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The Indian fascination for precious metals is legendary. However, we revere our gold, silver, copper and bronze not just for their aesthetic and monetary values but also because they have incredible therapeutic benefits.

The most fascinating of these is panchadhatu – a mixture of gold, silver, copper, steel or brass ­– that has been used for healing since times immemorial. Gold is cooling, acts as a tonic, balances the body’s elements (kapham, vatam, pittam) and invigorates the eyesight. Silver is cooling, laxative and suppresses over-active pittam and vāyu (wind), thereby rebalancing the body. Copper, in the meantime, is cooling, anti-inflammatory, laxative, prevents bone and calcium loss, aids metabolism and reduces the damage caused by free radicals.

It is believed that panchadhatu should be worn next to the body, while food should be served in kasha vessels for optimal absorption of these therapeutic qualities

Copper also forms the foundation of another important metal alloy called kasha (variously known as kansa) – a compound of copper, tin, zinc, iron and mercury, with each of the metals contributing its own advantages. For example, iron is cooling, allays thirst, generates vāyu and balances pittam and kapham; while zinc is known for its vermifugal and antiseptic properties, which help prevent skin disorders.

Intrigued? There is a simple way to dip your toes (literally speaking) in this fascinating philosophy. All you need is a kasha katori – a small, smooth bowl made from the alloy of five auspicious metals. Dip it in ghee (clarified butter) and use the smooth side for massaging your feet. This not only keeps feet soft and supple but also draws out excessive heat from the body, thereby calming your nerves and detoxifying the complexion