Role of Precious Metals in Health and Medicine

Precious Metals in Medicine

Precious metals are naturally lustrous elements that have a high economic value. Gold, silver, and platinum are the best-known precious metals and are used in jewelry and objets d’art. Historically, gold and silver were also used as currency.

Unlike such trace elements as zinc, copper, iodine, and others, there is no recognized need in human nutrition for precious metals.

Yet these elements have a therapeutic value under certain circumstances.

History of Precious Metals in Medicine

Metals have a history of use in ancient Indian (Ayurvedic), Chinese, and Egyptian medicine. In Ayurveda, crushed gold is prepared with herbs and other materials to address such conditions as infertility, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, muscle wasting, and more. Silver preparations were believed to increase stamina and strength, reduce heartburn or fever, and act as a disinfectant by helping to kill bacteria. Silver solutions have antimicrobial properties and can be applied topically to treat some temporary skin infections.1

“A new era of metal-based drugs started in the 1960s, heralded by the discovery of potent platinum-based complexes, commencing with cisplatin, which are effective anticancer chemotherapeutic drugs,” C. I. Yeo and colleagues observed in a recent review titled “Gold-Based Medicine: A Paradigm Shift in Anti-Cancer Therapy?2

Platinum-containing chemotherapy has been used to treat advanced non-small cell lung cancer, as well as testicular, ovarian, and other cancers. It’s been noted that the use of chemotherapies alone has likely reached a plateau in regard to effectiveness and combining the drugs with newer targeted treatments could increase patient survival.3

Precious Metal: Gold

What is Gold’s Role in Medicine?

“Research into gold-based drugs for a range of human diseases has seen a revival in recent years,” note G. Faa and colleagues in a 2018 review. “Au(I) and Au(III) compounds have been reintroduced in clinical practice for targeting the cellular components involved in the onset and progression of viral and parasitic diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer.”4

The target of gold compounds in cancer does not appear to be the cells’ DNA, as in the case of platinum compounds, but the mitochondria within the cells.5 Other mechanisms include cell cycle arrest, and more.2

Toxicological risk assessment of gold nanoparticle exposure concluded that “taking low human exposure into account, elemental gold via the oral route is not considered to pose a health concern to humans in general.”6

Precious Metal: Silver

What Is the Role of Silver in Medicine?

Silver has been used in wound healing for centuries and was likely to be the most important antimicrobial treatment prior to the antibiotic era.7 Silver is currently a component of topical dressings used in the prevention or treatment of bacterial infection and as a treatment for such conditions as plantar warts.8 Silver nanoparticles have shown antibacterial activity against Helicobacter pylori,the organism that causes stomach ulcers.9

The use of silver in antimicrobial therapy has declined over time due to the identification of a few silver-resistant strains. However, indiscriminate antibiotic use has led to the evolution of multi-drug-resistant “superbugs,” which has resulted in a resurgence of silver nanoparticles as the subject of antimicrobial research.10 In a 2018 review, A. C. Burdusel and colleagues report that “silver nanoparticles proved to have genuine features and impressive potential for the development of novel antimicrobial agents, drug-delivery formulations, detection and diagnosis platforms, biomaterial and medical device coatings, tissue restoration and regeneration materials, complex healthcare condition strategies, and performance-enhanced therapeutic alternatives.”11

Therapeutic applications of silver compounds such as silver nanoparticles should not be conflated with “colloidal silver.” Some alternative health practitioners have advocated for the use of colloidal silver preparations for various conditions, but there is no sound scientific evidence supporting their use.

Precious Metal: Platinum

What is the Role of Platinum in Medicine?

It has been observed that “one simple metal complex revolutionized the treatment of cancer in the latter half of the 20th century.”12

The platinum compound known as cisplatin was used as early as 1845 when it was known as Peyrone’s chloride. Its antitumor properties were accidently discovered in the 1960s when bacteria exposed to platinum-based complexes failed to undergo cell division. For many years, platinum therapies have been considered the “gold” standard of cancer treatment. As noted, the success of currently available chemotherapies, including those based on platinum, has likely plateaued, and newer therapies may be more promising.

