Gold in Medicine: Uses and Benefits
We are talking about the use of gold in medicine.
The Russian word "золото" originates from the Old Church Slavic zlato (translates as – "yellow.") Gold in Spanish and Italian – oro, which means "bright yellow." In English, the word gold originates from the Gothic gulþ – "yellow, golden". In Latin, the word gold – aurum is associated with the name of the ancient Roman goddess of dawn Aurora.
Gold is the first metal ever known to man. It was revered from the earliest times, as precious. Golden items already existed in the 5-4 millennium BC.
Gold is widely used in many industries and science.
Approximately 10% of the world’s total consumption of gold reserves are used in dentistry, pharmacology, radiation therapy, plastic surgery and cosmetology. Let's talk about the application of this noble metal in these medical areas.
Gold – a remedy for ailments
In ancient cultures, the "king of metals" was used in medical drug-making and in various treatment of diseases. Healing properties of gold are very extensive. It can destroy bacteria, disinfect, strengthen the body and improve immunity, positively influence the work of the heart and internal organs. In addition, pure gold is a hypoallergenic metal.
Alchemist, philosopher and physician Paracelsus, who lived in the XVII century, wrote about gold:
"Not the transformation of metals into gold should be the aim of chemistry, but the provision of medication."
In India, it is believed that the regular intake of gold has a beneficial effect on the human body, rejuvenating and toning it. Gold is taken in the form of a powder or tablets (the average dose per day is 1-2 mg). The Japanese also convinced of the merits of the dietary intake of gold. They add the finest gold foil in tea or sake.
Gold and Dentistry
Interestingly enough, people began to use gold in the dental industry a few thousand years ago. Dental crowns and prostheses were made from it. Scientists discovered gold dentures even in the mouth of the Egyptian mummy of the pharaoh Chephren, buried in 3-2 millennium BC.
Currently, tooth supporting structures that are used in restorative dentistry practice, are made of gold alloys along with other metals: platinum, silver, copper, nickel. This adds extra strength to the micro-prosthesis.
Gold and Pharmacology
This branch of medicine is one of the most important for the gold usage. Compounds of the precious metal are part of many drugs that are used in the treatment of malignant tumors, pulmonary tuberculosis, skin diseases and autoimmune diseases. Some medical drugs that contain gold nanoparticles successfully combat the Helicobacter pylori bacterium, which causes a stomach ulcer, and have an anti-fungal effect. Medical products with gold nanoparticles are widely used in the treatment of chronic arthritis.
In 1929, the French scientist Jacques Forestier became the first one who used injections of gold sodium aurothiomalate as the treatment of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Aurotherapy (treatment with gold compounds) made a highly positive effect. The injections alleviated pain in the joints and removed edema. However, such treatments were too expensive. Injections had to be performed for several months, until the result was achieved.
Nowadays, there are a few immunosuppressant drugs that contain gold nanoparticles. These drugs are prescribed for patients with chronic infections or oncological diseases.
Gold and Radiation therapy
In modern medicine, radioactive gold is used to diagnose and treat cancer. During the internal radiation therapy (chemotherapy), the patient's body is injected with mixtures of radioactive gold. Some forms of cancer are treated like that. There is also a new progressive method: the injection of microscopic gold nanocapsules into the tumor region with infrared light radiation. Malignant cells die under such rays, and healthy ones remain undamaged.
Studies conducted by British scientists James Hainfeld and Daniel Slatkin have demonstrated that gold nanoparticles contribute to a greater effect of the radiation therapy. Scientists have found that the combination of nanoparticles with X-rays reduces the number of cancer cells in the body and stops the tumor growth.
Over the past decades, new opportunities for the medical usage of gold nanoparticles have been discovered.
Experts believe that the demand for gold in various industries will continue to grow, creating the necessary support for the precious metal price increase.