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Variations in physicochemical properties of a traditional mercury-based nanopowder formulation: Need for standard manufacturing practices

Author(s): SU Kamath1, B Pemiah2, KS Rajan1, S Krishnaswamy3, S Sethuraman1, UM Krishnan1
1Centre for Nanotechnology and Advanced Biomaterials, SASTRA University, Thanjavur-613 401, India 2Centre for Advanced Research in Indian System of Medicine, SASTRA University, Thanjavur-613 401, India 3School of Chemical and Biotechnology, SASTRA University, Thanjavur-613 401, India

Correspondence Address:
U M Krishnan Centre for Nanotechnology and Advanced Biomaterials, SASTRA University, Thanjavur-613 401 India E-mail: [email protected]

Rasasindura is a mercury-based nanopowder synthesized using natural products through mechanothermal processing. It has been used in the Ayurvedic system of medicine since time immemorial for various therapeutic purposes such as rejuvenation, treatment of syphilis and in genital disorders. Rasasindura is said to be composed of mercury, sulphur and organic moieties derived from the decoction of plant extracts used during its synthesis. There is little scientific understanding of the preparation process so far. Though metallic mercury is incorporated deliberately for therapeutic purposes, it certainly raises toxicity concerns. The lack of gold standards in manufacturing of such drugs leads to a variation in the chemical composition of the final product. The objective of the present study was to assess the physicochemical properties of Rasasindura samples of different batches purchased from different manufacturers and assess the extent of deviation and gauge its impact on human health. Modern characterization techniques were employed to analyze particle size and morphology, surface area, zeta potential, elemental composition, crystallinity, thermal stability and degradation. Average particle size of the samples observed through scanning electron microscope ranged from 5-100 nm. Mercury content was found to be between 84 and 89% from elemental analysis. Despite batch-to-batch and manufacturer-to-manufacturer variations in the physicochemical properties, all the samples contained mercury in the form of HgS. These differences in the physicochemical properties may ultimately impact its biological outcome.

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