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Therapeutic potentials of metals in ancient India: A review through Charaka Samhita

Authors:
  • All India Institute of Ayurveda, New Delhi
  • Krishna Ayurved Medical College, Vadodara
  • Central Ayurved Research Institute, Jhansi

Abstract and Figures

The Ayurvedic system of medicine has stood the test of time for four millennia or more. The ancient seers found that drugs of different origin (herbal, metal or animal) in addition to codes of conduct and dietary regulations are suitable tools to maintain health in healthy and eradicating diseases in diseased. Use of metallic preparations in healthcare is a unique feature in this system. Processed metals including Mercury, Gold, Silver, Lead, Zinc, Copper etc. were used very frequently by seers of the Indian tradition in different disease conditions with great authority. It is generally claimed, that these metals are detoxified during the highly complex manufacturing processes described in Ayurvedic, especially Rasashastra texts. Charaka Samhita, one of the scheduled books of Ayurveda also holds ample of references regarding the use of metals for different purposes, which are summarized in the current paper.
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Journal of Ayurveda & Integrative Medicine | April-June 2011 | Vol 2 | Issue 2 55
Address for correspondence:
Dr. Galib, Department of Rasa Shastra and Bhaishajya Kalpana
including Drug Research, Institute for Post Graduate Teaching
and Research in Ayurveda, Gujarat Ayurved University, Jamnagar,
Gujarat – 361 008, India. E-mail: galib14@yahoo.co.in
Received: 20-Oct-2010
Revised: 07-Mar-2011
Accepted: 14-Mar-2011
Therapeutic potentials of metals in ancient India: A
review through Charaka Samhita
Galib, Mayur Barve, Mayur Mashru, Chandrashekhar Jagtap, B. J. Patgiri, P. K. Prajapati
Department of Rasa Shastra and Bhaishajya Kalpana including Drug Research, Institute for Post Graduate Teaching and Research in
Ayurveda, Gujarat Ayurved University, Jamnagar, Gujarat, India
REVIEW ARTICLE
ABSTRACT
The Ayurvedic system of medicine has stood the test of time for four millennia or more. The ancient seers found that
drugs of different origin (herbal, metal or animal) in addition to codes of conduct and dietary regulations are suitable tools
to maintain health in healthy and eradicating diseases in diseased. Use of metallic preparations in healthcare is a unique
feature in this system. Processed metals including Mercury, Gold, Silver, Lead, Zinc, Copper etc. were used very frequently
by seers of the Indian tradition in different disease conditions with great authority. It is generally claimed, that these metals
are detoxied during the highly complex manufacturing processes described in Ayurvedic, especially Rasashastra texts.
Charaka Samhita, one of the scheduled books of Ayurveda also holds ample of references regarding the use of metals for
different purposes, which are summarized in the current paper.
Key words: Ayurveda, Charaka Samhita, lead, mercury, metals
INTRODUCTION
The Ayurvedic system of medicine has great antiquity,
dating back to about 5000 years B.C. Its Materia Medica
contain resources in the form of drugs derived from plant,
animal, metal and mineral sources,[1] the use of which
have been advocated in various different pathological
manifestations. These drugs have also been converted
in to poly-herbal, herbo-mineral and metallic compound
formulations by the seers, who have documented their
clinical experiences and passed on the knowledge to
further generations.
During the medieval period, with the advent of Rasashastra,
use of certain heavy metals and minerals in Ayurvedic
therapeutics increased. Rasashastra, an integral part
of Ayurveda, deals with the drugs of mineral origin,
and details their varieties, characteristics, processing
techniques, properties, therapeutic uses, possibilities of
developing adverse effects and their management etc.
in a comprehensive way. Although the roots of this
science (Rasa Shastra) exist in the ancient texts of Indian
civilization, its development as an independent system
of therapy started around the 8th century A.D.. Ayurvedic
classics written before that time, like Charaka Samhita and
Sushruta Samhita etc. contain descriptions of metals and
minerals, their processing techniques and their utilization
in therapeutics etc.
In due course of time, herbo mineral and metallic
preparations came to occupy a signicant seat in Ayurvedic
pharmacopoeia and have routinely been used in practice
in different parts of India for many centuries. Such
preparations are held to be safe, efficacious even in
minute doses, and, when manufactured and used following
specied classical guidelines, not to lead to any signicant
untoward effects.[2] The past decade, however, has
witnessed concerns by the western scientic community,
regarding the safety of Ayurvedic Herbal, Herbo-mineral
and metallic preparations, which is a major concern for
the age-old Ayurvedic heritage.[3]
This paper attempts to screen Ayurvedic classics for
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Galib, et al.: Metals in Charaka Samhita
56 Journal of Ayurveda & Integrative Medicine | April-June 2011 | Vol 2 | Issue 2
references emphasizing the utilization of metals for
medicinal and other purposes. Charaka Samhita was
scrutinized and found to contain referred frequent
references to metals used for different purposes including
medicinal and non medicinal ones. Seer Charaka advocated
converting the metals in to ne powders before their
utilization and observing great caution during the period
of administration in different disease manifestations.
OBJECTIVES
The present paper is a compilation holding references
pertaining to metals during the period of Charaka Samhita
along with some information on the metals explained in
textbooks of Rasashastra and modern science.
The references found in the classic were grouped into
different categories with an intension to give an insight
about the frequency of usage of the metals. The categories
are as under:
Utilization in therapeutics
Internal administration
External application
Utilization in the preparation of equipment/instruments
Other purposes etc.
