|Year : 2013 | Volume
| Issue : 4 | Page : 199-204
Physico-chemical study of Vaikrānta bhasma
R Tripathi1, AS Rathore1, BL Mehra2, R Raghubir3
1 Department of Rasa Shastra and Bhaishajya Kalpana, R.G.G.P.G Ayurvedic College and Hospital, Paprola, Himachal Pradesh, India
2 Department of Kaya Chikitsa, R.G.G.P.G Ayurvedic College and Hospital, Paprola, Himachal Pradesh, India
3 Department of Pharmacology, Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
|Date of Web Publication||6-May-2014|
10/105, Awas Vikas Yojna-3, Near Pollution Control Board Office, Jhunsi, Allahabad - 211 019, Uttar Pradesh
Source of Support: Department of Ayurveda, H.P. and CCRAS., Conflict of Interest: None
Background: Vaikrānta has very important place in Rasa śāstra and is placed under Mahārasa and Upratna group. It has been mentioned that vaikrānta can be used in the place of diamond, which is a very precious stone and whose use is beyond the limit of the common man. Vaikrānta possesses pharmacological and therapeutic properties similar to diamond, but still very few researchers have worked on it.
Aims and Objectives: The main aim of the present study is to analyze vaikrānta bhasma by employing various organoleptic methods mentioned in Ayurvedic science along with analysis as per tools available today.
Settings and Design: In the present study, vaikrānta bhasma was prepared according to method mentioned in Rasa Ratna Samuccaya. Final product is prepared according to classical parameters described in Ayurvedic science.
Materials and Methods: Ayurvedic scholars have described various parameters for the qualitative evaluation of vaikrānta bhasma, but all those are subjective in nature and cannot be evaluated numerically for reproducibility of the result. With this in mind, in the present study, tests as per Ayurvedic science and analytical parameters such as scanning electron microscopy, energy dispersive X-ray analysis, Fourier transform infrared spectrometry and inductively coupled plasma spectrometry were adopted to analyze the final product.
Results and Conclusions: Data suggests that vaikrānta bhasma is a multi-mineral compound, which contains iron and silica as major constituents and others are present as trace elements. The data obtained in this study suggest that quality specifications for vaikrānta bhasma can be developed using tests described in Ayurvedic science along with analytical tools available today.
Keywords: Analysis, physico-chemical, Vaikranta bhasma
|How to cite this article:|
Tripathi R, Rathore A S, Mehra B L, Raghubir R. Physico-chemical study of Vaikrānta bhasma. Ancient Sci Life 2013;32:199-204
| Introduction|| |
Ayurveda is the system of medicine which first recognized the importance of metals and minerals for curing ailments. A careful observation of texts of Rasa śāstra (a branch of Ayurveda) reveals that it not only covers the entire field of inorganic pharmaceutical preparations, but also specifically explains how the metal and mineral preparations are to be prepared and used.
Bhasmas are herbo-mineral preparations, obtained by repeated calcination of metals and minerals, compatible with the body system, the tissue cells and the normal physiology of the body. Bhasmas are such forms of Ayurvedic medicines in which the bioavailability of the drug is maximum and therapeutic efficacy is increased, owing to the addition of other organic, as well as inorganic substances during their preparation.
In the present literature of Rasa śāstra, there are controversies regarding various substances such as Capala, Rasaka and vaikrānta etc., vaikrānta is controversial today because it is represented by different minerals, which are identified as fluorspar, feldspar, quartz, tourmaline etc.
By taking into account all the properties described in classical texts and using information from geology, gemology and mineralogy, it is proved that tourmaline is the only mineral, which should be used as vaikrānta. Black tourmaline (iron tourmaline or schorl) should be taken for therapeutic purpose and placed under Mahārasa group while other varieties of tourmaline should be used for astrology and placed in Upratna group. 
| Materials and Methods|| |
In the present research work, vaikrānta bhasma was prepared according to method mentioned in Rasa Ratna Samuccaya. vaikrānta (black tourmaline) is purified in Kulattha (Dolichos biflorus0) decoction by heating and quenching method. This process is repeated seven times. For the Māraṇa (calcination) of purified vaikrānta, pure gandhaka (sulphur purified using cow's milk)  and lemon juice (q. s.) were procured. Equal amounts of pure vaikrānta and pure sulphur were triturated with lemon juice till a homogenous paste was formed. After triturating, small pellets of uniform size and thickness were prepared and dried in sunlight. Pellets were kept inside a shallow earthen pot and another shallow earthen pot was inverted over it. The joint between the two pots was sealed with fuller's earth and cotton cloth seven times and dried. The properly sealed and dried earthen pots were subjected to Gaja puṭa system of heating with cow dung cake. It took eight puṭa for complete conversion of material into bhasma.  Initially, the weight of vaikrānta was 185 g., while the prepared vaikrānta bhasma weighed 270 g. Yield after each puṭa is summarized in [Table 1].
