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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 243-252

An exploration of the preliminary unit operative pharmaceutical process of Vajra Bhasma (diamond ash)


Department of Rasa Shastra & Bahisajya Kalpana, Institute of teaching and research in Ayurveda, Jamnagar, Gujarat, India

Date of Submission04-Feb-2022
Date of Acceptance03-Aug-2022
Date of Web Publication21-Nov-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Dipali Narendrakumar Parekh
Department of Rasa Shastra & Bahisajya Kalpana, Institute of teaching and research in Ayurveda, Jamnagar, Gujarat
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jdras.jdras_22_22

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  Abstract 

BACKGROUND: Vajra (diamond) is a precious gemstone; classified under the Ratna Varga in Ayurveda. More than 13 GMP-certified companies are preparing and marketing Vajra Bhasma (diamond ash) for challenging disorders like cancer, tumors, etc. After reviewing their method for the preparation of Vajra Bhasma; mostly used the reference of Rasa Tantra Sara Evam Siddha Yoga Samgraha. Therefore, the present study aimed to explore the preliminary unit operative pharmaceutical process of Vajra Bhasma with the same method. METHODS: Vajra has been analysed by Raman spectroscopy to standardize the material. The Shodhana (purifying process) was carried out with 108 times Nisechana (quenching). The Marana (the process of making Bhasma) has been carried out with Gulab Arka (rose distillate) and Kumari Swarasa (aloe vera juice) as a Marana media under the temperature of 900°C in an electric muffle furnace and maintained for 1 h. Vajra Bhasma was analysed for organoleptic and physicochemical parameters. RESULTS: 108 times of repeated heating and quenching resulted in 2.84% weight loss after Shodhana. A 9.30% weight gain was found at the end of the Marana process. 60 Putas (a measure of heat) were sufficient for the Bhasma Sidhhi Lakshanas like Varitratva (sprinkled Bhasma floating on water), Nishchandratva (lustreless), etc. CONCLUSION: This study led to a better elucidation of the medicinal product Vajra Bhasma in accordance with Ayurveda. Medicines in Ayurvedic approaches to preparation should be used to consider recent designs and practices. The soaking method of the Bhavana method is advisable in the Marana process.

Keywords: Bhasma, diamond, Vajra, Vajra Marana, Vajra Shodhana


How to cite this article:
Parekh DN, Bopaliya DJ, Chudhary SY, Patgiri BJ. An exploration of the preliminary unit operative pharmaceutical process of Vajra Bhasma (diamond ash). J Drug Res Ayurvedic Sci 2022;7:243-52

How to cite this URL:
Parekh DN, Bopaliya DJ, Chudhary SY, Patgiri BJ. An exploration of the preliminary unit operative pharmaceutical process of Vajra Bhasma (diamond ash). J Drug Res Ayurvedic Sci [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Dec 7];7:243-52. Available from: http://www.jdrasccras.com/text.asp?2022/7/4/243/361575