Parada (Mercury)
Formulations containing mercury are only rarely mentioned
in Charaka Samhita. The first reference pertaining to
Parada and its utility in therapeutics mentioned in the
classic is controversial,[4] only a few scholars interpret the
term Rasa in the verse chikitsasthana 7/71 as Parada. The
second reference is found in Dwivraniya Chikitsa, where
the term Rasa is interpreted as Parada by the commentator
Chakrapani.[5] It is interesting to note that, both these
formulations are recommended for external application.
[Table 1].
Though the term 'Rasa' has been rendered as 'Parada' by
'Chakrapani', it is very difcult to claim that mercury was
in practice during the period of Charaka for the following
reasons.
1. The term ‘Parada’ was not used by Charaka throughout
the classic.
2. If the metal had been known to the physicians of those
days, we might expect that it would have been discussed
frequently, along with associated pharmaceutical
procedures, and its combinations.
3. Chakrapani is silent and doesn't expressed an opinion on
the term 'Rasa' at Chikitsa 7/71, but interprets the same
term in the earlier verse (Chikitsa 7/70) as 'expressed
juice', while, at Dwivraniya Chikitsa (25/116), he interprets
'Rasa' as Parada.
4. Later works like Sushruta Samhita (Chikitsa 25/39) and
Astanga Hridaya (Uttara 13/36) preferred mercury as
a component in topical applications. It was only later
that the frequency of its internal utility increased.
Probably, these developments might have been noticed
by redactors and commentators like Dridhabala and
Chakrapani, who expressed their opinions in their
respective works.
Swarna (Gold)
Swarna, the Sara Lauha[6] is an important, noble metal
known to Indians since antiquity. References can be
traced back to Charaka and Sushruta Samhita where the
noble metal has been attributed with a wide range of
applications. The 'Bhasma' form of Gold is in metallic
state. Quantitatively it is a combination of metallic Gold
(96.76%), silica (1.14%), ferric oxide (0.14%), phosphates
(0.78%), potash (0.16%), salt (0.078%), and traces of
copper and magnesium.[7]
In its elemental form, Gold has been employed for
centuries as an anti-pruritic agent to relieve itching
palms. In 1980, Robert Koch observed that gold inhibits
Mycobacterium tuberculosis in vitro. This led to trials on
arthritis and lupus erythematosus. Also, previous studies
carried out in 1973 on gold and its compounds observed
benecial activities at different levels. Gold compounds
have the ability to decrease concentrations of rheumatic
factors and inuences the immunological responses.[53]
It has also been established[54] that gold suppresses the
anaphylactic release of histamine more effectively than
gluco-corticoids. Sodium aurothio malate (water soluble
preparation) was introduced around 25 years ago to treat
arthritis, and is administered through IM injections. Its
pharmacokinetics were not established but, its effects are
probably due to its antimicrobial effects and stimulatIon
of the Reticulo Endothelial system.[8]
Various formulations of 'Swarna' are useful: Vrishya, Balya,
Rasayana, Medhya, Ayushya, Ojo Vardhaka, Vayah sthapaka
etc.
[9] and disease alleviators particularly in chronic
debilitating diseases like Raja Yakshma, Swasa, Kasa, Pandu
etc.[10] Normal dose levels given for 'Swarna Bhasma' is 15
mg. to 30 mg.[11] References pertaining to Swarna in Charaka
Samhita have been depicted in Table 2.
Table 1: Depicting the references of Parada
Reference Formulation Uses
Utilization in therapeutics: External Application
Chikitsa 7/71 Lelitaka Prayoga Kushtha (Skin
disorders)
Chikitsa 25/116 Savarnikarana Lepa Savarnikarana
(enhances complexion
of the skin)
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Galib, et al.: Metals in Charaka Samhita
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Rajata (Silver)
Rajata (Silver), another noble metal like gold, also attracted
the attention of the ancient Acharyas. The use of silver in
therapeutics dates back to the period of Charaka and his
contempories. Though, its therapeutic applications are not
as extensive as other metals like Tamra or Loha, the ancient
classics reveal that silver also enjoyed an important place
in Ayurveda therapeutics.
Classics of alchemy say s that, samples of Rajata which are
clear, lustrous (Swachha), heavy (Guru), and with metallic
sheen (Snigdham), and which also become bright white
on heating or cutting (Dahe Chede Samaprabham), without
any ridges or furrows (Sphota rahitam), is genuine, and
can be considered acceptable for therapeutic purposes.[11]
Quantitatively 'Rajata Bhasma' is a combination of metallic
silver (52 to 59%), free sulphur (0.675%), ferric oxide
(14.33%), calcium (10.769%), silver chloride (0.479%), and
traces of sodium, potassium and aluminium.[13] Various
useful formulations of 'Rajata' are: Balya, Rasayana, Medhya,
Ayushya, Ojo Vardhaka, Vayah sthapaka etc. The normal
dosage range given for 'Rajata Bhasma' is 30 mg. to 120
mg.[14] The references of Rajata in Charaka Samhita as one
of the components are listed in Table 3
Tamra (Copper)
Tamra (Copper) is another ancient metal known to human
civilization. During pre-Vedic times, the metal was part
of day-today livelihood functions. Further, it is the earlier
known metal for the preparation of the stronger alloy metals
brass and bronze of which it is a component. Charaka uses
the term Arka in a few places which Chakrapani claries as
synonymous with Tamra.[15] According to the descriptions
of Rasa in Vagbhata Ref. there are two forms of Tamra viz.
Nepaliya and Mlechha, only the former being acceptable.
