Precious Metals as Money and Medicine

April 19, 1999

Bankers hate precious metals; they cannot create them, to lend, with the stroke of their pens. Bureaucrats hate them also, for to obtain enough of them from the people to finance their grandiose schemes would require tax rates guaranteed to cause a revolution. The use of fiat allows the banker to earn interest on non-existent money, and the politician to tax higher numerical incomes (though smaller in terms of actual buying power) at a higher rate. Thus, a hapless individual worker is taxed more while earning less, and paying interest to the banker for the privilege. And he thinks the large number on his paycheck is making him rich!

At one time, gold and silver had roles to play as medicine, as well as money. As they were replaced as the universal bartering agents, so have they also been replaced in the pharmacopoeia.

If you were to look in the PDR (Physicians Desk Reference) today, you would find, under silver, only a single drug listed: a mixture of sulfa drug and silver used topically as an antiseptic. Under gold, you would find a gold compound used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

This author is old enough to recall patients using a solution called Argyrol, containing silver, on cuts and scrapes to prevent infection, and as an eye drop for conjunctivitis. A few determined individuals used this drug so persistently that the silver it contained was deposited in their skin, giving it a distinctive slate-blue color: argyrosis. In a prior generation, it was used, under the name Salvarsan, for the treatment of syphilis. Today the use of silver in medicine is limited to the treatment of burns. A second degree burn (redness and blistering) can turn into a third degree burn (complete destruction of all layers of the skin) by becoming infected. The application of silver-containing solutions to the burned skin is an effective protection against this serious complication.

Gold, for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, has limited usefulness. It is available in oral and injectable forms, and its use is accompanied by frequent side-effects, which can persist for months following its discontinuance. I recall hearing reports of the direct application of gold foil to decubitus or stasis ulcers, but cannot find anything "official" regarding this form of treatment.

There appears to be, however, a modest enthusiasm for these metals in alternative medicine, where they are recommended in colloidal form. Colloidal silver or gold solutions contain pure, metallic, elemental gold or silver particles of such infinitesimal size as to remain distributed through the medium--usually water--without settling out. In this way, the pure metal can be introduced into the body without other compounds which may prove toxic. The metals themselves appear to be well-tolerated, with few side-effects. Bacteria do not develop resistance to metals as they do to antibiotics, which would appear to be a big advantage to their use. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis, given colloidal gold orally, note improvement very quickly, in contrast to the traditional use of injected gold salts, which work slowly.

There are a variety of "establishments." The banking establishment found it advantageous to replace precious metals with imaginary money, and created an "alternative," or underground, economy. The medical establishment abandoned its use of precious metals (among other things) in favor of the newer, more modern, antibiotics, resulting in the emergence of resistant, "super bacteria," and leading, at least in part, to the emergence of alternative medicine. Perhaps we should reconsider the role of gold and silver in medicine, and urge their wider acceptance by the medical establishment. That august body has less at stake in an acceptance of gold and silver than the banking establishment, and might find in the precious metals an answer to the problems of antibiotic-resistant organisms.

The first use of gold as money occurred around 700 B.C., when Lydian merchants (western Turkey) produced the first coins