Good mercury is said to be bright like the mid-day Sun externally, and of a bluish tinge internally. Mercury of a yellowish-white, purple, or variegated colour should not be used in medicine.
Processing of Mercury
Various processes for purifying mercury are described. Mercury is first rubbed with brick-dust and garlic, then tied in 4 folds of cloth and boiled in water over a gentle fire for 3 hours in an apparatus called Dola yantra. When cool, it is washed in cold water and dried in the sun. Some practitioners use betel leaves instead of garlic for rubbing the mercury with.
Mercury obtained by sublimation of cinnabar is considered pure and preferred for internal use. Cinnabar is first rubbed with lemon juice for 3 hours, and then sublimed in the apparatus called Urddhapatana yantra. The mercury is deposited within the upper pot of the apparatus, in form of a blackish powder. This is scraped, rubbed with lemon juice and boiled in water, when it is fit for use.
Four preparations of mercury are described in books, namely, black, white, yellow and red, called respectively, Krishna, Sveta, Pita and Rakta Bhasma.
1. Krishna Bhasma: The black preparation is the black sulphide of mercury, made by rubbing together and dissolving over the fire 3 parts of mercury with one of sulphur.
2. Rasakarpura: The white preparation is the Rasakarpura or perchloride of mercury. Several processes are given for preparing it; one is as follows. Take mercury and chalk equal parts, and rub them together till the globules disappear. Rub this mixture of chalk and mercury with salt obtained from saline earth and the juice of Euphorbia nereifolia (unuhi) repeatedly. Enclose in a covered crucible and heat it within a pot full of rock salt. The perchloride of mercury will be deposited in the shape of a pure white powder under the lid of the crucible.
3. Pita Bhasma: The yellow preparation called Pita Bhasma is directed to be prepared as follows. Take mercury and sulphur equal parts; rub them together for 7 days with the juice of bhumyamalaki (Phyllanthus neruri) and hastisundi (Heliotropium Indicum). Place the mixture in a covered crucible, and heat it in a sand-bath for 12 hours. The result will be a yellow compound.
4. Rakta Bhasma: The red preparation called Rakta Bhasma or Rasa Sindura is prepared in a variety of ways. The following is one of them. Take mercury and sulphur equal parts, rub together with the juice of the red buds of Ficus Bengalensis (vata) for 3 days successively, introduce the mixture within a bottle and heat it in a sand-bath for 12 hours. A red deposit will adhere below the neck of the bottle. It is taken out in the shape of dark red shining scales.
The four preparations of mercury above mentioned, the red preparation of Rasa Sindura is the form in which it is largely used. Besides this, the black and red sulphides of mercury are also used internally. The four principal forms in which mercury is used in Hindu medicine constitute the basis of all the formulae containing mercury.
Benefits of Mercury
Mercury is said to be imbued with the 6 tastes, and capable of removing derangements of all the humours. It is the first of alterative tonics. Combined with other appropriate medicines it curse all diseases, acts as a powerful tonic and improves the vision and complexion.
Dose of Mercury in Medicine
In fevers of all descriptions, mercury is extensively used in combination with aconite, croton seed, datura and other medicines. The following are a few illustrations.
Hingulesvara: Take cinnabar, aconite and long pepper in equal parts, rub together in a mortar and make into pills about 4 grains each. They are given, beaten up with a little honey, in ordinary remittent fever.
Taruna jvarari: Take mercury, sulphur, aconite and croton seeds in equal parts, rub together with the juice of Aloe Indica and make into 4 grain pills. These pills act on the bowels and relieve fever. They are administered with sugar and water.
In diarrhoea and dysentery, mercury is used in a great variety of forms. The following are a few examples.
Vajrakapata rasa: Take mercury, sulphur, opium, mocha rata, gum of (Bambax Malabaricum), the three myrobalans, ginger, black pepper and long pepper in equal parts, powder and mix. Soak the powder in the juice of the leaves of Cannabis sativa (Vijaya) and Verbesina calendulacea (Bhringaraja) 7 times and make into 6 grain pills. This medicine is administered with honey in obstinate chronic diarrhoea. Dose should be 4 to 24 grains.
Rasa Parpati: This is prepared by melting together a mixture of equal parts of sulphur and mercury in an iron ladle, smeared with ghee. The melted fluid is poured on a piece of plantain leaf, placed on a ball of cow dung. It is then pressed by another ball of cow dung, enclosed in plantain leaf. When cool, the black sulphide of mercury is obtained in the shape of round disks. It is much used alone, or with the addition of other medicines, in chronic diarrhoea. Other varieties of Parpati or mercurial preparations in shape of disks are prepared with the addition of iron, gold, copper etc., and used in this complaint, as for example, Svarna parpati, Panchamrita parpati etc.
