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GOLD AND ITS RELATIONSHIP TO NEUROLOGICAL/GLANDULAR CONDITIONS
DOUGLAS G. RICHARDS DAVID L. McMILLIN ERIC A. MEIN CARL D. NELSON
Meridian Institute Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA
Despite increasing sales of gold supplements, and claims of henefits for neurological and glandular conditions, gold has received little attention in modern medical literature except as a drug for rheumatoid arthritis. Historically, however, gold had a reputation as a "nervine," a therapy for nervous disorders. A review of the historical literature shows gold in use during the 19th century for conditions including depression, epilepsy, migraine, and glandular problems such as amenorrhea and impotence. The most notable use of gold was in a treatment for alcoholism developed hy Keeley (J 897). In the modern medical literature, gold-containing medicines for rheumatoid arthritis are known to have occasional neurotoxic adverse effects. There are also a few studies suggesting a role for gold as a naturally occurring trace element in the reproductive glands. One small recent study demonstrated a possible positive effect of gold on cognitive ability. There is a need for more experimental and clinical research of the neuropharmacology and neurochemistry of gold, and for the exploration of gold's possible role as a trace element. Keywords glandular, gold, history, neurological, trace element
Received 6 August 200 1. Address correspondence to Douglas G. Richards, PhD, Meridian Institute, 1853 Old Donation Parkway, Suite 1, Virginia Beach, VA 23454, USA.
D. G. Richards et al.
The modern use of gold-containing medicines focuses primarily on rheumatoid arthritis, with some recent attention to other antiinflammatory uses of gold, and to new anticancer and antimicrobial gold drugs (Fricker, 1998). Otherwise, in mainstream medicine, gold has been seen as a metal with little biological relevance. In contrast, the benefits suggested for gold-containing supplements, widely available in health food stores and over the Internet, address a variety of conditions including alcoholism, depression, and gland function (e.g., http://www.colloidalgold.com, 2001; http://www.topsilver.com, 2001). The present review asks if there is any support for a neuropharmacologic effect of gold. Although there is very little modern research on these applications for gold, historically one notable use of gold was as a "nervine," a substance that could revitalize people suffering from nervous conditions, a term we would today call neurological and psychiatric disorders, such as epilepsy and depression. This article reviews the historical use of gold as a healing agent for the nervous and glandular systems, and looks at recent literature pointing to a biological role in these systems for gold. Goodwin and Goodwin (1984) have addressed what they term the "tomato effect," a rejection of highly efficacious therapies. The analogy is with the long-held belief that tomatoes were poisonous, despite evidence to the contrary. The tomato effect contrasts with the placebo effect, where a positive (but spurious) response causes therapies to be accepted which are later shown to be useless or harmful. The Goodwins use gold as an example of the tomato effect. The original rationale behind the use of gold for rheumatoid arthritis was its effectiveness as an antibiotic for tuberculosis (with the assumption that rheumatoid arthritis was a related infectious disease). When, by 1945, the infectious theory of rheumatoid arthritis was discarded, gold therapy fell into disfavor, despite its proven effectiveness. "Gold started to regain its former popularity only when the medical community accepted both the evidence of gold's efficacy and medicine's ignorance of gold's mechanism of action. The fact that gold now has an unknown mechanism of action-is a truly idiopathic medicine-is no longer an impediment to its use, because rheumatoid arthritis has become an idiopathic disease" (p. 2389).
Mahdihassan (1985) has explored the historical use of gold in Eastern traditions. the Arabic word for red. al. yet there are reports pointing to a possible involvement of naturally-occurring gold in the nervous and glandular systems. The authors feel that this suggests involvement of an opioidergic mechanism for the Indian drugs. Both the Indian drugs and auranofin exhibited analgesic activity. probably drew on the traditions of Eastern alchemy and sought a form of gold that could be internally consumed: "potable gold. Neither the causes of the disorders nor the mechanism of gold is known. The analgesic effects of the two Indian drugs could be partly blocked by pretreatment with naloxone (an opiate antagonist)." as . colloidal gold was alkimiya. HISTORICAL REVIEW OF GOLD AS A NERVINE Gold has a therapeutic history in both Eastern and Western traditions. Two calcified gold preparations were compared to the modem antiarthritis gold drug auranofin in rats using four types of noxious stimuli. but not the effects of the auranofin. prescribed by Ayurvedic physicians for rejuvenation and revitalization in old age under the name of Swarna Bhasma (red gold). which in the Western world gave the word alchemy.Tibb.Gold and Neurological Conditions 33 The intent of this article is to explore a similar situation for gold and neurological/glandular disorders. The Chinese were the first to prepare and use red colloidal gold as the alchemical drug of longevity. The word alchemy derives from two Chinese words: Kim (gold) and Yeh Guice). Bajaj and Vohora (1998) studied the analgesic activity of gold preparations used in Ayurveda and Unani. like their Eastern counterparts. The medieval alchemists. and evidence from historical sources of a possible efficacy of gold in therapy for neurological disorders. two Indian medical traditions. and with the definite article. Kimyeh (gold juice) entered the Arabic language as kimiya. The use of gold in Western medicine as a nervine has a long history as well. The procedure for the preparation of red colloidal gold is still in use today in India. There is modem scientific support for at least one effect of Eastern gold preparations on the nervous system.