Precious metals are highly valued in jewelry and art, but their greatest value is in their benefit to human lives. The contribution of these metals to the well-being of humanity indeed renders them deserving of the appellation “precious.”

  1. Lansdown AB et al. Curr Probl Dermatol. 2006;33:17-34.
  2. Yeo CI et al. Molecules. 2018 Jun 11;23(6)1410.
  3. Baxevanos P et al. Ann Transl Med. 2018 Apr;6(8):139.
  4. Faa G et al. Curr Med Chem. 2018;25(1):75-84.
  5. Maia PI et al. Future Med Chem. 2014 Sep;6(13):1515-36.
  6. Hadrup N et al. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2015 Jul;72(2):216-21.
  7. Barras F et al. Antibiotics (Basel). 2018 Aug 22;7(3).

Let's Talk Amino Acids & Protein with Integrative Medicine Practitioner Fred Pescatore, MD, MPH

Amino Acids: Building Blocks of Your Body

Proteins are the building blocks of life and amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. The protein foods we consume contain amino acids in various proportions.

When protein intake is too low to meet the body’s needs over time, it causes a type of malnutrition that, in its most extreme form, is known as kwashiorkor.

Kwashiorkor is characterized by edema, diarrhea, muscle wasting, abdominal distention, liver enlargement, hair loss, and other symptoms.1

Integrative medicine practitioner Fred Pescatore, MD, MPH, who is president of the International and American Association of Clinical Nutritionists, ranks amino acids as among the most important components of the diet. “There are 22 amino acids that we have to have in our body,” he stressed.

High Protein: Diet and “Diets”

“There are so many high protein diets out there,” Dr. Pescatore observed. “Why do they work and why don’t they work? The key for me, and my patients, was getting the amino acid balance right. Our food supply is so damaged that it’s hard to get a really good food source that can provide you with the amino acids that you need, and that’s why, with The A-List Diet, the A stands for amino acids.”

The A-List Diet has been a worldwide best-seller, along with other books authored by Dr. Pescatore that include Feed Your Kids Well and The Hamptons Diet. Dr. Pescatore is also the author of Thin for Good, The Allergy and Asthma Cure, and The Hamptons Diet Cookbook. While The Hamptons Diet focused on the benefits of a Mediterranean-style diet and healthy fats, The A-List Diet emphasizes the importance of the amino acids in our food.

The Standard American Diet (whose acronym, SAD, should tell you all you need to know about its effects), with its abundance of processed food and nonnutritive carbohydrates, fails to supply an adequate amount of amino acids needed by the body for good health. Making simple changes in our food choices in favor of whole foods and healthy protein sources will go a long way toward ensuring we obtain the amino acids our bodies need.

It’s actually quite easy, according to Dr. Pescatore:

“No. Processed. Junk. Food.”

In comparison with diets that include animal-sourced protein, vegan diets don’t contain single foods that provide complete protein, with a healthy balance of all the essential amino acids (the ones your body can’t make). Vegans can get that balance and maintain overall high-quality protein intake by eating a variety of plant protein sources, such as soy foods, legumes, nuts and seeds, and whole grains.2 When it comes to beef, grass-fed and grass-finished beef are thought to be healthier than beef from cattle that are fattened on corn. (It’s a little-known fact that cattle that provide beef labeled as “grass-fed” are often “finished” during the last month of their lives by being fed with grain to fatten them prior to slaughter.) There are fewer inflammation-promoting fatty acids in grass-fed beef compared to beef derived from corn-fed cattle.3,4

Good Food Changes Your Life: Illness Model vs. Wellness Model

“I hated medicine when I graduated from medical school and residency,” Dr. Pescatore admitted. “All I saw every day were people dying, people sick, people just not helping themselves.”

During the 1990s, Dr. Pescatore began to notice a change in people’s approach to wellness. “It changed my life being able to watch people take vitamins, exercise, and be healthy,” he observed.

As a physician, Dr. Pescatore’s own approach changed as well, and he now utilizes a wellness model as opposed to an illness model of health.

“The connection between food and health is what your grandmother used to say: ‘You are what you eat.’ If you’re going to put bad gasoline into a Ferrari, it’s not going to act like a Ferrari. If you put good food into your body and your gut is healthy, you’re going to feel great.”

