STUDY OF PHYSICOCHEMICAL PROPERTIES OF KUSHTA ABRAK SAFAID PREPARED BY DIFFERENT DETOXIFICATION METHODS
Mohd Tariq, Khaleequr Rahman, Shahid Shah Chaudhary, Mohd Zakir
Mohd Tariq (M.D)
Background: Kushtas are organo-mineral nano-particles made by treating mineral with several herbs and subjected to precise heat treatment. In classical Unani text, various methods for the detoxification of abrak (Mica) are described. The end product of these methods is considered to be same but scientifically this claim has not been validated.
Objective: The present study was aimed at comparative physicochemical evaluation of kushta abrak safaid (KAS) prepared by two different methods of detoxification, using classical as well as modern scientific parameters.
Materials and Methods: Abrak was detoxified by two methods mentioned in Unani literature. After detoxification, both kushtas were prepared in furnace due to isolation of material heated, cost effectiveness and controlled heating system. Both finished products were comparatively evaluated for physicochemical characteristics including preliminary tests.
Results: Floating and fineness test were positive for both the kushtas indicated correct preparation of KAS. Bulk density (0.50± 0.00 and 0.49± 0.00 gm/ml), tapped density (0.83± 0.00 and 0.83± 0.03 gm/ml), Hauser’s ratio (1.69± 0.00 and 1.65±0.01), compressibility index (40.23± 0.24 and 40.25±0.41%), loss of weight on drying (0.095± 0.00 and 0.094± 0.00%), pH of 1 and 10 % solution (9.96± 0.01, 9.60± 0.01, and 10.87± 0.00, 10.30± 0.01) total ash, acid insoluble ash, water soluble ash (93.04± 0.05, 5.98± 0.01, 6.59± 0.07 and 97.26± 0.03, 6.84± 0.01, 7.48± 0.00%); extractive values in petroleum ether, acetone, ethanol and water (0.00± 0.00, 0.46± 0.03, 1.43± 0.03, 5.23± 0.03 and 0.00± 0.00, 0.6± 0.00, 1.73± 0.03, 2.4±0.06%) were reported in KAS1 and KAS2 respectively.
Conclusion: Results suggests that physicochemical constants of both kushtas were similar without any significant difference. Hence, the study scientifically validates the claims of Unani scholars that different detoxification methods of abrak do not have any significant effect on physicochemical properties of its kushtas.
Key words: Detoxification, kushta, Mica, physicochemical, Unani medicine.
‘Unani’ means medicines which are a symbol of life. The name is derived from the word ‘Ionian’ which originated in Greece. It is a time tested system of medicine dating back 5000 years.1 This system has vast description of useful metals and minerals. Earlier there was a disbelief that minerals are incompatible to humans, but now it has been reported that numbers of metallic compounds are essential for body.2 In Unani and other alternative system of medicine these metals and minerals are mostly used in calcined form called as kushta. Kushta is known by various vernacular names like Rasayana,3,4 Elixir4, Kimiya,4 Ikseer3,4, Bhasma5 etc. It is an organometallic substance treated with a quantum of heat to induce thermal decomposition in drug which produces rapid remedial effect after entering in the body. 6 In Unani system Mica (abrak) is used effectively since millennia for the treatment of various disorders. Internally, it is used in the form of kushta. But before making its kushta, it is always subjected to detoxification in order to enhance its therapeutic actions and remove the unwanted or toxic properties.7 Various detoxification procedures of abrak are mentioned in classical texts, which are still in practiced. Unani scholars claim that different detoxification methods do not implicate significant effect on physicochemical properties of the end products. However, this claim is never scientifically studied. Therefore, the present study was aimed to prepare kushta abrak safaid by detoxifying it by two different methods and comparatively inscribe the physicochemical properties of both the finished product and to observe that whether the two kushtas significantly differ from each other or not.
2. Materials and Methods
Abrak safaid and milk were purchased from the local market in Bangalore. Ghekwar (Aloe barbadensis Mill.) was procured from the herbal garden of National Institute of Unani Medicine. Shora Qalmi (Potassium nitrate) was purchased from Shrinivasa chemical shop, Rajaji Nagar, Bangalore and was of analytical grade.
