Geopharmaceuticals of Himalayan Sowa Rigpa medicine: Ethnopharmacological uses, mineral diversity, chemical identification and current utilization in Bhutan
Journal of Ethnopharmacology
Format: Journal Article
Publication Year: 2018
Pages: 99 - 112
Source ID: shanti-sources-92391
Collection: Himalayan and Tibetan Medicine
Abstract: Ethnopharmacological relevanceGeological materials, such as minerals, have a long history of usage as ingredients in multicompound formulations of Himalayan Sowa Rigpa medicine – as well as in its localized form of Bhutanese traditional medicine (BTM) – for treating various disorders for over thousand years. Yet, hardly any scientific research has been done on their ethnopharmacological efficacy and chemistry. Aim of the study This study documents and correlates the rarely explored ethnopharmacological and chemical identification of various minerals and their ethnomedicinal uses in BTM formulations for the first time. Material and methods A five stage cross-disciplinary process was conducted as follows: (1) a review of classical literature of Sowa Rigpa texts (Tibetan medical texts, pharmacopoeias and formularies) that are still in use today; (2) listing of mineral ingredients according to Sowa Rigpa names, followed by identification with common English and chemical names, as well as re-translating their ethnomedical uses; (3) cross-checking the chemical names and chemical composition of identified Sowa Rigpa minerals with various geological mineral databases and mineral handbooks; (4) authentication and standardization of Sowa Rigpa names through open forum discussion with diverse BTM practitioners; (5) further confirmation of the chemical names of identified minerals by consulting different experts and pharmacognosists. Results Our current study lists 120 minerals as described in Sowa Rigpa medical textbooks most of which we were able to chemically identify, and of which 28 are currently used in BTM herbo-mineral formulations. Out of these 28 mineral ingredients, 5 originate from precious metal and stone, 10 stem from earth, mud and rocks, 8 are salts, and 5 concern ‘essences’ and exudates. Conclusions Our study identified 120 mineral ingredients described in Sowa Rigpa medical textbooks, out of which 28 are currently used. They are crucial in formulating 108 multicompound prescription medicines in BTM presently in use for treating more than 135 biomedically defined ailments.