“Good food changes your life.”

Like what Dr. Pescatore has to say? Listen to the Live Foreverish podcast with Life Extension’s Dr. Michael Smith and his guest Fred Pescatore, MD, MPH, as they discuss Amino Acids, by visiting

If you like what you hear, please take a moment to give Live Foreverish a 5-star rating on iTunes!

Those who are interested in learning more about The A-List Diet and Dr. Pescatore’s work can visit and

  1. Semba RD. Ann Nutr Metab. 2016 Aug 30;69(2):79-88.
  2. Marsh KA et al. Med J Aust. 2013 Oct 29;199(suppl 4):S7-S10.
  3. Phillips HN et al. PLoS One. 2017 Nov 3;12(11):e0187686.
  4. Razminowicz RH et al. Meat Sci. 2006 Jun;73(2):351-61.

Maintain, Don't Gain this Holiday Season with New Nutrition Program

Holli Ryan RD, LD/N

Indulge Without the Bulge this Holiday Season

The holidays are coming! People often ditch their diet plan altogether during this time of year. Why are diets hard to adhere to? Often, it’s because the diet plan is too restrictive, especially when compared to a person’s typical dietary pattern that they were accustomed to when they weren’t “on a diet”. Healthy eating should be part of everyone’s lifestyle. It should be maintainable, so anything outlandish that promises quick results is usually not a good approach in the long run. Plus, avoidance of major food groups can result in nutrient deficiencies.

Any nutritional program that limits calories should be carefully designed to ensure an adequate intake of key essential nutrients, including vitamins and minerals.

So skip that trendy fad diet your friend told you about and try a method that has been shown to be supportive for healthy weight management in clinical research studies.

The Problem with Counting Calories and Fad Diets

Studies published in 2018 report an approach that only restricts dietary intake part of the time. Recent research has found that less-restrictive dietary programs, such as intermittent calorie restriction, may be as effective as calorie counting — promoting weight management along with other health benefits but in a program that is easier to stick to.2

Note: simply counting calories is not the be-all and end-all answer to all of our weight management woes. Consider the nutrient composition of a given food. Is the food nutrient dense (providing vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals)? Or, less favorably, is it calorie dense, containing “empty” calories — a high amount of calories, yet not a significant source of important nutrients?

Best of Both Worlds: An Intermittent Calorie Restriction Nutrition Program

While calorie restriction and intermittent fasting in their traditional contexts are two types of dietary patterns that have been shown to be beneficial in promoting weight loss and longevity, the issue for most is that these diets are just too restrictive.

Not Another Fad Diet: Intermittent Calorie Restriction

Scientists at Life Extension® have developed and studied a hybrid pattern called intermittent calorie restriction as part of a nutrition program that has been shown to both help people maintain weight and beneficially impact blood lab values such as lipids (improvement cholesterol profile).

The program utilizes intermittent calorie restriction only two days per week, with the added benefit of supportive supplemental nutrients to help make adherence easier and maximize beneficial outcomes. Plus, during the pilot study of this program, participants successfully avoided weight gain during the holiday season, making this a great time to consider trying this regimen.3 Now, you can have your cake and eat it, too. (In moderation, of course.)

Click here to learn more about the 2:5™ Nutrition Program by Life Extension®

This program should be taken in conjunction with a healthy diet and regular exercise program. Individual results are not guaranteed, and results may vary. Consult your physician or health care professional before making any dietary or fitness modifications.

About the author: Holli (Lapes) Ryan RD, LD/N is a Social Media Content Specialist at Life Extension. She is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist residing in the South Florida area. Holli believes that quality dietary supplements are an essential tool that have a variety of applications from maintaining good health to managing chronic disease. 

  1. Mann T, Tomiyama AJ, Westling E, et al. Medicare’s search for effective obesity treatments: diets are not the answer. Am Psychol. 2007 Apr;62(3):220-33.
  2. Sundfor TM, Svendsen M, Tonstad S. Effect of intermittent versus continuous energy restriction on weight loss, maintenance and cardiometabolic risk: A randomized 1-year trial. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2018 Jul;28(7):698-706.
  3. Hirsh S, Pons M, Joyal SV, et al. Intermittent calorie reduction to prevent winter holiday weight gain. In Press. 2018.

