AGNIHOTRA ASH (BHASMA)

In Vedic Philosophy, "Agnihotra" has great importance. All auspicious acts commence with Agnihotra. Like water is essential for the cooking of food; Agnihotra is indispensable for each and every auspicious activity of human life.

Matter expands in fire. The function of the fire is to convert the macro particles into micro level particles example : The Ghee poured in the fire does not disappear but only gets diluted into micro atoms of butter.

A Bhasma (ash) means an ash obtained through incineration; the starter material undergoes an elaborate process of purification and this process is followed by the reaction phase, which involves incorporation of some other minerals and / or herbal extract. There are many uses of Bhasma like maintaining optimum alkalinity for optimum health, neutralizing harmful acids that lead to illness; because Bhasma do not get metabolized so they don’t produce any harmful metabolite, rather it breakdowns heavy metals in the body.

Ash (Bhasma) are claimed to be biologically produced nanoparticles, which are prescribed with several other medicines of Ayurveda.

In Ayurveda Herbs, iron, gold, silver, diamond, etc. are heated in fire to convert to "Ash" of respective material. The principle of Ayurveda is that higher the heating temperature; more the curative powers the ash (Ash) obtains. Ayurveda believes that diseases howsoever serious can be cured by such treatment. To cure people through Ash (bhasma) is a form of Agnihotra.

Ayurveda is the science made up of Veda (knowledge) and Ayush (life) i.e. knowledge of life. An Ayurvedic system adopts a holistic approach towards health care by balancing the physical, mental and spiritual functions of the human body. Rasa-Shastra (vedic-chemistry) is one of the parts of Ayurveda, which deals with herbo-mineral / metals / non-metals preparations called Bhasmas. Rasayana (immunomodulation and anti-aging quality) and yogavahi (ability to target drugs to the site) are characteristics of a properly made herbo-mineral / metals/non-metals preparation, which is also nontoxic, gently absorbable, adaptable and digestible in the body.

Bhasma, is a ayurvedic metallic / mineral preparation, treated with herbal juices or decoction and exposed for certain quantum of heat as per puta system of Ayurveda, which itself is well known in Indian subcontinent since 7th century A.D. and widely recommended for the treatment of many disease conditions. Bhasma are claimed to be biologically produced nanoparticles, which are prescribed with several other medicines of Ayurveda.

The concept of reduction in particle size of metals is prevailing since Charak Samhita, the oldest classical text in ayurveda, the recent studies at the department of Rasa Shashtra, Faculty of Ayurveda, Banaras Hindu University, has claimed the herbo-mineral formulations of ayurveda constituting 'bhasma' to be equivalent and in tune with nanotechnology witnessing production of nanoparticles in contemporary era.

The reports of the studies have not only been published in the Journal of Scientific and Industrial Research (December 2010), but Journal of Biomedical Nanotechnology, a reputed journal in the field of nanotechnology published from the US has also given place to the study in its current February issue. Similarly, the paper also attracted international attention during the three-day international symposium on the safe use of nano-materials and workshop on nano-material safety, status, procedure, policy and ethical concerns, organized by Indian Institute of Toxicological Research, Lucknow.

"The studies have confirmed that Bhasmas, which are unique Ayurvedic metallic / mineral preparations are biologically produced nanoparticles (NPs) prescribed with several other medicines of ayurveda," said associate professor, department of Rasa Shastra, Anand Chaudhary. Though, herbo-mineral formulations (bhasmas of metals and minerals) are used since seventh century, it was only assumed that these medicines have superior level of efficacy in comparison to other ayurvedic dosage forms.

"Now, studies have also established that manufacturing methods of Bhasma are in tune of nanotechnology of modern era and bhasmas are nearer to nanocrystalline materials, similar in physico-chemical properties," he added.

It may be mentioned here that Chaudhary, along with Prasanta Kumar Sarkar of department of Rasa Shashtra, JB Roy State Ayurvedic College, Kolkata have come up with research paper on ayurvedic bhasma after a number of studies in the subject for the past two years. Also, Neetu Singh, research scholar, department of Rasa Shashtra, is also working on the potential of 'lauha bhasma' (Bhasma containing traces of iron) in therapeutics, using nanomedicine.

Importance of Bhasma :

1. Maintain optimum alkalinity for optimum health
   
2. Provide easily absorbed and usable calcium
   
3. Cleanse the kidneys, intestines and liver
   
4. Maintain stronger bones and healthier teeth
   
5. Alleviate insomnia, depression
   
6. Keeps rhythmic heart beating
   
7. Keeps arrhythmias and minerals balance
   
8. Help metabolize iron in body
   
9. Aid nervous system
   
10. Breakdown heavy metals and drug residues in body
   
11. Neutralize harmful acids that lead to illness
   
12. Achieve a healthy alkaline level by neutralizing acid
   
13. Protect body from free radical damage

Classification of Bhasma :

1. Metal-based Bhasma
   
2. Mineral-based Bhasma
   
3. Herbal Bhasma