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Gold Standards

Eat as much of it as you can afford – but it won’t do you any good!


4It’s a brand new age. We’re not only firmly planted in a new millennium, but we’re also all now wondering what the Mayans were on about. Certainly old Nostradamus, with his enigmatic hints about the end of everything, seems to have got it tangled this time. It’s now 2013. Y2K passed without a tremble. Armageddon didn’t happen this time around. And even the New-Agers themselves reckon that The Age of Aquarius is fizzling out – we’re now in ‘The Cusp of Ages’.

    But if we start talking about ‘New Age’ thinking, things will get confusing. Because, firstly, vibrations, chakras and harmonies are part of a language which isn’t shared by modern medical science. Yet, when it comes to the healing properties of gold, these two outlooks overlap most curiously. And secondly, there’s nothing very ‘new’ about this. More than 5,000 years ago the ancient Egyptians (to name but one culture amongst many) were eating gold for physical, mental and spiritual purification. It’s a simple enough idea – it’s the purest of metals – and the feeling that something so rare and beautiful just has to be beneficial and healthy is a hard one to deny.


      This belief crops up throughout the annals of recorded history. The alchemists of Alexandria developed an ‘elixir’ made of liquid gold. They reckoned that gold was a mystical metal that represented the perfection of matter, and that its presence in the body would enliven, rejuvenate, and cure a multitude of diseases as well as restore youth and perfect health. In medieval Europe gold-coated pills and ‘gold waters’ were hugely popular. Doctors and surgeons mixed powdered gold into drinks to ‘comfort sore limbs’ – which is, incidentally, one of the first references to arthritis as a degenerative condition.

       During the Renaissance, the German surgeon and philosopher, Paracelsus (who is widely considered to be the founder of modern pharmacy) developed many successful medicines from metallic minerals, including gold. One of the greatest alchemists/chemists of all time, he founded the ‘School of Iatrochemistry’ (the ‘chemistry of medicine’) which was the forerunner of today’s pharmacology. In the 1900s European surgeons would often implant a fragment of gold under the skin near an inflamed joint. And even today, in China the restorative properties of gold are still honoured in rural villages, where many peasants cook their rice together with a gold coin to replenish the minerals in their bodies, and up-market Chinese restaurants put 24-carat gold-leaf in their food preparations. The restorative and healing properties of gold are not a new idea, although it’s all become rather muddled up.

       That’s one side of the golden coin. The other side is more about lifestyle. A rapping ‘gangsta’ who’s glittering with 24-carat jewellery is not so far away from those fine-diners with the backdrop of a string quartet, dining on ‘Gold Tartina Caviar and edible gold leaf in flakes’. Or sushi sprinkled with edible gold. Or the birthday boy who cracks open a bottle of Goldschlager at midnight. (Metallic gold has an E number of 175, by the way, just in case you like to check your labels.) Bling is bling, whatever the context. So don’t tangle things up. On the one hand there’s the esoteric belief that ingested gold will tumble about inside you, open your inner eye and fix what ails you. And the other hand is covered with gold-and-diamond rings (and no doubt has bodyguards and paparazzi in attendance, too). It’s the mystical versus the moneyed – it’s alchemy or it’s ‘look-at-me’. So what’s the truth about eating gold? Is it all a crock of (golden) crud? Does it work?

      Imagine those Egyptian pharaohs who used to swear by the benefits of eating a chunk of gold a day. And then just try to picture the young slaves whose job it was to clean the royal commode. What’s the betting that, after a year or two, they were somehow able to buy their freedom? The fact is that gold is one of the few metals which is immutable, meaning that it doesn’t rust or oxidise, and resists attack by single acids. Even the expression ‘the acid test’ originates from this – gold is unaffected by even nitric acid, which attacks all other precious metals, and for centuries was the (acid) test for pure gold. And for every gram of gold we eat, exactly one gram of gold will sooner or later pass out of our body, completely unaffected by its journey.

      But – and it’s a huge and important ‘but’ – that’s metallic gold. Implant a gold nugget somewhere inside our body (or underneath things) and there’s no way it’s going to improve rheumatoid joints or prostrate function. But reduce gold to one of its salts or ‘colloidal’ gold (a suspension of gold nano-particles in water) or precipitate gold chloride using citrate or ascorbate ions, and something quite different emerges. And I’m going to quote verbatim here from a recent scientific paper, because I don’t understand a word of it (!) – “. . . the technique of immunogold labelling exploits the ability of the gold particles to adsorb protein molecules onto their surfaces. Colloidal gold particles coated with specific antibodies can be used as probes for the presence and position of antigens on the surfaces of cells. In ultrathin sections of tissues viewed by electron microscopy, the immunogold labels appear as extremely dense round spots at the position of the antigen.” Basically, what this impressive technobabble means is that, when used in the right way, gold is capable of providing salts and solutions which really can change and affect our bodies for the better.

      The ancient alchemists had the right idea but never quite got to the bottom of things. Michael Faraday (a Fellow of England’s legendary Royal Society) was the first person to isolate and identify colloidal gold, back in 1857, based on the initial work of Paracelsus, 400 years earlier. In 1935, colloidal gold and its associated salts were extensively defined in a paper in America’s ‘Clinical Medicine & Surgery’ as being widely restorative and preventative, including all sorts of implications about cancer prevention and cure.

      Bottom line: gold is really good for you. It’ll certainly massage your ego, but it will also help your body put things right. You can wear it or you can eat it – but that’s really not the way to go. Done properly, today’s appliance of science will cure many of your ills. It might have certain vibrational properties, and it may also balance your chakras. But alchemists, hippies and scientists alike all overlap on this one. It’s one of the most valuable metals we’ve ever known – and that’s for lots of different reasons!

Rob De Wet


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