The Ghrita are medicated ghee preparations which contain the fat soluble medicinal principles of the drugs used in the particular preparation.
The basic principle of preparation is transfer of the fat soluble active principles of the drugs, to ghee, which is collected at the end of the process. This is done by boiling the pastes of drugs in a mixture of ghee and ‘water’ until all the water is lost by evaporation. So the three important constituents in the Ghrita preparations are (1) the ghee (2) the aqueous medium which may be in the form of decoctions, juices etc., and (3) the paste of drugs.
Ghee: The ghee used in the preparation of medicines should be unadulterated and preferably old, but not impaired of its natural flavor and taste.
The Aqueous media: The aqueous media may be either in the form of decoction of drugs or juices from fresh herbs, or even milk or cow’s urine. The aqueous media are, in general, taken in larger quantities than the quantity of ghee used for the preparation. Usually the aqueous medium is 4 times the quantity of ghee used.
The paste of drugs: The paste is prepared by grinding the drugs in a mortar when fresh herbs are used. Water should not be added. When dry drugs are to be made into a paste, the addition of water is necessary. Sometimes other liquids are prescribed for addition during the process of grinding.
If a recipe does not specify the constituent drugs of a paste, the same drugs mentioned for the preparation of the decoction in small quantity are made into a paste and used.
Sometimes the recipe will merely give some drug names and ghee, without specifying how to use them. Then, a decoction is prepared from the drugs mentioned, and a paste is also prepared out of the same drugs for the preparation of the medicine.
The method of preparation
1. A wide mouthed vessel which is more like a large shallow pan. This should be made of brass or copper and coated with tin inside. Stainless steel vessels seive best and so, stainless steelware is preferred in Industry.
2. Strong spatula with long handles for mixing the medicine during the preparation. These also should be preferably of stainless steel.
3. Ladle for collecting the ghee (Ghrita).
4. Mortar and pestle for grinding the drugs.
5. Fine clean cloth for filtration.
6. The drugs enumerated in the recipe.
(In factories, heating and boiling of Ghrita are done in large steam jacket pans. This type of treatment prevents charring of ingredients and ensures the production of medicines of uniform quality. The steam pressure and temperature are indicated by gauges. For the preparation of pastes, electrically driven pulverizes and mortars are used. (Decoctions are also prepared in steam heated boilers).
The ingredients made ready for the preparation are put pan is heated in the pan and the ghee is added and mixed. The with mild fire which gradually melts the ghee. When all the ghee has melted, the intensity of fire is increased until the mixture begins to boil and the intensity is maintained throughout. The mixture is constantly stirred and continuously mixed to ensure that no charring and consequent sticking of the materials to the bottom of the vessels takes place. With the loss of water, the noise of boiling comes down and the particles of the drugs settle down. The preparation should be taken off the oven or heating should be stopped when all the water 1s lost. To ensure whether all the water is lost, a little of the sediment is rolled and ignited. If it burns with a flackery flame and spurting noise, it indicates that water is still present. When the flame is silent and steady, it denotes that complete dehydration has been effected.
It may be claimed that the paste could be rolled into a wick if the water is totally lost, by rolling it between the fingers. This is an unreliable test because at this stage there IS water in the paste, which could be demonstrated by igniting it.
Just when the preparation contains traces of water. it is known as “mild stage” and when it is totally dehydrated, the preparation is said to have attained the “medium stage” and when the material is totally dehydrated and the paste is fried in the ghee, the preparation is said to have attained the “hard stage”. These three stages are known as Mridupaka” “Madyamapaka” and “Kharapaka” respectively, in ayurvedic terminology.
When the preparation has attained the required stage (it is usually the medium stage or Madhyamapaka, unless otherwise specified in the recipe), heating is stopped and the pan is taken off the oven.
Collection of Ghrita
The preparation is then kept aside to cool down. When it has come down in temperature sufficiently for safe handling, it is filtered through a cloth, to remove the suspended particles of drugs. However when the volume of the Ghrita is large, it may be transferred with a ladle and filtered. When all the Ghrita it, thus collected, the container with the drug paste is placed in a slanting position so that the Ghrita soaked in the sediment gets separated by gravitation and this also is taken. Usually some Ghrita will still remain in the paste and may be lost. So, the paste is pressed through a cloth when it is warm and the Ghrita is collected. In large scale manufacturing, the paste is put in a mechanical press and ghee is expressed by pressure.
The Use of Ghrita
The Ghrita will solidify when cooled and usually it is taken in this form. In order to mask the druggy flavor and taste, some sugar is mixed with the Ghrita before administration. Ghrita are usually taken before meals. These medicines are Useful and prescribed to emaciated and run down patients, with very low appetite and digestion, dry skin, constipated bowels, mentally worried and tired of drugging.
Ghrita are stored in wide mouthed glass bottles with tight stoppers.