2017 Volume 52 Issue 2 Pages 118-139
The first part of the Bower Manuscript is called the Lasuna-kalpa because it describes medical formulations that include garlic, or lasuna in Sanskrit, which is believed to refer to Allium sativum L. The aim of this study is to reinterpret the descriptions of garlic in the Lasuna-kalpa and to examine its pharmaceutical contents. This paper begins with a general discussion on ingesting garlic, which was both a religious taboo and a medical treatment in ancient India. Three major medical works-The Caraka-samhita (CS), the Susruta-samhita (SS) and the Astangahrdaya-samhita (AHS)─are then revisited in respect to their description of garlic in order to highlight its medicinal properties. In light of this examination, the specific formulations described in the La?una-kalpa are analyzed from a modern pharmaceutical perspective paying due attention to the second half of the Lasuna-kalpa. The scripture of Brahmanism prohibits the Brahmans from eating garlic because of garlic's growth environment, which was seen as impure, and the behavioral code for the Brahmans renders garlic unclean for them. Some Buddhist scriptures also discourage eating garlic because its smell is considered unspiritual for priests and lay devotees alike. Eating garlic was regarded as an unspiritual act both in- and outside the religious organization. Despite these negative social and religious norms, Brahmanism and Buddhism admitted using garlic for medical purposes. Thus, in ancient India, garlic was given dual attributes of religious taboo and medical utility. Garlic is mentioned in CS for treatments of various diseases, in SS in a diet therapy for the gynecology system, and in AHS for rejuvenation. Garlic decreases vata (air) and kapha (phlegm), while it increases pitta (bile). The Lasuna-kalpa apparently consists of two parts, the first of which describes eight formulations of garlic. Since the second part does not explicitly mention garlic, it can be conjectured that the second part is a later addition in the process of transmission.