Gairika (Red Ochre)

Gairika (Red Ochre) a silicate of Alumina and oxide of Iron. In Ayurveda it is used for medicinal purpose after purification. It is sweet, astringent, anti-phlegmatic, anti-bilious and cooling. It shows beneficial effects in skin diseases, piles, bleeding disorders, ulcers, boils, urticaria, vomiting, hiccups etc. It is not used as single drug but as an ingredient of some compound preparations containing a large number of mineral drugs.

Vernacular Names

  • Sanskrit: Kasayakkal, Kavi, Svarna gairika
  • English: Ochre, Reddle
  • Gujarati: Geru, Sonageru
  • Hindi: Geru, Gerumitti
  • Bengali: Girimati
  • Kannada: Hojatha, Jajoo, Kaavi, Kemmannu
  • Malayalam: Kavimannu
  • Marathi: Geru, Sonakava
  • Punjabi: Geri
  • Tamil: Seemaikkaavikkallu, Kavikkal
  • Telugu: Kavirayi, Kaavi
  • Urdu: Geru (Teen-e-Rumi)

Origin and occurrence

Gairika is a natural hematite mineral found with other iron-titanium oxide minerals in igneous and metamorphic rocks as accessory mineral. Gairika is associated with magnetite. It sometimes contains minor amount of titanium and magnesium. Gairika occurs as an alteration product of other iron minerals or by degradation of highly ferruginous rocks in the form of weathered residual concentrations. It is generally found mixed with clay and other impurities.

Based on colour, there are two types of ochres found in the country

  1. Red ochre: Anhydrous iron oxide. It contain more iron and is used as medicine.
  2. Yellow ochre: hydrated iron oxide is yellow ochre

In India, Gairika deposits are chiefly found in Rajpur, Banaskantha, Jamnagar and Kuchchh in Gujarat, Bellary and Bidar in Karnataka, Gwalior, Jabalpur, Satna, Kailashpur, Madhogarh and Mandla in Madhya Pradesh and Udaipur, Alwar, Bikaner, Chittorgarh and Sawai Madhopur in Rajasthan. Other known occurrences are in Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal.

Physical properties

  1. Nature: Massive clayey
  2. Colour: Reddish brown
  3. Streak: Reddish brown
  4. Fracture: Uneven
  5. Lustre: Earthy
  6. Tenacity: Brittle
  7. Transparency: Opaque
  8. Hardness:5.5 to 6.5 but much softer in earthy variety
  9. Sp. Gr.:2.7

Shodhana or Purification

  1. Gairika:1 Part
  2. Go-dugdha: Q.S for Bhavana


Prepare fine powder of Gairika and Bhavana of Go-dugdha should be given three times with sufficient quantity, dry and use for therapeutic purposes.

Ayurvedic Properties and Action

  • Rasa (taste on tongue): Kasaya (Astringent), Madhura
  • Guna (Pharmacological Action): Snigdha (Unctuous), Visada (Non-Saline)
  • Virya: Sita (Cooling)
  • Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Madhura (Sweet)


  • Pitta-Nashak
  • Balya
  • Vran-ropak
  • Netrya
  • Kapha-hara

Benefits of Gairika

  • It has cooling and antibilious action.
  • It prevents hemorrhage.
  • It gives relief in hiccups.
  • Its topical application gives relief in burns, ulcers, boils, pustular eruption.

Therapeutic Uses of Shuddha Gairika

  • Netra roga (diseases of eyes)
  • Raktapitta (bleeding disorder)
  • Hikka (hiccup)
  • Vamana (vomiting)
  • Vish-vikar (disorders due to poison)
  • Rakta pradara (menorrhagia or metrorrhagia or both)
  • Kandu (itching)
  • Jvara (fever)
  • Daha (burning sensation)
  • Udara roga (diseases of abdomen)

Dose of Shuddha Gairika

  • 250mg-500 mg of Shuddha Gairika empty stomach with honey.
  • Externally, Gairik is applied on skin diseases, burns and scalds.

Important Formulations of Ayurveda containing Shuddha Gairika

  • Kumkumadi taila
  • Bhringaraja taila
  • Laghu Sutashekhara rasa
  • Kamadudha rasa (Mauktika yukta)
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