Ancient Science of Life

: 2018  |  Volume : 37  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 180--187

Effect of Navayasa Lauha, an ayurvedic herbomineral formulation on experimentally-induced iron deficiency anemia

Namrata Joshi1, Manoj Kumar Dash2, Laxmikant Dwivedi3, Gurudas Khilnani4,  
1 Department of Rasashastra and B.K, FOA, IMS, BHU, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India
2 Department of Rasashastra and B.K, Government Ayurveda College, Raipur, Chattisgarh, India
3 Former Head, Department of Rasa Shastra, N. I. A, Jaipur, India
4 Former Dean, Adani Institute of Medical Sciences, Bhuj, Gujrat, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Namrata Joshi
Department of Rasashastra and B.K, FOA, IMS, BHU, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh


Background: Navayasa lauha (NL) is a herbometallic preparation (Rasaushadhi) widely used in Ayurveda as a hematinic agent. Nutritional deficiency is a main cause of anemia worldwide. Materials and Methods: NL was trialed on nutritional iron deficiency anemia induced by rice milk diet given for 2 months in albino rats. Iron-deficient rats were then treated with NL for 45 days, and assessment was done on the basis of peripheral blood picture, blood parameters, viz., hemoglobin%, Packed cell volume (PCV), Total red blood cell (TRBC) count, mean cell volume (MCV), mean cell hemoglobin (MCH), MCH concentration serum iron, and “decrease in total iron binding capacity (TIBC).” Results: A highly significant improvement (P < 0.001) in PCV, MCV, MCH, and TRBC and significant increase in Hb% (P < 0.05) and serum iron (P < 0.01), and significant decrease in TIBC (P < 0.01) were also observed. Conclusion: Results of the present study demonstrate that NL could be a promising and safe herbomineral medicine in the treatment of iron deficiency anemia without any gastrointestinal upset, which are generally encountered with modern iron supplements. Significant increase in serum iron and significant decrease in TIBC are indicative of direct effect of trial drug on body iron store in the treatment of anemia.

How to cite this article:
Joshi N, Dash MK, Dwivedi L, Khilnani G. Effect of Navayasa Lauha, an ayurvedic herbomineral formulation on experimentally-induced iron deficiency anemia.Ancient Sci Life 2018;37:180-187

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Joshi N, Dash MK, Dwivedi L, Khilnani G. Effect of Navayasa Lauha, an ayurvedic herbomineral formulation on experimentally-induced iron deficiency anemia. Ancient Sci Life [serial online] 2018 [cited 2022 Jan 25 ];37:180-187
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Iron deficiency has been recognized as the most common nutritional deficiency disorder of serious public health significance, given its impact on psychological, developmental, behavioral, and work performance. It is generally assumed that 50% of the cases of anemia are due to iron deficiency.[1] The World Health organization (WHO) has classified it amongst top ten-selected health risks.[2] The W.H.O. also estimates that 66%–80% of the population is suffering from Fe deficiency,[3] with 30% of population being in the developing countries, particularly in South Asia and Africa. It is the most common nutritional deficiency encountered in surveys of diverse populations in industrialized countries.[4] It is considerably higher for rural women (54%) than for urban women (46%) and so, looking towards its prevalence, it is included in national health program of India.[5]

