Review of Ayurvedic Medicines – Minerals

The section is a review of the various purified mineral preparations used in Ayurveda.  Before considering their use, please read the Important Special Caution.
Abhraka Bhasma (purified mica oxide)

img_0429There are four kinds of mica oxide: white, pink, yellow & black.  Only the black variety is used as medicine.  Within the category of black varieties, there are many additional varieties that reveal themselves when placed in fire.  Some separate into layers, some make a hissing sound, some make a popping or cracking sound and some make no changes in color and sound.  This last group is called vajrabhraka, and is the one that is used in medicine.  Unpurified and unoxidized mica can be a cause of heart disease, anemia, edema, skin diseases, and stones of the gallbladder, kidney and bladder.  Purified mica Bhasma, the red powder of mica oxide, is used in heart disease, anemia, impotence, and skin diseases.  It is restorative and alterative, and is used for increasing milk in pregnant women, longevity, and for eye diseases.  It can be used in any chronic tridoshaja disease.  The typical dose is 12.5 milligrams.

Gandhaka Bhasma (purified sulfur oxide)

Unpurified sulfur can cause hot sensations, blood defects and mental disorders.  Gandhaka Bhasma is used for skin diseases, blood defects, lead poisoning, and mercury poisoning.  Use only 12.5 milligrams to 1 gram per dose.

Haritala Bhasma (orpiment / purified yellow arsenic trisulphide)

Unpurified orpiment can cause heat, skin diseases, and death.  Purified orpiment is used in skin diseases, gout, and blood defects, and also as a Rasayana.

Hingulu Bhasma (cinnabar / purified red cinnabar sulphide)

img_0459Unpurified cinnabar can cause urinary diseases, delusions and mental disorders.  Cinnabar Bhasma is good for mentality and strongly promotes good blood circulation.  It is a Rasayana.  It is used in rheumatism, fevers, urinary diseases, and liver and spleen diseases.

Kajjali (mercury powder ground with pure sulphur for purification)

Kajjali is mercury powder ground with pure sulphur until a black powder forms.  The mercury is almost completely inert in this form, but still has potential for misuse and must be prescribed by a trained Ayurvedic doctor.  It is a restorative useful for all three Doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha), and is especially good for increasing shukradhatu (semen).

Lauha Bhasma (purified iron oxide)

Unpurified and unoxidized iron can be the cause of heart disease, leprosy, colic, impotence, constipation and gallbladder, bladder and kidney stones.  Purified and oxidized Lauha Bhasma is used in anemia, hepatitis, liver disease, and edema.

Manashila Bhasma (purified realgar)

Realgar is a natural mineral product.  Unpurified realgar can cause arsenic poisoning, constipation, dysurea, and skin diseases.  Purified realgar is used as a strong anti-toxin and anti-poison, especially used in skin diseases, asthma cough, and chronic fever.  It is widely used as an external application for eye diseases for the same reasons.

Mandura Bhasma (purified iron ore oxide)

Mandura Bhasma is astringent and bitter-like in taste, and cooling in action.  It is used in splenitis, enlarged spleen (Plihabriddhi), enlarged liver (Yakritvriddhi), hepatitis (Kamala), anemia (Pandu), edema (Sotha), blood loss (Raktaksaya) and itching (Kandu).  It is usually given with honey or Triphala decoction (three fruits compound).  For swelling, it is given with Punarnava decoction (Boerhavia difusa).

Rasakarpura (white crystal of mercury sulphide / mineral camphore)

Rasakarpura is made by taking mercury and sulphur and burning in fire.  The resultant combination is mixed with mineral salt then heated in a bottle with hot sand until camphor-like white crystals form in the neck of the bottle.  It is toxic, and only qualified Vaidyas can prescribe it, and even then only in minute doses.  It is illegal to use in many countries.  Used for skin diseases, blood defects and worms.

Samudraphenam (sea foam / Sepia species)

Samudraphenam is the Sanskrit name for the cuttlefish bone that is found floating on sea-water (thus called sea foam), then collected and dried into a layered natural product.  It is astringent in taste, and reduces Kapha dosha.  For its drying effect, it is used as a powder in otorrhea, and in pastes for skin diseases, psoriasis etc.  For the same reason it is a major ingredient in external formulas for certain eye diseases.