Samples with characteristic metallic sheen (Snigdham), soft
(Mridulam), bright reddish in color (Shonam), having high
tensile strength (Ghanaghata Ksamam), heavy (Guru), and
devoid of impurities (Nirvikaram) are identied as best
used for medicinal purposes.[16]
Formulations of 'Tamra' are useful in a wide range of diseases
like Krimi, Sthaulya, Arsha, Ksaya, Pandu, Kusta, Swasa, Kasa,
Amlapitta, Sotha, Sula, Yakrit Roga and Grahani dosha etc.
[17] In
addition, Charaka advocates the use of Tamra Patra (copper
Table 2: Depicting the references of Swarna for different purposes
Reference Formulation Therapeutic uses
Utilization in therapeutics: Internal Administration
Chikitsa 1–1/58* Brahma Rasayana – II Rasayana (Rejuvenators)
Chikitsa 1–3/23 Lohadi Rasayana
Chikitsa 1–3/25 Indrokta Rasayana
Chikitsa 1–3/46 Triphala Rasayana
Chikitsa 1–4/22 Apara Indrokta Rasayana
Chikitsa 4/79 Pana Yoga Raktapitta hara (Bleeding Disorders)
Chikitsa 23/239** Curna Yoga Visha hara (Anti-poisonous)
Chikitsa 23/240 Curna Yoga
Utilization in therapeutics: External Application
Chikitsa 3/262 Sheet of the metal Pitta Jwara (Fever of Pitta origin)
Chikitsa 21/131 Curna Yoga Granthi (Abscess)
Preparation of Equipment / Instruments etc.
Reference Description Probable translation
Sutra 5/74 Jihva Nirlekhana Dravya Tongue Scrappers
Sharira 8/44 Nabhi Kartana Dravya Scissors for cutting umbilical cord
Siddhi 3/7 Vasti Netra Karnika Dravya Nozzle of enema pot
Chikitsa 1-2/4*** Suvarna Bhajana Vessels and Containers
Chikitsa 24/15 ****
Chikitsa 24/154 ****
Sharira 8/19 Purusha Anupramanam under
Pumsavana Karma
A very minute sized idol of male gender
Sharira 8/34 Teekshna Soochi Shastra Sharp instruments to be used in labor room
Other purposes
Vimana 8/9 Alankritam …… Wearing gold / gold ornaments
Vimana 8/11
Sutra 5/18 -- General reference regarding Shodhana
Sutra 1/70 Parthiva Dravya Ganana Sub-classication of the metal-based source
*Kanaka one of the synonyms for gold referred even at Brahma Rasayana - I (Chikitsa 1–1/49) and at Madhwasava (Chikitsa 7/74), which has been claried as Nagakesara by
the commentator Chakrapani. **The dose of Swarna Churna (powder of gold) mentioned here is 1 Shana (3 g), ***Pharmaceutical procedure is to be carried out in Gold
vessel. ****Water stored in gold vessel is to be consumed.
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vessels) in several pharmaceutical procedures.
[18] Normal
doses mentioned for 'Tamra Bhasma' is 15 mg to 60 mg. [19]
The references mentioned in Charaka Samhita that hold
Tamra as one of the active components are listed in Table 4.
Aayasa or Loha (Iron)
Next to Swarna, Rajata and Tamra, Loha or Ayasa is
another metal known to ancient civilizations. During
the period of Charaka, it was used in different dosage
forms named Curna, Vati, Avaleha, Varti, Asavarishta
etc. either for external or internal administration in a
number of pathological manifestations. Iron compounds
were particularly employed in diseases suchas anaemia
and other debilitating conditions, where functions of
hemopoitic systems are disturbed and the blood has
consequently become deficient in iron. Rasa Shastra
classics explain that Loha is par excellence a rejuvenator as
it stimulates functional activity of all the organs, promotes
life, strength, destroys a number of diseases, and acts as a
restorative.[20] The utility of this metal in therapeutics was
only identied modern medicine in the rst half of the
17th century, when its salts were recognized as the best
haematenics. According to descriptions in Rasa Vagbhata,
there are three varieties of Loha viz. Munda, Teekshna and
Kanta, the latter being the best variety to use.[21]
As preparations of Loha are of foremost importance in
Ayurveda therapeutics, proper care should be taken during
procedures for its purication and incineration. Chakrapani
stresses the need to take care when administering it.[22]
Charaka emphasizes a special Ayaskriti procedure, which
converts thin leaves of metal into a ne absorbable form.23]
In addition to these uses, iron vessels were specically
recommended to be used in certain pharmaceutical
procedures (Chikitsa 1-3/43, 15/187, 16/83, 26/250,
26/274 etc.) Quantitatively, it is a combination of ferric
oxide (96.5%), ferrous oxide (2.5%), magnesium oxide
(0.8%), calcium oxide (0.3%), together with traces of
phosphorus and potassium. Different formulations of
'Loha' are useful in a wide range of diseases: Sula, Arsha,
Gulma, Pliha Roga, Yakrit Roga, Ksaya, Pandu, Kamala etc.[24]
Normal dose levels given for 'Loha Bhasma' are 30 mg. to
240 mg.[25] List of the formulations mentioned in Charaka
Samhita that hold Loha as one of the active components
are depicted in the Table 5.
Mandura
Mandura, the second form of Iron, has been used for a wide
range of therapeutic procedures in classical Ayurveda since
antiquity. It is dened by Madhava Upadhyaya in the Ayurveda
Prakasha as the debris collected after heating and beating
processes of Iron around a blacksmith's anvil.
[26] Generally,
mandura is collected from sources like old anvils, and is
considered to be very useful, if they are about 100 years old.
