Updated: May 23
I just knew it. Heavy Metal can cure everything. Can’t Sleep? Slayer. Bad day at work? Maiden or Megadeath. Nosey Neighbors? King Diamond…also good for an exorcism. Can’t get your grandparents in to Metal? Trans-Siberian Orchestra…. it’s just Christmas Music. If I hooked in you into this reading so far, it may just be your inner mullet that loves all my 80s name dropping…. sorry. It’s gonna get all “historical and learny” up in here. But I think you will enjoy & find this pretty darned fascinating !
So yesterday, an article titled, “Why is Copper Good at Killing Viruses” came across my morning news feed. And of course, I had to click it. After just a little skimming, my ADHD reminded me of an arcane historical foot note I once read. It involved a similar tale regarding silver and its properties. From there, my investigative mind wandered. Where you ask? Into HEAVY METAL and its historical medicinal uses. Its only natural, right. It also had me pondering the potential 21st Century Recycling opportunities. What do I mean by that? Well, other than the “metal recycling play on words” what I mean is, how we sometimes “forget” historical lessons learned, especially in modern medicine.
I need to point out here, I am not a doctor, although I played one as a child. I am just amazed when medical science stumbles upon a “cure” or treatment to something that Shaman or The Ancients appear to have known for hundreds or 1000s of years. You would think we would have examined or expanded upon some of these lost arts by now. Or maybe we are just waiting for AI to do it for us. I just believe there is so much opportunity in our past knowledge, either lost thru war, ignorance, the burning of the Library in Alexandria or by some other crazy conspiracy theory. You know, the profit motive of the pharmaceutical industry and its inability to profit from synthesizing and patenting a drug….or that a cure is not profitable. Okay, I am sure there is something to that. And, I am sure there is, was and will be a little of that uncovered in at annals of time, but I digress. I will attempt to illustrate my original point.
Let’s talk Metal and History. First there was Black Sabbath. Just kidding. I want to talk about Silver, Copper, Gold & Mercury. Then, maybe a little lead poisoning.
Did you know The Ancient Romans, as well as the Egyptians, knew of the medicinal properties of Silver? Silver was found to play an important role in wound healing. And before you scoff at the idea of this. Silver has been used for millennia to prevent infections. In fact, Silver is considered by many to be the most important antimicrobial agent prior to the introduction of antibiotics, which have only been around since the 1940s. And, some medical applications of silver are still used today. Silver-based salves are used to treat burns, kill infections and so much more.
Now for copper and what lead to write this post. A study found copper surfaces were killing the Covid 19 Coronavirus within 4 hours, versus it’s 72-hour survival rate on plastics and other common surfaces. Just this morning I ready that a Chilean Company was producing Copper Face Masks for their medical professionals. So, I had to know. Is this knowledge of Copper’s Killer Properties new? And just as in the case of silver, NO!!! It’s literally been known for thousands of years. It was most likely man’s first disinfectant. And just recently, historically speaking, the antimicrobial effects of copper have been revisited. Some of the findings in these studies over the past 2 decades leave me a little shocked, if not disturbed. Most specifically its potential to combat MRSA, MERS and H1N1. I am perplexed as to why hospitals are not all completely copper lined. Perhaps I am naive, but if you are interested, read Jim Morrison’s article in the Smithsonian Magazine. But let’s move on…
I had to know, being a metal head…what about these other naturally occurring Metals. So on to gold and sure enough, the claims of its medical benefits dated back thousands of years, as well. Many ancient cultures used gold-based medicinal preparations for all sorts of things. It was used to treat ailments such as smallpox, ulcers and even measles. In the early 20th Century, gold complexes were found to be beneficial in the treatment of arthritis. And just after WW2, further studies demonstrated conclusively that gold drugs were effective in treating rheumatoid arthritis. Today, gold is used in several surgical implants due to their excellent visibility under an X-ray and Gold’s bio-compatibility. Meaning its resistance to infection and rejection. Dentists have known this for years, as well.
So…I continued my “B.C.s Quest for Knowledge” with Mercury. The coolest of Heavy Metals! Freddie Mercury and Liquid Mercury. I remember mercury being a “cure” that killed. But was I misunderstanding my history lessons for human error, or abuse? Just as I had heard of people taking tons of colloidal silver and turning themselves blue, or worse. I was now starting to think, maybe it was man’s propensity towards more is better. I know we are taught “less is more” but when it comes to vitamins, medicines and some indulgences, we tend to gravitate towards the opposite.
The medicinal properties of Mercury appear to have been studied for several millennia. Aristotle is often credited with the earliest known writings on the subject. “Quicksilver” as it was known, was also referenced by Ancient Chinese Alchemists and was popular in India, as well. Originally used to treat skin disorders, there are references to its use as an early contraceptive. Not much is known about those early and likely tragic results. It was not until its use as a treatment for sexually transmitted diseases in the late 15th Century that Western Medicine really tracked and recorded solid data. These ointments created using mercury for various skin conditions and the all too common STDs of the period, became a science itself. Its toxicity was well known, early on. Several had succumbed to mercury poisoning from its use. In the case of Mercury, and its most common use, the treatment of syphilis, there are historical records that appear to have shown benefits for a few patients. That would explain its use for almost 4 centuries. But it appears by the end of WWII, the medical community had agreed its dangers outweighed any medical benefits and modern antibiotics in this case were obviously far superior to potential poisoning and death. Today, mercury’s use is banned in most countries.
So, I guess this proves all Metal is not good. Like Warrant, Winger and Poison. I will save my love of delicious lead paint for another metal post, but I hope you found the larger message I was trying to convey. We may have the cure to so many things that ail us, right under our noses or already in a history book. Perhaps trapped in the great libraries. Sometimes we spend so much time trying to solve a problem that the obvious answer escapes us. Or someone already has, or had, the answer a long time ago.
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