Silver as a Medium of Cure in Ayurveda

Silver as a Medium of Cure in Ayurveda

As the most sacred and pure metal, silver has great therapeutic value.

The Ancient practitioners of Ayurveda were skilled in the use of heavy metals like iron, gold, silver, lead and copper, and it falls under the category of Rasa Sastra. Among them, the shining bright metal silver stands out for medicinal use. Ayurvedic medicine uses silver in small amounts as a tonic and elixir.

It is used as bhasma (calcined formulation) to treat neurological disorders, respiratory tract disorders, muscular dystrophy, infertility, urinary tract disorders and diabetes. Considering the antibacterial properties of silver, storing  drinking water in silver vessels is an ancient practice. In olden times, milk used to be preserved by putting silver coins in it since silver kills pathogens of all types instantly.

Silver is an element having high electrical and thermal conductivity. It is malleable and  ductile. Care needs to be taken that only pure silver is used for medicinal preparations.

Silver occurs naturally in its pure free form (native silver) as an alloy with gold and other metals, and in minerals such as argentite and chlorargyrite.

Therapeutic Benefits

In traditional homes, silver is used in the form of utensils for offering naivedya at the puja room. Silver plates and tumblers are used at the dining table as a mark of purity. This ractice is supported by Acharya Sushruta, who lived around 600 BC and wrote the foundational text

in Ayurveda. The Acharya says, peya deyaiti rajate, meaning juices, food and drinks should be stored in silver vessels. Juices and drinks are considered to be coolants and storing them in silver vessels before serving will enhance this property.

Silver is widely used in topical gel impregnated into bandages because of its anti-microbial activity. The anti-microbial properties stem from the chemical properties of silver in its ionized form. This ion forms strong molecular bonds with other substances used by bacteria to respire, such as molecules containing sulphur, nitrogen and oxygen.

When the silver ion forms a complex bond with these molecules, they deprive the bacteria of necessary compounds, and thereby curtail its growth eventually leading to the bacteria's death. Silver gives strength, controls vata and pitta, and it is indicated in the treatment of bhrama (hallucination) and unmada (delusion).

Hallmark of Purity

The characteristics of pure silver are defined in the Ayurvedic texts. It should be heavy,  unctuous, soft and white. When heated or cut, it should have a firm and even surface, and should be free of adulterants. Silver with unsuitable characteristics includes that which is hard, artificial, dry, red or yellow coloured, or one that has many layers.

The purification process of silver is an important step for preparation of medicines, as traces of heavy metal can have harmful effects on health. If the silver used is not purified, it can lead to degenerative disorders, decrease in virility, and can cause fever. A general sodhana or cleansing is done by heating thin silver sheets on fire till red hot.

It is then dipped seven times into each of the following: Sesame oil (taila), buttermilk (takra), cow's urine gomutra), fermented gruel (kanji), and a decoction of horsegram (kulattha kwatha). A special sodhana is also done wherever necessary by heating and dipping in Agastya patra swarasa or Jyotishmati swarasa, where a fresh extract of the herb is used for purification.

Conversion into Bhasma

Purified silver is used in therapy in a powder form as rajata bhasma. Incineration or marana is an essential step in Rasa Sastra to convert a metal into a fine, ash form. The optimum temperature that the metal should be subjected to in the specific pit is specified in Ayurvedic texts, and this is expressed in terms of puta. This ensures that the final product is rich in the

required quality standards of the medicine. The conversion process is itself interesting where pure thin silver sheets are triturated, or ground into a fine powder, with other metals and herbs.

The Ayurvedic formulations with silver as the ingredient are vast. Mahayogaraja

guggulu, the tablets used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, Kasturibhairava rasa used in treating chronic fever, and Vasanta kusumakara rasa for treatment of diabetes and diseases relating to urinary tract, can be mentioned as examples.

Dr. Janardhan Hebbar

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Please give me Rajàta bhasma future scopes

Shyam Bharat gore

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