Table 3: Depicting the references of Rajata for different purposes
Reference Formulation Therapeutic Uses
Utilization in therapeutics: Internal Administration
Chikitsa 1–1/58 Brahma Rasayana - II Rasayana (Rejuvenators)
Chikitsa 1–3/23 Lohadi Rasayana
Chikitsa 1–4/22 Apara Indrokta Rasayana
Chikitsa 16/78 Tapyadi Loha Pandu Roga (Hematinics)
Chikitsa 16/82 Yogaraja
Chikitsa 17/126 Muktadi Curna Hicca (hiccup), Swasa (respiratory distress)
Preparation of Equipment / Instruments etc.
Reference Description Probable Translation
Sutra 5/74 Jihva Nirlekhana Dravya Tongue scrappers
Siddhi 3/7 Vasti Netra Karnika Dravya Nozzle of enema pot
Siddhi 9/51 Pushpa Netra Dravya
Sharira 8/9 ** Rajata Patra Silver containers
Chikitsa 1-2/4 *
Chikitsa 24/15 ** Rajata Bhajana
Chikitsa 24/154 ** Rajata Patra
Sharira 8/19 Purusha … anupramanam under Pumsavana
Karma
Idol of male gender
Sharira 8/34 Teekshna Soochi Shastra Sharp instruments to be placed in labor room
Sharira 8/44 Nabhi Kartana Dravya Scissors for cutting umbilical cord
Other purposes
Vimana 8/9 Alankritam …… Wearing gold / gold ornaments
Vimana 8/11
Sutra 1/70 Parthiva Dravya Ganana Classication of the metal based on the source
*Pharmaceutical procedure is to be carried out in Silver vessel, **Water stored in Silver vessel is to be consumed
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Samples of ages 80 years and 60 years old are respectively
considered moderately and least efcacious for therapeutic
purposes.[27] According to the literature Mandura, which is
smooth to touch (Snigdha /Masruna), heavy (Guru), strong
(Dridham), without any ssures or furrows (Kotaravarjitam),
and taken from age old constructions (Jirna nasta purastham)
is genuine and can be used for therapeutic purposes.[28]
Purified mandura, when administered with proper
justication is benecial in inammations, edematous
conditions, jaundice etc. It is the drug of choice in cases
of anaemia (Pandu), and Charaka refers to a number of
its preparations. Chemically, Mandura is a combination of
ferric oxide (59.14%), ferrous oxide (26.7%), chlorides
(4.4%), magnesium (3.9%), sodium (1.7%) and a few other
elements in trace quantities. Its unique constitution plays a
pivotal role in therapeutics of anaemia and other associated
disorders.[29] The normal dose given for 'Mandura Bhasma' is
30 mg. to 240 mg. 30 Few of the formulations mentioned
in Charaka Samhita that hold Mandura as one of the active
components are depicted in Table 6.
Naga/Sisaka (Lead)
Naga is an important Puti Loha known since ancient times,
also identied by other terms like Sisaka or Sisa. Charak
emphasizes that medicinal uses of this metal should be
external, partiicular in cases of Mandala Kusta. The Brihad
Rasa Raja Sundara describes two varieties of Naga viz.
Kumara and Samala the former being the acceptable variety
for therapeutic applications. Samples which melt easily
(Drutadravam), and are heavy (Mahabharam), externally
black in color (Bahihkrishnam), and when incised shine
with bright black luster (Chede Krishna Samujwalam) should
be considered genuine and preferred for therapeutic
purposes.
[31] Quantitatively Naga Bhasma is a combination
of lead oxide (75.6%), ferric oxide (7.5%), together with
traces of calcium and magnesium chlorides and carbonates.
Different formulations of 'Naga' are benecial in diseases
like Prameha, Gulma, Arsha, Sweta Pradara, Grahani roga, Antra
sotha etc.[32] Therapeutic dosages given for 'Naga Bhasma'
range from 30 mg. to 120 mg. [33] References mentioned in
Charaka Samhita, that hold Naga as one of the components
are depicted in Table 7.
Vanga/Trapu (Tin)
Vanga, one of the Puti Lohas was known to ancient
Indian physicians by the name of Trapu. In Charaka
Samhita, the metal is categorized under Parthiva Dravyas.
According to descriptions in Rasa Vagbhata, there are
two varieties of Vanga viz. Khuraka and Mishraka, the
former being acceptable for therapeutic applications.
Samples with the characteristics, bright white in color
(Dhavalam), soft (Mridulam), shiny, smooth (Snigdham),
easily melts (Drutadravam), and heavy (Guru) are identied
as Khura Vanga and should be preferred for therapeutic
purposes.34 Quantitatively Vanga Bhasma is a combination
of stannic oxide (i.e. of tin) (91.4%), ferric oxide (2.9%),
potassium (2.9%), calcium oxide (2%), aluminium (2%)
and magnesium (0.6%) oxides.
Formulations of 'Vanga' are variously benecial in diseases
such as: Prameha, Kasa, Shwasa, Krimi, Ksaya, Pandu, Pradara,
Garbhashaya Chyuti etc.[35] Singly or in combination with
other puti lohas, it is benecial in disorders of the Genito
Urinary Tract. It has also been said that, Vanga Bhasma is
Table 4: Depicting the references of Tamra for different purposes
Reference Formulation Therapeutic Uses
Utilization in therapeutics: Internal administration
Chikitsa 1–1/58 Brahma Rasayana - II Rasayana (Rejuvenators)
Chikitsa 1–4/22 Apara Indrokta Rasayana
Chikitsa 17/126 Muktadi Curna Hicca (hiccup), Swasa (respiratory distress)
Chikitsa 23/239 Curna Yoga Visha hara (Anti-poisonous)
Utilization in therapeutics: External application
Chikitsa 7/86 Lepa Yoga Kusta (Skin disorders)
Chikitsa 21/131 Curna Yoga Granthi (Abscess)
Chikitsa 26/246 Sukhavati Varti Collyrium for Akshi Roga (Eye disorders)
Preparation of Equipment / Instruments etc.