the elixir of life. 1821).g. Paracelsus. By the beginning of the 17th century. G. but gave credit to earlier figures as well. Chrestien was a notable physician of the time. James Compton Burnett published a lengthy treatise on the use of gold in medicine. the Royal Academy of Medicine of Madrid. such as melancholy. and diseases of the . He noted that the ingestion of gold is mentioned in the Bible (Exodus 32:20). and had a stimulating effect on the glands and sexual functioning. In 1879. gold was in use as a nervine. epilepsy). and that the Chinese were using it in 2500 BC.. recommended preparations of gold in his therapy for epilepsy (Temkin. alchemists were clearly able to produce the soluble salt gold trichloride (Higby. He was also apparently the first to notice that in occasional cases treatment with gold produced an increase in vitality and intellectual faculties. fainting. Chrestien published "Researches and observations on the effects of preparations of gold in the treatment of many diseases and notably in syphilitic maladies" (Niel & Chrestien. in the 16th century. and a prolific author (27 books listed in the National Library of Medicine catalog). including neurological and glandular problems such as epilepsy. and many other learned societies. Burnett was a medical doctor. Burnett traced the modem use of gold back to Chrestien's first book in 1811. Richards et al. a disease causing dementia among other serious symptoms. A. 1971). His interest in gold came from the observation that it had milder side effects than mercury (the common treatment for syphilis at the time). fevers. In 1821 the Frenchman J. "A gold cordial could be found in the new pharmacopoeias of the 17th century and was advocated by Nicholas Culpepper for the treatment of ailments caused by a decrease in the vital spirits. according to Wiegleb's History of Alchemy in 1777. a homeopath. with a degree from the University of Montpelier. 1996). He traced its use in a diversity of disorders. and falling sickness [epilepsy]" (Fricker. By the mid17th century.34 D. gold had become a recognized (although probably not very effective) treatment for syphilis. depression. and memberships in the Royal Academy of Paris. 1982). By the beginning of the 19th century. sterility. This is notable because it includes a grouping of what today would be called neurological/psychiatric disorders (e. Chrestien and those who followed him used gold trichloride as their form of gold.
so that we may say that Gold possesses hilariant properties. resembling the approach of 20th century medicine. to the publication of De Auri Tinctura sive Aura Potabili Vero. this would range from 1.Gold and Neurological Conditions 35 uterus. so high that not even a single molecule remains. which involved high doses that were frequently toxic.74 mg of gold. The intellectual faculties are more active. However. He also noted that "Hahnemann [Samuel Hahnemann. Legrand. In traditional homeopathy.. . 49). . Burnett cites Legrand's (1828) account. his recommended dosage of gold is 3/1 00 or 9/1 00 of a grain. the originator of homeopathy] mentions nearly thirty authors (1698-1730) who praise gold as a valuable remedy in various diseases such as melancholia . Burnett took a middle course. .85 mg. Burnett was also well aware of the toxic effects of high doses of gold. by Glauber in Amsterdam in 1651. but it has been used as such with success" (p. "Gold is an excitant . the 6 mg per day (1. e. such as silver and copper. 91). which exert a powerful influence on the nervous system. but has a different philosophy from many homeopaths.." (p. It was Hahnemann's alternative to "heroic" medicine. in which he lists 80 medical men of the time who became known as "auralists. It seems possible. 57).95 mg to 5.. Chrestien's use of gold was at first opposed by the medical profession. It has been known to produce frequent erotic salacity going on to painful priapism. This is very close to the range of daily dose of modem antiarthritic drugs. He preferred low dilutions. The patients feel an indescribable sense of well-being. that Burnett did find an effective dose of gold with relatively low toxicity. He identifies himself as a homeopath. however. Burnett also says. Of this opinion is Vogt (Pharmaco-dynamik)" (p. etc. which had abandoned the use of gold in medicine." who were exploring the use of gold.g. M. as opposed to high ones. Thus. states that he has not used it as an aphrodisiac. then. Since a grain is 65 milligrams. the Medicinal Properties of Gold. gold regained its popularity. they feel themselves lighten (as they express it). "Some are of the opinion that Gold belongs to that class of noble metals. According to Burnett. the remedy is an extremely high dilution of a substance. at 29% gold) standard dose of auranofin.. Burnett says. after Chrestien's publication.
