctor, I have bought jeshtmadh churna, amalaki churna and kateshwari churna for having periods complaints. But the above mentioned churna got expired from its manufacturing date of two years mentioned. Can we consume it as it is only 50grams.

  17. Gyanendra Dutt Misra says:

    Sir
    Can triphla powder be used if stored for one year?

  18. Meghna Tembe says:

    Would unopened ashwagandha tablets that have expired two years ago still retain any potency? Is it safe to take them or better to discard them?

  19. Sir i have ayurvedic supari pak
    Mfd.july 2016,can i use this or expire pls give your instruction

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      Hi, if the smell and colour is proper, you can still use it. It holds a shelf life of two years.

  20. Madhura says:

    Hi doctor,
    I am using nari urja by unicare it says it’s shell life is 1month after opening. It’s been more than 1 month 20 days now, and I do feel the taste has changed a bit. Is it ok to consume it yet or should I leave it?

  21. Can I use unopened bt expired satavar powder ..?

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