Kawatha and Herbs

There are various modes of medicinal preparation discussed by Ayurveda. Accordingly Ayurveda has classified them as RASA, also known as RASAYANA, BHASMA, CHURNA, VATI, AVLEHA, ASAVA, ARISTA, AND KAWATHA.

Kawatha is known as decoction. Of above said preparations kawatha, asava, arishtha have quicker healing effects. Decoctions are found to be most effective and have minimal side effects as compared to ithers. It has high flexibility in composition as per the suitability to the patient. It is prepared from fresh herbs and is consumed immediately after preparation and therefore there is no risk of adulteration, getting stale or degradation and untoward reaction.

Most of the medicinal plants used for kawatha preparation is easily grown in the farms, kitchen gardens. Many of these decoctions can be taken on regular basis as vital tonic for maintenance of vigorous health and increase in body stamina and immunity against diseases. As compared to modern synthetic drugs kawatha are cheaper in cost and harmless.

It is mentioned in ayurvedic scriptures that use of decoctions has the potential of kayakalp i.e., complete transformation of psychosomatic system from a sick, weak or dull state to a healthy, strong and vibrant state. Kawatha or kadha in hindi means decoction prepared by boiling fresh (green or dried), cleansed, plant medicines (Prescribed parts of plant, e.g., leaves and or stem section, bark-skin, etc) in appropriate combination at controlled temperatures. It is found to be a natural, soft mode of healing which functions in total harmony with the metabolic system, because of the appropriate doses of specific kawathas. Of one or more medicines as per the disease state and patients constitution (prakriti). Several intractable, chronic diseases can be cured by this simple therapy within few weeks to several months time.

Kawatha or kadha is also reffered as srata, nirpuha, and jusanda in vedic scriptures. These are counted among PANCHAKASAYA. i.e., five subtlized medicines. The five members of this group of five types of medicines are kawatha, hima, phanta, kalka, and swaras or arka. These are relatively lighter in terms of the concentrated extracts of medicines. For eg, kawatha is lighter than swaras, kalka is lighter as compared to kawatha, hima is lighter than kalka and phanta is lighter than kalka.

All these forms of medicines are to be drunk orally in a fresh form (within half an hour of preparation). The only difference comes in proportion of water to be used.

Let’s have a glance how to prepare these medicines.

1) Kawatha: According to ayurvedic pharmaceutical instructions- paniya sodasa sunam kune dravya pale ksipet’’ means take about one pala (one pala=four tola=48 grams) of jakunta (coarsely grinded dry herb or grated cleaned plant part) medicine which is prescribed. Boil it in sixteen times volume of water (that equals to 16 multiplied by 48 grams in this case) till the boiled decoction is reduced to one fourth of the original solution. Wait till it cools down up to lukewarm temperature. Then filter this through clean cloth piece. This filtered decoction is the kawatha for use.(this is kledana kawatha, i.e., one of the seven types of kawatha).

2) Hima: In this case 24 grams of the raw medicines powder is soaked from the evening till the next day morning in six times volume of water ( that equals to 6 multiplies by 24 grams). In the morning, it is crushed through clean hands, mixed and then filtered through a clean cloth piece. The filtered hima is ready to be drunk instantly.

3) Phanta: Water amounting to four times that of the herbal medicines is boiled separately. Then the powder medicine is soaked in it for sometime (till the powder absorbs maximum amount of water and becomes sufficiently soft). Then the soaked medicine powder is further triturated (to make a watery paste). It is then filtered and ready for drinking.

4) Kalka: Prescribed amount of medicine is taken. It can be dry or wet. This is triturated on the grinding stone by mixing a little amount of water so as to prepare a wet smooth paste. This paste is the kalka, which is to be gulped (with slight chewing, if necessary) soon after preparation.

5) Swaras: It is also called as arka. It is prepared by crushing the pieces of fresh plant medicines on a grinding stone then taking out the juicy part by pressing the prepared paste. The juice is filtered before use. Like the other four preparations of kawatha group, swaras is also used in a fresh state.

Now coming back to kawatha, they are of seven major types depending upon its drug potency. These are pachana, dipana, sodhana, samana, santaparna, kledana and sosana kawatha.

Instead of reducing to one fourth if we reduce it to half then it becomes pachana kawatha. It is milder than kledana kawatha. Mildest is the santaparna kawatha. In this the solution is heated only till it starts boiling. The potency of the drug becomes successively higher in the other types of kawatha. Of a particular medicinal herb/plant, samana kawatha is boiled till the solution is reduced to one eighth of original volume. As the name itself suggest that it calms/pacifies the intensity of the disease by suppressing the correspondingdoshas that are the root cause. (According to Ayurveda aggravated/imbalance dosha is the root cause of diseases. There are three doshas are vata, pitta and kapha)

Dipana kawatha is also the concentrated decoction, prepared by boiling original volume. Depending upon the type and state of the disease, the dipana kawatha of specific herbal/plant medicines is prescribed to cleanse stomach, enhance appetite and or to regulate body metabolism.

