Metals have been used in Ayurveda and other Indian medical systems since ages, but they were also widely used in Chinese and Egyptian civilizations in 2500 B.C. Bhasma is an Ayurveda metallic/mineral preparation prepared with herbal juice or decoction and then exposed for Ayurvedic purposes. A Bhasma is ash created by burning; the original material goes through an extensive purification process, followed by the reaction phase, which involves addition of various minerals and/or herbal extracts. 

In general, the medicinal indications of swarna/gold can be found in almost all ancient medical classics, such as the Charak Samhita (1500 BC), Sushruta Samhita (1000 BC), and Astang Hridaya (400 AD). Around the fourth century, the creation of Rasa Shastra began, and from then on, Swarna has been dealt with comprehensively in Rasa Shastra texts, with masterstrokes of its pharmaceutics and therapeutics. Swarna is the most outstanding of all metals, and it is classified as part of the Sara loha group, which means “essence” or a noble metal. Tuberculosis, anemia, cough, debility, sterility, and muscular dystrophy have all been treated with the calcined form (Swarna Bhasma). Moreover, it is thought to be the best rejuvenator because it promotes longevity and prevents aging.  

Ingredients of Swarna Bhasma: 

Sulfur <3.33% w/w 
Calcium  <1.625% w/w 
Sodium  <0.922% w/w 
Potassium <0.370% w/w 
Sulfate  <3.00% w/w 
Copper  <17.2% w/w 
Iron oxide (ferric)  <85.0% w/w 
Iron oxide (ferrous) <5.7% w/w 
Phosphate  <1.101% w/w 
Silica  <3.8% w/w 
Acid insoluble  <11.93% w/w 
Ash value  <98.20% w/w 
Acid-insoluble ash value  21.20-31.18% w/w 
Table depicting the ingredients of Swarna Bhasma 

Therapeutic Uses of Swarna Bhasma: 

It demonstrates different therapeutic activities like: 

  • Analgesic action against chemical, thermal, electrical, and mechanical stimuli.  
  • Antioxidant activities on peritoneal macrophages. 

Benefits of Swarna Bhasma: 

1. Benefits of Swarna Bhasma as an Antioxidant: 

Swarna Bhasma is a free radical scavenger, which means it consumes and removes free radicals from the body Several proteins and enzymes in our body help to minimize the production of reactive oxygen species (O2, OH, H2 O2, and so on). After oxidative assault with acetic acid, two essential enzymes, superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase were assessed in two groups, Swarna Bhasma treated and control animals’, blood and/or liver homogenate. Swarna Bhasma increased SOD activity (267 percent in serum SOD and 75.8percent in liver homogenate, compared to the corresponding controls) and catalase activity (80 percent compared to control hemolysate). This could be linked to the patients’ improved pathophysiological status as well.  Via this free radical scavenging activity, it acts as an anti-oxidant and reduces inflammation. 

2. Benefits of Swarna Bhasma on the Nervous System: 

Traditional gold preparations used in Ayurveda and Unani medicine had anxiolytic, anti-depressive, and anticataleptic properties with a large margin of safety. In a study, treated animals showed a decrease in immobility time in the forced swimming test. They demonstrated a reduction in haloperidol-induced seizure scores. 

3. Benefits of Swarna Bhasma for Pain: 

The analgesic effects of Ayurvedic Swarna Bhasma, a calcined gold preparation, have been examined in various animal studies. Swarna bhasma was found to have analgesic efficacy in mice when tested using chemical, thermal, electrical, , and mechanical methods. Swarna bhasma is thought to have opioid-like action which reduces pain.  

4. Benefits of Swarna Bhasma for Brain: 

To assess brain damage due to poor bloody supply and its alterations, various enzyme parameters were used. Ayurvedic Swarna Bhasma significantly restored altered values to near-normal levels. This implies that gold preparations may have potential in cerebrovascular disorders. 

How to Use Swarna Bhasma? 

  • Gold was employed in traditional medicine (mostly Indian and Chinese) as Swarna Bhasma, Swarna Parpati, Swarna Patra, or red colloidal solution. In addition, gold is employed in Ayurvedic bhasmas in refined metallic fine powder (perhaps as nanoparticles) or red colloidal solution, both of which are made through sophisticated processes that include herbal extracts and even other metals. 
  • The three stages of shodhana, dravana, and marana are used in the preparation of Swarna Bhasma. First, the gold leaves are heated and then dipped in sesame (Sesamum indicum) oil until red hot. This process is repeated seven times in total. 
  • Next, buttermilk/urine, cow’s kulattha (Dolichous biflorus) decoction, kanji (sour gruel made from rice [Oryza sativa]), and radish decoction are used to prepare the tender leaves (Raphanus sativus). 
  • Finally, heat is used to dry the leaves. The mixture is finely grinded, and the resulting paste is dried in the sun. The final product is created by repeating the grinding and drying under sunlight process 7 to 14 times with new aliquots of latex. 

Side Effects of Swarna Bhasma: 

  • Exfoliative dermatitis, a skin condition marked by skin peeling and inflammation, and oral ulceration were seen due to gold compounds that were used in modern medicine. 
  • Oral gold therapy shows self-limiting digestion-related symptoms such as diarrhoea. 
  • Several hematologic responses such as eosinophilia, thrombocytopenia, and aplastic anemia were reported when chrysotherapy (gold salt therapy) was used. 
  • After treatment with injected gold salts, the salts accumulate in the liver, spleen, kidney and other tissues. In addition, all gold compounds are linked to kidney toxicity due to immune complex deposition. 

Precautions to Take with Swarna Bhasma: 

  • Swarna bhasma can cause kidney damage and hence it should be used with caution in patients suffering from kidney disease as it can cause further damage to the kidney. 
  • People with known allergic reactions to gold should avoid using Swarna bhasma. 

Frequently asked questions: 

1) Can Swarna bhasma be used for arthritis? 

In patients with rheumatoid arthritis, the effect of gold salt treatment has been investigated. When rheumatoid arthritis patients who were already receiving gold therapy were compared to those who had previously been treated or those who had never had this therapy, lower synovial fluid substance P levels (an inflammation related chemical) were seen, though not statistically significant. Thus, use of Swarna bhasma in arthritis is not proven. 

2) Can Swarna bhasma be used for skin problems? 

Use of Swarna bhasma suppressed production of a chemical called prostaglandin in vitro. In addition, in vitro, gold inhibited two human skin epidermis enzymes. These findings point to several potential mechanisms for gold’s impact in skin conditions like pemphigus with actions like disruption of the inflammatory cycle and inhibition of skin enzymes implicated in blister production. 

3) What are the common side effects of gold therapy? 

There are at least three types of gold-induced side effects: painful neuropathies,i.e. nerve pain which are sometimes accompanied by sleeplessness and anxiety; peripheral neuropathy, i.e. damage to peripheral nerves of the limbs; and encephalopathy, including symptoms such as melancholy and psychosis.  

4) How is gold used in detection of cancer? 

Gold nanoparticles cling to cancer cells. They sparkle and are excellent at dispersing and absorbing light. This helps in quicker detection of cancer cells using gold. Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) is a protein found in many cancer cells. They have Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) all over their body. Usually, healthy cells do not usually express the protein in the same way. 

5) How does Swarna bhasma show immunomodulatory effects? 

Immunoglobulin-secreting cells are inhibited by gold. The activation of different complement pathways is inhibited by gold. Swarna bhasma inhibits numerous immune responses to antigens. The extent of gold’s immunoregulatory effects is unknown, and the relationship between these effects and its therapeutic properties is uncertain.

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