  Introduction Top


Vajra (diamond) has been included under Ratna Varga (gemstone classification) in the classical text of Rasa Shastra. (Science dealing with the study of metals, especially mercury, minerals, and their therapeutic applications)[1]Vajra Bhasma is used in Dehavada (treatment of human beings) as well as Dhatuvada (transmutation of lower metals into noble metals) in Rasa Shastra. A diamond is the strongest known naturally occurring element. A diamond is a very persistent metastable form of carbon.[2]Vajra Bhasma is Ayushpradam (provides lifespan), Balarupakaroti (enhances physical strength and skin complexion), Doshatrayaprashaman (alleviates all the three Doshas), Shakalaamayaghana (capable of eradicating all the diseases), Sutendrabandha (helpful in mercury binding), and Shadrasatmaka (possesses all the six tastes). It possesses Vrushya (eugenics/aphrodisiacs), Yogavahi (carrier of properties), and Rasayana (rejuvenation) properties. It is indicated in Shosha (emaciation), Kshaya (depletion), Bhrama (giddiness), Bhagandara (fistula-in-ano), Prameha (diabetes mellitus), Medoroga (obesity), Pandu (anemia), Udara (ascites), Swayathu(oedema/ inflammation), etc. disorders.[3] It is also used in cancers, immunity disorders, crippling rheumatoid arthritis, and bone marrow depression.[4] Various procedures (Shodhana[5] and Marana) for the preparation of Vajra Bhasma have been explained in different classical texts of Rasa Shastra. The prime pharmaceutical processes for the preparation of any Bhasma are Shodhana (purifying process) and Marana (the process of making Bhasma). Shodhana and Marana media used for pharmaceutical procedures play an important role in the preparation of the final product and it have unique therapeutic properties.[6] Previously, four research works have been published on Vajra or Vajra Bhasma. Merely one research work has been published on the pharmaceutical preparation of Vajra Bhasma with two different methods.[7] In that study, the classical Puta method and Lauha Kharala (iron mortar pestle) was used. In that 50% of Fe was found in the Bhasma; it may be due to the use of Lauha Kharala (iron mortar pestle) in the process. Therefore, here the attempt has been carried out with the Vertical Electric Muffle Furnace (V- EMF) and Hansaraj stone mortar pestle. The other two research works were on pre-clinical studies.[8]Vajra Bhasma is stated for its high potential as an adaptogenic, antibacterial agent, analgesic, antimicrobial, alternative antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immuno-modulator.[9] After searching the available product of Vajra Bhasma in the market; companies majorly use the method explained in Rasa Tantra Sara Evam Siddha Yoga Samgraha for the preparation of Vajra Bhasma.[10] More than 13 GMP-certified companies are manufacturing and selling the Vajra Bhasma. Most of the physicians are using commercially available Vajra Bhasma in their clinical practice. Despite the wider applications of Vajra Bhasma in Ayurvedic practice, information on the detailed pharmaceutical aspect of the preparation is still lacking. Hence, the present study attempts to cover in-depth information on the preliminary unit operative pharmaceutical process of Vajra Bhasma by following the protocol mentioned in the Rasa Tantra Sara Evam Siddha Yoga samgraha [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Flow diagram for the preparation of Vajra Bhasma

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  Materials and Methods Top


Ashuddha Vajra (raw rough diamond (RD)) particles were purchased from a local seller of Surat and authenticated at Junagadh (Trust Reg No. F/1090, Society Reg No. 1445) Gujarat. Vajra was also authenticated with classical parameters for acceptance (Grahya Lakshana),[11] with no weight loss after heating over the fire.[12] Raman spectra [RENISHAW in Via confocal Raman microscope (wavelength used 532 nm)] of the Vajra was conducted at the Indian Diamond Institute, Surat. Gulab (Rose: Rosa centifolia L) was purchased from the local market of Jamnagar. Fresh Kumari leaves (Aloe vera L. Burm. f.) were collected from the periphery of Gujrat Ayurved University, Jamnagar. Aloe vera leaves and rose flowers were identified and authenticated in the pharmacognosy lab of ITRA, Jamnagar.

Preparation of Gulab Arka (distillate of Rosa centifolia L.)

Gulab Arka (GA) was prepared as per the general guidelines of Arka preparation mentioned in the Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India.[13] Rose petals were separated from sepal, washed with potable water, and then cut into small pieces manually. It was soaked overnight in 10 times water. On the next day, the mixture was transferred into an appropriately coupled distillation apparatus having a capacity of 5 l. The temperature was set at 100°C and maintained the same till water started boiling. Afterward, the temperature was set to 40°C and continued throughout the procedure. The distillate was collected up to fifty percent volume of water. Prepared Gulab Arka was stored in an airtight glass container. During distillation, a continuous water supply was provided to condense Gulab Arka properly. Porcelain pieces were placed in a round bottom flask of the distillation apparatus to avoid bumping of material [Figure 2].
Figure 2: Gulab Arka preparation. (A) Cleaned rose petals. (B) Overnight soaking of rose petals. (C) Coupled distillation apparatus. (D) Color of petals after boiling started. (E) Color of rose petals after distillation. (F) Gulab Arka.

