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Ayu. 2010 Jul-Sep; 31(3): 387–390.
PMCID: PMC3221077
Pharmaceutical study of Lauha Bhasma
Neetu Singh and K. R. C. Reddy
Department of Rasa Shastra, Faculty of Ayurveda, Institute of Medical Sciences, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India.
Address for correspondence: Dr. Neetu Singh, Department of Rasa Shastra, Institute of Medical Sciences, BHU, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India. E-mail: singhneetu17/at/gmail.com
In the present research paper, the work done on pharmaceutical study of Lauha Bhasma conducted in the Department of Rasa Shastra under the postgraduate research programme is being presented. The pharmaceutical processing of Lauha Bhasma was performed by following samanya shodhana, vishesha shodhana and marana of Lauha. Under the process of marana, three specific pharmaceutical techniques were followed, viz. bhanupaka, sthalipaka and putapaka. During the putapaka process, an electric muffle furnace (EMF) was used. The temperature of puta was studied in two batches, viz. in Batch I, a temperature of 800°C was maintained whereas in Batch II, a temperature of 600°C was maintained. The purpose behind selecting two temperatures was to validate the process of marana of Lauha and to determine an ideal temperature for the preparation of Lauha Bhasma in EMF. It is found that after 20 puta at a temperature of 600°C, the Lauha Bhasma was prepared properly. The entire characteristic of Lauha Bhasma, like “pakwa jambu phala varna,” varitar, etc. was attained at 600°. At a temperature of 800°C, the process could not be carried out smoothly. The pellets turned very hard and brassy yellow in color. The desired color was attained only after decreasing the temperature in further puta.
Keywords: Ayurveda, electric muffle furnace, Lauha, marana, puta, shodhana
Introduction
Ayurveda is a holistic and divine science. Rasa Shastra and Bhaishajya Kalpana are part of Ayurveda wherein the pharmaceutical technology is explained. Lauha (iron) is a very essential element of the body system for treating many diseased conditions as well as for physiological existence. In the present work, the pharmaceutical study of Lauha was conducted in the Department of Rasa Shastra under the postgraduate research programme. For this purpose, raw material (iron turnings) was collected from the Department of Metallurgy, IT, BHU.
Procurement of raw material
Iron turnings were collected from IT, BHU; Tila taila and Triphala were collected from the Ayurvedic pharmacy, BHU; Gomutra (cow's urine) was collected from the dairy farm, Institute of Agricultural Sciences, BHU; and kulattha was collected from Mes's Gola Dinanath, Varanasi.
Pharmaceutical processing
Samanya shodhana of Lauha
  • a) 
    Preparation of accessory drugs: Takra,[1] Kanji[2] and Kulattha kwatha[3] were prepared as per classics for the process of Samanya shodhana.
  • b) 
    Process of Shodhana:
Ingredients:
Main drug – Lauha, 700 g.
Accessory drugs – Tila taila, 5 L; Takra, 5 L; Gomutra, 5 L; Kanji, 5 L; Kulattha kwatha, 5 L.
Procedure – The iron turnings were heated till they turned red hot and were dipped (seven times) in different media, i.e. tila taila, takra, gomutra, kanji and kulattha kwatha, simultaneously.[4]
Vishesha shodhana of Lauha
Ingredients – Triphala, 2 kg; water, 16 L.
Procedure – Triphala was boiled along with the above-mentioned quantity of water till reduction to 1/4th of the original volume of water. Using this, kwatha was prepared and the process of nirvapa was adopted and repeated seven times for the process of vishesha shodhana.[5]
Marana of Lauha
Marana of Lauha was performed according to the process described by Rasa Tarangini.[6] It is completed in three steps. They are: Bhanupaka, Sthalipaka and Putapaka.
Bhanupaka: Bhanupake tu lauha tulya triphala dvigunam jalam. Padathamavasesitanch ath varakwatham prayojayet.[7]
Method – Triphala, along with double the amount of water, was boiled till it reduced to 1/4th the volume of water. The prepared kwatha along with lauha curna was kept in sunlight until complete drying. It took a maximum of 4 days for complete drying of the triphala kwatha. On drying, Triphala kwatha prepared by the above process was again added and dried in sunlight. The process was repeated seven times.
Sthalipaka: Sthalipake trigunita vara, sodasikamjalam. Astabhaga avsisitamch kwathamanam vidhiyate.[8]
Method – Kwatha was prepared by taking triphala three times the amount of Lauha and 16-times the quantity of water was added to it. The whole material was boiled in a stainless steel vessel to reduce the volume to 1/8th of the original volume of water. Kwatha prepared by the above method is put into an iron vessel along with the Lauha churna procured after bhanupaka. The container is now kept on a heating device and the whole material is boiled on intense heat. On complete drying of the material, kwatha prepared by the above method is again added and subjected to heat. The whole process is repeated seven times.
Putapaka: Two separate batches of Lauha Bhasma preparation were decided upon, one at 800°C and the other at 600°C.
Putitasyaysoabhave tat tat rogaghna bhesajeh. Triphala putitam loham sarvatra viniyojayet.[9]
Lauha Bhasma should be prepared by triturating with specific media according to the disease and subjecting to puta, but, in case of unavailability of the specific media, the Bhasma prepared by triphala kwatha only can be used everywhere.
Up to the process of Sthalipaka, a common method was adopted. After that, the material was divided into two batches, Batch I was prepared at a temperature of 800°C and Batch II was prepared at a temperature of 600°C.
Puta was given to the material of two batches up to the completion of Bhasma.
Two batches of Bhasma were prepared, one at a temperature of 800°C and another at a temperature of 600°C. The purpose behind selecting two temperatures was to validate the process of marana of Lauha and to determine an ideal temperature for the preparation of Lauha Bhasma in an electric muffle furnace (EMF).