According to modern science, the best treatment for iron deficiency is administration of iron supplementation therapy.[6] However, with conventional iron therapy, gastrointestinal distress is most prominent and is seen in 15%–20% of patients. Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, or constipation is often seen with iron therapy, leading to noncompliance.[7] Thus, some alternative medicine is the need of hour to combat such situation. Likewise modern science, in Ayurveda, based on the own principle of “application of similar substance always causes increase in the same substances”[8] and for pāṇḍu roga (iron deficiency anemia), Lauha (iron) is the best treatment.[9] Iron is supposed to be best among hematinic preparations[10] and thus indicated in the treatment of pāṇḍu roga (iron deficiency anemia). Many clinical and experimental studies have been undergone in this regard in which hemoglobin (Hb) concentration, and various red cell indices are taken for assessment criteria.[11],[12] However, in the present study, serum iron and total iron binding capacity (TIBC) estimation was also undergone that gives clear picture of iron in body tissue stores. Stainable iron in the tissue stores is the most sensitive laboratory indicator of mild iron deficiency and is particularly useful in differentiating iron deficiency from the anemia of chronic disorders. The percentage saturation of transferrin with iron and free erythrocyte protoporphyrin values does not become abnormal until tissue stores are depleted of iron. Subsequently, a decrease in the Hb concentration occurs because iron is unavailable for heme synthesis. Red blood cell indices do not become abnormal for several months after tissue stores are depleted of iron.[13] Furthermore, in the present study, no chemical was used to induce iron deficiency, rather nutritional deficiency was created by using milk and rice diet that contains phyates and phosphatase[14] and is devoid of iron. Therefore, in the present study, hematinic effect of traditional preparation NL was checked along with its effect on body iron store in nutritional iron deficiency.

 Materials and Methods

Drug preparation

Collection of raw drugs

All the raw ingredients of the compound formulation NL[15] were procured from pharmacy and authenticated in the Department of Dravyaguna, National Institute of Ayurveda, Jaipur, Rajasthan. Lauha bhasma was prepared by giving 60 puṭa (calcination process) in the decoction of triphalā, as per method of Ayurvedic Formulary of India.[16] Preparation of Lauha bhasma includes ayurvedic procedures of śodhana (purification), bhānupāka (sun drying), sthālīpāka, puṭapāka (levigation and calcination), and amṛtīkaṇana (necterazation) in the decoction of triphalā. The Lauha bhasma used in the present study was also undergone toxicity study as per the guidelines of OECD in which it was found safe for oral administration at therapeutic dose leve.[17]

Method of preparation

All herbal ingredients as mentioned in [Table 1] were made free from any foreign material and powdered separately till they can pass through the sieve size 100. Required quantity of powdered herbs were weighted separately and mixed homogenously. To it, equal amount of Lauha bhasma was added, and the mixture was once again mixed homogenously. All pharmaceutical processing were undergone in the Department of Rasa Shastra and Bhaisajya Kalpana, National Institute of Ayurveda, Jaipur [Figure 1].{Table 1}{Figure 1}

Ethical clearance

Ethical clearance was taken from Institutional Ethics Committee of S.M.S Medical College and Attached Hospitals, Jaipur, where the research was conducted.

Hematinic activity

Study design

In vivo hematinic activity of NL was determined in albino rats by induction of iron deficiency with the help of milk rice diet. The study was approved by Institutional Animal Ethical Committee. Dose of the test drug was calculated by extrapolating the human dose to animals based on the body surface area ratio by referring to the standard table of Paget and Barnes (1969).[18] Accordingly, accepted dose of NL was calculated to be 10 mg/100 g of body weight as shown in [Table 2]. The drug was suspended in honey and clarified butter,[15] administered orally through an orogastric tube as shown in [Figure 2].{Table 2}{Figure 2}

Experimental animals

Wistar Albino rats (170–250 g) were obtained from the Animal Colony of Department of Zoology, Rajasthan University, Jaipur. The animals were maintained under standard laboratory conditions and water ad libitum. The room temperature was maintained at 25°C ± 1°C. All the experiments were performed in the morning according to the current guidelines for the care of the laboratory animals and the ethical guidelines for the investigation of experimental animals.

Induction of iron deficiency anemia

Eighteen rats of either sex were used in this experiment. The rats were divided into two groups containing six animals in control group receiving normal diet and Group B containing 12 animals fed on milk rice diet (depletion study) for 2 months. On completion of iron depletion study, 12 rats of Group B showing iron deficiency as evident in hematological and biochemical investigation were again divided into two groups of six rats each. One group containing 6 rats were fed with rice milk diet while in another group of 6 animals with rice milk diet NL was administered at the dose of 10mg/kg of body weight for a period of 45 days. On the day of commencement of study and at the end of the study, blood was drawn from retro bulbar space and was investigated for various assessment parameters.[19]

Parameters for assessment

In the present study, evaluation was done based on the following criteria

Gross behaviorHematological parameters: Hb, hematocrit, mean cell volume (MCV), mean cell hemoglobin (MCH), mean cell hemoglobin concentration (MCHC), red blood cell count (RBC), and white blood cell count were performed using ABX PENTRA ML hematology analyzer[20] (HORIBA ABX SAS, France)Biochemical parameters, viz., serum iron, TIBC were estimated by ferrozine method[21]Morphological classification of anemia was done using microscopic examination of red blood cell morphology and values of red cell indices.

