Are All Ayurveda Drugs 100 % Safe

As Claimed?

Due to the failure of modern medicines to cure diseases like Cancer, Diabetes, and Arthritis, and the yoga gurus like Baba Ramdev Ayurveda drugs are becoming very popular in all over the world. The online purchasing of medicines is a popular way to get rid of physical problems all over the world now. According to official data produced in an international symposium on cancer and Ayurveda at Gujarat cancer research institute in November 2007, information was given that as many as 60 to 70 % of cancer patients rely on herbal medicines as chief or supportive therapy even in Canada or USA.  

You might have read the latest issue of JAMA. There is an article entitled "Lead, Mercury, and Arsenic in US and Indian manufactured Ayurvedic Medicines Sold via the Internet" JAMA. 2008;300(8):915-923. It Context that Lead, mercury, and arsenic have been detected in a substantial proportion of Indian-manufactured traditional Ayurvedic medicines. Metals may be present due to the practice of Rasa Shastra (combining herbs with metals, minerals, and gems). Whether toxic metals are present in both US and Indian manufactured Ayurvedic Medicines are unknown.

Luckily this article has not asked for ban of these drugs neither they have been banned yet. But this is the high time to discuss this issue. Are all Ayurveda drugs 100 % safe as claimed?

I would like to draw your kind attention in this regards. The classics of Ayurveda has never ever claimed that all Ayurveda drugs are 100 % non toxic. Even the poison of Snake is used as medicine in Ayurveda. This has been a myth that all Ayurveda drugs are 100% safe and can be consumed without any expert guidance or supervision. No wonder, 80% of total sale of Ayurveda drugs is OTC means over the counter! Most of the patients follow the articles published in news papers or by Babas.

This has created myth for Ayurveda even in scientific fraternity. Many a times patients consumes drugs containing Nag bhasma or Parada i.e. mercury for years and years and when they approach with chronic toxicity of such metals, modern practitioners always defame the science Ayurveda. On the contrary, Ayurveda has always prescribed the drugs with precautions, and cautions. So it is always advised to take even Ayurvedic treatment under medical supervision only.

The definition of TOXICITY or Heavy metals is relative. Toxicity depends upon the body reaction, Prakriti, dose and duration of the drug administered etc.

We all have observed that the NRIs or foreigners, who come to India, can't digest Indian foods or water either and as a result most of the times they rely on Mineral waters only. And on the contrary, almost 80% of Indians are still using that raw water for consumption. And they are comparatively healthy!. Ayurveda has termed it Oksatmya; means which is non-toxic due to practice. We have read the stories of Vishakanyas who were being given Visha i.e. toxins since their childhood and even if they kiss someone, he or she will die due to the Visha. This is the best example of Oksatmya.

The detectable presence of these elements in dietary products and food or water is not the same as toxicity. These elements are present in many of our everyday foods and as shown in this study, Ayurvedic dietary supplements. In the case of foods and herbal products their presence can occur because:

  1. they are naturally occurring in the soil, water and air,
  2. from pollution as a result of human activity where in both cases theses elements are taken up by the plants,
  3. from contamination in the manufacturing process, and
  4. these elements are intentionally added.

Toxicity is the result of too much of the specific form of metal being ingested over time. But the most important point is, in Ayurveda or Rasashashtra, any metal is never prescribed as raw or virgin metal. It has always been processed with the procedures like Shodhana, Marana, Jarana, Amritikarana, Bhasmikarana, Satvapatana, Lauhitikarana etc. and most of them are used in sulphide form which is most suitable to the body.

Some times these procedures may need 5 years! Moreover there are many standards or parameters, to check it before consumption like Rekhapurnatva, Unnamatva, desired color etc. But I really doubt how many pharmaceutical companies follow these procedures and the standard protocols even after getting the license of good manufacturing practices, as many a times it happens with the pharmaceutical companies.