Reference Description Probable translation
Sutra 5/74 Jihva Nirlekhana Dravya Tongue scrappers
Chikitsa 7/117* Tamra Bhajana Copper containers
Chikitsa 26/255 *
Siddhi 3/7 Vasti Netra Karnika Dravya Nozzle of enema pot
Other purposes
Sutra 1/70 Parthiva Dravya Ganana Classication of the metal based on the source
Sutra 1/131 Visha Kwathita Tamra Simile for disrespect of a quack
*Pharmaceutical procedure is to be carried out in copper vessel.
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Table 5: Depicting the references of Loha for different purposes
Reference Formulation Therapeutic uses
Utilization in therapeutics: Internal Administration
Sutra 21/23 Sthaulyahara Yoga Sthaulya (Obesity)
Chikitsa 1–1/58 Brahma Rasayana - II Rasayana (Rejuvenators)
Chikitsa 1–3/16 Lohadi Rasayana
Chikitsa 1–3/52 Shilajatu Rasayana
Chikitsa 1–4/22 Apara Indrokta Rasayana
Chikitsa 7/74 Madhwasava Kusta (skin diseases), Kilasa (leukoderma)
Chikitsa 12/21 Shophahara Yoga Kaphaja Shopha (inammation of Kapha origin)
Chikitsa 12/39 Triphaladyarishta Arsha (hemorrhoids), Pandu (anemia)
Chikitsa 12/42 Shophahara Yoga Chiraja Shopha (chronic inammation)
Chikitsa 12/43 Ksara Gutika Arsha (hemorrhoids), Pandu (anemia) etc.
Chikitsa 13/73 Shamana Yoga Kaphaja Udara (Ascitis of Kapha origin)
Chikitsa 15/188 Panchama Ksara Grahani (malabsorption syndrome), Pandu (anemia)
Chikitsa 16/69 Panduhara Yoga Pandu (anemia)
Chikitsa 16/70 Navayasa Curna
Chikitsa 16/82 Yogaraja
Chikitsa 16/97 Kamalahara Yoga Kamala (jaundice)
Chikitsa 16/98
Chikitsa 16/99
Chikitsa 16/105 Gaudarishta Pandu (anemia)
Chikitsa 16/119 Panduhara Yoga Mridbhakshana Pandu (anemia of pica origin)
Chikitsa 17/126 Muktadi Curna Hicca (hiccup), Swasa (respiratory distress)
Chikitsa 17/129 Swasahara Yoga
Chikitsa 30/84 Yonirogahara Yoga Yoni roga (disorders of female genital tract)
Utilization in therapeutics: External Application
Sutra 14/26 Swedana Dravya Material for sudation
Chikitsa 5/62 Daha Karma Gulma (abdominal lump)
Chikitsa 7/88 Kustahara Yoga Kusta (skin diseases)
Chikitsa 7/171 Kilasahara Lepa Kilasa (leukoderma)
Chikitsa 9/80 Sparsha Chikitsa Unmada (psychosis)
Chikitsa 21/131 Curna Yoga Granthi (abscess)
Chikitsa 25/103 Agni Karma Kaphaja Granthi (abscess of Kapha origin)
Chikitsa 25/115 Savarnikarana Lepa Savarnikarana (provides complexion to the skin)
Chikitsa 26/246 Sukhavati Varti Collyrium for Akshi roga (eye disorders)
Chikitsa 26/250 Sukhavati Varti Collyrium for Akshi roga (eye disorders)
Chikitsa 26/254 Dristiprada Varti Collyrium for Akshi roga (eye disorders)
Chikitsa 26/280 Lepa Yoga Khalitya (alopecia)
Chikitsa 26/282
Preparation of Equipment / Instruments etc.
Reference Description Probable Translation
Sharira 8/19 Purushaanupramanam under
Pumsavana Karma
Idol of male gender
Sharira 8/34 Teekshna Soochi Shastra Sharp instruments to be placed in labor room
Sharira 8/44 Nabhi Kartana Dravya Scissors for cutting umbilical cord
Chikitsa 25/82 Shalaka Nirmana Metallic probes
Chikitsa 1–3/43 * Ayasa Patra /
Ayasa Bhanda /
Ayasa Bhajana /
Loha Patra
Iron Vessel / Container
Chikitsa 7/75 *
Chikitsa 15/187 *
Chikitsa 16/82 *
Chikitsa 26/274 *
Other purposes
Sutra 1/70 Parthiva Dravya Ganana Classication of the metal based on the source
Sutra 1/131 Visha Kwathita Tamra Simile for disrespect of a quack
Chikitsa 12/7 Swayathu Hetu Creator of inammation
*Pharmaceutical procedure is to be carried out in Iron Vessel / Container
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Galib, et al.: Metals in Charaka Samhita
Journal of Ayurveda & Integrative Medicine | April-June 2011 | Vol 2 | Issue 2 61
the drug of choice in the case of Prameha.[36] Therapeutic
doses given for 'Vanga Bhasma' range from 120 mg. to
240 mg.[37] The references mentioned in Charaka Samhita,
which hold Vanga as one of the components are depicted
in Table 8
Pittala (Brass)
Pittala is an important Misra Loha, an alloy of Copper and
Zinc, known since the period of Samhita Kala. Charaka
used this metal to prepare Vasti netra. It is known as Brass.