For example. migraine. anodyne. they induce aphrodisiac effects in both sexes. or of sodium . etc." This recognition of both kinds of effects is significant. copper. mental disturbance. "In nervous individuals. resembling those of mercury. Pharmacopoeia of 1890. Amenorrhea and Impotence. valerian. based on the U. and irritability (Leake. of the functional kind-may be cured by it. etc. They were the first effective antiseizure medicine. zinc. but it appears that it was found to be effective in a smaller dose than potassium bromide used alone. the standard dose of gold bromide was given in Merck's Manual as 1110to 1/5 grain.. auronatrium chloratum [gold sodium chloride]. 1942). Bromide of potassium and valerian are still used for treatment of nervous disorders. and arsenic came into use in the early 1900s as a treatment for syphilis. This can be contrasted with a standard dose of potassium bromide. nervous excitement." He is also well aware of the toxic effects of too large a dose. trembling. in his Materia Medica. quickly and continuously. 2 to 3 times daily. resort should be had to the nervines: bromide of potassium. paralysis. G. violent gastroenteritis. describes the effects of small doses of gold: "The Salts of Gold promote appetite and digestion. It is not clear exactly when gold bromide began to be used. gold was listed as a treatment for nervous disorders in sources ranging from medical texts to the first Merck manual. stimulate the cerebral functions. In discussing the treatment of asthma... particularly potassium bromide. priapism.36 D. since later in this article the adverse effects of gold are discussed as a possible indicator of areas particularly sensitive to the therapeutic effects of lower doses of gold. a sense of well-being." used for "epilepsy. Potter (1894). said to act. for example. Eichhorst (1886) in his Handbook of Practical Medicine says. and in women an increase of the menstrual discharge . The 1899 Merck's Manual lists gold under "aphrodisiacs" (p. convulsions. Continued. arsenic. and silver preparations. nervine. were first used as nervines in the mid-19th century to treat epilepsy. 38).. in small doses. and including "nausea and vomiting. insomnia. and produce a marked mental exhilaration. 236).S. glandular irritation . Richards et al. 187). Gold bromide is an "anti-epileptic. By the end of the 19th century and in the first half of the 20th century. Bromides. without bromism" (p. 1975).." (p. which has neurological manifestations. of 5 to 60 grains (Gerber.
274).D. Double chloride of gold and sodium is listed as an alterative (a medicine that produces a favorable change in the processes of nutrition and repair. Keeley found that he had to carefully monitor patients for toxic effects. Even as late as 1942. M. (1832-1900). Most. were so toxic that they were of little use. In the 19th century.Gold and Neurological Conditions 37 bromide (10-60 grains. such as atropine and strychnine. he discovered that mixing gold . an alterative in chronic diseases. Even gold chloride was too caustic for internal consumption. based on Keeley's own writings (Keeley. Then. a variety of medications were used in an effort to ease withdrawal symptoms and cure addictions. Stedman's Practical Medical Dictionary (Gerber. 1942. including morphine/opium and cocaine addiction. 1897). headache. strychnine is unlikely to be a component of Keeley's cure. 5-30 grains. as well as alcoholism. Dorland. Fomon (1920) in his book Medicine and the Allied Sciences. says gold (as chloride of gold sodium) "stimulates the nervous system. Garber. and "gold bromide" as 1/8112grain (8-30 mg). in his Text Book of Practical Therapeutics. Dorland. Ryan and Baumann (1999) give modem guidelines for bromide dosage in epilepsy-might gold bromide allow a lower dose to be effective? Hare (1912). "a secret method of treatment of alcoholism. Page 900 in Hare lists a standard dose of "gold and sodium chloride" as 1120-111 0 grain (3-6 mg). 1908) and tonic. and in the Keeley cure for alcoholism and opiumism." and is employed in therapeutics as an aphrodisiac. 1908). however. and as a nerve sedative. Keeley's great discovery was that the chloride of gold and sodium (prepared by mixing gold chloride and sodium chloride) was an effective treatment for addictions." Actually. 1942) lists gold bromide as employed in epilepsy. Keeley. in the section on Materia Medica and Therapeutics: Agents Producing Changes. Finally. The most interesting use of gold in treatment is the gold cure of Leslie E." "stimulates the sexual organs. notes "it [gold sodium chloride] is said to act as a powerful sexual stimulant and to be of service in impotence dependent upon inability to obtain an erection or when there is deficient glandular action" (p. said to be by the administration of strychnine and gold chloride. Stedman's notes the Keeley cure or gold cure.