So for Indian patients, here are few tips, when they consume Rasashashtra or Ayurveda products.

  • Read the label carefully of the product you are using.
  • If there is a drug named as Nag Bhasma, Parada Bhasma or Somala Bhasma, then don't use it for more than 21 days.
  • Regular use of Harde or Haritaki is contra indicated during pregnancy for longer period by Ayurveda.
  • Long term use of Drugs containing Bhallataka, Lasun, Karen are contra indicated for the patients with Pitta Prakriti.
  • Long term use of Drugs like Vasa (ardusi), Neem, are contra indicated for Vaata Prakriti.
  • Long term use of Drugs like Shatavari is contraindicated for the patients with chronic cough.
  • Long term use of Drugs like shatavari, may cause constipation.
  • Long term and much use of Milk of buffalo is contra indicated in patients with constipation, diabetes, asthma and skin diseases.
  • Regular and long term use of Isabgul may cause loss of appetite and digestive problems.
  • Long term use of Suvarna patri (sonamukhi) can weaken the intestine's natural movements and may cause habit. (many drugs sold in market like Kayamchurna contains such habit forming drugs)

According to the guidance of government of India drugs containing following ingredients must be consumed under strict medical supervision of Ayurveda expert.

Drugs of vegetable origin

  • Ahipena Papaver somniferurn Linn.
  • Arka Colotropis gigantean (linn.) R. Br. Ex. Ait.
  •  Bhallataka Semecarpus anacardium Linn. f.
  •  Bhanga Cannabis eativa Linn.
  •  Danti Baliospermum montanum Mall. Arg.
  •  Dhattura Datura metal Linn.
  •  Gunj Abrus
  •  Jaipala (Jayapala) Croton tiglium Linn.
  •  Karaveera Rerium indicum Mill.
  •  Langali Gloriosa superba Linn.
  •  Parasilka Yavani Hyocyamus inibar Linn.
  •  Snuhi Euphorbia neriifolia Linn.
  •  Vatsanabha Acontium chasmanthum Stapfex Holm.
  •  Vishmushti Strychnox nuxvolnica Linn.
  •  Shringivisha Acontium chasmanthum Stapfex Holm.

Drugs of Animal Origin

  • Sarpa Visha Snake poison.

Drugs of Mineral Origin

  • Gauripashna Arsenic
  • Hartala Arseno sulphide
  • Manahashila Arseno sulphide
  • Parada Mercury
  • Rasa Karpura Hydragyri subchloridum
  • Tuttha Copper sulphate
  • Hingula Cinnabar
  • Sindura Red oxide of lead
  • Girisindura Red oxide of mercury. 

Following list is examples of few popular drugs which are being taken as self medication by the patients but it must be consumed under medical supervision of a qualified Vaidya:

  • Vaat vidhvamsana Rasa
  • Aarogyavardhini Rasa
  • Yogaraja guggulu
  • Mahayograj Guggulu
  • Tribhuvan Kirti Rasa
  • Bruhad or Laghu Suvarna Vasant Malini Rasa
  • Laxmivilas Rasa
  • Panchamrita Parpati
  • TamraBhasma
  • Trivanga Bhasma
  • Simhanada Guggulu
  • SamirPannaga Rasa
  • Chandraprabha vati
  • Swasakuthar Rasa
  • Makardhwaja Rasa etc.

The patients who are consuming any Bhasma regularly they should analyse the Bhasma before consuming it. Followings are few easy methods to check the qualities of Bhasmas,

Varitarattwa is that specialty in which the Bhasma of some substances floats on the surface of the water and does not sink in the water. According to the Rasa Tantraic concepts, a perfectly prepared Bhasma when sprinkled in a beaker full of water, floats upon the surface and does not sink in the water, it is known as Varitara. According to the Rasa Shastric every metal or other substances are to be converted into Bhasma form. They all are heavy in comparison to water, and when they come into contact of the fire and get converted into Bhasma form, they become light and the heaviness is destroyed. They attain a fine state of division and on account of the surface tension they float on the water. Ideally bhasmas like Suvarna, Rajata, Tamra, Lauha, Nag or Vanga should float on the water. If it sunk in the water, then it is not properly prepared.

