Mixed herb oils or herbal oils are preparations in which oil is boiled with decoctions and pastes of herbs. This process ensures absorption of the active therapeutic properties of the herbs used. Mostly oil soluble fractions of these herbs are collected in this process of manufacturing. Some fine particles of the herbs remain suspended in these therapeutic oils even after filtrations and the valuable properties of the insoluble fractions are also available for use through these mixed herb oils.
Method of preparation
Ingredients used are:
- Oil which is used as a media (sneha dravya).
- Paste of herbs (kalka) and
- Liquids which may be one or more, like decoction, juice.etc. in Ayurveda it is known as
Drava or qwatha. Normally crude sesame oil is used as sneha dravya, though occasionally castor oil and coconut oil is also used either in parts or in full.
As per Ayurveda, unless otherwise given for any specific Ayurvedic oil, the ratio of the three components are, kalka (paste of the herbs) one part, sneha dravya Base oil - media oil) four parts and drava (liquid- decoction or juice of the herb) 16 parts. The general process is that herbs are ground to get coarse powder (mesh size 40) and mixed with just sufficient quantity of water to get a pasty mass to obtain the kalka (paste of the herbs). The raw or powdered herbs (mesh size 10-30) is moistened with water and boiled with 16 times by volume of water to that of herb quantity and continued boiling to reduce the volume to one forth. The decoction is strained using a muslin cloth to obtain the qwatha (decoction). Sesame oil is taken in a vessel and heated for some time; mixed the pasty mass and the aqueous decoction together. This mixture is boiled on mild fire with stirring to avoid kalka (pasty mass) to adhere to the vessel and boiling is continued till all the water evaporates.
At this stage, the preparation is carefully monitored more often to ensure that the paste does not get charred and stick to the bottom of the vessel. A small portion of the paste is taken out with the ladle and examined from time to time to ascertain the condition and the stage of the cooking (paka).
Well-cooked oil does not have any residual moisture (less than 0.1%). The oil is strained while warm through muslin cloth and allowed to cool.
Different types of cooking are recommended for different use as per Ayurveda.
Mild cooked mixed herbal oil is for inhalation therapy.
Moderately cooked oil is useful for massage of the body and enema therapy.
The overcooked oil is useful for hair and head massage.
Perfumes and essential oils
We do not add any extra perfume or essential oil to enhance the aroma of our therapeutic oils.
Vessel for cooking
It makes a difference of the choice of the vessel to cook the oils. We use heavy copper vessels for cooking therapeutic oils.
But, if some ingredient to be used in the manufacturing of therapeutic oil is sour in nature, we cook that oil only in heavy 316 steel vessels.
Moreover, our vessels to cook oils are double walled with space in between to let the steam pass. This is more hygienic and prevents the charring of the paste at the bottom of the vessel.
In classical Ayurveda, charcoals of different types wood are prescribed and we use them as per mentioned in the classics.
In order that the therapeutic oils at Satveda retain their potency and efficacy, we use food grade quality glass containers to preserve oils.
It is well known that vegetable oils show degradation and development of rancidity due to heat and exposure to moisture. In the process described above both these factors are involved intensely for long periods, up to 5 days. The processes are energy intensive involving lot of boiling and cooking, and hence add to cost of processing. Extraction of herbal components in to the sesame oil, role of using herbs in both pasty form and decoction form don’t show any changes in the property of sesame oil. When the physico-chemical properties, including chromatographic profiles, extraction of herbal components in to the sesame oil were observed, sesame oil was found to be stable.