but noting the problems with gold toxicity (that his discovery had solved). citing a recent summary of 1000 cases. The use of gold as a therapy not only for alcoholism. given that these problems are still very difficult to treat. in the course of treating addictions. February 13. Keeley had excellent powers of observation. chloride with sodium chloride and a substance which he kept secret produced a cure for addiction that "accomplishes this quietly and mildly. of which over 90% seemed to have achieved a long-term cure of their addictions. Higby calls for more historical research on the Keeley gold cure. Included in Keeley's book is a copy of an editorial from the Chicago Tribune.000 patients treated with gold by Keeley. G. even without the use of any liniment or local application whatever" (p. Despite the absence of formal scientific study. blotches. who wrote a detailed description of his own experiences in Keeley's program. and the use of gold in treatment of alcoholism at Keeley Institutes ceased with Keeley's death. without any shock or reactive effects" (Keeley. Higby (1982) cites an estimate as high as 100. 1987). resulting from the poison of the 'drug. pimples. 84). sores. For example.000 former Keeley patients joined clubs.' remarkable effects have been produced by the use of gold. Other evidence of the efficacy of Keeley's gold therapy includes the testimonial of Clark (1893). continued into the . and notes that by the mid-1890s. p. since Keeley probably administered more medicinal gold than anyone before or since. citing numerous researchers who had worked with gold in the treatment of diseases including syphilis and tuberculosis. The sores rapidly heal up and pass away. Unfortunately. 1894. Keeley's exact formula was kept a closely guarded secret. 1897.38 D. and ulcers. 138). Keeley's marvelous gold treatment" (p. Keeley'S success in treating addictions such as alcohol and morphine is impressive historical evidence of the potential of gold as a nervine. over 30. Gold medications are now a recognized replacement for steroids in treating serious skin conditions (Thomas. tumors. "dedicated to the twin goals of mutual support and spreading the gospel of Dr. Richards et at. Keeley was well aware of the history of gold in medicine. 82). he noted: "In opium patients whose bodies are covered with nodulations. and a historical discussion of the Keeley League by Barclay (1964). but for a variety of neurological and glandular disorders. The editorial discusses Keeley's remarkable record.
1993). The affinity of gold for the nervous system and the implications of this for the treatment of nervous disorders was remarked on by Keeley (1897): "The use of gold by the histologist to develop microscopical nerves may. no controlled studies of the use of gold were conducted in his time. 1983). sheaths and cells. Cayce followed the philosophy evident in Barnett: very small doses «1 mg) of gold chloride taken orally.. Ramon y Cajal (1995) notes that Gerlach in 1871 stained with gold chloride and was able to enhance the distinction between white and gray matter in sections. to reconstruct living ones" (p. astrocytes. then the development of lifeless microscopic nerves by a solution of gold may be in part owing to some of the recondite forces which cause the gold. The gold was buffered with either sodium bicarbonate or sodium bromide. When the fact is recognized that absorption by lifeless fibre is quite unlike assimilation or reconstruction of that which is vitalized. presumably to reduce toxicity. he treated a small number of malarial patients with the dye methylene blue. for neuroglia fibers. nerve fibers. "Ehrlich's earliest observations dealt with the staining of tissues for microscopic examination. Nineteenth century microscopists also discovered an application for gold in exploration of the nervous system. The application of it in solution brings out nerves which otherwise would be invisible.Gold and Neurological Conditions 39 1940s in the work of Edgar Cayce.. Gold salts have been employed in neurological staining for light microscopy since Cohnheim in 1866 (Clark. As an early test of this thesis. and even for nerve fibers of planarians. be said to indicate that nerve fibre has a peculiar affinity for that metal. Although there were testimonials to the efficacy of Cayce's treatments (Cayce. perhaps. Ehrlich supposed that the action of drugs in bodily organs was likely to involve similar fixation . Callan (1979) in the first editorial addressing holistic medicine in the Journal of the American Medical Association. taken into circulation. and so with the processes by which particular dyestuffs combined with and were fixed to specific components of the tissues. and to obtain an unprecedented degree of contrast. 82). which was known to stain . A similar approach to drug discovery was held by Paul Ehrlich (1854-1915). Gurr (1962) lists several stains in modern use containing gold chloride. credits Cayce with the origin of holistic medicine in America..
