We've talked before about the somewhat disturbing trend of tony diners eating food with gold, and every so often we must revisit the nasty side effects associated with eating gold, even if it's not done entirely on purpose.
Interestingly, the roots of this strange phenomenon stretch even deeper than one might have imagined.
The Witch Doctor Will See You Now
In traditional Eastern culture, and throughout the world during ancient times, some rather unorthodox medical practices (by modern standard) were often considered the norm.
For instance, the organs of exotic or rarely-seen animals were believed by many to cure all sorts of obscure ailments. In an age before the huge advancements in the science of medicine that we enjoy today, treatment relied as much on mysticism as on biological principles.
Image from pixabay
Thus, due to the central place of gold in the hierarchy of mystical substances, the yellow metal also featured prominently in some of these debunked remedies.
Coincidentally enough, the ancients were correct in surmising that gold has special properties. Unfortunately for them, none of those unique characteristics have any magic behind them. It would take centuries to shake off that folklore.
Fountain of Youth?
During medieval times, the use of folk medicine was fairly widespread. Strange and oftentimes elaborate concoctions were supposedly effective at warding off illnesses and healing the body. In fact, such practices were still commonplace until the late 19th century.
One fascinating example was explored recently by the food blog Gastro Obscura. The blog entry focuses on the emergence of gold-based elixirs in France during the 1500s.
It became fashionable among the 16th-century French nobility to drink a liquefied form of gold as a method to stop the process of aging. Drinking gold was the "miracle cream" of the era.
In one sense, owning gold really could improve your health: The wealthier you were, the better doctors you could afford. Having wealth also made a richer diet available to aristocrats and royalty.
Yet when it came to actually ingesting liquid gold, it turns out the main consequence was to gradually toxify the person, leading to a premature death.
The most obvious lesson to be drawn here is that gold shouldn't be used for anything other than its intended purpose—as a stable store of wealth.
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