METALS & AYURVEDA
: A verse in
introduces the wholeworld as a pharmacopoeia that rests on the applicatoryacumen of the physician. It says that there is nothing in thisworld, not even sand and dust, that is non-medicinal. Thisconcept is rooted in the understanding of the constitutionalmake-up of everything that is “being”, as caused by the fivegreat Elements. The body, the plants, the metals and the minerals are allmade of these in proportional variations. Thus we see good physicians usingplants, precious stones and cow’s urine with equal regard and efficacy. Thereis only one category of things that is available in the world – that is medicinal.Metals, like plants, thus become part of Ayurveda pharmacopoeia.
Paracelsus, a Swiss physician, said in the 16
century: “The right dose differentiates between a poisonand a remedy”. Ayurveda too advocates the same – aproperly used poison acts as ambrosia and improperly-usedambrosia acts as a poison. In the context of mercury, it istold that a pure sample kills death and fever, while an impure one ispoisonous. Procedures are then explained to make an impure sample pureand fit to be used as a medicine. The pharmacological information did not just end with the saying that everything in the world is medicinal. It alsocovered the procedures to make toxic things not only non-toxic, but alsomedicinally potent.
Metals also had lot of mythological significance –gold is considered as the semen of God of Fire, silver as thetears and mercury as the semen of Lord Siva, sulphur as themenstrual blood of Goddess Parvati. This belief, strong in thepractitioner, makes him essentially truthful and righteous inpreparing and practicing this style of Ayurveda. A flaw in theprocessing or prescription is believed to bring ill-effect not only to the patientand the physician’s fame, but also to his/her future generations. This workedmore like a quality control measure of spiritual dimension.
Out of the 23 heavy metals, Ayurveda usesarsenic, copper, gold, iron, lead, mercury, and zinccommonly. Elaborate procedures- like the general andspecific purification processes, incineration processing andbiologization - are mentioned in the texts to make them pure,edible and having enhanced potency. Mercury, for example,undergoes eight levels of processing, lasting for weeks,before it qualifies as a medicinally useful one. The final product, bhasma indust form, undergoes further stringent quality check. This includes checking
Punarnava AyurvedaPage 2 of 4