Stand Up for Good Health: Risks of Sitting Too Long

Sitting Health Risks

Stand Up for Good Health

While we all know the hazards of failing to include regular exercise as a part of our lives, it now appears that too much sitting can be risky. 1

Related Article: Dangers of Sitting Too Long

Research confirms the benefit of getting up and moving to maintain excellent health and quality of life as well as protect against premature death.

Research on Reduction in Sitting and Health

On November 13, 2013, Richard and Sara Rosenkranz of Kansas State University and their colleagues published findings from Australia's 45 and Up Study, which included 194,545 participants, in BMC Public Health. In this study, those who reported the least time spent sitting were 13% more likely to rate their overall health as excellent and equally more likely to rate their quality of life as excellent in comparison with those who sat eight or more hours per day.2 "Not only do people need to be more physically active by walking or doing moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, but they should also be looking at ways to reduce their sitting time," Richard Rosenkranz stated.

"We're basically telling our bodies to shut down the processes that help to stimulate metabolism throughout the day and that is not good," Sara Rosenkranz added. "Just by breaking up your sedentary time, we can actually upregulate that process in the body."

The Women's Health Initiative, which consisted of three clinical trials (CT) and an observational study (OS), was conducted to address major health issues causing morbidity and mortality in postmenopausal women. In the February 2014 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Dr. Rebecca Seguin of Cornell University and her colleagues reported the results of a study that included 92,234 subjects who were 50 to 79 years of age upon enrollment in the Women's Health Initiative. Dr. Sequin and her associates discovered that women who spent 11 hours or more per day sitting or lying down without sleeping had a 12% increased risk of dying of any cause over an average follow-up period of 12 years compared to women who reported spending the least amount of time sitting or lying down (four hours or less). The greatest increase in risk occurred in coronary heart disease, followed by cardiovascular disease and cancer. 3

"The assumption has been that if you're fit and physically active, that will protect you, even if you spend a huge amount of time sitting each day," stated Dr. Seguin, who is an assistant professor of nutritional sciences in Cornell's College of Human Ecology. "In fact, in doing so you are far less protected from negative health effects of being sedentary than you realize."

Solutions for Sitting for Long Periods of Time

Solutions for Workers and People with Disabilities

Dr. Seguin recommended that "If you're in an office, get up and move around frequently. If you're retired and have more idle time, find ways to move around inside and outside the house. Get up between TV programs, take breaks in computer and reading time and be conscious of interrupting prolonged sedentary time."

A possible solution for those whose jobs require hours of sitting might be work stations that can be temporarily elevated to accommodate a standing position.4,5 At break time, substitute walking around the perimeter of your workplace for time spent sitting with one's coworkers in the break room or snacking at your desk.6

If you have a physical disability that prevents you from getting up and walking, there are exercises that can be done from a seated position that can help improve circulation, muscle tone, and even cognitive function.7,8 These can also be done by nondisabled individuals, although getting out of your chair for a few stretches, waist twists, or squats is better.9

If your job requires a lot of desk time, make sure that your leisure time involves as much activity as is feasible.10,11 In other words, avoid spending hours watching television or surfing the web. Your body will reward you with better health and quality of life, and maybe a few more precious years.


  1. Dunstan DW et al. Diabetes Res Clin Pract 2012 Sep; 97(3):368-76.
  2. Rosenkranz RR et al. BMC Public Health. 2013 Nov 13;13:1071.
  3. Seguin R et al. Am J Prev Med. 2014 Feb;46(2):122-35.
  4. Wang M et al. Physiol Int. 2018 Jun 1;105(2):157-65.
  5. Shrestha N et al. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2018 Jun 20;6:CD010912.
  6. Carter SE et al. J Appl Physiol 2018 Sep 1;125(3):790-8.
  7. Ellapen TJ et al. Afr J Disabil 2017 Sep 8;6:337.
  8. Abe T et al. J Phys Ther Sci 2018 Apr;30(4):609-13.
  9. Hawari NSA et al. J Sports Sci. 2018 Jul 30:1-8.
  10. Biddle GJH et al. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2018 Oct 17;15(10).
  11. Patel AV et al. Am J Epidemiol 2018 Oct 1;187(10):2151-8.