2.2 Methods of detoxification (Tasfiya) of abrak safaid
Before subjecting to kushtasazi, abrak safaid was purified as per classical literature. Most of the raw drugs are procured from the mines, so there is more chance of impurities, toxicity and heterogeneous qualities. Tasfiya (detoxification) is indicated to eliminate all such impurities and to induce certain good qualities to enhance its pharmaco-therapeutic properties.8 This process results in the conversion of impure mineral into pure or organomineral form, ready to be calcined.9 If ‘tasfiya’ is not performed, their use is said to be injurious to the individual.10
First method of detoxification
The layers of abrak were first separated by pounding with mortar and pestle (Fig 1). The small pieces of abrak were tied loosely in a bag of thick cotton cloth along with date (Phoenix dactylifera) seeds. The bag was then dipped in lukewarm water and rubbed vigorously (Fig 2). Small particles of abrak were then squeezed out of the bag. The process of dipping the bag in hot water and rubbing was repeated till all the particles of abrak were squeezed out of the bag. The particles of abrak were allowed to settle down at the bottom of the vessels and the water was decanted. The abrak particles were collected and allowed to dry. The dry particles are called abrak mahloob (Fig 3).11
Fig 1: Raw abrak Fig 2: Dhanab process Fig 3: Abrak mahloob
Second Method of detoxification
Abrak was heated on fire (Fig 4) until red hot (Fig 5) and then dipped in 100 ml milk (Fig 6). The procedure was repeated seven times.12
Fig 4. Raw Abrak during heating
Fig. 5 Abrak after red hot stage
Fig. 6. Abrak safaid after dipping in milk
2.3 Method of preparation of Kushta Abrak safaid
KAS was prepared as per method mentioned in Kitab ul taklees6 but with a slight modification, that instead of using the cow dung cakes it was prepared in furnace because being a closed chamber furnace gives better temperature control,9,13 isolation of material being heated, saves time and labour,13 Twelve gram abrak safaid musaffa was dipped in luab gheekwar (Aloe barbadensis) (Fig 7) and placed inside Muffle Furnace and heat was given (Fig 8). For the operation of heat, thermogram of 12 kg of cow dung cakes given by Kumar G et al was followed14 as same quantity of cow dung cakes are used for the preparation of KAS. Afterwards self cooling, 18 gm shora qalmi dissolved in 20 ml water was added (Fig 9) and again heated (Fig. 10) by following same heat pattern. After self cooling, kushta was removed and dipped in one liter water (Fig 11) and kept undisturbed for 2-3 hrs so as to remove shora qalmi. Afterwards water was removed and kushta was dried on heater. After complete drying, KAS (Fig 12) was stored in an air tight bottle.
Fig. 7 Abrak flakes dipped Fig. 8. After 1st puta (Heating) Fig. 9. Shora dissolved in Aloe barbadensis in water added
Fig. 10. After 2nd puta (Heating) Fig. 11. Kushta dipped in water Fig. 12. Final kushta abrak safaid
The prepared kushtas were evaluated for classical parameters like organoleptic properties, classical parameters of kamil kushta (ideal kushta) like floating test, 15 grain floating test,16 fineness test15 as well as modern scientific parameters like bulk density,17 tapped density,17 Hausner’s ratio,18 Carr’s compressibility index19 in density tester by LABINDIA model no. 1025. pH in 1% and 10% solution20 by digital pH meter by Eutech instruments model no. 1544421, loss of weight on drying20 in hot air oven by LABLINE, Anmatrix instrument technologies. Total ash,21 acid insoluble ash,22 water soluble ash22 and extractive values23 were also evaluated.
3. Results and Discussion
Ideally kushta should be tasteless, odorless and lusterless. Both KAS were tasteless, odorless, smooth to touch and lusterless (Table no.3). KAS1 was yellowish white and KAS2 was complete white. Floating, grain floating, finger and wall stick test were positive for both kushtas (Fig.13-18). These findings implies that both the kushtas were ideal (kamil) as per classical Unani literature.
