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Rasayana, a Sanskrit word (with literal meaning: Path (ayana) of the Juice (rasa), or Elixir vitae), is used to describe chemistry and alchemy, and chemistry is generally called Rasayan Shastra in Sanskrit, Marathi, Hindi, Kannada and several other Indian languages. Ancient rasayana texts center around the use of prepared forms of mercury (see samskaras), as do occidental alchemical texts. However, there is also ample mention of the preparation of medical tinctures in the ancient science of rasayana; rasayana is in fact a part of Ayurveda.
Ayurveda, the oldest health science has eight branches. Rasayana (rejuvenation) is one of them. Rasa has different meanings like "taste“, “essence", "flavor”, ”juice”, or “emotion", but is not limited to any of these. In therapeutic process Rasa is concerned with the conservation, transformation, and revitalization of energy. Rasa nourishes our body, boosts immunity and helps to keep the body and mind in best of health. Rasayana describes an herbal preparation that promotes a youthful state of physical and mental health and expands happiness. Rasayana herbs have high levels of both safety for daily use and effectiveness. They are given to small children as tonics, and are also taken by the middle-aged and elderly to increase longevity. 
Rasayana herbs and formulas are often confused with the categories of adaptogens, amphoterics, alteratives and tonics, eventhough they are not identical. Rasayanas affect the body in a general way, i.e . they may affect the immune system rather than the lungs. They are nontoxic in normal doses and are amphoteric, in that they won't over-tonify the body. Tonics will build up or stimulate the body towards normal health but can be over-tonifying. Alteratives will help normalize physiology, but do it through gentle eliminative functions that tend to focus on one or more organs, so are quite different. Amphoteric herbs seem to have a built in buffer that will help the body achieve homeostatic or allostatic balance, building or eliminating to achieve physiological equilibrium. While all rasayanas are amphoteric, some amphoteric herbs can be specific to an organ and are thus not rasayanas. Both rasayanas and adaptogens are nontoxic, and amphoteric, but adaptogens tend to work on a body-wide basis, by stimulating the HPA axis and the neuroendocrine system. Some rasayanas do not stimulate the HPA axis or may focus somewhat more narrowly on major systems of the body such as the digestive or immune systems. However the categories tend to overlap and many herbs belong to both categories. 
Additional recommended knowledge
The aim and types of Rasayana
Rasayana therapy enriches rasa with nutrients to help one attain longevity, memory, intelligence, health, youthfulness, excellence of luster, complexion & voice, optimum development of physique and sense organs, mastery over phonetics, respectability and brilliance.
In pursuit of these matters, herbal prescriptions with many herbal substances, preserved in ghee and honey are given. Chyawanprash is one of the traditional rasayanas. Specific adaptogenic herbs are also included in rasayanas including amla, shilajit, ashwaganda, holy basil, guduchi and shatavari.
Several rasayana herbs have been tested for adaptogenic properties:
The whole, aqueous, standardized extracts of selected plants (Tinospora cordifolia, Asparagus racemosus, Emblica officinalis, Withania somnifera, Piper longum and Terminalia chebula) were administered orally to experimental animals, in a dose extrapolated from the human dose, following which they were exposed to a variety of biological, physical and chemical stressors. These plants were found to offer protection against these stressors, as judged by using markers of stress responses and objective parameters for stress manifestations. Using a model of cisplatin induced alterations in gastrointestinal motility, the ability of these plants to exert a normalizing effect, irrespective of direction of pathological change was tested.... All the plant drugs were found to be safe in both acute and subacute toxicity studies. Studies on the mechanisms of action of the plants revealed that they all produced immunostimulation. The protection offered by Tinospora cordifolia against stress induced gastric mucosal damage was lost if macrophage activity was blocked. Emblica officinalis strengthened the defence mechanisms against free radical damage induced during stress. The effect of Emblica officinalis appeared to depend on the ability of target tissues to synthesize prostaglandins. Recent data obtained with Tinospora cordifolia have led researchers to suggest that it may induce genotypic adaptation, further opening the arena for more research and experimentation.
Puri has given detailed account of Classical formulations such as Amrit Rasayana, Brahm Rasayana, Jawahar Mohra, Kamdugdha Ras, Laxami Vilas Ras, Laxman Vilas Ras, Madanoday Modak, Makrdhawaj vati, Manmath Ras, Mukta Panchamrit Rasayana, Nari Kalyan Pak, Navjeevan Ras, Navratna Ras, Navratnakalp Amrit, Panchamrit Ras, Paradi Ras, Ramchuramni Ras, Rattivalbh Pak, Shukar Amrit Vati, Smritisagar Ras, Suvarn Malini Vasant, Suvarn Vasant Malti, Swapanmehtank, Vasant Kusmakar Ras, Visha Rasaayana, Vrihda Vangeshwar Rasa.
These classical Rasayana formulas, contain a large number of ingredients, including minerals, pearl, coral and gems, and include a specially processed (samskara) mercury (the word ras indicates mercury as an ingredient). Because of negative publicity and cost factor, the use of the classical rasayana formulas has declined considerably, and most of the preparations available now have herbal ingredients with a couple of mineral and animal products. The non-availability and wild life protection act has made the use of musk, amber and parts of wild-life animals, nearly impossible.
The current Rasayana formulas are based on such ingredients as amla (Emblica officinalis which has very high stable Vitamin C), Terminalia belerica, Terminalia chebula, Shilajit (a mineral exudate high in fulvic acid), Long pepper, Black pepper, Ginger, processed Guggul, Guduchi, Ashwaganda, Shatavari and similar ingredients.
Here are some of the best known rasayana remedies and their modern uses. Since rasayana formulas are general and nontoxic,they are frequently prescribed with more specific formulas that address specific concerns. Nonetheless they may also have specific affinities as shown:
Rasayana has meanings beyond healthful substances. Rasayana Shastra in Ancient India was much less developed than today. Nevertheless, the use and practice of Rasayana was widespread in Ancient India, and some examples of applied rasayana include paints used in the caves of Ajanta and Ellora, Maharashtra state, the steel of Vishnustambha (literal meaning: the tower of Vishnu), and a processed wood sample in the Kondivade caves near the Rajmachi fort in Maharashtra.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Rasayana". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|