What are Gold Salts?

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While gold is generally considered to be a precious metal used mainly for artistic objects, personal adornment, and the occasional industrial usage, nowadays, the ancient belief of the therapeutic benefits of gold has once again been entertained. Enter gold salts, a common misnomer that is largely accepted by the masses to identify a variety of chemical compounds of gold employed for therapeutic purposes. Gold salts are not really strictly salts at all, but are chemical compounds found in pure gold which are usually further refined and suspended for use in medicine – a process known by a number of names such as chrysotherapy and aurotherapy.[1]

The earliest use of gold for its medicinal properties dates back to ancient times, where it was then believed that gold was of a divine origin and thus innately possessed healing powers. This belief was widespread, with many civilizations often imbibing from cups made of gold, wearing ornaments of the materials, and even consuming gold in various quantities by mixing it with food or drink, in the belief that its inherent divine powers would cure any malady.[2] This belief later died down with the coming of the Enlightenment, although the practice of imbibing gold, whether through food and drink, remained a piece de resistance for the elite until gold became too expensive for such wasteful and decadent intents. The re-discovery of gold salts for therapeutic use came about during the early 1930s, where it was shown to have had a significant effect on the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.[3] The practice of using gold salts to treat arthritis is usually done by injecting a suspension of fine gold salts and water or some other liquid to a large muscular area such as that of the arm or the buttocks. Another means of therapy comes in the form of colloidal gold, a product which is composed of distilled water and gold salts that are to be taken as a draught several times in a day. While research has shown that gold salts may provide some degree of beneficial relief from the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, it has also shown that medicinal therapy with the use of gold salts can have some detrimental side-effects that may also harm the body if used without expert advice.

Today, the use of gold salts in medicine is still not a general practice, although some high-end medicines do contain trace compounds of gold. Medicines such as Solganal (gold aurothioglucose) and Aurolate (gold sodium thiomalate) are intramuscular drugs that are taken to help reduce inflammation in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, lupus emphysematous, and membranous nephritis. Ridaura (gold/auranofin) is an oral drug that contains gold compounds and is also used for the treatment of several types of inflammation.[4] The use of gold salts for medicine is by far a niche market that attracts a number of adherents, although general medical practice has shown that some of the risks that one can experience in treatment are not worth the time and money invested in such treatments.

What are Gold Salts? - References:

[1] http://www.ediblegold.com/ediblegoldhistory.asp
[2] http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/cr980431o
[3] http://imva.info/essays.shtml
[4] http://www.webmd.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/gold-salts-for-rheumatoid-arthritis

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