(From vol. iv, 2nd edit., 1825.)
Just as superstition, impure observations, and credulous assumptions have been the source of innumerable falsely ascribed remedial virtues of medicines in the Materia medica; in like manner physicians by their failure to resort to the test of the experimentand by their futile theorizing, have quite as unreasonably, denied the possesion of any medicinal power whatever to many substances that are very powerful, and consequently of great curative virtue, and by so doing they have deprived us of these remedies.
In this place I will speak only of gold, and not of this metal altered by the ordinary chemical processes, consequently not of it dissolved by the action of acids nor percipitated from its solution (fulminating gold), both of which have been declared to be, if not useless, then absolutely noxious, apparently because they cannot be taken without dangerous consequences when given in what is called a justa dosis, or, in other words, in excessive quantity.
No! I speak of pure gold not altered by chemical manipulations.
Modern physicians have pronounced this to be quite inactive; they have at length expunged it out of all their Materia Medicas, and thereby deprived us of all its mighty curative virtues.
“It is incapable of solution in our gastric juices, hence it must be quite powerless and useless.” This was their theorical conclusion, in the medical art, as is well known, such theoretical dicta have always availed more than convincing proof. Because they did not question experience, the only possible guide in the medical art which is found on experience alone; because it was easier to make mere assertions, therefore they usually preferred bold dicta, theoretical empty assumptions and arbitrary maximsn to solid truth.
It is no excuse for them that the older physicians have also deemed gold to be quite useless and powerless, that, for example, FABRICIUS (in Obs. Medorrhinum) says:- “What effect can the low temperatureof our stomach have no gold-leaf, seeing that it is unalteredby the most intense heat?” Or NICHOLAS MONDARDES (De Ferro, pp. 32, 33) :- “Patients may take my word for it, and spare themselves the expense of employing glod as a medicine – they can never obtain any medicinal virtue from it for their maladies.” Or ALSTON (Mat. Medorrhinum i, p. 69):- “Seeing that gold in its metallic state cannot be dissolved or altered by the vital power, it can consequently have no medicinal action, but what it exerts on the intestines by virtue of its weight, hardness, and mechanical form.” Or, lastly, J,, F. GMELIN (Appar. Medorrhinum Min., i. p. 445):- “As gold is not destructible, not resolvable into vapour, and is hence incapable of union with juices of the animal body, therefore it cannot possess curative virtues.” (It was very stupid to attempt to decide theoritically the question whether gold can possess remedial properties – the only proper thing to do was to convince oneself by trial and experience whether it had remedial powers or not. If it has curative virtues then all the theroretical denials are rediculous.)
Nor are they excused when they adduce a number of other older physicians as deniers of the medical properties of gold, and refer to such names as ANT. MUSA BRASSAVOLUS, FEL. PLATERUS, HIER. CARDANUS, JO. BRAVUS PETRAFIT, FRANC, PIC. MIRANDOLA, MERINUS, MERCENIUS, DURETUS, CAMERARIUS, CORDOSUS, CONRINGIUS, LEMERY, ANGELUS SALA, or JOH. SCHRODER, who on other matters is so extremely credulous.
They were all wrong, and so are all the modern physicians.
Gold was great, peculiar medicinal powers.
At first I allowed myself to be deterred by these deniers from hoping for medicinal properties in pure gold; but as I could not persuade myself to consider any metal whatsoever as destitute of curative powers, I employed it at first in solution. Hence the few symptoms from the solution of gold recorded below. I then gave, in cases where the symptoms guided me to the homoeopathic employment, the quintillionth or sextillionth of a grain of gold in solution for a dose, and observed curative effects somewhat similar to those I afterwards experienced from pure gold.
But because, as a rule, I do not like, when I can avoid it, to give the metals dissolved in acids (when I can not avoid doing so, I prefer their solution in vegetable acids), and least of all in mineral acids, as that detracts from their noble simplicity, for they must assuredly undergo some alteration in their properties when acted on by these acids – as we must perceive on a comparison of the curative effects of corrosive sublimate with those of the black oxide of mercury – I was delighted to find a number of Arabian physicians unanimously testifying to the medicinal powers of gold in a finely pulverized form, particularly in some serious morbid conditions, in some of which the solution of gold had already been of great use to me. This circumstance inspired me with great confidence in the assertions of the Arabians.