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Shodhana of Ashuddha Vajra

For Shodhana, 282 g of RD was taken and GA was used as liquid media for Nisechana (quenching).[10] RD particles were taken in an iron ladle (diameter-9.5 cm, depth-3.5 cm) and subjected to heat on the burner at about the temperature of 500°C-600°C(Measured with thermocouple – Ceramic made with 1200°C with digital display). The RD was stirred in between the heating process. After the red hot stage, it was quenched in the cylindrical S.S. vessel (depth-23 cm, diameter- 21 cm, capacity 5 l) containing GA. After 10 minutes of quenching GA was decant carefully. Volume (measuring cylinder – maximum capacity 2 l, minimum capacity 100 ml) and pH (with digital pH meter) of media were noted. After decanting of liquid the weight of wet RD with the vessel has been noted. Again, the same procedure of heating and quenching was repeated 107 times. At, the end of the 108th quenching Shuddha Vajra (purified diamond (PD)) particles were again heated over the burner to remove the moisture content. After self-cooling PD particles were weighted (weighing machine – minimum capacity 10 g, maximum capacity 25 kg) and stored in a glass container. The entire process of purification was represented in [Figure 3]. After the Shodhana process, out of total purified diamond particles, 129 g was used for the further Marana process.
Figure 3: Shodhana process of Vajra. (A) Ashuddha Vajra. (B) Gulab Arka. (C) Heating. (D) Red hot stage. (E) Quenching in the Gulab Arka. (F) Kept Vajra for some time in Gulab Arka. (G) Vajra particles after quenching. (H) Shuddha Vajra.

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Marana of Shuddha Vajra (Process of making diamond ash)

In the process of Marana, two different liquid media are mentioned for the Bhavana (levigation) process before Puta, viz., Gulab Arka and Kumari Swarasa (aloe vera juice). Up to the 14thPuta (a measure of heat), GA was used for Bhavana, and after that, Kumari Swarasa was used for trituration as per reference. GA was prepared as mentioned in the purification method. To incorporate the procedure of further levigation, fresh leaves of Kumari were collected. The juice of Kumari was expelled by the Nishpidana (expression) method stated in Sharangdhara Samhita.[14] The leaves of Kumari were cleaned up with tap water to remove dust. The thorns and outer green layer peeled off; the mucilaginous part was separated. That pulp was ground in the mixer, then the liquid was strained through a cotton cloth. The juice of Kumari was stored in the bottle.

For Marana of Vajra, 129 g PD particles were taken in the Hansaraj stone Kharala (mortar pestle), then the adequate amount of GA (up to 14th Puta) or Kumari Swarasa (juice of aloe vera) (after 14thPuta) was added to it and Bhavana was given. The Pluta (soaking) method of Bhavana was used for the first three Putas. Bhavana was given to the material after the 3rdPuta for 1 h. After Subhavita Lakhshana of the material, uniform and concave (Avg. weight=3.16g, Avg. width=0.24 cm, Avg. diameter=2.56 cm) Chakrikas (pellets) were manually prepared from the doughy mass. The Chakrikas were dried in sunlight and kept in the Sharava (earthen shallow vessel with a diameter - 6 cm, depth - 4.5 cm). The Sharava was covered with another Sharava of the same size and sealed with fuller’s earth and cotton cloth, dried under sunlight. The dried earthen shallow vessel was subjected to Puta at a temperature of 900°C in a V-EMF. (Inner length – 14 cm, breadth-14 cm, and diameter – 29 cm; outer length – 40.5 cm, width-40.5 cm, height – 50.5 cm). After achieving the set temperature, it was maintained for 1 h. The time duration for the Puta was noted. After the self-cooling Sharava was taken out from V-EMF and sealing was opened. Chakrikas were collected and weighted. The Chakrikas were again ground to prepare powder. Likewise, similar processes were followed for all consecutive Puta. The same procedure was repeated till Bhasma Siddhi Lakshanas achieved. The whole process of Marana was given in [Figure 4].
Figure 4: Marana process of Shuddha Vajra. (A) Shuddha Vajra. (B) Addition of Gulab Arka. (C) After 1 h trituration. (D) Sharava Samputa. (E) Kept in EMF. (F) Addition of Kumari Swaraasa. (G) Chakrikas prepared after this doughy consistency. (H) Vajra Bhasma.