the scientific basis for treatment with trace elements began with the use of gold compounds. Taylor (1985). To summarize the relevance of the historical uses of gold. notes that while metal compounds have been administered for several centuries. for epilepsy. 1993. initially in patients with tuberculosis and later those with rheumatoid arthritis. and he showed that it had a modest therapeutic effect" (Weatherall. there are only testimonials. gold bromide was also used. G. be fixed by) the malaria parasite. It is interesting that the first use of lithium in medicine was lithium bromide in the 19th century (Scott. Richards et al. THE BIOLOGICAL ROLE OF NATURALLY -OCCURRING GOLD There is a continuum of effects with increasing concentration in the biological activity of elements. And the possible biological role of gold as a naturally-occurring trace element was not explored at all until recently. As 20th century medicine developed. although the popularity of gold and belief in its effectiveness has waxed and waned (Goodwin & Goodwin. Keeley's work stands out in this regard. the same may be possible for gold salts.40 D. (that is. gold disappeared from the pharmacopoeias. that is a modem phenomenon. 925). it is clear that there is a long tradition of gold as a nervine. from beneficial physiological effects . 1984). except in the case of rheumatoid arthritis. but there is no other scientific support for his claims. either pro or con." Lithium carbonate is a simple metal salt with major effects. 1992). Forestier (1935) demonstrated its effectiveness in arthritis. But there were no multicenter clinical trials. as with most of 19th century medicine. Yet there appears to be no early 20th century literature on the efficacy of gold for neurological and glandular conditions. in a review of therapeutic uses of trace elements in neurological/psychiatric disorders. including "the central nervous system where the use of lithium has provided spectacular results in the treatment of affective and other disorders. Yet this work can be seen as a source of hypotheses for testing with present day methods. There were only observations and reports of individual cases. p. He points out the other important uses of trace elements.
They reported that the levels of gold were slightly lower around midcycle than at other stages of the cycle. concluded that gold is a nonessential trace element. although the pharmacological application is more limited today. including gold. They noted. cobalt. (1977) measured trace elements. the pharmacological and toxic effects of gold were well known historically. its concentration cycles with the reproductive cycle. Alexiou et al. including those during pregnancy. but the physiological significance of these changes is unknown. such as sodium. Hagenfeldt et al. and. looking for cyclic variations. Alexiou et al. 587). those few studies have shown that naturally-occurring gold is found concentrated in glandular and reproductive tissues. and copper. Skandhan and Abraham (1984) measured gold in semen. in the female. An alternative may be that gold is specifically involved in reproductive glandular activity. In the male reproductive system. as discussed below. There were cyclic variations in gold (as well as a number of other elements). copper and gold contents shows a considerable increase to multiple levels . in the human endometrium and decidua. They also speculated that since gold was not seen in one pathological sample with asthenozoospermia. "The investigation of trace elements in the hair of babies resulted in the remarkable observation that in the first three months of life zinc.Gold and Neurological Conditions 41 as trace elements. It had been previously established that there are significant cyclic variations in major elements with known importance. They found gold in significantly higher concentrations (3-fold higher) in placenta than liver tissue. to pharmacological effects. But very few studies of trace elements in the body have included gold. Kauf et al. they found that the levels of gold were similar in the endometrium and the decidua. Using uteri from women undergoing hysterectomy. Because some essential trace elements (zinc. in human placenta and newborn liver at birth. which were significant at the p < . and selenium) were found in higher concentrations in the liver tissue. potassium. that may be an indication that reduction of this trace element led to this pathology. to toxic effects at high doses (Mertz. However. (1984) measured the amounts of a number of trace elements in the hair of newborn infants. As described above. including gold. (1977) measured trace elements.05 level. and noted that "this is the richest source of gold reported in biological materials" (p. 1998).
They do. The 1974 study. Platinum is known to react with DNA. it is not clear why they failed to measure these elements in their study.4 (SD 1. does not give values for gold. They point out the great metabolic importance of copper. 299). in particular. G. however.31. of the birth values. Platinum is also adjacent to gold in the periodic table of elements (the highly neurotoxic mercury is on the other side of gold. (1984) looked at both silver and gold. is depleted in patients with tumors. It must be emphasized that gold. and note that the vertical neighbors of copper (in the periodic table of elements indicating some similar properties). Interestingly. The discovery of the biological activity of these elements has largely depended on the development of technology for measuring them at very low levels. control subjects. in the opposite direction from silver. though there was no consistent relationship between gold and tumor vs.. They note that there are no previous values in the literature for platinum in the CSF. followed by a decrease . Richards et al. for the single patient with pinealblastoma the concentration of gold was about twice the concentration for the controls or other tumor types. silver and gold "are known medically almost as curiosities. as well as mutagenic properties. They found that platinum. in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of patients with cerebral neoplasms (brain tumors). 330). Given this observation. (1974).42 D. El-Yazigi et al. They state that the biochemical mechanism of this increased concentration is unknown. The concentration of silver was markedly increased in patients with malignant tumors. behaves in the hair of infants just like the physiologically important essential trace elements zinc and copper" (p. The platinum concentrations in the control group were 11. (1990) also looked at other trace elements in the CSF. which summarizes the results of several studies by previous researchers. with some rare therapeutic and toxic properties" (p. and toxic lead is close by).7) micrograms/liter. El-Yazigi et a1. point out the importance of many trace elements in enzyme systems. This is about 1/3 of the concentra- .. and has treatment uses in cancer. as well as a variety of other trace elements. One major source on trace elements in neurological disease is the work of Gooddy et a1. the malignant tumor/control patient concentration ratio was 2.. platinum. although classified as a nonessential trace element.