Rekhapurnatva: This is one of the important criterions of the examination of the perfect ness of the Bhasmas. The filling of the thread grooves of the surfaces of the first finger and the thumb is known as Rekha Purnattwa. When a small quantity of the Bhasma is picked up between the first finger and thumb and on rubbing, if the thready grooves allow penetrating that Bhasma, it is said that the Bhasma is having Rekha Purnattwa.

Unam is also an adjective attached to a perfectly prepared Bhasma Though basically, the test of Unattwa is similar to the test of Varitarattwa, and there is a little modification. After examining the Varitarattwa of a Bhasma, when small food grains are delicately placed over the layer of the Bhasma, which is floating over the water level and if the food grains do not sink and continue to float, the Bhasma is supposed to be Una i.e. very less in gravity, and as such it is just an advance test of Varitarattwa and to decide comparatively more Laghuta.

Nirdhumattwa is the next criterion for the assessment of the perfectness of the Bhasma. Nirdhumattwa refers to a special in which anything put on burning fire and non-observance of the smoke thereof. The same meaning is applied in the context of Bhasma Pariksha. A small quantity of the Bhasma to be tested after subjecting to specific number of Putas, is put on the fire and when no smoke of any type is observed, it is inferred that the Bhasma is prepared perfectly. If the Bhasma is not prepared completely, the Apakwa substances will remit yellow or white colored smoke.

Gatarasatva: One of the criteria of assessing the perfect Bhasma has been considered to be the absence of taste in the Bhasma and that will be free from all the side effects.

Ishtavarnattwa: Ishta Varnattwa means the attainment of an appropriate colour. In the context of Bhasmas also the attainment of the specific color corresponding to the basic metals or substances has been considered as a quality of the Bhasma. It has been expounded that whatever method of Bhasma preparation is adopted, with a little modification the Bhasma will have a specific type of colour. In Yoga Ratnakara, the standard colors of the Bhasma have been discussed extensively. It has been stated that the Bhasma of gold attains the color resembling to the Champaka flower; the Bhasma of silver and copper are attaining the black color, while the Bhasma of Naga attains the color resembling to the pigeon neck while Vanga covers into white color if the Bhasma is prepared perfectly and correctly. Generally the Bhasma of iron, or iron containing ores acquires a red colour and as such the Loha Bhasma, Kanta Bhasma and Kashisa Bhasma, Vimala Bhasma or Makshika Bhasma, on account of their iron content, attain the red colour. The Abhraka Bhasma attains brick red color on account of its iron content. Similarly, Swarna Makshika which has about 30% iron component attains the Jamun fruit color. Similarly, other Bhasmas are also having different colors and on account of those colors, their perfection is decided.

Chandrika is the metallic luster and its absence is considered as a criterion for assessing the perfection of a Bhasma. Various Rasa Tantric substances are having a natural luster or shine and after conversion into Bhasma form that luster should go. This absence of natural luster is an indication that the specific metal or the metallic ore has converted into Bhasma form. A small quantity of the Bhasma is taken in between the thumb and the index finger and rubbed vigorously. Then the portion stuck in the grooves of these fingers is exposed to the sunlight and viewed very carefully. If very tiny shining particles are observed on the fingers, it is presumed that the metal or the mineral or the Ore has not converted into the Bhasma form perfectly whereas its absence indicates about the perfection of the Bhasma.

Mriduttwa: The softness is denoted by the adjective Mriduttwa. This is perception through the touch sense. All the minerals, metals etc. are Bhoomija or Parthiva Dravyas and the ancient scholars have said that the Parthiva Dravyas contain Guru, Kathin, Khara etc. qualities. When these substances attain a Mrita state or Bhasma form, they loss their physical characteristics and as such the Kharasparsha of metals gets lost and the Bhasmas are felt soft and smooth.