Method adopted for estimating serum total iron binding capacity and serum iron

Ferrozine method was used in the present study for estimation serum TIBC and serum iron. Serum proteins are precipitated with a reagent containing HCl (to dissociate iron), triglycolic acid (to precipitate proteins). The iron in ferrous state reacts with chromogen, to give pink-colored complex which is measured calorimetrically. For TIBC determination, serum is treated with iron standard and excess of iron is removed by adsorption of magnesium carbonate. The iron content of this serum is a measure of TIBC.

Statistical analysis

All the values were expressed as mean ± standard error of the mean. The data were analyzed by unpaired' test of P < 0.001, and P < 0.05 and 0.01 were considered as statistically highly significant and significant, respectively. Level of significance was noted and interpreted accordingly.


A nutritional iron deficiency by means of administration of rice and milk diet containing inhibitory substances for iron absorption, viz., phytic acid and phosphatase, was introduced in the experimental animals and the resultant effect was assessed in comparison to the rats receiving normal diet. After induction of iron-deficient diet, peripheral blood smears were taken which were suggestive of mild-to-moderate anemia [Figure 2]. Highly significant decrease in Hb% (21.62%, P < 0.001), PCV (5.91%, P < 0.001), MCH (21.39%, P < 0.001) as well as significant decrease in TRBC (7.20%, P < 0.05), MCV (6.68%, P < 0.05), MCHC (16.92%, P < 0.05), and PCV (5.91%, P < 0.001) count was clearly evident by [Table 3]. It also causes decrease in total iron level (8.22%, P < 0.05), as well as increase in TIBC (25.62%, P < 0.05), to a significant level [Table 3] and [Figure 3].{Table 3}{Figure 3}

On treating iron-deficient rats with test drug, i.e., Navayasa lauha (NL), maintaining them at iron-deficient diet, exert highly significant increase in MCV (10.94%, P < 0.001); MCH (25.21%, P < 0.001); PCV (18.11% P < 0.001); and TRBC (11.06%, P < 0.001) level while significant increase in Hb% (24.24%, P < 0.05) and MCHC (16.92, P < 0.01) was found as evident in [Table 3]. Similarly, the indicators of body iron stores, viz., serum total iron (2.36%, P < 0.01) and TIBC (21.54%, P < 0.01) were also found to be altered significantly in such animals [Table 4] and [Figure 3].{Table 4}


NL is selected for this study as it one the most commonly used hematinic herbomineral formulation in tradition which does not imparts side effects as experienced in conventional iron therapy. Moreover, the ingredients present in it work on the principle of sāmānya pratyayārabdhatā which retains its pañcabhautika composition throughout the digestion and metabolism. Further, the ingredients present in this formulation helps in correction of nutritional iron deficiency directly as a hemetinic agent or indirectly by correction of Agni and thereby correction of all attributes of normal agni (digestive/metabolic factors) including bala (strength/physical endurance); varṇa (complexion); utsāha (enthusiasm); oja (immunity/vital energy); prabhā (glow).[22]