Any study of naturally-occurring gold needs to address dietary sources. 1985). In patients with tumors. (1970). The therapeutic and adverse effects of gold in living organisms are varied and paradoxical. but there are many other less common uses. and as an anticancer substance (Fricker. the platinum concentration is about half this leveL Are there dietary sources of this gold? This can be an important issue. 1985). in fingernails and hair note the importance of differences in environmental sources of gold in different areas. e. both administered by injection. a complex organic gold salt taken orally. either to honeybees or perhaps directly-Phacelia sericea and Dryas drummondi-which carry 25-50 times as much gold as any other plants with which they are associated. can uptake and store large amounts of gold. These few reports show that naturally-occurring gold is found in nervous and glandular tissue. The primary adverse effects include skin and . Several different gold salts are currently in use: gold sodium thiomalate and gold thioglucose. and auranofin. The primary therapeutic use of gold is in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (Kean et al. such as Indian mustard (Brassica juncea).Gold and Neurological Conditions 43 tion of gold from the other study. Anderson et al. THERAPEUTIC GOLD AND THE NERVOUS/GLANDULAR SYSTEMS Adverse effects of drugs can be an indicator of related therapeutic effects at lower dosages. Warren (1989) looked at potential sources of gold in the diet. Canada) that conceivably could provide gold in the diet. and may change in concentration in correlation with certain diseases. 1996). He noted that in 1981 gold was found in honey bee pollen in amounts as high as 0. Mahler et al. behaves in some cases like an essential trace element. since dietary factors may be responsible for many of the reported inconsistent and divergent findings in trace element research (Nielsen.. (1998) have shown that "hyperaccumulator" plants. as a steroid replacement in asthma and skin disorders. up to 100 times that found in most plants. He found two plants (in British Columbia.9 ppm (dry weight).g.. in a study of trace metals including gold.
The effects may be related to specific gold compounds. a general term referring to peripheral disorders involving multiple nerve roots. this was clearly recognized in the 19th century by such gold therapists as Burnett (1879) and Keeley (1897). delirium.. a form of spontaneous muscular activity (e. 1988)..g.. 1987).. Gold-containing drugs have been used in place of steroids in therapy for asthma (Bernstein et a1. gold may be useful in treating lupus erythematosus (Weisman et al. Some of the case studies are mentioned below. Dalziel et al... The mechanism of action for these effects is not known (Liebfarth & Persellin. 1989). and individual idiosyncratic responses.. 1986). dosage. Nierop et al. and gold has also been found to cause pemphigus (Usuba et al. C. Vernay et al. 1985). Toxicity can often be a pointer to a therapeutic use at a lower dose. They include Morvan's fibrillary chorea.g. 1983). there is a therapeutic-toxic continuum with all drugs. 1986). 1983... and (3) encephalopathy with symptoms including depression. 1981).. but in other cases have been responsible for respiratory disorders and even death (Blackwell & Gossage. Blancas et al. but diverse.. Richards et al. gold is used in dermatological therapy (e. sometimes accompanied by insomnia and anxiety. As another example. and a Guillain-Barrelike syndrome with weakness and paralysis (e. and exogenous psychoses (Schlumpf et al. they contain references to many other cases. Schlumpf et al. 1995.. yet skin disorders are a common side effect of gold medicines. gastrointestinal reactions (Locke & Smith. . parenteral). 1996. mode of administration (oral. (2) peripheral motor neuropathy. for pemphigus) (Thomas. However. At first one might think that toxic side effects are evidence against the utility of gold as a nervine. They include both peripheral and central nervous system effects. and can cause or exacerbate the same disorders for which they are effective in therapy.. The variety of peripheral neuropathies includes various forms of polyradiculoneuropathy. Three forms of gold-induced neurological side effects have been recognized: (1) painful neuropathy. with both overactivity and paralysis. 1998). 1992).g. These can include both sensory and motor symptoms.44 D. Similarly. Yet gold-containing drugs have numerous rarer side effects. Neurological adverse effects of gold-containing drugs are rare. yet gold may also induce lupus (Korholz et al.