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  Result and Observations Top


The Raman spectrum data of the Ashuddha Vajra sample was matched with the RRUFF data of diamond on 1332.51 cm-1[15] [Figure 5]. This showed the authenticity of the raw material.
Figure 5: Raman spectra of raw diamond

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During the preparation of Gulab Arka, the water started boiling after 30 minutes and the colour of the water and rose petals changed. An average of 6 h was required for 50% distillate from 200 g of rose petals. A total of 40 batches of Gulab Arka were prepared for the Shodhana and Marana processes of the Vajra. Gulab Arka was transparent in color, non-sticky in touch, and the smell was the same as rose. The Arka was tasteless, and the average pH of different batches of fifty percent distillate was 4.2 to 4.6. The specific gravity of GA was 1.002 and the total solid content of GA was zero.

For complete immersion of 282 g of RD particles, 300 ml of Gulab Arka was required. An average of 30 minutes was required for achieving the red hot stage up to 20 minutes. After the 20th quenching, an average of 15 minutes was required for the red hot stage. At the time of quenching, a “hissing” sound was heard and the pleasant smell of Gulab Arka was felt. At the time of the first heating, diamond particles became blackish, and after 26 minutes of heating, that black color disappeared. Stainless steel vessel containing GA was covered with the S.S. plate rapidly to avoid bumping of diamond particles at the time of quenching. The lustre of diamond scrap has increased after the 3rd quenching. More dust particles or gum particles were found after the 4th quenching in the media. Floated particles were seen over the liquid medium in the 5th quenching. The color of diamond particles becomes dull reddish. Floated particles became increased over the medium in 6th quenching. The hissing sound continued for 50–55 sec. after quenching up to the 50th quench. After the 51st quenching, time decreased (25–30 sec.). The results and observations before and after the purification process were represented in [Table 1].
Table 1: Result and observations of Vajra - before and after the purification process

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An average 53.95% yield was obtained in the Kumari Swarasa preparation. From 1st to 8th Puta, an average of 35–40 ml of GA was required. On the 9th, Puta diamond particles were converted into powder form and a greater quantity (45–50 ml) of GA was required. From the 15thPuta, an average of 40–70 ml of Kumari juice was required for consecutive Putas. A 900°C temperature was achieved in 2 h, and it was maintained for more 1 h. An average of 30–36 h was required for complete self-cooling (34–37°C) as per the season [Figure 6]. The results and observations during the Bhasma preparation were noted [Table 2] and [Figure 7][Figure 8][Figure 9]. At the end of 60 Putas weight of Vajra Bhasma was found 141 g from 129 g of PD. A 9.30% weight gain was found at the end of the Marana process. All the Bhasma Pariksha passed at the end of 60 Putas [Table 3] and [Figure 9]. The physical-chemical parameters of RD, PD, and Vajra Bhasma (VB) have been enumerated in [Table 4].
Figure 6: Time and temperature pattern of V-EMF during heating process

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Table 2: Observation of Marana process

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Figure 7: Average weight changes during the Marana process

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Figure 8: Vajra during Marana process. (A) After 1st Puta. (B) After 2nd Puta. (C) After 3rd Puta. (D) After 4th Puta. (E) After 5th Puta. (F) After 6th Puta. (G) After 10th Puta. (H) After 15th Puta. (I) After 20th Puta. (J) After 25th Puta.

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Figure 9: Vajra during Marana process and Bhasma Siddhi Lakshana. (A) After 30th Puta. (B) After 35th Puta. (C) After 40th Puta. (D) After 45th Puta. (E) After 50th Puta. (F) After 55th Puta. (G) After 60th Puta. (H) Varitaratwa. (I) Rekhapurnatwa. (J) Unnam.

