Biological Trace Element Research

, Volume 109, Issue 3, pp 231–254

Unique ayurvedic metallic-herbal preparations, chemical characterization


  • A. Kumar
    • Department of Chemistry, Indian Institute of Technology
  • A. G. C. Nair
    • Radiochemistry DivisionBhabha Atomic Research Centre
  • A. V. R. Reddy
    • Radiochemistry DivisionBhabha Atomic Research Centre
  • A. N. Garg
    • Department of Chemistry, Indian Institute of Technology

DOI: 10.1385/BTER:109:3:231

Cite this article as:
Kumar, A., Nair, A.G.C., Reddy, A.V.R. et al. Biol Trace Elem Res (2006) 109: 231. doi:10.1385/BTER:109:3:231


Bhasmas are unique Ayurvedic metallic preparations with herbal juices/fruits, known in the Indian subcontinent since the seventh century BC and widely recommended for treatment of a variety of chronic ailments. Twenty bhasmas based on calcium, iron, zinc, mercury, silver, potassium, arsenic, copper, tin, and gemstones were analyzed for up to 18 elements by instrumental neutron activation analysis, including their C, H, N, and S contents. In addition to the major constituent element found at % level, several other essential elements such as Na, K, Ca, Mg, V, Mn, Fe, Cu, and Zn have also been found in μg/g amounts and ultratrace (ng/g) amounts of Au and Co. These seem to remain chelated with organic ligands derived from medicinal herbs. The bhasmas are biologically produced nanoparticles and are taken along with milk, butter, honey, or ghee (a preparation from milk), thus, this makes these elements easily assimilable, eliminating their harmful effects and enhancing their biocompatibility. Siddha Makaradhwaja, a mercury preparation is found to be stoichiometrically HgS without any traces of any other element. Similarly, Swet Parpati is stoichiometrically KNO3 but is found to have Mn, Cu, Zn, Na, P, and Cl as well. An attempt has been made to correlate the metallic contents with their medicinal importance. Na and K, the two electrolytic elements, seem to be well correlated, although K/Na varies in a wide range from 0.06 to 95, with specifically low values for Ca-, Fe-, and Zn-based hasmas. K/P also varies in a wide range from 0.23 to 12, although for most bhasmas (n=12)., it is 2.3±1.2. Further, Fe/Mn is linearly correlated (r=0.96) with Fe in nine noniron bhasmas.

Index Entries

BhasmasAyurvedic metallic-herbal preparationtrace elementsinstrumental neutron activation analysisbioavailabilityinterelemental correlations

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© Humana Press Inc. 2006