Ayurveda's timeless affair with gold

In the annals of medical history, a mesmerizing revelation unfolded in the year 1890, when the brilliant mind of Robert Koch illuminated the scientific world. It was within the confines of his laboratory that he unraveled a striking truth—the toxicity of gold cyanide against the tuberculosis bacillus, a microscopic foe that plagued humanity. This seminal discovery laid a foundation, igniting a relentless pursuit to unravel the enigmatic biological actions and effects of this majestic metal across various pathologies.

Yet, as we delve deeper into the tapestry of time, we encounter a resplendent marvel- a testament to the extraordinary wisdom encapsulated in the ancient Ayurvedic treatises. Centuries before the advent of modern technology and the marvels of scientific advancement, the revered vaidyas of Ayurveda inscribed sacred knowledge upon the pages of history. In these hallowed texts, they meticulously chronicled the utilization of purified Gold, known as Swarna bhasma, in precisely measured quantities for the curative elixir of myriad diseases. The Ayurvedic Acharyas possessed an innate understanding of gold's intrinsic medicinal properties. Their profound insights passed down through generations, whispered of the remarkable healing potential hidden within the golden embrace of Swarna Bhasma. The luminous aura of gold, once revered by Ayurvedic sages, now beckons us to unravel its secrets through the lens of modern science.

Gold, the illustrious yellow metal, has captivated human fascination for centuries. Even after being buried for centuries or millennia, gold emerges from the ground in the same pristine condition. Its incorruptibility makes it a symbol of immortality and an emblem of unyielding aspirations and wisdom. The Middle East, particularly Dubai, has played a significant role in the global gold market. It is the largest source and the second-largest market for gold worldwide. Dubai, often referred to as the "City of Gold," has contributed to establishing the region as a major force in the gold industry. Its allure transcends continents and cultures, weaving a tale of opulence, prestige, and now, even healing.

The revered stalwarts of Ayurveda bestowed gold with a prominent position in their classical formulations. Inspired by their profound understanding of medicinal alchemy, they harnessed the therapeutic properties of gold to combat ailments and promote well-being. Their contributions paved the way for Acharyas like Kashyapa, who furtheremphasized the importance of gold in maintaining good health and immune modulation, particularly through Jatakarma Samskara and Swarnaprashana, practices aimed at the well-being of neonates.

The therapeutic properties of gold, known in Ayurveda as Swarna, have been documented in ancient texts such as Charak Samhita, Sushruta Samhita , and Ashtanga Hridaya. The development of Rasa Shastra in the fourth century further emphasized the use of gold and its profound pharmaceutical and therapeutic benefits. Swarna, considered superior among all metals, is classified as an essence or noble metal. According to the Ayurvedic texts, such as Rasa Ratna Samucchya, Ayurved Prakash, and Rasa Tarangini, Swarna Bhasma is recommended for various indications. These include Kshaya (tuberculosis), Agnimandya (digestive impairment), Swasa (asthma), Kasa (cough), Aruchi (loss of appetite), Sangrahni har (anti-diarrheal), Ojo dhatu vivardhana (rejuvenation), Balakar (strength-promoting), Pandu Roga har (anti-anemic), Sarva Visha har (antidote to toxins), and many others.

Swarna Bhasma, a traditional Ayurvedic preparation, possesses unique properties andcharacteristics. It is known for its taste, which combines the flavors of sweetness(Madhura) and bitterness (Tikta), with a subtle aftertaste of astringency (Kashaya). In terms of quality, it exhibits qualities of being oily (Picchila) and unctuous (Snigdha). Swarna Bhasma has a cooling effect (Shita Virya) and a sweet post-digestive taste (Madhura Vipaka). The therapeutic actions (Karma) of Swarna Bhasma are diverse and remarkable. It is considered to be a potent rejuvenator (Rasayana) and aphrodisiac (Vajikarana). It promotes strength (Balya) and nourishment (Brimhana), benefiting the heart (Hridya) and enhancing vitality (Vrishya). Swarna Bhasma is also known for its memory-enhancing properties (Smritiprada) and its ability to pacify imbalances related to the three doshas (Tridosha-ghana).