It can also cause generalized hypothalamic lesions in the chicken and duck (Hopper & Satterlee. (1982) report a case that was characterized by weakness and numbness of the hands and feet in association with hyperalgesia of the palmar surface of the hands. Such features are clustering of myelinated fibers and the onion bulb-like arrangement of Schwann cells around and within such clusters" (Schlumpf et a1. patients typically recover. Gold thioglucose. (1984) describe a case of gold-induced encephalopathy with cerebral and cerebellar white matter lesions. it appears to become concentrated in other glandular tissue such as the pancreas (Blech et a1. Some of the reports of adverse effects of gold are simply reported as peripheral neuropathy. used in studies of obesity to destroy the ventromedial hypothalamus. (1985) report a case of gold-induced encephalopathy. With cessation of gold therapy (aurothioglucose). Schlumpf et al. 1984). a nerve biopsy revealed. consisting of delirium. dementia. as opposed to the peripheral nerves. is a well-known neurotoxin in rodents. the part responsible for control of eating behavior and metabolism.Gold and Neurological Conditions 45 1983). recovery was slow but complete. (1983) note that it is not surprising that neurological complications can be caused by gold because experimental work in animals has shown that gold localizes in nervous system tissue. Fam et al. This observation is especially interesting. Weiss et a1. In general. Encephalopathy is the general term used for damage to the brain.. Gulliford et al. "a chronic polyneuropathy with predominant features of regeneration. 1986) and the thymus and adrenals (Atkins et al. as do McAuley et a1. but slowly. reversible on withdrawal of gold therapy. Erhardt et al. since one of the claims for gold as a nervine is for the regeneration of nerves. In addition to obesity. and amnestic and cognitive disorders. In one patient. the medicine Solganol used for rheumatoid arthritis.. (1978) report a case of cerebro-organic syndrome related to gold therapy. 1975). (1977) and Perry and Jacobsen (1984). 1983). In humans it is interesting that people who develop neurological adverse effects from gold sodium thiomalate can be successfully changed to gold thioglucose for rheumatoid arthritis therapy (Hill et . from gold-induced neuropathy. Microscopic descriptions of peripheral neuropathy include marked loss of myelinated nerve fibers..
. (1997) examined the hypothesis that gold rings might protect against erosion of the finger joints in rheumatoid arthritis. how little gold can still produce a therapeutic effect? Effects have occasionally been seen with very low doses of gold. Their preliminary data suggested stimulation of cortisol secretion. typically more than 1 mg per day.46 D. Gold therapy also did not significantly alter secretion of the peptide hormones or DHEA-S. Speight and Holford (1997) say. 1129). as well as pronounced individual differences and doserelated effects. Cortisol secretion was significantly greater in gold-treated patients than in similar patients not receiving gold. using juvenile rheumatoid arthritis patients. Mulherin et al. Their conclusion is that gold does not appear to influence endogenous adrenal hormone secretion. In summary. The question of whether gold affects glandular function in humans is still open. However. These effects are further evidence suggesting that gold may play a role in these systems. Chipman et al. G. The gold drugs used in rheumatoid arthritis are typically administered in very large doses. 1995). Given that toxicity is often seen at high doses. there are diverse neurological and glandular side effects occasionally observed in response to gold-containing medications. HOW MUCH GOLD IS NECESSARY FOR A PHARMACOLOGICAL EFFECT? Conventional gold therapy uses rather large doses. al. "Dosages as low as 10 mg/week appear to be no different from 50 mg/week. but the results of the more complete study were ambiguous. when untreated patients were restudied after initiation of gold therapy. which in tum is as effective as 150 rng/week" (p. They found that there is less articular erosion at the left-hand ring . Richards et al. But there is some evidence that very low doses of gold can have pharmacological effects. (1982) tested the hypothesis that gold therapy enhances endogenous cortisol secretion. Clearly there are species differences in response to gold compounds. there was no significant change in cortisol secretion. Yet the relationship between dosage and response is not simple.