As per the descriptions available in Rasa Ratna Samuchaya,
there are two varieties of Pittala viz. Ritika and Kakatundi.
Formulations of 'Pittala' are benecial in diseases like Krimi,
Kusta, Pandu etc.[38] The therapeutic doses given for 'Pittala
Bhasma' range from 60 mg. to 120 mg.[39] Very few references
mentioned in Charaka Samhita that hold Pittala as one of
the components are depicted in Table 9.
Kamsya (Bronze)
Kamsya is another important Misra Loha, an alloy of Copper
and Tin known since the period of Samhita Kala. Charaka
used this metal to prepare Vasti netra. It is known as Bell
Metal or Bronze. According to the descriptions given
in Ayurveda Prakasha, there are two varieties of Kamsya
viz. Pushpa and Tailika, only the former being acceptable
for therapeutic applications. Samples giving a sharp
sound (Teekshna Shabdam), soft (Mridu), smooth to touch
(Snigdha), slightly grayish (Eshat Shyamalam), clear from
impurities (Shubhram/Nirmalam) and turning red on heating
(Dahe Raktam) possess the characteristic features of the
material preferred for therapeutic purposes.[40]
Formulations of 'Kamsya' are benecial in diseases like
Krimi, Kusta etc.[41] Therapeutic doses iven for 'Kamsya
Bhasma' range from 60 mg. to 120 mg.[42] Very few references
mentioned in Charaka Samhita that hold Kamsya as one of
the active components are depicted in Table 10.
DISCUSSION
It becomes clear from screening the classic Charaka Samhita
that metals like Gold, Silver, Iron, Copper, Lead, Tin etc.
as well as some alloys were used to treat a wide range of
diseases. Fine powders of these metals were prescribed for
both internal and external applications. References also can
be traced where the metallic powders were applied to the
eyes.[43] Emphasis is given to purication of metals and their
conversion to micro-ne powders by following specied
guidelines, processes which were termed 'Ayaskriti'.
Charaka suggest using these metallic preparations with
great authority, stating them to be safe and efcacious if
used judiciously. He also emphasizes that great caution is
needed when using such metallic powders in therapeutics.
In addition to the therapeutic utilization; different
Table 6: Depicting the references of Mandura
Reference Formulation Uses
Utilization in therapeutics: Internal Administration
Chikitsa 16/74 Mandura Vataka Pandu (anemia)
Chikitsa 16/78 Tapyadi Yoga
Chikitsa 16/95 Punarnava Mandura
Chikitsa 16/103 Mandura Vataka
Table 9: Depicting the references of Riti for
different purposes
Reference Description Probable Translation
Sutra 5/74 Jihva Nirlekhana Dravya Tongue scrappers
Siddhi 3/7 Vasti Netra Karnika
Dravya
Nozzle of enema pot
Table 10: Depicting the references of Kamsya
for different purposes
Reference Description Probable
Translation
Sharira 8/9* Kamsya Patra Containers of Bronze
Siddhi 3/7 Vasti Netra Karnika Dravya Nozzle of enema pot
Chikitsa
24/154*
Kamsya Bhajana Vessels and
containers
*Water placed in Kamsya vessel is to be consumed.
Table 7: Depicting the references of Naga for
different purposes
Reference Formulation Uses
Utilization in therapeutics: Internal Administration
Chikitsa 17/126 Muktadi Curna Hicca (hiccup), Swasa
(respiratory distress)
Utilization in therapeutics: External Application
Chikitsa 7/88 Lepa Yoga Kusta (skin diseases)
Other purposes
Sutra 1/70 Parthiva Dravya
Ganana
Classication of the
metal based on the
source
Table 8: Depicting the references of Vanga for
different purposes
Reference Formulation Uses
Utilization in therapeutics: External Application
Chikitsa 7/88 Lepa Yoga Kusta (skin diseases)
Preparation of Equipment / Instruments etc.
Reference Description Probable Translation
Sutra 5/74 Jihva Nirlekhana
Dravya
Tongue scrappers
Siddhi 3/7 Vasti Netra Karnika
Dravya
Nozzle of enema pot
Other purposes
Sutra 1/70 Parthiva Dravya
Ganana
Classication of the
metal based on the
source
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Galib, et al.: Metals in Charaka Samhita
62 Journal of Ayurveda & Integrative Medicine | April-June 2011 | Vol 2 | Issue 2
metals ranging from gold to iron were also used in
preparing equipments like Jihva Nirlekhana Yantra (tongue
scrappers),[44] Nabhi Kartana Yantra (sharp instruments
to cut umbilical cord),[45] Vasti Netra (nozzle of enema
pot),[46] different Anjana Shalakas (metallic applicator for
application of medicaments into eyes)[47] etc. Besides this,
Charak recommends preparing containers and vessels with
different metals like gold[48], silver[49], copper[50], iron[51] and
some alloys[52] etc. where instructions for pharmaceutical
procedures like boiling etc. are given.
Close scrutiny makes it clear that such metallic preparations
have held a signicant place in Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia
since antiquity. In the recent past, western scientists have
begun to focus on the toxic nature of metals like mercury,
lead etc. Reviewing the Ayurvedic literature reveals that
ancient scholars had considered the possibility of toxicity
of metallic preparations, and emphasized the necessity of
taking great care over this point. They evolved specic
methods using various pharmaceutical techniques
like shodhana, jarana, marana etc. which have their own
signicance in detoxifying and increasing the therapeutic
potential of metals.