Information provided in this article is for the sole purpose of imparting education on Ayurveda and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have a medical condition, please consult your physician.  


More by :  Dr. Joban Modha

Top | Ayurveda

Views: 3497      Comments: 11

Comment What is maximum quantity of ras bhasma to eat?

Rajesh Nirmal
31-Mar-2016 00:43 AM

Comment Dear sir,

i am ayurvedic practioner whem i am make ayurvedic rasa, how to protect them long time, any chemical use in this rasa

manohar Gangurde

29-Feb-2016 04:26 AM

Comment Dear sir,

I have suffering with a chronic bug infection in bones and flesh. I am using some ayurvedic medicines but the are not curing my disease. my bone and flesh are completely get infected by tiny infecting bugs.

Pls advice me or give ur mobile number so that i can contact u

Thanking u

11-May-2015 00:23 AM

Comment Remya and other blind supporters of ayurveda with half knowledge. Ayurveda is ancient science.It has its own principles which can be always validated even using modern scientific principles.Ayurveda like all other ancient sanskrit text says half knowledge harms people more than ignorance.
Remember taking over the counter allopathic medicines from chemists are a great cause of such side effects and ill effects. Digestive pills are taking rich spicy meals or parties or festival as precautions :) or fever or cold or headache or such minor ailments are very harmful and later we blame allopathic system for those ill effects. On top of this , lot of doctors follow medical representatives suggestions for their particular medicines for commissions. Or they actually do not follow or do not have good knowledge of medicines too. They give same medicine to patients of any health conditions or intake capacity. There are lot other factors that affect the effecacy of allopathic system.

Coming back to basics
Ayurveda does not create medicines but collect naturally occurring materials and use them as medicines after thousands of years of research. What are these naturally occurring medicines? They may be plant origin, mineral origin or animal origin. The first category is most common whereas the last one is least. What are these plant origin materials? They are basically chemicals excreted and / or secreted by plants. These are waste materials of plants that is used as medicines. Waste materials are toxic and hence discarded by plant itself. Ayurveda has toxic effects of these medicines on humans but a cure can be obtained. Ayurveda has its dosages. It has side effects too. It has a course. Everything like common allopathic.One difference is that allopathic science create these chemicals in laboratory. Chemically we can create any substance artificially. Pharmacy is the science who researches these artificially created medicines, tests their bio toxicity and tries to reduce them by making stabler forms.

For example, a herb A has 21 alkaloids or medicines whatever you call them. Chemically , that herb is analyzed and those alkaloids are synthesized in laboratory. Then the effect of those are studied on first animals and then humans. Useless or harmful alkaloids are rejected, useful effective alkaloids are further researched, their dosage determined, their toxicity reduced, more stabilized forms synthesized.Lot of work. Thus rare herbs can be made available to common man in better forms. So in that way allopathy is just a modernized form of Ayurveda. Same concept applies for mineral and animals origin medicines too. As every thing is this universe, there are negative side of every system. Due to bad cheap method of preparation by some companies, medicines are not in pure form or harmful things are present sometimes.

Credit is that Ayurveda did that thousands of years ago which modern medicines did just a decade back. Ayurveda is one of those complete system of medicine discovered so early so effectively. Hardly any other civilization have such a complete system. But yes, by this time, we should have understand that Ayurvedic medicines need a registered ayurvedic physician prescribing medicines as required, with proper dosage and duration. Otherwise harm may occur.

If you consider alternative medicines like homeopathy, acupuncture, etc , their principles are quite different from ayurveda and allopathy. Though ayurveda has a small sub branch that follows homeopathic system too. but that was not so vastly explored.

This is such a sensitive topic that in such few words it is not possible to explain more. If anyone need any more specific clarifications or details, contact me personally at indernil@gmail.com.