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Table 3: Analysis of Vajra Bhasma with classical parameters

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Table 4: Physicochemical characters of raw and processed diamond

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  Discussion Top


For the preparation of Vajra Bhasma; 39 Shodhana methods and 107 Marana methods have been revealed in the classical texts of Rasa Shastra. Bhasmikarana converts material from its zero-valent state to a higher oxidation state and thus eliminates the toxic nature of the material.[16] For Vajra Shodhana, five different processes are described in the classics, viz., Swedana (sudation), Nisechana (quenching), Puta-Nisechana (a measure of heat-immersion of a heated solid in liquid), Swedana-Puta-Nisechana (sudation-measure of heat-immersion of a heated solid in liquid) and Swedana-Nisechana (sudation-immersion of a heated solid in liquid).[5] The methods of Marana are completely different in various texts, viz. only Sthapana (kept in soil),[17]Swedana (sudation),[18]Nirvapa (quenching),[19]Puta,[20] etc. After reviewing classical texts, the “Puta” and “Gaja Puta” words were found for the quantum of heat in the preparation of Vajra Bhasma.[21] Previously, one work has been carried out on the pharmaceutico-analytical study of Vajra Bhasma with the classical Puta.[7] In the present study, the Marana process was conducted at 900°C with V-EMF.

In the present study, Shodhana of Vajra was carried out with the 108-times heating and quenching process in Gulab Arka. Chemically, diamond is an allotropic form of carbon in a cubic system.[22] Sixty elements have now been identified as occurring in a diamond. Some diamonds contain visibly quite large inclusions of up to a millimetre in diameter. The inclusions may be gaseous, liquid, or solid. Therefore, the Shodhana process may help to remove undesirable material from the rough diamond scraps.[23] First of all, 282 g of Ashuddha Vajra were taken in an iron pan and heated over a gas stove on average at 500–512°C because, in an atmosphere of pure oxygen, diamond has an ignition point that ranges from 690°C (1,274 °F) to 840°C (1,540 °F); smaller crystals tend to burn more easily.[24] If it is heated at a higher temperature, it may cause burnout. There are three stages involved in the quenching process, that is, the vapour blanket stage, the vapour transport cooling phase, and the liquid cooling stage.[25] Published research shows that repeated quenching causes an increase in the wear coefficient of the solid material.[26] Accordingly, the Vajra Shodhana may help to decrease the hardness of the diamond and the material become more feasible for the next Marana process.

Diamond has the highest thermal conductivity, so heat is the only treatment that can be applied to break down its bonds. The coefficient of thermal expansion of diamond is extremely low, so much time is required for heating and dipping processes. Research revealed that dominant volatile compounds of first rose water were identified to be citronellol, geraniol, benzoic acid 2-hydroxy-3-methyl butyl ester, carbamic acid methyl ester, geranyl acetate, methyl eugenol, linalool, and eucalyptol.[27] These chemical constituents of rose water may help to remove impurities and may help to increase the therapeutic efficacy of Vajra.

When diamonds are heated, the changes that take place depend markedly on the environment around the diamond. If oxygen, or other active agents, are present, a black coating can form on the surface of the diamond above ≈900 K. In the present study also, when the Ashuddha Vajra was heated over the stove, a blackish discoloration was seen. After 15 minutes of heating, the red-hot stage was gone. It may be due to the iron vessel. When an iron vessel is heated to above 460°C, it glows with a red color. The specific quenching media have different rates of cooling. The slower the material cools, the higher the chance of changes to the microstructure.[28] 2.84 percent loss was found during the purification procedure. It may be due to the removal of impurities and manual loss. Before the process of Shodhana, the pH of GA was acidic and afterwards it became basic. It may be because; during the heating, the process material gets oxidized and the hydrogen molecule breaks into H and OH ions. The H ion gets liberated and changes the pH.

