What is Bhasma?
And how is it used.
Ayurveda and other Indian systems of medicine use metals, but their use is also amply described in Chinese and Egyptian civilization in 2500 B.C.
Derivatives such as shells, metallic, non-metallic and herbals are normally administered as Bhasma. Bhasma, is an ayurvedic metallic/mineral preparation, treated with herbal juices or decoction and exposed for certain quantum of heat which is well known in the Indian subcontinent since 7th century A.D. and widely recommended for the treatment of many disease conditions.
Bhasma means an ash obtained through incineration. The starter material undergoes an elaborate process of purification and this process is followed by the reaction phase, which involves incorporation of some other minerals and/or herbal extracts.
There are various steps in making Bhasma, like maintaining optimum alkalinity for optimum health and neutralizing harmful acids. Bhasma does not get metabolized so does not produce any harmful metabolite, rather, it breaks down heavy metals in the body. Methods included in Bhasma preparation are parpati (thin flake like), rasayoga (chemical interactions between metals, minerals and herbs) and sindora (mixture of herbs and minerals).
Rasa-Shastra (vedic-chemistry) is one of the parts of Ayurveda, which deals with herbo-mineral/metals/non-metals preparations.
Rasayana (immune-modulation and anti-aging quality) and yogavahi (ability to target drugs to the site) are characteristics of a properly made herbo-mineral/metals/non-metals preparation, which is also non-toxic, gently absorbable, adaptable and digestible in the body.
Bhasma is claimed to be biologically produced nano-particles, which are prescribed with several other ayurvedic medicines.
Colour (Verna): A specific colour is mentioned for each Bhasma. Bhasma is generally white, pale, or red. The colour of the preparation primarily depends on the parent material.
Lustreless (Nishchandratvam): Bhasma must be lustreless before therapeutic application. For this test, Bhasma is observed under bright sunlight to indicate whether lustre is present or not, if lustre is still present, it indicates further incineration.
Lightness and Fineness (Varitara): Bhasma floats on a stagnant water surface. This test is based on law of surface tension. Properly incinerated Bhasma needs to float on the water surface.
Tactile sensation: Tactile sensation can be absorbed and assimilated in the body without producing any irritation to the mucous membrane of the gastrointestinal tract.
Particle size: Prepared Bhasma should be in powder form. Particle of Bhasma should be extremely fine.
Apunarbhavata: It means incapability to regain original metallic form. For this test Bhasma is mixed with equal quantity of seeds of Abrus precatorius (a flowering plant of the pea family), honey, ghee and borax then sealed in earthen pots and heated with a similar grade of heat. Thereafter particular Bhasma is observed on self-cooling.
Niruttha: Niruttha is to test inability to regain metallic form of metallic Bhasma. In this test Bhasma is mixed with a fixed weight of silver leaf and kept in sealed earthen pots, then a similar grade of heat is applied and after cooling, the weight of silver is taken. Increase in weight of silver leaf indicates improperly prepared Bhasma.
Quality control of Bhasma
Traditionally, the end points of incineration of a metal and its conversion to a Bhasma are evaluated based on the following criteria:
Lustreless: There should be no shine or metallic lustre
Rekhapurnatvam: When a Bhasma is spread between the index finger and thumb and rubbed, it should be so fine as to get easily into the lines and crevices of the fingers and should not be washed out from the lines of the fingers.
Varitaratavam: When a small quantity is spread on cold and still water, it should float on the surface.
Apurnabhava: The Bhasma should not revert to the original state.
Tasteless: Bhasma should be tasteless.
Avami: The Bhasma should not produce nausea on administration.
Steps used to prepare Bhasmas
In Ayurveda, purification is called Shodhana. Shodhana is the process through which the external and internal impurities of metals and minerals are removed.
Elimination of harmful matter from the drug.
Modification of undesirable physical properties of the drug.
Conversion of some of the characteristics of the drug to different stages.