Indranil Nag
03-Jun-2014 14:13 PM

Comment I am suffering from Grahani IBS now under medication of kutajarisht,kutaj ghanvati,bivaleh,Takra,Butter milk after 6 days feels well I am doing yoga also by mala is ok but feeling Agni mandya & Amla pitta ,I have also recommendation of panchamrat parpati feels scary to use as Mercury,Sulphara,Abhraka in mettalic forms as severe side effects if not prepare well please tell me the safest company who follows the strict quality to preparation as recommendation & quality check as the first time user.

Mahesh Khamitkar
25-Nov-2013 23:18 PM

Comment Ayurveda does not claim that it "uses only non toxic ingredients", however if these ingredients are treated as per the strict instructions of the hoary texts then the formulation becomes free from bio-toxicity. Yes we use Arsenic, mercury, Sulphur and various other toxic elements and poisons. Unlike allopathy these are treated very carefully and rendered completely harmless. Do not just go by the presence of these toxins in your body but please feel free to measure the damage caused by these toxins on the body.... Also unlike allopathy , where every single drug has a side effect, Ayurveda does not have any side effects... Just like there are quacks who sell spurious drugs in allopathy you do have Manufacturers who make fake Ayurvedic drugs that do harm peoples health; but that's just an aberration and not the norm!

19-Aug-2013 05:32 AM

Comment This article about Ayurvedic & Allopathik medicines and their effects is an eye opener. Who should Not take what Ayurvedic drugs List is very very informative. Can some one make such a list for ALL Ayurvedi Drugs? I t would be a tremendous help and guidance to patients who are regularly taking them. Even the time limit / duration of taking them will help mentioning what drug will increase or reduce what such as Vaat, Pitta or Kapha.

19-Oct-2012 09:12 AM

Comment I agree partly with Remya. As such, there is no side effects of ayurveda, if the composition of the medicine is rightly done with all quality ingredients. However it is not the case with allopathy, as each drug has its own side effects particularly for long term diseases like seizures, dermotol problems, diabetes, heart problems, and many more...

Diet forms integral part of ayurveda, unlike allopathy. Ayurveda tells you have to take satva ahaar when you are on aurvedic medicines, you cant have red meat, masalas, hi chilly diet while taking this medication. Simply put, 'Aahar, vihaar' (food and lifestyle) are very much to be followed as per able guide for these medicines to work.

Further, some of the ayurvedic preparations available off the shelf, may not be in good quality and also the doctors have become commercial now a days. Finally, there is no perfect cure for Aids, Cancer in Ayurveda. One may work or might not.

10-Sep-2012 01:55 AM

Comment I think Remya Krishnan has commented on article without reading or she lives in her own imaginative world....

Rajender Sethi, thank you very much for your opinion. yes: the topic is debatable undoubtedly.

the article is based on Government of India's undertaken project of pharmacovigilance. Remya, one has to speak the common language. If I keep talking in Gujarati, you might not be able to understand. So let us accept the modern terminology and speak a common language which world understands.

I would be more than happy if the results of project pharmacovigilance proves your statement correct. but let us give them a chance to re-check the glorious science of Ayurveda with the parameters they have set....

dr joban modha
22-May-2012 09:09 AM

Comment The article is good for the discussion, I believe. There is one other important factor which goes in support of Ayurveda is that any medicine prepared of herbs is accepted easily by the human body while in Allopathy mostly the medicines are based on chemicals which being foreign elements, are not accepted easily by the human body. No part of the human body accepts foreign elements

Rajender Sethi
14-May-2012 11:58 AM

Comment I feel the article is written without proper analysis of shastra.Ayurveda has no side effects . If bad effects are seen with Ayurvedic medicine it is due to impaired quality of either medicine or the prescriber,thank you.

Remya Krishnan
23-Mar-2012 01:28 AM

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