Aubrey de Grey: Don’t Make Peace with Aging; Anti-Aging Isn’t Science Fiction

Aging Process

Renowned researcher Aubrey de Grey, PhD, has a few things to say about the aging process.

“It is no longer acceptable to make your peace with aging.”

“The fact is that aging is really a very ghastly thing, and we’ve known that for a long time. Twenty years ago, it certainly did make sense to make one’s peace with aging because we didn’t have a plan to do anything about it in the foreseeable future. But now, if you take that attitude, then what you are doing is slowing down the research. You are slowing down the enthusiasm, the urgency of society that needs to exist in order that the remaining scientific and biomedical research that needs to be done to get these therapies in place can be done as quickly as possible, and that the maximum number of lives can be saved.”

Aging: Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence

Dr. de Grey is the Chief Science Officer of SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence) Research Foundation, a California-based biomedical research charity that, according to its website, is transforming the way the world researches and treats age-related disease. He’s also vice president of new technology discovery at Age-X Therapeutics.

Aging: Science Versus Technology

To understand aging well enough to be able to do something about it, it needs to be characterized. We need to determine what is different about the microscopic molecular and cellular structure of an older person relative to a younger person. Although difficult to do, these changes can be repaired to return the structures to the way they were at an earlier age.1 “You don’t need to understand how it got that way,” Dr. de Grey noted.

The need to know why phenomena occur is the province of scientists. “Scientists are all about testing hypotheses and understanding nature for the sake of understanding it,” Dr. de Grey explained. “But I’m not thinking about it from a scientific perspective, I’m thinking about it from a technological perspective.”

Medicine is a branch of technology. Medicine doesn’t necessarily try to understand nature but to manipulate it. To accomplish this, a certain amount of understanding is required, but there is a point at which we understand enough to carry out our goals. “And that’s where I’m saying we’re already at in regard to aging,” Dr. de Grey said.

Aging: Cells and Molecules

To address aging-related changes, one needs to examine cells. People can have too many, as in the case of cancer, or not enough. Cells also need to be studied at a molecular level. Even though cells may be present in the right number, there may be things going wrong within a cell, such as the accumulation of waste products or mutations. These problems can additionally occur outside of the cells in the matrix that holds the cells together in a structure that allows us to operate.

Mutations can occur in the DNA that resides in the cell’s nucleus or in its mitochondria, which are the cells’ energy-producing organelles. They’re the place where oxygen is combined with nutrients to extract their energy. This process creates a significant number of free radicals that damage mitochondrial DNA, with the result that it accumulates mutations at a more rapid rate compared with nuclear DNA.

To address this aging-related problem, Dr. de Grey and his colleagues have revived an idea that was suggested over 30 years ago, which is to insert backup copies of mitochondrial DNA into nuclear DNA where it’s less subject to free radical attack. An experiment in this area was recently published following more than a decade of research.2

Rejuvenation Versus Aging Retardation

Twenty years ago, Dr. de Grey suggested that rejuvenating the body might be easier than slowing down the rate at which the body accumulates damage. At that time, the idea wasn’t well received, but now the feeling among many scientists is that this approach is tenable, and the growing influx of capital into this area highlights the enthusiasm of the investment community to partner with researchers in tackling these challenges.

“Now is the time to stop making your peace with aging,” Dr. de Grey urged. “Now is the time to let yourself get your hopes up, to get emotionally invested in this and not to think about this as science fiction anymore.”

Like what de Grey has to say? Listen to the Live Foreverish podcast with Life Extension’s Dr. Michael Smith and his guest Aubrey de Grey, as they discuss Aging, by visiting

If you like what you hear, please take a moment to give Live Foreverish a 5-star rating on iTunes!

For more information about Aubrey de Grey’s research, visit


  1. Vijg J et al. Gerontology. 2014;60(4):373-80.
  2. Boominathan A et al. Nucleic Acids Res. 2016 Nov 2;44(19):9342-9357.

All Contents Copyright © 1995-2016 Life Extension® All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Use
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment. You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem. You should not stop taking any medication without first consulting your physician.