Iron in Ayurveda: A Review through Major Ayurvedic Saṃhitas
Keywords:Ayaskriti, Iron, Loha Bhasmā, Louha kalpa
This paper intends to comprehensively present the major uses of the metal iron in the Ayurvedic classical texts. Ayurvedic classics such as Brihatrayī- Caraka Saṃhitā, Susṛuta Saṃhita, and Aṣtanga Saṃgraha dictate fine use of many herbs with iron in specified diseases, respectively. Different methods of preparations are also employed in Ayurveda to make the metal iron easy to administrate, palatable, and enhance to the absorption in human body. Ayaskriti is a primitive invention of internal administration of iron. References are available in Saṃhitās about the uses of iron in powdered form called as ayaskriti. However, in Rasa Shastra, detailed descriptions are available about the preparation and therapeutic uses of Loha Bhasma (calcined iron). To prepare Loha Bhasma (calcined iron), a series of pharmaceutical procedures are explained such as śothana (detox-purification), māraṇa (incineration), and amṛtīkaraṇa, so that its therapeutic benefits can be achieved in various disease conditions. The maximum formulations of Lauha Bhasmā are found in Jwara (fever), Pāṇḍu (anemia), Aṛśa (piles), Śotha (inflammatory disorders), and Prameha (diabetes mellitus). Iron is a unique metal where alcoholic preparation is performed (as lohāṣava) in Ayurveda. Many references are available on Loha in Ayurvedic Saṃhitās.