Moreover, Swarna Bhasma possesses synergistic effects (Yogavahi) and is beneficial for the eyes (Chakshushya). It aids in the increase of Ojas (the vital essence) and promotes overall well-being. These exceptional qualities make Swarna Bhasma a highly valued and sought-after Ayurvedic formulation and it stands apart as a precious gem within the realm of Ayurvedic remedies.

It is important to note that the use of gold in Ayurvedic formulations is not solely based on traditional wisdom but is also supported by scientific research. Studies have investigated the pharmacological actions of gold nanoparticles and their potential therapeutic applications, including anti-cancer, anti-angiogenic, and anti-inflammatory effects.The study conducted by Singh Neetu et al. in 2012 investigated the effects of gold (Swarna Bhasma) on the immune system, testicular function, rheumatoid arthritis, skin conditions, angiogenesis, and reproductive function. The study showcased the potential therapeutic effects of gold (Swarna Bhasma) in augmenting immunity, improving testicular function, reducing substance P levels in rheumatoid arthritis, influencing skin conditions, inhibiting angiogenesis, and enhancing reproductive function.

Experimental studies have been conducted to explore the pharmacological properties of Swarna Bhasma. These studies have shown that Swarna Bhasma exhibits free radical scavenging activity and analgesic effects in animal models. It has been observed to increase the activity of key enzymes such as superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase, which are involved in combating oxidative stress. Additionally, Swarna Bhasma has shown promising results in restoring enzymatic parameters and  protecting against ischemic brain damage.

The branch of Rasa Shastra developed a meticulous and systematic approach to purifying gold for safe internal usage. This evolution ensured that gold underwent rigorous examinations and met stringent standards before being deemed fit for pharmaceutical purposes. Strict dosages and anupanas (vehicle substances) were meticulously prescribed by Ayurvedic vaidyas, ensuring calculated and careful administration for both adults and children.Ayurveda has embraced the golden touch in various formulations such as Saraswatharishtam, Vasanta Malati Rasa, and Brahma Rasayana have found their place in addressing ailments like kasa (cough), swasa (asthma), kshaya (emaciation), vatarakta (gout), pandu (anemia), unmada (psychosis), and apasmara (epilepsy). The ancient wisdom of Ayurveda embraces gold as a valuable ally in the battle against these afflictions.

Studies have showcased its remarkable ability to limit adhesions and infiltration of monocytes in synovium. By inhibiting E-selectin/prostaglandin synthesis by epithelial cells, gold exhibits promising anti-inflammatory properties. Furthermore, recent investigations on Zebrafish exposed to gold nanoparticles have revealed alterations in genome sequences, DNA repair, detoxification processes, apoptosis, and mitochondrial metabolism. These discoveries illuminate the potential of nanotechnology in unraveling the efficacy and pharmacokinetics of gold in biomedicine.

Forging a golden path

As the world grapples with the daunting challenges posed by deadly and incurable diseases, a glimmer of hope emerges from the union of Ayurvedic wisdom and the forefront of scientific innovation. With gold as our guiding light and nanotechnology as our steadfast ally, we stand on the precipice of a medical revolution that promises to reshape the landscape of healthcare in the face of the upcoming health crisis.

In this new frontier, the remarkable precision and targeted delivery offered by nanotechnology enable the utilization of gold nanoparticles as potent vehicles for diagnosis, treatment, and even prevention. Through their minuscule size and remarkable surface properties, gold nanoparticles can traverse the intricate pathways of the human body, reaching the very core of disease with unparalleled accuracy.

Gold, once revered for its shimmering beauty and economic significance, has found a new purpose in health. With its integration into therapeutic formulations, the yellow metal stands as a testament to the timeless wisdom of ancient scholars. As we uncover the potential of gold in addressing future health crises, rigorous research and scientific advancements must be coupled with utmost care in purification and administration. Let’s brace ourselves to witness the marriage of time-honoured traditions and futuristic advancements to reshape the boundaries of healing.

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