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Samskara (Ayurvedic)

Samskara is a process in Ayurvedic medicine of detoxification applied to heavy metals and toxic herbs, which is similar to the Chinese pao zhi.

In Ayurveda, toxic medicinals including heavy metals are purified using a process of prayer and pharmacy, both of which are necessary to transform the toxicity. This may require multiple years of use. An intriguing study of samskara-processed aconite was recently published: [1]

Crude aconite is an extremely lethal substance. However, the science of Ayurveda looks upon aconite as a therapeutic entity. Crude aconite is always processed i.e. it undergoes 'samskaras' before being utilised in the Ayurvedic formulations. This study was undertaken in mice, to ascertain whether 'processed' aconite is less toxic as compared to the crude or unprocessed one. It was seen that crude aconite was significantly toxic to mice (100% mortality at a dose of 2.6 mg/mouse) whereas the fully processed aconite was absolutely non-toxic (no mortality at a dose even 8 times as high as that of crude aconite). Further, all the steps in the processing were essential for complete detoxification. [2]

It should be noted that the cited paper makes no mention of prayer being employed during the detoxification, which calls into question its necessity in the process.

The described detoxification is a simple chemical processing which involves four successive rounds of boiling the crude root in cow's urine (twice) and cow's milk (twice). Such processing is reasonably expected to chemically modify both toxic and proposed therapeutic components of the root. It will also lead to extraction of these compounds from the root into the boiling solvents, thereby decreasing their concentration in the final product.

It should also be noted that, while these washes appear to ameliorate the toxicity of the crude root, there is no evidence that the processed root has any therapeutic value.


  1. ^ Alan Keith Tillotson. AHG, PhD, D.Ay The One Earth Herbal Sourcebook: Everything You Need to Know About Chinese, Western, and Ayurvedic Herbal Treatments 2001
  2. ^ Can we dispense with Ayurvedic samskaras? Thorat S. and Dahanukar S. J Postgrad Med. 1991 Jul;37(3):157-9
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Samskara_(Ayurvedic)". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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