Fig.13 Floating test (KAS1) Fig.14 Rice floating on KAS1 Fig. 15.Finger test KAS1
Fig. 16 Floating test (KAS2) Fig. 17 Rice floating on KAS2 Fig. 18 Finger test (KAS2)
The mean value of bulk and tapped density of KAS1 and KAS2 were 0.50± 0.00 gm/ml, 0.83± 0.00 gm/ml and 0.49±0.00, 0.83± 0.03 gm/ml respectively (Table no.4). Bulk density is the mass per unit volume of a loose powder bed. It is an essential parameter for process development of solid dosage manufacturing. It indicates the amount of powder that can fit in a space.18 The tapped density represents the random dense packing of the material and is generally higher for regularly shaped particles (i.e. spheres) as compared to irregularly shaped particles such as needles.18 The mean value of Hausner’s ratio and compressibility Index of KAS1 and KAS2 were 1.69± 0.00, 40.23± 0.24% and 1.65± 0.00, 40.39±0.25 % respectively (Table no.4). Compressibility index is a measure of relative importance of inter-particulate interactions. In a free flowing particle, these interactions are generally less significant; so bulk density and tapped density values are closer. For poorly flowing materials, there are frequently greater inter particle interactions, which results in lower bulk density and a greater difference between bulk and tapped densities. These differences in particle interactions are reflected as compressibility index.18 Compressibility index of kushtas were greater than 37 indicated that both kushtas have very, very poor flow properties.24 However, the compressibility index of KAS1 was less than that of KAS2 indicating that KAS2 was more compressible than KAS1.
Fig. 19. Comparative Bulk density, tapped density and Hausner’s ratio of raw abrak, KAS1 and KAS2
pH value of both kushta were alkaline. The pH value of KAS1 and KAS2 was 9.96± 0.01 and 9.60± 0.01 respectively in 1% and 10.87± 0.00 and 10.30± 0.01 respectively in 10% aqueous solution (Table no.4). These results are in accordance to the fact that the pH value of water solutions of metallic oxides are basic.25 The percentage of loss of weight on drying at 105°C was found to be 0.095± 0.00 and 0.094± 0.00 in KAS1 and KAS2 respectively (Table no.4). Shelf life of kushta as mentioned in classical literature is infinite and they become more and more potent with the advent of time. This negligible moisture might be the factor responsible for high shelf life as it would not provide any medium for the growth of the microbes and restricts the chemical reactions. The mean percentage values of the total ash, acid insoluble ash, water soluble ash and water insoluble ash in KAS1 were 93.04± 0.05%, 5.98± 0.01 %, 6.59± 0.07% and 86.45± 0.07 % respectively and for KAS2 were 97.26± 0.03 %, 6.84± 0.01 %, 7.48± 0.00 % and 89.77± 0.04% respectively (Table no.4). High ash value in both kushtas showed the presence of very high inorganic content. However, KAS2 showed higher quantity of inorganic matter than KAS2.
Fig. 20. Comparative total ash (TA), water insoluble ash (WIA), acid insoluble ash (AIA) and water soluble ash (WSA) of raw abrak, KAS1 and KAS2
The mean percentage of the extractive value of KAS1 in petroleum ether, acetone, ethanol and water were 0.00± 0.00, 0.46± 0.03, 1.43± 0.0and 35.23± 0.03 respectively and for KAS2 were 0.00± 0.00, 0.6± 0.00, 1.73± 0.03 and 5.73± 0.03 respectively (Table no.4). Extractive values help in the determination of the adulteration and is an index of the purity of the drug. In case of kushta extractive value is performed to extract out organic matter if present.26 Low extractive values were indicative of very low organic matter and maximum quantity of inorganic substance in both kushtas.
Fig. 21. Comparative extractive values of KAS1 and KAS2 in petroleum ether, acetone, ethanol and water
Table 1: Observations while detoxification of abrak
Weight Before detoxification (gm)
Weight After detoxification (gm)
Table 2: Physical Constants of raw abrak
Platy (separable in thin layers)
Table 3: Preliminary tests of raw abrak, KAS1 and KAS2
Wall stick test
Table 4: Physicochemical parameters of raw abrak, KAS1 and KAS2
KAS Method 1
KAS Method 2
Total ash (%)
*LOD- Loss of weight on drying, AIA-Acid insoluble ash, WIA- Water insoluble ash, WSA- Water soluble ash
The data of the present study suggests that the physicochemical characteristics of KAS1 and KAS2 were similar without any significant difference. Hence, the study validates the claim of Unani scholars that difference in detoxification methods does not have any effect on the action and uses of kushtas. Further, these kushtas should be analyzed through sophisticated analytical instruments like XRD, Particle size distribution, SEM, TEM, Energy Dispersive X Ray, AFM methods. Furthermore, work needs to be done using various animal models to evaluate the extent of absorption and their elemental effect at tissue level.
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