Enhancement of the therapeutic action.
Marana is a burning process or calcination. The purified metal is placed into a mortar pestle and grounded with the juice of specified plants or kashayas (Ayurvedic drink) for a specified period of time.
Marana methods vary according to the substance to be calcinated. For example, organic substances such as herbs are burnt in open air, whereas inorganic substances such as metals like rajata (silver) are burnt in closed containers. The end product is a Bhasma of substance taken for marana. For example, the end product in the case of silver (rajata) is called as Rajata Bhasma.
Marana of inorganic substances is called puta and the process of marana of herbs in closed freshly made containers is known as puta-paka.
Bhasma obtained by marana from primary metals together with herbs (mulika) are called Mulikamarita Bhasma.
Gold (Swarna) Bhasma
The general preparation of Swarna Bhasma involves the three processes of shodhana, dravana, and marana. The leaves of gold are heated over fire and dipped in Sesamum indicum oil when its red hot and the process is continued seven times separately.
The soft leaves are processed with buttermilk/cow’s urine and the decoction of kulattha (Horse gram), kanji (sour gruel processed from rice Oryza sativa]), and radish (Raphanus sativus). Finally, the leaves are dried by heat. The mixture is ground and the paste obtained is dried under sunlight. The process of grinding and drying under sunlight is repeated 7 to 14 times and the final product is obtained.
Mukta Shouktic Bhasma (Pearl)
Mukta shouktic bhasma (MSB) is a traditional Ayurvedic medicinal preparation. This bio-medicine is synthesized through special calcination of mother of pearl as mentioned in the classical Ayurvedic text. It is found in the Indian Ocean and is a rich source of calcium.
This Bhasma is prepared from the outer covering of the shell (pearl-oyster), and ground with Aloe Vera and Vinegar in sufficient quantity to make a homogeneous paste. The recommended proportion of pearl-oyster and Aloe Vera is 1:4. It shows following pharmacological activity like antacid, anti-pyretic and as a source of calcium.
Recent studies have shown that adding heated oyster shells to the diet of elderly patients increased the bone mineral density of the lumbar spine.
Pearl is known for lightening skin tone naturally. It helps inhibit the tyrosinase enzyme that is responsible for the production of excessive melanin in the body. It actively lightens the dark spots, blemishes and acne marks. Thus, using pearl-infused beauty products help in making the skin tone even.
Purification of Diamonds
Diamond is chiefly categorized into four types, mainly, white, red, yellow and black. According to ayurvedic scriptures, the diamond which is more-or-less round in size and possesses high gloss is termed as male.
The white coloured diamond is mainly suggested for internal administration, whereas the black and red-coloured varieties are significant in case of several health conditions and even prevent premature death of babies.
The yellow-coloured type is mainly used for providing strength.
Composition of Heerak Bhasma
It mainly contains carbon, iron and oxygen. But other essential elements that are present in moderate quantities include sodium, magnesium, potassium, calcium, chromium, aluminium, silicon, phosphorus, and sulphur.
The Diamond concoction is placed in a mortar pestle and ground well until it becomes fine powder.
Placed in a closed container and heated it in the absence of air.
Mixture is allowed to cool down on its own.
The process is repeated 14 times to get pure quality of Heerak Bhasma.
Be it used as a beauty ingredient for enhancing skin health or as a herbal compound for promoting health, diamond is the answer to all.
Diamond ayurvedic formulation with diamond known as Heerak Bhasma is extensively used for correcting the imbalance caused due to the Tridoshas, mainly Vata, Pitta and Kapha. It has corrective and anti – aging properties.
Bhasma contains metals and minerals and herbs. As a result of different stages of processing techniques like shodhana (which involves roasting, with addition of herbal juices and continuous stirring) and marana [which involves bhavana (wet grinding) and puta system of heating], the particle size reduces significantly, which may facilitate absorption and assimilation of the Bhasma into the body’s system rendering it safe.