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Why does Ayurveda prefer Oils over other forms like lotions or balms?

Why does Ayurveda prefer Oils over other forms like lotions or balms?

Ayurveda offers the widest range of medicated oils. In fact, there is an entire branch of pharmaceuticals in Ayurveda called the Sneha kalpana. The word sneha means fat/oil and kalpana signifies preparation.

Sneha Kalpana/paka may be defined as the pharmaceutical process to prepare oil-based medicines from substances like Kalka (herbal paste), Kwatha (herbal decoction), or Drava Dravya (juices, or liquids).

Sneha Kalpana/paka is a unique dosage form in Ayurveda. The purpose of oil is to extract the active bio ingredients in the herbs. Oil also acts as a suitable carrier for drug delivery in the body.

Scientific efficacy of Ayurvedic oil - Use of Liposomes

Ayurveda’s preference for oils has an amazing scientific foundation - in the form of a liposomal drug delivery system. Today, modern science is experimenting with the high efficacy of liposomes or tiny fat molecules.

What are liposomes?

The name liposome is derived from two Greek words: "Lipos" (which means fat) and "Soma" (which means body).

Nanoparticles consisting of lipid bilayer membranes enclosing an aqueous interior are formed to create liposomes, which are an advanced dosage form. Similar to biological membranes, these amphiphilic molecules have been used to enhance the efficacy and safety of various pharmaceuticals.

According to new scientific discoveries, liposomes can help in sustained and controlled release dosage forms for oral and parenteral administration.

Liposomes are excellent carriers that are nontoxic, biodegradable, and of suitable shape and size to accommodate a wide variety of substances. For the treatment of cancer, viral infections, and other microbial diseases, liposomes have been effectively used for controlled and targeted drug delivery. Also, liposomes have an excellent ability to act as slow-releasing vehicles, suitable for localizing topically applied drugs at or near the site of application.

Liposomes in Ayurveda

As both are lipoidal in nature, it appears that these two dosage forms, namely Sneha Kalpana/Paka of Ayurveda and Liposome of conventional medicine, are very similar in origin and nature. Sneha paka has the same structure and functions as liposomes. In other words, liposomes are a modified/evolved form of the traditional Sneha Kalpana/paka.

Use of liposomes in Ayurvedic Oils/ Balms

Due to their unique properties, liposomes are employed for drug delivery. liposomes can be used to transport both hydrophobic and hydrophilic molecules and deliver their contents to sites of action.

Ayurveda, a holistic healthcare system, prescribes the use of various medicated taila and ghrita applied both topically and orally.

Numerous pharmaceutical studies indicate that Siddha Sneha (medicated oil/ghee) undergoes very significant changes during the pharmaceutical process producing significant pharmaceutical and therapeutic properties.

Efficacy of Ayurvedic oils as a liposomal drug delivery system

Liposomes have been widely used as drug carriers. They can incorporate a variety of hydrophilic and hydrophobic drugs, increase drug accumulation at the administration site, and minimize side effects. Liposomes are capable of providing sustained and/or controlled drug release.

Efficacy of Ayurvedic oils as topical medicines

Liposome Liposomal encapsulation demonstrated greater drug retention than plain drug gel and cream. The higher drug skin retention in the case of liposomal gel may be due to the creation of a reservoir effect for the drug in the skin. As a result of the deposition of other components of liposomes with the drug into the skin, Ayurvedic oils increase the skin's capacity to retain the drug.

Besides liposomes bring numerous other advantages like -

  • The possibility of controlled drug release and drug targeting
  • increased drug stability,
  • Higher drug concentration
  • no biotoxicity of the carriers
  • avoidance of organic solvents
  • no problems with large-scale production
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Sterilization
  • Storage efficacy

Deeper reach and Higher Efficacy of Ayurvedic Oils

Sneha Kalpana Using the same analogy, we propose that Shadabindu Taila, which is indicated for Pratishyaya (rhinitis and allergic disorders), and Brahmi Ghrita, which is indicated for Unmad and Apasmar (mental disorders), may cross the blood-brain barrier and exhibit their therapeutic effects due to their lipoidal structure.

Panch Guna Taila, which is regarded as a pain-relieving drug in Vatic (a group of diseases in which pain is a prominent symptom) disorders and many others, may provide relief through the same mechanism of action.

Effective As nutraceuticals

Liposome Nutraceuticals are food components with additional health benefits over and above their traditional nutritional value.

According to multiple scientific experiments, it is proven that using immobilized lipases for the synthesis of nutraceuticals is highly effective.

To conclude

This is the reason why Ayurveda prefers oils or other fatty carriers for the drug delivery. Use of Ayurvedic oils is not only effective and fast-acting, it is also safer and more practical compared to other modes of drug delivery.


The above information was written by Dr. Kanika Verma for the exclusive use of Mum's Mill. The information is protected by copyright and may not be reprinted without the written permission of Dr. Kanika Verma and Mum's Mill