Author Biography

Dagmar Wujastyk is Associate Professor in History and Classics and Religious Studies at the University of Alberta and Principal Investigator of the ERC-starting grant research project AyurYog ( at the University of Vienna. Her research focuses on the connected histories of classical Indian medicine (Ayurveda), alchemy and iatrochemistry (rasaśāstra), and yoga. Her publications include Modern and Global Ayurveda: Pluralism and Paradigms (SUNY Press) and Well-Mannered Medicine: Medical Ethics and Etiquette in the Sanskrit Medical Classics (OUP NY).


Around the eleventh century CE, Sanskrit medical texts began to record profound changes in the methods used for drug manufacture. New substances, especially metallic and non-metallic minerals, were added to the ayurvedic pharmacopoeia or were given new prominence. More significantly, however, new ways of processing raw materials were introduced that were thought to make them fit for medical use. Most of the new, but also many of the traditional substances were now put through a series of complicated, multistage processes before they were used as components of compound medicines. In this article, I will use the example of recipes for iron-based medicines, which describe the processing of iron and other substances to trace the evolution of these changes and to query whether the changes in drug production flow from earlier developments, or whether they represent a more fundamental shift in the theory and practice of medicine. I also consider whether the introduction of new substances and the new methods of drug production can be related to notions concerning the potency of substances and formulations.


This article was made possible through funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No.639363.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.