Ayurveda has a clear, structured approach to administering dravyas (lit. medicines). The timing of taking the formula is one small part, and it’s very important, since each timing will give a different effect. So let’s take a closer look at why you may be recommended to take your herbs before, during after food.
Timings of Herb Administration
- EMPTY STOMACH abhakta
The medicine is recommended to be taken on an empty stomach. This yields the most potency, for when you need a strong effect, so it is only used for conditions of Kapha increased, or in very strong individuals. This dosaging causes a scraping effect, can reduce accumulations. The medicine is taken on an empty stomach.
2. BEFORE MEALS pragbhakta
The medicine is recommended to be taken 30-45 minutes before meals, and helps to correct interrupted Apana vayu (downward movement), and to reduce medas (fat tissue). You may be recommended this when the intestinal muscles need toning.
3. DURING MEALS madhyabhakta
The dosage is recommended to be taken at mealtimes, to correct Samana vayu (the movement of digestion), so its primary effect is on digestive conditions, and high pitta conditions. Madhya means deep, so the name of the dosage timing indicates it goes deep into the internal organs, and the madhya marga
4. AFTER MEALS adhobhakta
The medicine is recommended to be taken 30-60 mins after meals. It corrects when Vyana & Udana vayus (circulatory and upward movements) are aggravated or have gone out of rhythm. It will give a nourishing, brhmana effect in the upper body, so it is used for patients with debility, emaciation, pregnancy, and primarily respiratory concerns. If the person’s tissues aren’t being nourished properly, you many be assigned this dosage timing.
5. MIXED WITH FOOD samabhakta
The medicine is recommended to be taken mixed in with the food itself (sama means together). This dosage timing is helpful when people are convalescing, ie, weakened. This is the timing for children and geriatric patients, but also people who have digestive weakness, so Agni that is ramped up at the time of eating will help digest the medicine, and the medicine will help increase the agni to digest the meal. This is also used when disease has spread throughout the body, or if someone dislikes taking the medicine.
6. BETWEEN 2 MEALS antarabhakta
The medicine is recommended to be taken after lunchtime in conditions of people who have relatively good digestion but challenges with Vyana vayu, the movement of circulation.
7. BEFORE & AFTER MEALS samudga
The medicine is recommended to be taken before and after a small meal, to help proper digestion in the case of nervous digestive disorders and other Vata aggravated conditions like tremors and spasms
8. REPEATEDLY muhuh muhuh
Literally “moment to moment”, the medicine is to be taken repeatedly until the symptom subsides. The timing is not attached to mealtimes. it is used in cases of breathlessness, cough and hiccough, thirst, vomiting, acute diahhrea, and poisoning.
9. WITH FIRST BITE sagrasa
The medicine is recommended to be taken with the first bite of a meal (gras in Sanskrit indicates to swalloe). The use of this timing is to increase digestive power (so herbs that have a dipana action are given at this time). It also aids overall health and tonification, and sexual rejuvenation (so for herbs with vajikarana action).
10. BETWEEN BITES grasantara
Divide the dosage between bites, and take during the evening meal, to improve Prana vayu disturbances, particularly conditions of heart disease.
11. BEFORE BEDTIME nisha
The medicine is recommended to be taken just before bedtime. Often nervines are recommended at this time to improve sleep. Also medicines that give a nourishing, grouding effect to the sensory organs, making it ideal to strengthen ears, eyes, nose & throat conditions. Think anything from the clavicles upward, like upper respiratory problems and anything in the head.
Of course I’d love you to follow the specific timings, but don’t let it stress you out. When in doubt, just take your herbs. Compliance is key to you seeing the results of Ayurveda working for you.