Edible gold is not a new phenomenon and has found its way into food recipes across the world. But did you know that it is believed to have therapeutic applications as well?
In many South Asian and Middle Eastern cultures, edible gold was regarded as a stimulant and immunity booster. India’s own Ayurvedic philosophy of holistic healing also recommends gold as a miracle cure for many physical and mental issues.
In the run-up to National Nutrition Week (1st-7th September 2020), the perfect time to start building healthy habits, let's take a look at the many therapeutic uses of gold in Ayurveda through the scientific lens.
Traditional knowledge grounded in fact
Modern science has confirmed many of the medicinal properties of gold believed by our ancestors. Consuming gold can, in fact, improve neurological function in humans. Colloidal gold- a concoction of fine water infused with fine gold particles- benefits mental health and emotional well-being. It also improves mental focus and cognitive abilities, experts say. These observations have been corroborated in clinical studies in multiple countries.
Another gold-based supplement called white powder gold is credited with improving coordination, mental clarity and stimulating creativity. Both colloidal and white powder gold is known to help patients suffering from hyperactive and stress-related disorders.
Related: 6 Incredible medical uses of gold
Gold tonics for holistic healing
Ayurvedic texts mention specific formulations involving gold that have been well recognised by India’s traditional healing community for centuries. Among the more notable ones are Swarna Bhasma, Swarna Lehan, Suvarna Bindu, Suvarna Vacha, Kumarabharana Rasa and Swarnamitra Prashana. These formulations have been used to treat a broad range of conditions, from asthma to nervous system disorders.
- Swarna Bhasma: Gold incinerated to ash is mixed with cow’s ghee, milk or honey and administered orally to patients in Ayurveda. This treatment is claimed to be effective in countering rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes mellitus and bronchial asthma. Studies are currently underway to prove other possible benefits of Swarna Bhasma, including increased libido and memory enhancement. However, there is consensus among scientists that it boosts the body’s immune function. In fact, according to a 2017 study that featured in the International Journal of Medical Research and Pharmaceutical Sciences, mice treated with Swarna Bhasma showed improved immune responses in controlled lab tests.
- Swarna Lehan: Ayurveda practitioners say that gold strengthens the body and help in treating anxiety and depression. Gold-based Ayurvedic formulations like Swarna Lehan have proved to be effective in ensuring the balanced growth and development of pre-adolescent children. It also helps in building a child's immunity and cognitive skills. Taken while keeping the face towards the east, in Swarna Lehan, gold is rubbed with a little water on a washed stone, then churned with honey for consumption.
- Swarna Vacha: In Suvarna Vacha, purified gold wire is inserted into the processed underground stem (dry or fresh) of Vacha (Acorus calomus). This is then ground on a rubbing stone with milk or water to create a fine paste. After mixing it with ghee and honey, taken in equal amounts, this concoction is consumed, primarily to improve speech.
- Kumarabharana Rasa: In this compound, the calx or Bhasmas of gold, silver, coral, is mixed with yastimadhu, amalaki, shunti, pippali, ashwagandha, and vacha. A fine powder is then turned into a tablet which is taken on an empty stomach to maximise benefits. It helps to keep diseases like chronic tonsillitis at bay.
- Swarnamitra Prashana: Coined by Acharya Kashyapa, Swarnamitra Prashana involves mixing purified ash of gold with fortified ghee, honey and herbal extract to form a liquid form. Children between the ages of 0-16 years should consume it in the morning, especially on the auspicious day of Pushya Nakshatra, It helps in developing mental agility, prolonging life spans, and building optimism.
Related: Gold in Ayurveda
Present-day notions about gold-based healing
Commercial use of gold-based supplements has been carried out for many years now and the trend is catching on in India as well. Though the benefits of gold are yet to be endorsed by the medical community at large, it could be used to complement conventional modalities of treatment on a discretionary basis. This is because gold is non-toxic and does not react with the chemicals or hormones secreted by the body. This is usually why people whose skin react to metals like silver or platinum, have no problem adorning gold jewellery. Gold is completely safe for use by both children and adults. This fact has been attested by medical science as well.
However, further research is required before gold-based treatments can be certified for use on a large scale basis. Interestingly enough, the Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH) ministry, which is tasked with promoting India’s traditional systems of medicine, is planning intensive tests to find conclusive evidence of their effectiveness in real-world conditions with the rise of the coronavirus pandemic.
Though there is still a long way to go before ‘gold’ makes its way to the shelves of chemists, a start has definitely been made.