CONCLUSIONS
Reviewing Charaka Samhita reveals thatAyurveda utilized
metals for various therapeutic and non-therapeutic
purposes. The text emphasizes the need to observe
great caution while using metals, and directs that they
should be reduced to micro-ne powders through the
specially designed process 'Ayaskriti'. The reduced metals
may contain associated compounds together with major
elements, which have their own signicance in the process
of disease pacication. In addition, a few of the metallic
powders also may provide nourishment, as they are a
combination of many trace elements and electrolytes.
In the recent past, some researchers have suggested that
these metallic/mineral preparations are anti-oxidants
which ght free radicals, anddisease causing organisms
and also help in developing immunity.[55] Studies carried-
out in different parts of India have indicated that, when
metals and minerals are converted into medicines strictly
adhering to the classical guidelines specied in ancient
texts, they are devoid of any toxicity even at the level
of 100 TEDs. Histo-pathological studies of visceral
organs in these studies revealed no apparent changes. For
example, a study on Rasa Karpura, established safety of
the compound even at 40 TED.[56]
Furthermore, the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicines is
not usually due to single active ingredients, but, usually
to complex mixtures of compounds which target the
pathological manifestation in several different ways.
Therefore, Ayurveda differs from systems of medicine using
single ingredients.
Keeping all these in mind, it can be said that the damning
reports such as those of unacceptable levels of heavy
metals etc. in Ayurvedic preparations should not be
considered cause for alarm. The concepts, practices and
products of the Ayurvedic system of medicine are unique,
and its therapeutic values are needed to be explored by
utilizing and adopting sophisticated technology, Only then
can ailing humanity benet from its age-old remedies.
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Source of Support: Nil, Conict of Interest: None declared.
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... Metals have been known for their antimicrobial properties . Metals such as Ag and Cu are being used as disinfectants for water and food preservation (Galib et al., 2011). Metals were routinely used as disinfectants, but the introduction of antibiotics decreased the relevance of the metals for antimicrobial purposes (Yadav, Mittal, et al., 2021;Yadav, Kumar, et al., 2021;Sharma et al., 2021;Kumari et al., 2021;Sharma et al., 2021;Kumari et al., 2020). ...
... Ayurveda, the grand old Indian system of medicine has a history of nearly four millennia or more in safeguarding the health interest of the population. 1 The illustrative knowledge of Ayurveda is upheld in various compendiums like Charaka Samhita, Susruta Samhita, Astanga Hridya, Bhela Samhita, etc to mention a few, which were written in various time-epochs. Among the most trustworthy and inclusive compendium is the Charaka Samhita, comprising 120 Adhayaya (chapters) parted into eight Sthana (sections). 2 The influence of Charaka Samhita can be better understood as it is the most accepted referral manuscript of Ayurveda among its peers and contemporary academicians worldwide for preventive, therapeutic, research purposes, etc. 3 Among various inter-compendia sections of Charaka Samhita, the Indriya Sthana comprises prognostication of life expectancy by 'Arishta Lakshana' (grave signs and symptoms indicating imminent death). ...
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X-ray diffraction analysis of the Rajat based selected bhasmas was one of the advanced parameter for detailed scientific scrutiny in this study. Ayurvedic literature is enriched with various techniques for establishing dimensions to quality control for achieving standard acceptable form of bhasma. X-ray diffraction is modern and sophisticated method which provides relevant chemical database of the herbo-metallic drugs. Quality of bhasma determines on the basis of chemical composition, processing and applications, so it can be used safely. X-ray diffraction pattern data detects size, physical state and surface properties. For Rajat based selected bhasmas, reduced particle size was observed in this study which will be useful to determine extent of therapeutic effectiveness of particular bhasma as per amount of quantity and quality in each dose. Rajat based selected bhasmas are herbo-mineral complex compounds which are recommended for treatment of several ailments from reputed pharmacies. Systematic pathways for the synthesis of ayurvedic bhasmas from heavy metals include Lead, Iron, Gold, Copper, Zinc, Silver, Mercury and Arsenic. The potential of ayurvedic literature and drugs need to be validated by assessing quality and purity on the basis of modern medicine protocol for treatment. During drug delivery, absorption as well as assimilation capacity enhances with particle size of drugs in the body. Hence selection of drug associated with physical parameter for best result as per prescribed doses in treatment. Bhasmikarana is the significant step in the preparation of bhasma. The idea underlying the process of “bhasmikarana” is to convert the substance into ash having the resultant properties in an active state. The bhasma not only radically remove the root cause of the disease, but also enhances the immune system inherent in the human body. Now market is having a wide range of bhasmas, as required to be processed according to unique, standard and advanced ayurvedic method.
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Objectives: This study aimed to assess the adverse effects of Rasaraj Rasa tablets after repeated oral administration for 180 days in Wistar rats. Methods: Wistar rats were divided into five groups, of which three were treated with 54, 162, and 270 mg/kg body weight of Rasaraj Rasa, respectively, which correspond to one, three, and five times the proposed human therapeutic dose, for 180 days consecutively. The fifth group (satellite) also received 270 mg/kg body weight of Rasaraj Rasa for 180 days. Body weight and food intake were measured weekly. At the end of the study, all rats were sacrificed, and their blood, serum, and organs were collected and examined using hematology, serum biochemistry, gross pathology, and histopathology tests. In contrast, the satellite group was kept for 4 weeks after treatment. Results: No significant treatment-related toxicological findings were observed in the clinical features, body weight, laboratory findings, and pathological findings of the high-dose treated groups, when compared to those of the control group. Conclusion: The no-observed-adverse-effect-level for Rasaraj Rasa in Wistar rats is set at 270 mg/kg body weight.