Being a nutritional disorder, some dietary substances are proved to induce iron deficiency in the body owing to the presence of certain inhibitory factors that make insoluble complexes with Iron, the key element involved in the genesis of the disease. This fact was utilized here in the present study, and instead of using chemicals for inducing iron deficiency, a nutritional deficiency was created by administration of milk and rice diet that contains inhibitory factors, viz., phosphatase and phyates,[7],[23] respectively. Further, the iron content of milk is very low (0.06%),[24] and on the other hand, it is a rich source of calcium. Calcium is a proven source that hinders the absorption of iron.[25] Hence, in this study, milk and rice diet was given to the experimental animal's, viz., rats, most suitable animal for conducting iron depletion–repletion therapy of iron.[14] From this study, it can be presumed that prolong nutritional deficiency (2 months in the trialed study) can gradually deplete the iron status as well as bioavailability in the body tissue as evident by decrease hemoglobin concentration and fall in red cell indices. Furthermore, decrease in functional activities as evident by sluggish movement, excess of sleep, etc., were itself suggestive of decrease in endurance activity due to some sort of nutritional deficiency. Transferrin is a protein in the blood that transports iron throughout your body and TIBC measures how well the transferrin proteins are transporting iron around your body. By examining how much iron is in the transferrin proteins, one can easily assess about concentration of iron in the blood.[26] Thus, the elevation of decreased iron as well as decrease in TIBC in rice milk-induced nutritional iron-deficient rats by administration of NL may be attributed to either change in red cell indices or replenishment of body iron store. The composition of any formulation depends on two major criteria:[27] chief constituent and supporting constituents. The chief constituent (drug) of the trial drug NL is Lauha bhasma which is a well-known hematinic agent. Supporting constituents are the drug that supports the chief ingredient in its action, drugs that eradicates the toxicity of the formulation or drugs providing media for easy transport and bioavailability in the body, i.e. vehicle. Pippali,[28] marica,[29] śuṇṭhī,[30] Mustaka,[31] viḍaṅga,[32] and citraka[33] have dīpana (stomachic), pācana (digestive), rocana (appetizer), kṛmināśaka (anti helminthic),[34] sthūlahara (analgesic),[35] hṛdya (cardiac tonic) properties. All these herbs acts as adjuvant drugs in this particular formulation [Table 5]. āmalakī,[36] harītakī[37] śuṇṭhī,[38],[39] citraka[40] which are also included in adjuvant drugs are known for their pāṇḍuhara (hematinic) effect.[41] Drugs, i.e., āmalakī,[36] harītakī,[37] and vibhītaka[42] (triphalā) viḍaṅga śuṇṭhī possessing an Anulomana (carminative) property counteract the constipative effect of lauha. Similarly, trikaṭu, viḍaṅga, triphalā, mustā, Madhu,[43],[44],[45] and ghṛta[46],[47],[48] aid in removing the metallic characters of lauha owing to their viṣaghna (antitoxic) and tridoṣahara properties and hence the ill effect of Lauha.[49] Triphalā, especially āmalakī, contains ascorbic acid which is a well-known agent that facilitates absorption of Iron.[50] Honey is also rich in copper, which helps in iron absorption.[51] Madhu[52],[53],[54] and ghṛta given as anupāna (vehicle) bring about quick action due to their yogavāhi (super-advenient) property and thereby increase the bioavailability of the formulation. Madhu and ghṛta are used as vehicle (anupāna) which is additionally beneficial in maintenance of sexual vigor (vṛṣaḥ), physical and mental stability and steadiness (Sthiratva), peacefulness and eradication of diseases (vṛṣaḥ), balance in mind and body (Samah), and longevity (śatam jīvati) with restriction graying of hair.[55]{Table 5}

Moreover, the herbs present in this combination have been proven for their antioxidant,[56],[57],[58] bioavailability enhancing,[59],[60],[61] adaptogenic,[62] endurance promoting, and anti stress[63] activities and thus helps in reliving the symptomatology of the disease. Abnormal function of Agni is the root cause of all diseases. Based on this fact the constituent drugs help in breaking the pathogenesis of the pāṇḍu roga (I.D.A.) with principal of “application of similar substance always cause increase in the same substances” and “Lauha” is the best treatment imparts hematinic potential at varying levels.


In this study, NL was found to be effective in correction of laboratory findings of iron deficiency anemia caused due to nutritional deficiency. Objective parameters including Hb%, RBC, HCT, MCV, MCHC, TIBC, and serum iron were significantly altered in experimental animals. As no adverse drug reaction has been reported in this study, it may be used as Iron supplement therapy in case of iron deficiency anemia.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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