To reveal the total profile of vaikrānta bhasma, both tests as per Ayurvedic sciences and analytical parameters were adopted. As far as bhasma is concerned, ancient scholars of Ayurveda have described various parameters for its qualitative evaluation, but all those are subjective in nature and cannot be evaluated numerically for reproducibility in the result. So, in the present study, tests as prescribed in Ayurvedic science, namely color, taste, touch, odor, Ni?candratva (lustrelessness), Rekhāpϋrṇatā (quality of entering into grooves of fingers) and Vāritaratva (quality of floating on water) were performed.
Analytical parameters such as field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM), energy dispersive X-ray analysis (EDAX), (FESEM QUANTA 200 FEG from FEI Netherlands), Fourier transform infrared spectrometry (FT-IR) (Spectrum GX, Perkin Elmer), particle size distribution (PSD) (Helos-BF, SYMPATEC, Germany) and inductively coupled plasma spectrometry (ICP) (Optima - 3300 RL, Perkin Elmer, USA) were performed.
| Results|| |
Tests as per Ayurvedic science and their results
Color: Dark brown
The bhasma is taken in a Petri dish and observed for any luster in daylight through a magnifying glass. No luster was observed in the bhasma.
A pinch of bhasma is rubbed between the thumb and index finger. It was observed that the bhasma enters into the grooves of the finger and was not easily washed out from the grooves.
A small amount of the prepared bhasma is sprinkled over still water in a beaker. It is found that the bhasma particles floated over the surface of the water.
Analytical tests and their results
FESEM and EDAX
Vaikrānta bhasma is coated with gold and trimmed to an appropriate size to fit in the specimen chamber and mounted on the holder. EDAX is the technique used for identifying the elemental composition of a specimen or an area of interest thereof. The EDAX analysis system works as an integrated feature of the SEM.
FESEM micrographs [Figure 1] of the vaikrānta bhasma indicates that it belongs to the group of mineral powders. Particles of bhasma are granulated, unequal and unarranged. The clustering nature of the bhasma was observed and it was due to the fine nature of these amorphous/semi-crystalline particles. The bhasma was well-agglomerated in the size range of 5-20 μm and is shown in the Figures with increasing magnifications.
|Figure 1: Field emission scanning electron microscopy micrographs of vaikrānta bhasma (black tourmaline ash)|
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FESEM-EDAX micrograph [Figure 2] suggested that bhasma belonged to the complex group of minerals containing C, O, Na, Mg, Al, Si, S, K, Fe, B, Cr, Mn, and Zn in different proportions.
FT-IR is an effective analytical tool for identification of an unknown sample screening and profiling samples. The sample is irradiated by a broad spectrum of infrared light and after Fourier transformation the level of absorbance at a particular frequency is plotted. The resulting spectrum is characteristic of the organic molecules present in the sample.
In the Vaikranta bhasma [Figure 3] sample, stretching/bending at 3409.78 cm−1 , 2923.98 cm−1 , 2854.27 cm−1 , 1629.40 cm−1 , 1383.15 cm−1 , 1083.04 cm−1 , 1031.04 cm−1 , 687.09 cm−1 , 628.88 cm−1 , 539.20 cm−1 , 477.90 cm−1 , 423.46 cm−1 frequencies were detected. Functional class and their assignment at various vibrations and stretching are summarized in [Table 2].
|Table 2: Functional class and assignment at various vibrations and stretching|
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|Figure 3: Fourier transform infrared spectrometry pattern of Vaikrānta bhasma (black tourmaline ash)|
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Laser diffraction is the most widely used technique for particle size analysis. Instruments employed in this technique are easy to use and particularly appreciable for their capability to analyze a broad range, in a variety of dispersion media.
PSD report [Figure 4] shows the distribution of the particles around a mean. 10% of vaikrānta bhasma was below 5.12 μm, 16% below 7.77 μm, 50% below 26.61 μm, 84% below 62.10 μm, 90% below 72.96 μm and 99% of the material was below 114.16 μm. The volumetric mean diameter was 33.8 μm. Data has been summarized in [Table 3].