A diamond scratches all the other material which comes into its contact. In the present study, the soaking method of the Bhavana (pulverization by adding a liquid to a powder) was adopted from the 1st to 3rdPuta. From 4th to 8thPuta, for one hour, levigation was carried out with GA or Kumari juice. The original reference from the text mentioned 3 h of levigation, but in the present study, the modification was done to avoid scraping of the mortar pestle. From 1st to 5th, a 4 g weight loss was found. It may be due to the removal of remaining impurities. In the 10th, 25th, and 35thPuta, abruptly 13 g, 10 g, and 6 g weight gain were found, respectively; it may be due to pressure during the levigation process. The pressure was caused by scraping off the Kharala, and that scraped material was added on. The weight loss found in other Putas may be due to manual loss or sticking of the material in Kharala or Sharava (earthen shallow vessel). Less liquid media (35–40 ml) was required in 1st to 8thPuta. It may be due to the coarse particles of the diamond absorbing less liquid. After 9thPuta diamond particles were converted into a more minute form and more quantity (45–50 ml) of liquid was absorbed. From the 15thPuta, Kumari Swarasa was used as liquid medium and (40–70 ml) is used for consecutive Putas. Up to 15th, Puta pellets were soft and could not be measured with a hardness tester. From 16thPuta it became hard and in consecutive Putas the pellets became soft. At the end of the 60 Putas, the average hardness of pellets was 2.4. VB passed the Varitaratva (floated on the water when sprinkled over water) test of Bhasma after the end of the fiftieth Puta. It shows that the expected lightness of Bhasma was attained. It was constant up to the last Puta. The mentioned color viz., Sankha Sitanshu (whitish (HEX code #F9F6EE)), was achieved in the present study. White-colored Bhasma may be obtained due to the presence of silica, calcium, or arsenical compounds formed in the end product. After the 54thPuta minute, shining particles were seen in some pellets. The complete Nishchandratava (lustreless) was found after the 59thPuta.

Loss on drying is a widely used technique to determine the moisture content of a sample, although occasionally it may refer to the loss of any volatile matter from the sample. In the present study, 0.7, 0.3, and 0.1 percent in Ashuddha Vajra, Shuddha Vajra, and Vajra Bhasma, respectively, indicates that there was a minute amount of moisture found in all the samples. 10.2%, 8.1%, and 0% loss on ignition were found in Ashuddha Vajra, Shuddha Vajra, and Vajra Bhasma. These indicate that the Ashuddha Vajra has impurities and less heat-stable material. After Shodhana, the heat stability of Vajra may increase.

Limitations of the study

This study was conducted to explore the unit operative process of Vajra Bhasma. Here, the batch size was too large for the exploration of study. There are 107 different methods available for the Marana process, but the use of Kharala is found in only 10 of them. In all other methods, Vajra is mentioned as being kept in the bolus and subjected to Puta directly. But in this study, exploration of various methods was not done. In the present study, the researcher used the Hansaraj stone Kharala because of the unavailability of Semak Pathar Kharala, which is mentioned for the preparation of the Vajra Bhasma. The diamond is very costly, so a collection of data for the manufacturing process was not provided in the present study.


  Conclusion Top


The Nisechana method was used for the Shodhana of the Vajra. Bhavana and Puta were used for the Marana process. This study concluded that the soaking method of Bhavana may be applied in the starting phase of the Marana process. After the material became fragile or soft, the Bhavana may be applied with medium pressure. If conceivable, use the method which does not mention the use of a mortar and pestle in the Marana process. This evaluation is preliminary in nature, and further methods may be used and experiments may be conducted considering all the remaining relevant parameters.

Acknowledgement

The author would like to thank Prof. L.K. Dwivedi, Dr. Galib Ruknuddin, Dr. Prashant Bedarkar, and Vd. Dilip Prajapati for their guidance to conduct this study. The author would like to thank Dr. Sarika Makwana, Dr. Om Pandey, and Krupali Jani for helping throughout the study.

Financial support and sponsorship

Not applicable.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.





 
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    Figures

  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5], [Figure 6], [Figure 7], [Figure 8], [Figure 9]
 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]



 

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