Abstract
KNOWLEDGE OF MERCURIAL TOXICITY FROM ANCIENT CLASSICS OF RASASHASTRA AND AYURVEDA

Prashant B. Bedarkar*

ABSTRACT

Rasashastra mainly deals with formulations of metals, minerals, ores, alloys along with herbomineral formulations and Mercury is whose main subject matter. Toxicity of Mercury was well known and explored in depth in ancient classics of Rasashastra and Ayurveda, inspite of which Mercurial formulations are used in Ayurvedic therapeutics since ancient times [era of Sushrut Samhita(3000 BC) and widely used since era of Rasendramangal (8th century AD), Chakradutta (11th century AD)]. Collective information on knowledge of toxicity of Mercury to ancient Ayurvedic scholars is not documented, hence current attempt was done. Contemporary knowledge of Mercurial toxicity was reviewed from standard modern texts, online Research journals, online official government documents related to toxicology, Pharmacology, environmental toxicity, chemistry, epidemiology and occupational health specifically related to human health hazards. Ancient texts of Rasashastra and Ayurveda were screened for knowledge of toxicity of Mercury in view of human health hazards. It is concluded that Toxicity of mercury in terms of Human health hazards has been well explored in ancient classics of Rasashastra and Ayurveda since much before than 8th century AD. Ancient Ayurvedic scholars and Rasacharya (scholars of Rasashastra) were well aware of Acute, chronic toxicity of Mercury, teratogenicity of mercury and toxicity due to inhalation of fumes of Mercury and the knowledge of these toxicity is comparable to contemporary knowledge of its toxicity in humans.

Keywords: Mercury, Heavy metal, Toxicity, Parada, Rasashastra, Ayurveda, Alchemy.


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