September 23 2017 by Juili Kelvekar
In Ayurveda, the alternative Hindu medicine based on the ideal balance among the body’s systems through diet, herbal treatments and yogic breathing, it is said that consumption of gold at certain levels increases strength of body.
Evidence of the therapeutic use of gold nanoparticles appears in Indian literature as early as 2500 BC, and is still widely cited. “Swarna Bhasma” which translates to “gold ash” is often prescribed as a traditional Ayurveda treatment. This gold ash is an oxidized form of nanosized gold particles, which is said to improve function compared to the original natural state of metallic gold.
Indian medicine uses the term “Bhasmikaran” for the process of converting an otherwise non-biocompatible drug substance to a biocompatible form. In the context of Bhasma (metal ash), this process converts the metal from its zero-valent state to a higher oxidation state rendering a metal oxide with better medicinal value.1
Swarna Bhasma (Gold Ash) is a staple of traditional Ayurveda treatments
The common Ayurveda practice of administering gold nanoparticles along with herbs is used to treat a variety of diseases from infertility to asthma, diabetes and cancer. The belief is that the gold acts like a catalyst that carries herbal medicine to the targeted organ and enhances its activity. This helps to restore the normal function of the sick organ.
For example, a person who has desire for life should consume gold with a herb called convolvulus, a desire for intelligence calls for gold with the herb acorus, and a desire for wealth is served by consuming gold with Lotus herb.2 In olden days, Indian parents used to make children lick 1 - 3mg of gold along with honey from infancy to age 5 so that they would achieve high levels of intelligence, strength, happiness, longevity, and immunity towards diseases.
With traditions reaching back to ancient times Ayurveda remains popular in the Indian subcontinent with as many as 80% of people in India and Nepal still using some form of the practice. In the US the practice of Ayurveda in not licensed or regulated by any state. However, it is interesting to note that Western medicine has indeed begun to adopt and test formalized gold nanoparticle technologies in new therapeutic and diagnostic applications.