Asava and Arista in Ayurveda system of Medicine

Asava and Arista are alcoholic medicaments which are prepared by allowing the juices or decoctions of raw drugs mixed with sugars to undergo fermentation. At the final stage. The prepared medicine is moderately alcoholic (upto 12% by Volume) and mostiy sweetish in taste with slight acidity and Agreeable aroma.

Though Asava and Arista are essentially similar in nature, The asava are prepared from the juices of fresh plants or water soaked dry drugs, whereas, the arista are prepared from Decoction of the drugs.

In ancient Sanskrit literatures which deal with the medicinal preparations these two terms asava and arista are Considered synonymous and are freely inter-changeable. In Later works the distinction was made between the two types And the terminology was thereafter tenaciously adhered to.


The equipments

The basic equipments are –

1.  earthern pot sufficiently large and strong with Glazed exterior or a glazed porcelain jar of suitable size; a Lid of correct size to close the vessel.

2. A cloth ribbon to seal the vessel.

3. A paddle like stirrer.

4. A clean cloth of fine and strong texture for filtering.

5. A vessel to keep the juices or to boil the drugs.

6. The necessary drugs for the preparation of the particular Asava or arista.

In factories where these alcoholic medicaments are manufactured, the fermentation is carried out in huge wooden Vats with wooden covers. The vat is made air tight. The Filteration is carried out by electric filter presses with filter Sheets which efficiently separate the suspended particles and Isolate clear medicine. The powdering, grinding and mixing are done by mills, pulverisers and mixing machines. The Decoctions are prepared in large steam jacketed boilers, heated by super-heated steam under pressure. The drugs: The drugs are divided into four sections as

Given below according to their particular role in the process.

  • The main drugs from which the extract or decoction Is taken as the case may be. These are the drugs which are Pharmacologically and therapeutically much important, in the Given medicine and the name of the medicine is derived from These drugs denoting their importance.
  • Flavouring agents : These drugs besides the flavour of the medicine have their own pharmacological  also.
  • The fermentation initiator: This is the drug which provides the inoculum for fermentation to start.
  • The medium of sugars that are actually fermented

Process of Preparation

The basic drugs from which the extract is to be Prepared are first cleaned and rinsed in water to get rid of dirt. In Case of fresh plants they are cleaned, pulverised and pressed for collection of juice. If the drug is dry and is to be used In the preparation of asava, it is coarsely crushed and added To the water to which the prescribed quantity of honey, jaggery and/or sugar are added. If it is an arista, a decoction is obtained by boiling the drugs in the specified volume of water. The water used should be clean, clear and potable.

When the extracts are obtained, the sugar, jaggery And/or honey are added as directed in the recipe and completely dissolved. Sometimes any one more of these sugary substances are omitted if so directed in the recipe. Case of sugar, it should be pure white cane Sugar. The jagger should be of Sweet taste and at least an year old. The honey should be genuine. The flavouring agents are coarsely powdered and added to the sweetened extract. Too fine a powder of the flavouring agent is  undesirable as it causes sedimentation In the prepared medicine and its filtration is difficult. Even when the recipe doss not prescribe the addition of any flavouring agent, , usually they are added in the same proportion as for other asava or arista.

The earthern pot intended for keeping the medicine to ferment is tested for weak spots and cracks and similarly a lid is also chosen. The internal surfaces of the pot and the lid are wiped with a dean dry cloth and cow’s ghee is smeared on this surface to prevent the oozing out of the contents when poured and kept for fermentation. The pot should be perfectly dry before ghee is smeared and if it be moist ghee will not sitck and penetrate the pores. The infiltration of the pot besides preventing oozing, strengthens the pet also. As indicated earlier, Glazed porcelain ware may be used instead of earthenware.

When the pot or the jar is ready, the sweetened and flavoured drug extract is poured into it upto ¾ of the capacity. This unfilled space provides room for the fermenting liquid When it rises up frothing and evolving a large amount of gases. Otherwise the medium may damage the container and flow out.

Now, the inoculum is to be added to initiate fermentation. As we know, the process of fermentation necessitates the presence of fermenting micro-organisms known as yeasts. In the preparation of alcoholic medicaments in the Ayurvedic systems, the inoculum of yeasts comes from the flowers which vontain the wild species of yeast. Only the fire flame bush flowers are prescribed for use. These flowers are nectariferous and highly tanniniferous. The flowers are obtained dry from the market and contain the yeast spores in the dry nectariferous region. The flowers of the fire flame bush serve the same purpose as do hops in the brewing.

The presence of tannin both in hops and these flowers produces a conducive environment for yeast growth. The flowers are added and the contents are stirred well to distribute the inoculum of yeast. Apart from the fire flame flowers, other drugs like honey and raisins also contain wild yeasts, When fire flame flowers are not used in some preparations, the Inoculum of yeasts either from the Mahua flower, the honey or raisins are suffice for initiating the process of fermentation the yeasts multiply rapidly in number by division in a short time.

Finally, the vessel is closed and sealed. Sealing is done by winding around a long ribbon of cloth smeared with clay on one surface. When sealing the blank surface, the ribbon should line the rim of the vessel and lid and the clay side should be external. After sealing, the vessel is placed in dark place without much circulation of air. It may be kept in a grain store in a heap of grain or in a pit in the soil. Soft Packing of straw should be provided around the vessel to prevent breakage by any force.

The vessel is left undisturbed for a month and then opened. The medicine is filtered and taken for use. If the filtered medicine shows rapid and abundant sedimentation, it is allowed to stand for a few days and again filtered to separate the sediment. Even though the pot is opened after a month and the medicine is taken in usual practice, 7 to 10 days are enough in the hot tropical climate and the long period of 30 days is allowed in cool temperate climate where biological activity is at its low.


The filtered medicine is stored in tightly stoppered glass bottles and taken for use whenever necessary. The asava and Arista keep good for any length of time and actually the medicinal value of the preparation is said to increase with time. Any asava or arista if it shows signs of mold development at any stage should be rejected as unfit for use.


Asava or arista are mixed with an equal volume of water before taking. The container should be kept well closed as these sweet medicines attract insects like flies and ants.



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