Thursday, March 24, 2011
Healing powers of gemstones - Part 1
Early Sanskrit texts describe the medicinal properties of gems. Indian alchemy made liberal use of the 'essence' of gemstones. Astrology and gemmology played a crucial role in traditional Indian medicine. Gems were not merely chemicals, but contained energy derived from the planets that helped to prevent and cure disease. All ancient texts, as for example, the Ras Ratna Samuchchaya, written a thousand years ago, have chapters dealing with the quality, properties, selection and preparetion of medicine from gems and their application in various health problems. According to the Rsaratnakara of Nagarjuna written in the eight century AD, gem minerals could change base metals to gold and silver. The very precious nine gems (navaratnas), blue sapphire (nila), yellow sapphire (pushkraj), zircon (gomeda), pearl (mautika), cat's eye (vaidurya) and coral (vidruma) - as well as topaz (pushpaka), tourmaline (vaikranta), suntone (suryakanta) and moonstone (chandrakanta) formed part of Indian medicines. There were also nineteen powerful semi-precious stones that were powerful and were greatly helpful as substitutes for the navaratnas in hardness, lustre and clarity. These were: Peridot, Tourmaline, Topaz, Amethyst, Rock Crystal, Moonstone, Garnet, Neeli (asubstitute for blue sapphire), Aquamarine, Bloodstone, Lapis Lazuli, Jade, Amber, Agate, Malachite, Jaichint, Green Onyx, Green Beryl, Red Coral and Turquoise. Indian alchemists purified these gems before use by streaming them with plant juices and then heating them on a coal fire.
In Europe too, druggists in the Middle Ages stocked remedies for common made from gemstones, among other ingredients. Pope Clement IV supposedly swallowed forty ducats worth of various powdered gems to cure his illness and Louis XIV of France regularly took pills made of pearl and coral, as prescribed by his personal physician. Here too, the stone had to touch a specific part of the body, or else it was swallowed whole, as a powder or boiled in water.