Physical characteristics of the material were noted down before and after each puta. The Tables Tables113 show observations and variation in weight of the material before and after each pharmaceutical procedure.
Table 1
Table 1
Weight of the material after samanya shodhana, vishesha shodhana, bhanupaka and putapaka
Table 3
Table 3
Observations of Batch I and Batch II after puta
Table 2
Table 2
Weight of material of Batch I and Batch II before and after Puta
For the process of samanya shodhana and vishesha shodhana, the process of nirvapa was adopted. For samanya shodhana, the iron turnings were heated till they were red hot and then they were dipped in different media, i.e. Tila Taila, Takra, Gomutra, Kanji and Kulattha kwatha (seven times). At each time of dipping, sufficient quantity of media was taken, which was approximately 500 ml. The average temperature of the heating device (hearth) was 1250°C. The average temperature of the surface of the pan was 900°C and the average temperature of the red hot iron turning was 750°C during the procedure.
The use of a particular media and particular sequence is notable. The probable concept behind using such variation may be removal of impurities from the drug in a particular acidic or alkali media.
Shodhana process along with purification/potentiation leads to reduction of particle size. Marked reduction in particle size, i.e. ratio of small: large particles, was obtained 50:50 by weight up to shodhana in kanji.
Immediate cooling leads to microscopic cracks. Mild steel consists of two major phages, ferrite and pearlite. For attaining hardness, this is heated and cooled down slowly. On immediate cooling, it gets converted to martensite, which is hard and brittle.[10]
After the process of Bhanupaka, there was a huge gain in the weight, of approximately double of the original weight, which may be due to accumulation of triphala kwatha residues.
For the process of Sthalipaka, triphala was taken in a quantity three-time that of Lauha churna for preparing kwatha as compared with Bhanupaka, where the amount was equal that of Lauha churna taken before. Therefore, a higher gain in weight, nearly 2.5-times from the original weight, was observed.
Regarding the excessive use of Triphala in the processing of Lauha, we can say that it mainly consists of tannine and ascorbic acid. The absorption of food iron can be greatly influenced by other constituents in the diet, such as ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and phenolics. Ascorbic acid increases the bioavailability of iron by converting Fe3+ to Fe2+, while phenolics can reduce the bioavailability of iron by binding to its phenolics (e.g., tannins). Excess of ascorbic acid and/or a lack of dietary tannins have both been suggested as contributing to clinical/pathological iron storage disease. Too much iron is toxic. It can damage the liver, heart and pancreas and irritate the stomach and gut, causing constipation or diarrhea. In other words, this may also be taken as the various constituent of Triphala is antagonizing the function of one another. Thus, too much absorption is prevented.
The process of Putapaka was carried out at two temperatures. The various works carried out on conventional puta show the range of temperature for Gajaputa to range from 800° to 1,000°C. Therefore, the temperature of 800°C was decided for preparation of Lauha Bhasma for Batch I. Observing research work done on Lauha Bhasma in BHU and in other institutions, the other temperature was decided at 600°C.
In the first batch (800°C), up to the 4th puta, pellets were very fragile and were broken down even by touch, and the color of brownish-red was attained. In the 5th puta, the pellets were very hard and in the 6th puta, they was brassy-yellow in color (Plate 1), suggestive of the formation of an entirely new compound that was undesirable as color of Lauha Bhasma is indicated “Pakwajambu phala varna” or brownish-red.
On further puta, the temperature was reduced to 700°–600°C, and it was observed that the concentration of the yellow compound of iron decreased and gradually converted to the desired color of Lauha Bhasma after 22 puta.
In the second batch, the process was carried out smoothly, except mild hardness of the pellet that got lowered by a slight decrease in the temperature.
Conclusion
By observing two batches, it is evident that Lauha Bhasma is better prepared at a temperature of 600°C in an EMF. In Batch I, it took 22 puta for the preparation of Bhasma and was 70% varitar. Batch II took 20 puta for complete conversion of the material to the Bhasma form, and was 75% varitar. Hence, it is revealed that a temperature of 600°C in the EMF is to be maintained for 1 h for preparing proper Lauha Bhasma.
1. Sutra Sthana. 11th Edition. 85. Vol. 48. Varanasi: Chaukhamba Sanskrit Sansthan; 1997. Sushruta Samhita of Maharshi Sushruta with Ayurved Tattva Sandipika hindi commentary by Kaviraja Ambika Dutta Shastri; p. 176.
2. Reddy K. Ramachandra, Parimi Suresh., translators. Vaidyaka Paribhasa Pradipa of Sri Govindasena English translation. Chaukhambha Sanskrit Bhavan, Tritiya Khanda, Sloka No. 186-187
3. Sharangdhar A. Sharangdhar Samhita. In: Parashar RK, editor. Madhyama Khanda. 3rd ed. 1. Vol. 2. Patna: Baidhyanath Ayurveda Bhawan; 1984. p. 189.
4. Kulkarni Dattatrey Anant. New Delhi: Meharchand Lachhhmandas Publications; 1998. Rasa Ratna Samuchchya, Rasa Vagbhatta, Commentary; p. 13.
5. Rasa Ratna Samuchchaya, Chapter 5, Sloka No. 102
6. Sharma S. 11th ed. Delhi: Motilal Banarasidas; 2004. Rasa Tarangini.
7. Ibid Rasa Taringini, Taranga 20, Sloka No. 24
8. Ibid Rasa Taringini, Taranga 20, Sloka No. 28
9. Ibid Rasa Tarangini, Taranga 20, Sloka No. 52
10. Clark DS, Varney WR. 2nd ed. US: CBS Publishers and Distributors; 2004. Physical Metallurgy for Engineers.
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