Lehyam is an Ayurvedic medicine, in a herbal jam form. It is also called Leham, Avaleha, and Lehyam. Certain rejuvenative Rasayanas of Ayurveda can be also in the form of Lehyam.
Origin of Lehyam
Ancient Ayurvedic masters designed water Kwath - decoction as the primary dosage form. For Kwath, herbs were boiled with water, filtered and consumed. Though this is very fast-acting, the disadvantages were very short shelf life and palatability. Most of the Kwaths were bitter and astringent in taste. Another disadvantage was spices with highly volatile principles, such as clove, could not be converted into Kwath.
To solve all these problems, ancient Ayurvedic scientists designed Lehyams. It is highly palatable, has a longer shelf life of 1 – 3 years and even volatile herb spices can be incorporated into it.
General method of manufacturing of Lehyas
- First, Kwath is prepared by adding one part of herbs with 8 or 16 parts of water. This is boiled, reduced to 1/4th part and filtered.
- The pulpy medicinal part is taken from fruit or vegetables, as per the traditional formula.
- For example, the boiled amla fruit pulp is taken in Chyawanprash, boiled ash gourd pulp is taken for preparing Kushmanda Avaleha, raisin pulp is taken for preparing Draksha Avaleha, etc.
- The pulp is fried in sesame oil or ghee, as per the formula.
- Then, the prepared Kashaya and fried pulp are taken in a wide-mouthed vessel. It is added with a sweetening agent. Natural sugar, candy sugar, and jaggery are commonly used as sweetening agents.
- This mixture is heated. While heating the recrystallization of the sugar takes place, increasing the consistency of the liquid. After a while of heating, the whole mass starts turning semi-solid. Once the mass gains perfect semi-solid consistency, heating is stopped.
- Spices, if any, as mentioned in classical texts like cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, long pepper, ginger etc. are added once the mass starts cooling down. The mixture is stirred continuously to ensure homogenous mixing of ingredients. Finally, honey is added, if mentioned in the traditional formula and mixed thoroughly.
Dose of Avaleha
50 grams in single or divided doses, per day.
Lehyams are usually administered along with milk, honey, water, sugarcane juice, etc. In some cases, herbal teas/decoctions such as Dashamoola Kashaya, Vasa Kashaya, etc are administered along with Lehyams to improve the efficacy.
Advantages of Lehya over other dosage forms
- Lehya is highly palatable - This is due to sweetening ingredients like sugar, jaggery, honey, and spices.
- Lehya is easily digestible - Spices added to the Lehya make it very easy for digestion and absorption.
- Lehya contains water-soluble active principles - Kwath is prepared first. This carries all the water-soluble medicinal values to the Lehya.
- Lehya shelf life - Added sweetening agents and honey act as natural preservatives, giving Lehyas at least a year of shelf life.
- Lehya contains added volatile principles of spices - Spices make the lehya, easy to digest. Spices are very useful to improve the functions of the lungs and digestive stomach. Spices improve the absorption of other ingredients.
- Lehya contains oil / fat-soluble medicinal principles - Frying of pulp in oil and ghee brings in the oil and fat-soluble principles to the Lehya. Adding oil /ghee makes the lehya rich in nutrition.
- The wide utility of Lehyam - Lehyas are used as anti-aging medicines. Such medicines are called Rasayana in Ayurveda. They are usually administered to delay the aging process. Lehyas, being rich in spices, water-soluble, fat-soluble principles, are usually rich in antioxidants, thus helping in improving the lifespan of cells and tissues. Example – Chyawanprash and Brahma Rasayana
- Lehyas are used extensively in treating respiratory conditions. This is mainly due to its spice ingredients. Eg: Kantakari Avaleha used for the treatment of cough, cold and Asthma.
- Lehyas are used in the convalescent period. After suffering from chronic diseases such as tuberculosis, chronic fever, chronic bronchitis, etc., the patient lacks immunity and digestion strength. Example - Agastya Rasayana, used in post-tuberculosis care of the patient.
- Lehyas are extensive digestion care – Chitraka Haritaki Avaleha promotes digestion strength and relieves bloating. Vilwadi Lehyam is useful to relieve vomiting, nausea and acid reflux.
Syrup Vs Avaleha
Syrup and lehya - both contain sweetening agent and herbs. But Avaleha contains spices and fat soluble principles, which makes it rich in nutrition and therapeutic benefits.
Examples of Important Avalehas
Kerala Ayurveda Aswagandhadi Lehyam – With powerful ingredients such as Ashwagandha, black gram, sesame and ginger, rich anti-oxidants, this Lehyam is useful in improving body strength and stamina. It is especially used to improve muscle mass and strength. It is extensively used by body-builders.
Kerala Ayurveda Dasamoola Rasayanam – With ingredients such as Dasamoola - a group of 10 roots, ginger, pepper, etc., this is an excellent medicine for chronic cough, cold and asthma.
Kerala Ayurveda Narasimha Rasayanam – A famous Ayurvedic herbal jam for the treatment of hair loss, premature greying of hair. It is useful in improving sexual strength and also to gain weight. It promotes immunity, physical stamina and also skin complexion.
Kerala Ayurveda Vilwadi Lehyam – With gastro-intestinal system targeted ingredients such as Bael, cumin, caraway, cardamom, cinnamon, etc., this herbal jam is an excellent remedy for stomach ailments such as nausea, vomiting, weak digestion strength, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Kerala Ayurveda Thrivruth Lehyam – The herb Thrivruth is a very good purgative agent. This herbal jam is used for the treatment of constipation. In higher doses, under strict medical supervision, this medicine is used for the treatment of Virechana Panchakarma treatment, wherein purgation is induced for the treatment of Pitta imbalance disorders such as eczema, psoriasis, liver disorders, etc.
Kerala Ayurveda Thamboola Rasayanam – With betel leaf juice extract, sugar, cumin, long pepper, and honey as ingredients, this herbal jam is useful for the treatment of bronchitis, asthma, allergic rhinitis, vomiting, and weak digestion strength.
Kerala Ayurveda Navajeevan Rasayanam – With ingredients like Gambhari, Bael, Tribulus, Brihati, naturally processed Iron, long pepper, etc., this herbal jam is useful for the treatment of bronchial disorders, breathing difficulties, cough, and cold.
Kerala Ayurveda Ajamamsa Rasayanam – It is an excellent strength promoting herbal jam and a nervine tonic. It is useful for the treatment of body ache, neurological pains, muscle wasting, as in the case of paralysis, paraplegia. It helps to improve muscle strength and also to gain weight.