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Precious metals have held a status of their own ever since their discovery. Their use has not only been an indication of power, status, and luxury, but also an example of intricate craft skills exhibited by artisans worldwide. Gold and silver, perhaps the oldest precious metals and also the most popular have had a diverse use in various fields, including textiles. The incorporation of these metals in textiles led to the production of a plethora of textile crafts, each demonstrating a unique feature, skill, and technique. Due to the unique qualities exhibited by the crafts; each textile holds an importance of their own. The terms of many of these textiles are often used interchangeably, however, important minute differences distinguish these textiles from one another, which is often times overlooked. Over the years, these various forms of crafts gained popularity, flourished and were even favourites among the Indian rulers and royalties of the yesteryears. However, with the loss of royal patronage and the decline in investment in the handicraft sector, most of these art forms are either languishing or are not produced anymore. To retain the culturally rich arts of India, the significance associated with them, and most importantly the techniques employed to create such masterpieces, it thus becomes important to document these artforms. This article explores the various textiles that incorporate gold and silver with respect to the technique used to produce exquisite fabrics which depict the dexterity of Indian craftsmanship
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Various metals have been complexed with drugs to improve their cellular impact. Inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are characterized by unbalanced production of proinflammatory cytokines (PICs) and prostaglandins with decreased levels of vitamin D and calcium. The inflammation can be suppressed through targeting the formation of PICs or related enzymes by various treatment strategies that involve the use of corticosteroids, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs and NSAIDs. We present a detailed review on the impact of calcium complexes of oxicams as an advanced treatment strategy for RA. The calcium complexes demonstrate promising capabilities to cure the disease, improve the strength of bones and suppress PICs in RA.
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The system of Ayurveda has a long history and is approximately as old as the Vedic age. At present, most people prefer Ayurveda as an alternative to allopathic medicines because it is significantly cheaper and has fewer side effects.The products obtained from natural resources have been essential for maintaining and healing life for millennia. They are used following the processing or formation of raw materials from which robust chemical structures with promising biological activity are isolated. Nowadays, products from natural resources are becoming increasingly essential as complementary and alternative medicines and sources of pharmaco-therapeutics. Almost half of the population of the United States has tried natural medicines to prevent and/or treat diseases.
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Lead, mercury, and arsenic intoxication have been associated with the use of Ayurvedic herbal medicine product (HMPs). To determine the prevalence and concentration of heavy metals in Ayurvedic HMPs manufactured in South Asia and sold in Boston-area stores and to compare estimated daily metal ingestion with regulatory standards. Systematic search strategy to identify all stores 20 miles or less from Boston City Hall that sold Ayurvedic HMPs from South Asia by searching online Yellow Pages using the categories markets, supermarkets, and convenience stores, and business names containing the word India, Indian cities, and Indian words. An online national directory of Indian grocery stores, a South Asian community business directory, and a newspaper were also searched. We visited each store and purchased all unique Ayurvedic HMPs between April 25 and October 24, 2003. Concentrations (microg/g) of lead, mercury, and arsenic in each HMP as measured by x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy. Estimates of daily metal ingestion for adults and children estimated using manufacturers' dosage recommendations with comparisons to US Pharmacopeia and US Environmental Protection Agency regulatory standards. A total of 14 (20%) of 70 HMPs (95% confidence interval, 11%-31%) contained heavy metals: lead (n = 13; median concentration, 40 microg/g; range, 5-37,000), mercury (n = 6; median concentration, 20,225 microg/g; range, 28-104,000), and/or arsenic (n = 6; median concentration, 430 microg/g; range, 37-8130). If taken as recommended by the manufacturers, each of these 14 could result in heavy metal intakes above published regulatory standards. One of 5 Ayurvedic HMPs produced in South Asia and available in Boston South Asian grocery stores contains potentially harmful levels of lead, mercury, and/or arsenic. Users of Ayurvedic medicine may be at risk for heavy metal toxicity, and testing of Ayurvedic HMPs for toxic heavy metals should be mandatory.
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The 5th edition of this world renowned textbook is the result of a thorough updating of every chapter with respect to the mechanism of action and use of older agents and the addition of important new drugs. The philosophy and objectives of the earlier editions are continued, however, together with the same thoughtful organization, clarity and authority that have long made 'Goodman and Gilman' the standard book in the field. Although less dynamic or outmoded sections have been condensed or eliminated, the basic organization remains the same, with major attention being given to the well established, safe and effective prototypal drugs. After a discussion of the general principles of pharmacokinetics, special attention is given to drugs acting on the CNS, local anesthetics, drugs acting at synaptic and neuroeffector junctions, autacoids, cardiovascular drugs, water, salts and ions, drugs affecting renal function and electrolyte metabolism, drugs affecting uterine motility, gases and vapors, heavy metals and antagonists, locally acting drugs, antiparasitic drugs, antimicrobial drugs, antineoplastic drugs, drugs acting on the blood and hematopoietic system, hormones and hormone antagonists, vitamins and even the principles of prescription writing and patient compliance instruction. There is a detailed subject index referring to both medical concepts and drug names, generic as well as proprietary. This book will prove invaluable to both students and graduates in many areas of the biomedical sciences.
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In experiments on mice it has been shown that 2-amino-4-phenylsulphonylbenzenesulphonamide (NSD 3004) has a protective effect against maximal electroshock seizures comparable to the effect of phenobarbital and diphenylhydantoin. This effect was correlated to blood and plasma concentration. NSD 3004 had no central depressant effect but in high doses it exibited a weak diuretic action. Using in vitro and in vivo techniques the substance was found to inhibit carbonic anhydrase. The carbonic anhydrase inhibitors acetazolamide and sulthiame had a weaker anticonvulsant and a stronger diuretic effect as compared to NSD 3004.
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