and perhaps adjacent joints.Gold and Neurological Conditions 47 finger joints. and particularly epilepsy. Interestingly. Klinkhoff and Teufel (1995). Kanabrocki et al. a therapeutic effect is surprising. removed. Gold coins were placed by the king on a church altar. 1990))." a situation that is still the case. . 1993). but is further evidence that physiological effects do not require large doses of gold. In 14th century England. This is still far more than the dose of gold available from a gold ring. "cramp rings" were used to relieve muscular pains or spasms. We have no reliable information concerning their effectiveness. its use has recently been explored in alternative medicine. noted. especially when present only at the skin surface. THE MODERN USE OF COLLOIDAL GOLD AS A NERVINE Although gold is not in use as a nervine at present in mainstream medicine.. But gold has been measured in significantly greater concentrations in fingernails nearer gold rings by Kanabrocki et al. and made into rings (Bloch. They found that doses as low as 2 mg every 4 weeks could result in major improvement. 1961). "Only speculation can be made on the mode of transport of gold from wedding bands to the fingernail. Since metallic gold has been seen as virtually inert in biological systems. Their hypothesis is that gold could pass from a gold ring through the skin and local lymphatic to nearby joints in sufficient quantities to delay articular erosion. or to Bolosiu et al. (This contrasts with the standard daily dose of 10 to 50 mg/ week for parenteral gold. But there is some historical support for this notion. They identified a group of patients with sensitivity to both the beneficial effects and the side effects of gold. (1968). and concluded that the minimum effective dose is not known. and of 6 mg/day for oral gold (Goodman et al. in an article entitled. "How low can you go?" explored the minimum effective dose of gold for rheumatoid arthritis. it is similar to the amount of gold in prescriptions for neurological and other disorders by Cayce in the early 20th century (Cayce. Belt and Kaarela (1998) and Bolosiu (1998) have expressed skepticism of the low-dose gold hypothesis. a fact apparently unknown either to Mulherin et al.
and is used in electron microscopy studies for that reason. full biological activity of the macromolecules is preserved.48 D. After four weeks on colloidal gold. it is encouraging evidence of the potential of gold as a nervine. suspended in water. whereas in two subjects who took the test three months after stopping the gold. . colloidal gold has become popular. Richards et al. Abraham and Himmel (1997) used colloidal gold to treat rheumatoid arthritis. By attaching it to macromolecules such as antibodies. Instead of the modem gold-containing drugs. (1998) explored the potential of colloidal gold as a nervine. orally administering 30 mg of colloidal gold per day. or the gold chloride used historically. Polak and Varndell (1984) note. upon adsorption. According to Abraham (1996) it is not toxic. 1996). they conducted a study to see whether gold could improve cognitive functioning. The effect of the colloidal gold persisted in three subjects after one to two months off gold. Colloidal gold is very fine particles of metallic gold (from 2 nm to 150 nm). There was no clinical evidence or laboratory evidence of toxicity in any of the patients. Abraham et al. these molecules can be tracked to the locations where they are active without affecting their functions. Encouraged by pilot work suggesting improved cognition and well-being (Abraham. 9 of the 10 patients improved markedly after 24 weeks of colloidal gold. They tested cognitive ability using the Wechsler Intelligence Scales (WAIS-R) before and after four weeks on colloidal gold at 30 mg/day. there was a 20% increase in IQ scores. and as a demonstration of a nontoxic preparation. as far back as the ancient Chinese and Indian alchemists (Mahdihassan. "Fortunately. G. colloidal gold is generally thought to be biologically inert. colloidal gold may have been the first form used as a nervine. 1985). IQ scores were down to baseline levels. Evaluated individually. The effects of the gold on the tenderness and swelling of joints were rapid and dramatic. As discussed earlier in the historical section." Yet Abraham reports that colloidal gold can have significant biological effects. In mainstream medicine. but little is known about its physiological effects. While a study of this small size is very preliminary. They studied 10 severe cases.
since little is known about effective or toxic doses. Establishing gold as an essential trace element is another challenging task. one could ask. depression. For example. A systematic exploration of the concentrations of gold in cerebrospinal fluid. as noted above.Gold and Neurological Conditions 49 DIRECTIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH Future research could focus on two aspects of gold: exploring the effects of gold supplementation on neurological conditions. As noted previously. although Abraham and Himmel (1997) present evidence to the contrary. do patients with epilepsy. Two approaches might be taken in exploring the effects of gold supplementation. Gold chloride. . And colloidal gold. or adrenal insufficiency who may be receiving gold for arthritis show any improvement in neurological/glandular symptoms? Although neurological adverse effects are rare. and individual idiosyncrasies in response. not internally. The second approach is to administer gold with the intention of affecting a neurological or glandular condition. or glandular disorder. psychiatric. is now used primarily as a test for allergic skin reactions. This is more challenging. and neurological and glandular tissue could be performed. The few studies cited here are encouraging. it has been difficult to establish a dose-response relationship for gold (Speight & Holford. The bioavailability of different gold compounds is an important consideration in exploring the effects of gold supplementation. There are substantial differences in the efficacy and side effects of the organic gold salts used for rheumatoid arthritis. should have very little physiological interaction at all. a favorite in the 19th century. beneficial side effects might be found. An advantage to using colloidal gold is that is has no known adverse effects. Animal studies with gold chloride as well as the current gold medications might also be productive. so nothing is known about its metabolism. and establishing whether naturally-occurring gold is an essential trace element with functions in the nervous/glandular systems. blood. 1997). The first consists of attending to the side effects of gold medications in cases where there is comorbidity of rheumatoid arthritis and a neurological.
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