The ICP allows determination of elements with atomic mass ranges from 7 to 250. This encompasses Li to U. It is a type of emission spectroscopy that uses the ICP to produce excited atoms and ions that emit electromagnetic radiation at wavelengths characteristic of a particular element. The observations are presented in [Table 4].
| Discussion|| |
A analytical study was carried out with a view to know particular chemical configuration of the final product, i.e., vaikrānta bhasma. On organoleptic evaluation, bhasma showed dark brown color, smooth, with no precipitable coarse powder and no specific odor. Touch indicates physical properties such as smoothness, softness and fineness of bhasma. Specific color of bhasma indicates the formation of specific compounds because each chemical compound possesses specific color. All the classical analytical parameters have definite significance. Vāritaratva test indicates lightness while rekhāpϋrṇatva test indicates micro fineness of the bhasma.
Vaikrānta bhasma was scanned under FESEM to know the shape, size, arrangement and texture of particles. Bhasma was well agglomerated. Most of the particles were very tiny (size between 5 μm and 20 μm), unarranged and irregular in shape with amorphous/semi-crystalline nature. EDAX report showed the presence of C, O, Na, Mg, Al, Si, S, K, Fe, B, Cr, Mn and Zn in different proportions, which proves that vaikrānta bhasma is a multi-mineral compound. Presence of these elements also defines the Vṛṣya (aphrodisiac) and Rasāyana (rejuvenative) properties  of vaikrānta bhasma. Moreover, many modern studies have proved the role of these elements in improving semen quality.
PSD report showed that the particle size of vaikrānta bhasma was 5.12 μm at ×10 and 114.16 μm at ×99. It means 10% of bhasma was below 5.12 μm and 99% of material was below 114.16 μm. The volumetric mean diameter was 33.8 μm. PSD results designate that the small particle size can be achieved by proper levigation, trituration and incineration. Size of particles also proves the Ayurvedic concept of śata puṭi (100 times calcinations) and sahasra puṭi (1,000 times calcinations) bhasma for enhancing bioavailability and efficacy of drug by minimizing doses and associated adverse effects, hence ensuring safe therapeutic usage.
FT-IR detected the stretching/bending range of various functional groups from 3409.78 cm−1 to 423.46 cm−1 in the vaikrānta bhasma sample.
In vaikrānta bhasma sample, ICP detected elements such as Fe, Si, S, Mg, Al, Ca and B in different proportions, expressed in mg/kg. Hg was not detected in the sample. [Table 4] shows that Iron and Silica were detected as major constituents and others as trace elements. A number of trace elements play an important role in the metabolism. These are called essential elements. In general, it may be mentioned that inter-relationship of several elements in their bioavailable form suggests their synergistic or antagonistic effect in the body.
| Conclusion|| |
Physical and chemical properties help develop quality in the drug product. There should be fixed standards of physico-chemical features to ensure the desired action. This becomes more important for medicines of Ayurveda, due to vast variation in sources of raw drugs and wide diversity in the manufacturing procedures. Vaikrānta bhasma contains iron and silica as major constituents and other trace elements in bioavailable form. Impact of trace elements on the overall pharmacological action cannot be ruled out. The data obtained in this study suggests that quality specifications for vaikrānta bhasma can be developed using tests described in Ayurveda along with analytical tools available today.
The mineral vaikrānta has an important place in Rasa śāstra and used as a substitute to diamond. However, very few research works have been carried out so far. This study is an attempt to bring forth the physico-chemical characters of vaikrānta bhasma. Analysis of more samples from different batches with variable composition and/or raw materials needs to be performed as a step forward to characterization and standardization of Vaikrānta bhasma.
| Acknowledgement|| |
The authors wish to gratefully acknowledge the help of Department of Ayurveda, H.P. and Central Council for Research in Ayurveda and Siddha (CCRAS) for financial assistance to conduct this study and Dr. Rahul Sharma, Ph.D., IIT- Roorkee for his inptus.
| References|| |
|1.||Rathore AS. Standardization of Vaikranta bhasma, in relation to its identification, experimental studies and clinical observations, Ph.D. Thesis. Jamnagar: IPGT and RA, Gujarat Ayurved University; 1994. |
|2.||The Ayurvedic Formulatory of India. 1 st ed., Vol. VII., Part I. New Delhi: Dept. of AYUSH Govt. of India; 2008. p. 8-9. |
|3.||Vagbhatta Rasa, Rasa Ratna Samuchchaya. Commentary by Prof. Kulkarni A. Vol. I. Ch. 2. New Delhi: Meherchand Lachhamandas Publications; 1998. p. 27. |
|4.||Vagbhatta Rasa, Rasa Ratna Samuchchaya. Commentary by Prof. Kulkarni DA. Vol. I. Ch. 2. New Delhi: Meherchand Lachhamandas Publications; 1998. p. 26. |
[Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4]
[Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]