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Minerals are alchemically processed as Bhasmas in Ayurvedic medicines or as Zuotai in Tibetan medicines. Ayurveda is a knowledge system of longevity and considers the mineral elixir made from "nature" capable of giving humans perpetual life. Herbo-metallic preparations have a long history in the treatment of various diseases in India, China, and around the world. Their disposition, pharmacology, efficacy, and safety require scientific evaluation. This review discusses the Bhasmas in Ayurvedic medicines and Zuotai in Tibetan medicines for their occurrence, bioaccessibility, therapeutic use, pharmacology, toxicity, and research perspectives. A literature search on Mineral, Bhasma, Ayurvedic medicine, Zuotai, Tibetan medicine, and Metals/metalloids from PubMed, Google and other sources was carried out, and the relevant papers on their traditional use, pharmacology, and toxicity were selected and analyzed. Minerals are processed to form Bhasma or Zuotai to alter their physiochemical properties distinguishing them from environmental metals. The metals found in Ayurveda are mainly from the intentional addition in the form of Bhasma or Zuotai. Bhasma and Zuotai are often used in combination with other herbals and/or animal-based products as mixtures. The advanced technologies are now utilized to characterize herbo-metallic preparations as Quality Assurance/Quality Control. The bioaccessibility, absorption, distribution, metabolism, and elimination of herbo-metallic preparations are different from environmental metals. The pharmacological basis of Bhasma in Ayurveda and Zuotai in Tibetan medicines and their interactions with drugs require scientific research. Although the toxic potentials of Bhasma and Zuotai differ from environmental metals, the metal poisoning case reports, especially lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), and arsenic (As) from inappropriate use of traditional medicines, are increasing, and pharmacovigilance is desired. In risk assessment, chemical forms of metals in Bhasma and Zuotai should be considered for their disposition, efficacy, and toxicity.

Oxyfadichalcones A and B, two unprecedented chalcone dimers fused through a cyclobutane ring by head-to-tail [2+2] cycloaddition of two chalcones that had never been found previously in nature, along with oxyfadichalcone C, a new head-to-head [2+2] cyclized chalcone dimer, were simultaneously obtained from Oxytropis falcata. Structural elucidation was succeeded by spectroscopic and single-crystal synchrotron radiation analysis. Additionally, the photosynthesis of the chalcone dimers was performed and the plausible biosynthesis was discussed. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

ETHNOPHARMOCOLOGICAL RELEVANCE: Herbo-metallic preparations have a long history in the treatment of diseases, and are still used today for refractory diseases, as adjuncts to standard therapy, or for economic reasons in developing countries.AIM OF THE REVIEW: This review uses cinnabar (HgS) and realgar (As4S4) as mineral examples to discuss their occurrence, therapeutic use, pharmacology, toxicity in traditional medicine mixtures, and research perspectives. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A literature search on cinnabar and realgar from PubMed, Chinese pharmacopeia, Google and other sources was carried out. Traditional medicines containing both cinnabar and realgar (An-Gong-Niu-Huang Wan, Hua-Feng-Dan); mainly cinnabar (Zhu-Sha-An-Shen Wan; Zuotai and Dangzuo), and mainly realgar (Huang-Dai Pian; Liu-Shen Wan; Niu-Huang-Jie-Du) are discussed. RESULTS: Both cinnabar and realgar used in traditional medicines are subjected to special preparation procedures to remove impurities. Metals in these traditional medicines are in the sulfide forms which are different from environmental mercurials (HgCl2, MeHg) or arsenicals (NaAsO2, NaH2AsO4). Cinnabar and/or realgar are seldom used alone, but rather as mixtures with herbs and/or animal products in traditional medicines. Advanced technologies are now used to characterize these preparations. The bioaccessibility, absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination of these herbo-metallic preparations are different from environmental metals. The rationale of including metals in traditional remedies and their interactions with drugs need to be justified. At higher therapeutic doses, balance of the benefits and risks is critical. Surveillance of patients using these herbo-metallic preparations is desired. CONCLUSION: Chemical forms of mercury and arsenic are a major determinant of their disposition, efficacy and toxicity, and the use of total Hg and As alone for risk assessment of metals in traditional medicines is insufficient.