The first trace of this we meet with in the eighth century, when GEBER (De Alcimia traditio, Argent. ap. Zetzner, 1698, lib. ii, p. iii, cap. 32) vaunts gold as a “materia laetificans et en juventute corpus consevans.”
Towards the end of the tenth century SERAPION the younger (De Simplicibus Comment., Venet. fol. Ap. Junt., 1550, cap. 415, p. 192), recommends it in these words:- Powdered gold is useful in melancholy and weakness of the heart.”
Then at the commencement of the eleventh century AVICENNA (Canon., lib. ii, cap. 79) says:- “Powdered gold is one of the medicines against melancholy, removes foetor of the breath, is, even when given internally, a remedy for falling out of the hair, strengthens the eyes, is useful in pain of the heart and palpitation, and is uncommonly serviceable in dyspnoea.” (The Arabic word for this last two meanings; according to the accentuation of the word it means either “taking to himself,” or “dyspnoea.” Experience of the curative power of gold shows the last to be the true meaning.)
ABULKASEM (ABULCASIS), at the commencement of the twelvth century, is the first who describes (in Libro Servitoris de proep. Medorrhinum, p. 242) the preparation of this gold powder in these words:- “The gold is rubbed on a rough linen cloth in a basin filled with water, and the fine powder that falls to the bottom of the water is to be employed for administration.” JOHANN VON ST. AMAND (in the thirteenth century) describes the same method of its preparation (in the Appendix to MESUE, Opera, Venet., 1561, p. 245, 4 E.).
This mode of preparation was imitated by ZACUTUS, the Portuguese, and he records (Histor. Medic., lib. I, obs. 333) the history of the case of a nobleman who had long been troubled by melancholy ideas, whom he cured in a month by the sole use of a fine powder obtained by rubbing gold on a grind stone.
I may refer here to the laudations of gold powder and of gold by JO. PLATEARIUS (quoest. Therap.), RODERICUS A CASTRO (De Meteor. Microcosm., cap. 3), ABRAHAM A PORTA LEONIS (Dialog. De Auro), ZACCHARIAS A PUTEO, JOH. DAN. MYLIUS (Anatomia Auri), HORN (Ephem. Nat. Cur., Dec. ii, ann. 3, obs. 159), FR. BACO (Historia Vitoe et Mortis), FR. JOSEPH BURRHI (Epist. 4 ad. Thom. Barthol. De Oculis), JO. JACOB WALDSCHMIEDT (Diss. De Auro, Marb., 1685), CHPH, HELWIG (Diss. De Auro ejusque in Medic. Viribus, Gryphisv.,1703), LEMNIUS, PET. FORSETUS, OL. BORRICHIUS, ROLFLINCK, ANDR. LAGNER, ETTMULLER, TACKIUS, HELCHER (Diss. De Auro, Jen., 1730), POTERIUS, J. D. HORSTIUS, HOLLERIUS, HOEFER, and ZWELFER (Pharm. August). But leaving these authorities out of the question, I thought I might attach more value to the testimony of the Arabians as to the curative powers of finely powdered gold than to the theoretical unfounded doubts of the moderns, so I triturated the finest gold-leaf (its fineness is 23 carats, 6 grains) with 100 parts of milk-suger for a full hour, for internal medical use.
I will not attempt to determine if in this fine powder the gold is only triturated smaller, or if by this energetic trituration it has become to some degree oxydated. Enough, that in proving it on some healthy adults, 100 grainsof this powder (containing one grain of gold), and on others, 200 grains (containing two grains of gold), dissolved in water, sufficed to excite very great alterations in the health and morbid symptoms, which are recorded below.
From these it will be perceived that the assertions of the Arabians are not without foundations, as even small doses of this metal given in the form mentioned caused even in healthy adults morbid states very similar to those cured (in conscious homoeopathic manner) by those Orientals, who deserve credit for their discovery of remedies.
Since then I have cured quickly and permanently of melancholia resembling that produced by gold many persons who had serious thoughts of commiting suicide, by small doses, which for the whole treatment contained altogether from the 3/100th of the 9/100th of a grain of gold; and in like manner I have cured several other severe affections, resembling the symptoms caused by gold. I do not doubt that much higher attenuations of the powder and much smaller doses of gold would amply suffice for the same purpose.