Choornam in Sanskrit means powder. In Ayurveda, Choornam is prepared from various ingredients of herbal and mineral origins. It is also called Choornam and Churan. It is a unique dosage form, used both for internal and external applications.
General method of preparation of Choorna
- Various ingredients are taken.
- They are ground and filtered, to prepare a fine powder.
- Each ingredient is taken as per the proportion, mentioned in the Ayurvedic textbook.
- They are taken together in a wide-mouthed, clean vessel and mixed thoroughly, to get a uniform, homogeneous mixture.
Kalka or herbal paste is considered one of the five basic dosage forms of Ayurveda. It is prepared with wet herbs. Choornam is considered as the secondary dosage form, derived from herbal pastes.
Equipment used for preparing Choornams
Khalva Yantra and Ulukhala Yantra were the instruments used to prepare Choornam during the olden days. Nowadays Pulverizers, Micro pulverizers, Disintegrates & different mills are used.
Types of Choornams
- Coarse powders – These are used for the preparation of herbal teas, cold infusion, hot infusions and herbal decoctions (Kwath / Kashayams).
- Fine powders – The choornam medicines available to take in are in fine powder form. They are also used for the preparation of herbal ghees, oils, herbal jams, etc.
Classification of choornams based on ingredients:
- Single herb powders - Prepared with only one ingredient. Eg: Ginger powder, sandalwood powder, etc.
- Poly-herbal Choornams - Multiple herbal ingredients are added in equal or unequal proportions, based on traditional Ayurvedic formula to prepare Choornam. Eg -
- Trikatu Choornam - A combination of equal amounts of ginger, black pepper, and long pepper fruit fine powders.
- Triphala Choornam - A combination of equal proportions of Indian gooseberry (Amla), Chebulic myrobalan and Belleric myrobalan.
- Herbo-mineral choornams - Some choornams are prepared from a combination of herbal and mineral or metallic ingredients. For example, Pushyanuga choornam - a very famous Ayurvedic powder for treating white discharge (leucorrhea) and painful periods.
Dosage of Choornam
- Traditional dosage: 12 Grams
- Practical dosage: 3 – 6 grams in single or divided doses
Shelf life of choorna
Shelf life is 2 months, as per Sharangdhara Samhita, an ancient Ayurvedic textbook on pharmaceutics. If stored in airtight containers, it can be stored up to six months. Market available Choornams have 2 years of shelf life, as per law.
Adjuvants for Choornams
- Often Choornams are mixed with other substances to enhance its therapeutic effect.
- As per traditional Ayurveda, if jaggery is the adjuvant or co-prescription, then it should be added to the Choornam in equal quantities. Eg: 3 grams of Trikatu Choornam + 3 grams of jaggery, at night after food for 2 weeks-time.
- If sugar candy is the adjuvant, it is added double the quantity of Choornam.
- If ghee, honey or sesame oil is to be added, then they have to be added in double the quantity.
- Any other liquid – 4 times the quantity of Choornam.
Dose of Anupana – Co drink – based on Dosha vitiation
Choornams cannot be taken as such. They may cause throat irritation and can even induce vomiting. Co-drinks are the liquids that are administered along with Choornams.
Usually, co-drinks such as water, milk, honey, fruit juices, etc are administered along with Choornams.
- In Vata Disorders (such as neurological diseases) – co-drinks are taken 3 times, to the medicine.
- In Pitta Disorders – 2 times to the quantity of medicine
- In Kapha disorders – co-drinks are administered equally to the quantity of medicine. Reference: Sharangdhara Samhita, Madhyama Khanda, 6/4.
Different uses of Choornams
1. Used as oral medicines
Eg: Hingwashtaka Choornam, Talisadi Choornam, Sitopaladi Choornam.
2. Used as an adjuvant - Choornams are also used as adjuvants along with other medicines.
Eg: Swarna Bhasma with Trikatu Choornam, Abhraka Bhasma with Talisadi Choornam.
3. Choornam for preparing other Ayurvedic medicines -
- For preparing Lepa - Creams for external application. Choornams are used for preparing Lepa – herbal pastes.
- For secondary preparations - Ex: Avaleha, Vati, Snehapaka, Asava, Arishta, etc.
- Choornam for preparing herbal ghee, taila - Herbal powders are used in the preparation of herbal ghees and herbal oils. This adds water and fat-soluble principles of the herbs into the medium of herbal ghee.
- Choornam for Avaleha - Herbal jams are added with spicy herbal powders at the end. This adds the extra benefits of spices to the herbal jams.
4. External use of Choornam
Choornams are used in many therapies -
- Udvartana (Powder Massage) – This is done in case of obesity, to mobilize fat deposits and thus help in obesity treatment. Example: Kola Kulatthadi Choornam – Has jujube and horsegram as ingredients.
- For dusting on wounds – Neem powder or Triphala powder or a mix of neem and turmeric powder are usually used for dusting over the wound. Dusting helps to cleanse the wounds, eliminate the wound slough and quickens the process of healing.
- For nasal inhalation – Pradhamana nasya - Eg: Katphala nasya is administered to treat insomnia. Herbal powders are used through nasal route to extract out the toxins and imbalanced Kapha from the head region.
- As tooth powder – Various herbal powders are used as tooth powders. Licorice, neem, Pongamia, Toothache tree, etc are a few examples. With the physical force of rubbing and by their anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory action, herb powders cleanse the dirt out of teeth, heal the gum and mouth ulcers faster and also reduce gum swelling. Spices like clove, added to the herbal powders, improves the taste perception capacity of the tongue.
- As paste application over skin to relieve pain/heal skin diseases –
- Some herbal powders are added with water, made a paste and applied over joints, paining muscles, to relieve pain and inflammation. Eg: Kerala Ayurveda Kottamchukkadi choorna lepa is useful to relieve arthritis pain in joints and muscle pains.
- Some Choornams are added with suitable oil/liquid, made into a paste, applied over the forehead to relieve headache. Eg: Kerala Ayurveda Rasnadi Choornam is mixed with Kerala Ayurveda Ksheerabala taila oil and applied over the forehead to relieve headaches. Rasnadi choornam is mixed with milk and applied overhead to relieve headache and burning sensation in the scalp, due to increased Pitta Dosha.
- In sweating treatment - Sweda – Choorna Pinda Sweda (Podikizhi) - Herbal powders tied in a bolus are heated and or fried to rub against the painful parts for a fixed duration of time.