Sauvarchalam (black salt)

Black salt is made by combining mineral salt (saindhavam) and sodium bicarbonate (sarjikshara).  It is good for heart disease, indigestion, bloated stomach, tumors, and colic pain.

Sauvira Bhasma (purified antimony sulfide)

Sauvira is a mineral product found in the form of heavy black rock.  It has two varieties, sauviranjan and srotoja-anjan.  Both are used similarly.  It is astringent in taste with a cooling effect.  Purified antimony made into a microfine powder is used in hemorrhage, menorrhagia, hiccup, and vomiting.  Unpurified, it causes lead poisoning, colic, arthritis, skin diseases, paralysis, tumors and nerve defects.  A collyrium made of the purified powder is used to prevent cataract formation.

Shankha Bhasma (purified conch shell oxide)

Shankha Bhasma is the white powder of conch shell oxide.  Used in diarrhea, duodenal ulcer and acidity.  Externally used as a plaster for acne.


Shilajita is “ejected” out of rocks during hot weather in the Himalayas.  It is bitter and slightly pungent in taste, and mildly warming in action.  It has the distinct odor of cow urine.  Shilajita strengthens immunity, reduces fatigue, slows aging, tonifies the brain, cleanses the blood, and strengthens the liver and kidneys.  It is a Rasayana and an aphrodisiac, given to people suffering from chronic bronchitis, digestive disease, diseases of the nerves, and fractures.  Shilajita is a brain restorative, and is used to purify the urinary tract, kidneys and the genitals.  It is anti-fatigue and anti-diabetic, used in diabetes, anemia, aging, bronchitis, skin diseases, liver disease, constipation, dyspepsia, and all urinary diseases.  It strengthens the effects of other herbs (yogavaha).

Shukti Bhasma (oyster shell ash /Ostrea gigas)

Shukti Bhasma is alkaline in taste.  The shell is purified and burnt into ash before use.  It is used for gastritis, duodenal ulcer, splenitis, hepatitis, stomach acidity, and kidney stones.  It is often added to hypertension formulas.  It is diuretic and has medicinal value in the treatment of some types of blurred vision.  Used externally as a plaster for erysipelas and blisters.

Soraka (potassium chloride)

Soraka is used as a diuretic and for edema.

Sphutikarika (purified alum)

Sphutikarika is a natural product extracted from Saurastra clay in the form of a crystal.  It is astringent and acidic in taste.  In general, it is used in the form of a honey paste for gargling or washing, for the purpose of stopping bleeding, or to treat tonsillitis, stomatitis, and prolapses of the anus or uterus.  In the case of conjunctivitis, eye drops made of purified alum are very effective.  Alum is also used in scabies, ringworm, eczema, erysipelas and freckles.

Tamra Bhasma (purified copper oxide)

Unpurified and unoxidized copper can be a cause of vomiting, dizziness, fainting and diarrhea.  Tamra Bhasma is used for vomiting, dizziness, fainting and diarrhea.  In general, it reduces Pitta.  It can also be used for any cranial disease.

Vanga Bhasma (purified tin oxide)

Vanga Bhasma is the white powder of tin oxide.  Unpurified tin oxide causes leprosy, tumors, urinary diseases, anemia, and blood defects.  Purified Vanga is salt-like, bitter and astringent in taste, and good for fatty defects, urinary diseases and anemia.  It is also a Rasayana and brain restorative.

Yashada Bhasma (purified zinc oxide)

Unpurified and unoxidized zinc can be the cause of tumors, urinary diseases, and debility and skin diseases.  Purified and oxidized zinc is used for urinary diseases, especially urinary frequency, for menorrhagia and for Vata imbalance.  It has a very constrictory effect on the mucous membranes.

Yavakshara alkaline ash (barley plant / Hordeum vulgare)

Yavakshara is a diuretic medicine made of barley plant ash.  It is used for dysuria, painful urination, kidney stones, and cystitis and to flush the kidneys.  It is always used with plenty of water to drink.  Due to its power, it is used in minute quantities.  Overdose can cause nausea.

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