Mahagandha Rasa: Take mercury and sulphur each 2 tolas and make a Parpati as before described. Take nutmegs, mace, cloves and neem leaves, each 2 tolas, powder them well, mix together, and enclose the mixture within bivalve shells. Cover the shells with a layer of clay and roast in fire. When cool, extract the medicine from the shells. It is administered in doses of about 4 grains in the acute diarrhoea of children.
Pandusudana Rasa: In jaundice, mercury is used along with other alternatives and purgatives, as in the following, called Pandusudana Rasa. Take mercury, sulphur, prepared copper, croton seeds and bdellium in equal parts; rub them together with ghee and make into 2 grain pills. They are given with the juice of neem bark and honey in jaundice.
In affections of the lungs mercury is used in a variety of combinations. The following are a few illustrations.
Rasendra Gudika: Take purified mercury 2 tolas. Add to it one tola of the juice of jayanti leaves (Sesbania Aegyptka) and of fresh ginger, rub together till the mixture thickens, then soak it in the juice of Jussiaea repens (kanchata) and Solanum Indicum (vrihati) respectively for 24 hours. Take purified sulphur 8 tolas and soak in the juice of Verbesina calendulacea (Bhringaraja). When dry, mix the sulphur with the mercury, and rub together with 16 tolas of goat-milk till the mass is fit for being made into pills. Dose should be about 4 grains to be taken with goat-milk and juice of ginger. This pill is useful in bronchitis and cough generally.
Rajamriganka Rasa: Take Rasa Sindura 3 parts, prepared gold and copper one part each, realgar, orpiment and sulphur 2 parts each and mix. Introduce the mixture into the cavities of couries, close their openings with borax reduced to a paste with goat-milk, roast the shells in closed crucibles and take out the medicine when cold. Dose should be about 4 grains with 2 grains of long and 2 black pepper, honey and clarified butter. It is said to be useful in phthisis, and chronic bronchitis with fever.
In diseases of the nervous system, several combinations of mercury with gold, iron, talc, etc. are used, such as, the Chaturmukha Rasa, Chintamani Chaturmukha, Yogendra Rasa etc.
Chintamani Chaturmukha is thus prepared. Take Rasa Sindura 2 tolas, prepared talc 2 tolas, prepared iron 1 tola, prepared gold half a tola, rub them together with the juice of Aloe Indica and make into 2 grain pills. This medicine is said to be useful in nervous diseases, insanity, cephalalgia, deafness, noise in the ears, paralysis of the tongue, diseases of the female and urinary organs, phthisis, fever, etc. It improves nutrition, increases the appetite and strength, and brightens the complexion.
As an alterative tonic Rasa Sindura is much used in a variety of diseases. Mercury is used in syphilis both externally and internally. The following are a few illustrations of its use in this disease.
Saptasali Vati: Take mercury and catechu each half a tola, pellitory root one tola, honey one and a half tola. Rub together till the globules of mercury disappear and divide into 7 pills. One pill is administered every morning with water in primary syphilis.
Rasa Karpura of corrosive sublimate as sold in the market is recommended to be given in a single dose of 8 grains. The medicine is enclosed in a ball of wheat-flour and covered with powdered cloves. It is swallowed with water so as not to touch the teeth. Salts and acids are forbidden to be taken after the use of this medicine. The circumstance of wheat-flour being used as a covering to the poison may act as an antidote to some extent. In secondary syphilis Rasa Karpura is given in small doses in combination with cloves, saffron, sandal wood and musk.
For external application, about a drachm of mercury is recommended to be rubbed between the palms with the juice of the leaves of Sida cordifolia (batyalaka) till the globules of mercury are no longer visible. The palms are then to be warmed over the fire till perspiration breaks out from them.
Mercury enters into the composition of several applications for skin diseases, as in the following. Take cinnabar, sulphur, red oxide of lead, rock salt, seeds of Cassia tora (chakramarda), baberang, Cleome felina (svarnakshiri), and the root of Aplotaxis auriculata (kushta) in equal parts. Powder them, and reduce to a thin paste with the juice of datura, neem or betel leaves. This application is said to cure ringworm, eczema, prurigo, psoriasis etc.
For lice in the hair, mercury rubbed with datura or betel leaf is recommended to be applied to the scalp.
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