Posted on August 24, 2014 by Mary Hood | 0 Comments
More than jewelry’s favorite metal, gold serves many fascinating functions. Gold, in fact, is edible, and you may see gold leaf floating in the champagne at a fancy wedding. (We’ll toast to that!) Those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may have experienced consuming gold in a less festive setting, however.
For roughly 75 years, gold has been used to treat RA, among other ailments and infections like tuberculosis. While newer pharmaceuticals have replaced gold as the leading RA treatment, gold remains an effective option to ease RA symptoms while preventing further joint damage.
Gold may ease painful joint swelling for rheumatoid arthritis patients, making the disease more manageable.
Classified as a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD), gold salts may be injected (usually once a week to begin with) in the form of gold sodium thiomalate (Myochrysine) or aurothioglucose (Solganal)—or consumed in tablet form as auranofin (Ridaura). Gold tablets tend to be less effective than injections, however.
Gold is anti-inflammatory, meaning that it prevents cells or other substances in the immune system from causing swelling or pain (both signs of inflammation). Swelling, in particular, can cause joint damage, which is why treating it (with gold or other medications), is crucial for keeping the disease in check.
Gold treatments come with a few possible drawbacks, however. Patients may take gold for up to 3 to 6 months before noticing any positive results. Immediately after injections, some patients feel joint stiffness or muscles aches that last for a few days. Roughly one third of patients experience side effects including oral ulcers and skin rashes. Most of these are mild and usually subside after the first year of treatment, however. Gold treatment may also temporarily affect kidney function.
Depending on the genetic makeup of the patient—and the severity of her RA—gold treatment may lose its effectiveness over time. A rheumatologist can help you find a new or supplemental treatment.
Do you know of other interesting uses of gold?
Photos: Leon Calquin, Nthy Ramanujam