Physicochemical characterization of Swarna makshika bhasma
Physicochemical characterization of Swarna makshika bhasma Swarna makshika [SM], a mineral having various therapeutic uses, has been used since long in Ayurveda . The present study was conducted to generate a fingerprint for raw and processed SM using techniques which can be used by pharmacies. Powdered SM was heated in an iron pan by adding lemon juice for 3 days, till liberation of sulfur fumes stopped. Bhasma of this shuddha SM was obtained by triturating it with shuddha gandhaka and lemon juice. It was then subjected to heat in 09* putas, and for firing in each puta, 4 kg cow dung cakes were used. To assure the quality of bhasma, rasa shastra quality control tests like nischandratva, varitara, amla pariksha, etc., were used. After the bhasma complied with these tests, the bhasma was analyzed using X-ray Diffraction (XRD) analysis of raw SM and SM bhasma revealed that raw SM contains CuFeS 2 , and SM bhasma contains Fe 2 O 3 , FeS 2 , CuS and SiO 2 . Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) studies showed that the grains in SM bhasma were uniformly arranged in agglomerates of size 1-2 microns as compared to the raw SM which showed a scattered arrangement of grains of size 6-8 microns. It may be concluded that raw SM is a complex compound which gets converted into a mixture of simple compounds having very small particle size after the particular process of marana. This is the first report of fingerprinting of SM bhasma prepared using this particular method.
Introduction Swarna makshika [SM] bhasma has been used for pandu (anemia), anidra (insomnia), apasmara (convulsions), mandagni (poor digestion), kustha (skin diseases), etc., as well as a potent rasayana drug. Generally, SM bhasma is prepared in two steps: shodhana, by different techniques like fomentation, heating and quenching and roasting, etc.; and marana, by puta system of heating in different types of putas, like varahaputa, kukkutaputa, gajaputa, etc.; and kupipakwa procedures,  etc. During marana, bhavana with lemon juice, kulottha decoction, eranda taila, snuhi ksheera, etc., are given with addition of shuddha gandhaka and shuddha hingula, etc., as associated materials. SM bhasma is used as a single constituent formulation or in multi-ingredient formulation. However, there is variation in collection of raw materials and the pharmaceutical procedure followed, which generates the same bhasma with different characters. As a result, reproducibility is often not achieved. In many cases, wrong manufacturing and marketing practice leads to the production of inferior quality products, which reduces efficacy or produces safety concerns. In order to minimize variability and to check adulteration, standardization of a bhasma is a must. Ayurvedic texts have described methods for quality control of finished products through different parameters like nischasndratva, varitara, nirutha, apunarbhava, etc., to achieve a specific acceptable standard bhasma. This study was performed to characterize the bhasma using sensitive tools and techniques. These fingerprints generated for the raw material and bhasma could be used as standards to for ensuring quality and reproducibility of standards of the medicines.