Sohana kawatha is still higher in the potency of the medicine as it is boiled till the solution is reduced to one twelfth of the original volume. It cleanses out mala ( the accumulated dirt inside the body, infections, etc) sosana kawatha is the richest extract of the boiled medicines. It is obtained by boiling the herbal/plant medicine’s solution till only one sixteenth of the original volume remains. This type of strong kawatha destroys the cause of acute or aggravated sickness.

According to general therapeutic principles of Ayurveda, pachana kawatha should be taken in the night (before sleep). Samana kawatha before noon (after breakfast), dipana kawatha is prescribed to be taken late in the afternoon (post lunch). Santaparna and sodhana kawatha are taken early in the morning (empty stomach).

Following are the few ayurvedic formulations for various kadha preparations with its use.

1) Kalmegha kawatha: Beneficial for malaria, jaundice, fever and liver ailments.

Ingredients are kalmegha-one teaspoon (apporoximately 5 grams) kutaki-1/4 teaspoon, chirayata-one teaspoon, giloy-one teaspoon, punarnava-1/2 teaspoon, sariva-1 teaspoon, kali jiri-1/2 teaspoon, mulahat-1 teaspoon, sarpunkha-1 teaspoon, bayavidanga-1/2 teaspoon, khadira-one teaspoon.

2) Vasa kawatha: Effective for cough, cold, acidity, flu and sinusitis.

Ingredients are vasa 1 tsp, kantakari-1tsp, bharangi-1tsp, tejapatra-1/2 tsp, mulahati-1tsp, tusi-1/2 tsp, trikatu-1/4tsp, chitraka-1/4tsp nausadara (ammonium salt)1/8th tsp, atisa-1/12tsp, talisa patra-1 tsp, gulabanphsa-1 tsp. Trikatu is coarse powder mixture of sontha, pipala and lakimircha in equal proportions.

3) Nirgundi kawatha: It is very useful in vata dosha related diseases like paralysis, joint pains, rhematsm, arthritis, spondylosis, sciatica , osteo arthritis etc.

Ingredients: nirgundi-1tsp, sarai chhala-1/2 tsp, nagarmotha-1 tsp, ashwagandha-1/2 tsp, mulahathi-1tsp, sauntha-1/2 tsp, sure gugala-1/5 tsp, hinga (asafoetida)-1/5 tsp, chitraka-1/4 tsp, the coarse powder prepared for vasa kawatha-1 tsp, rasna-1/2 tsp, maharasna-1/2 tsp, dasamula-1 tsp.

The terms maharasna and dasamula used here refer to combination of several herbs. Maharasna consists of 600gms of rasna and 12 gms of following herbs. These are dhamasa, bala, erandmula chala, devadara, kachura, bacha, vasa, sontha, harada, chavya, nagarmotha, punarnava, giloy, vidhara, saunfa, goksura, ashwagandha, atisa, amaltasa pulp, satavara, chhoti pippali, kata saraiyya, dhaniya, chhoti kantakari, badi kantakari.

Following are the combinations of herbs forming dashamula. These are bilva, chhala, gambhari chhala, arani chhala, syonaka chhala, padhala chhala,, salaparni, prasnipani, small kantakari, big kantakari, goksura.

4) Ashvagandha kawatha: It is supposed to be excellent tonic for enhancing physical and mental vigor. It helps eliminate fatigue and induce vibrant freshness.

Ingredients are ashwagandha-1/2 tsp, mulahathi-1tsp, vidarikanda-2tsp, vidhara-1tsp, goksura-1 tsp, nagarmotha-1tsp, dasamula-1 tsp, satavara-1tsp.

5) Saraswati panchak kawatha: It is an excellent brain tonic for the students, teachers, writers and all professionals where brains are required. The usual prescribed doses are 20ml twice a day for the adults. It should be taken in the morning and in the evening. Sarawati pachak may also be used in dry powder form. ¼ tsp for children and 1 tsp for adults of the powder should be taken each time with honey or ghee or milk with sugar. Bramhi- 1tsp, sankhapushpi-1tsp, mithi(sweet) bacha-1tsp, gorakhamundi-1 tsp, satavara-1tsp.

6) Trifala kawatha: It is very effective remedy for constipation and digestive tract problems. The proportion of snaya leaf and amltasa (or anvla) varies in each disease. Harada- 1tsp, baheda-1tsp, sanaya leaf-2tsp, anwala-1tsp, one tsp of amaltasa pulp should be used instead of anwala for people residing at cold places or suffering from arthritis, joint pains or prone to soar throat.


1. Kawatha should always be consumed fresh. Kawatha prepared in morning can be consumed till early evening.

2. Any kawathas if looses its smell and colour which was prepared many hours before, has been spoiled and so should not be consumed.

3. If the taste has become sour or bubbles appear n shaking kawatha, means it is spoiled. Discard it.

4. Once the kawatha is prepared and cooled down, it should not be boiled again.

5. One should avoid drinking water for half an hour after drinking kawatha and should avoid food for 45 minutes after kawatha consumption.

6. Some honey or sugarcane juice can be added to make kawatha sweet as many times the taste is very bad to drink.

7. Amount of honey added should not be more than 1/4th of the original kawatha.

8. Follow dietary restrictions as mentioned by doctor for getting best results of kawatha.

By – Dr. Hiren Parekh