4 Metals for therapeutic applications
When considering drugs used for the treatment of disease, your first thoughts might lean towards treatments involving organic compounds. But metals and their compounds have been used for medical applications since ancient times. The use of metals in drugs is the focus of the next two sections, and as you will see it is a wide-ranging, exciting and ever-expanding topic.
Metals and their compounds have had a variety of medical applications throughout history – some more successful than others. Some of the earliest examples date back to 3000 BC, when the ancient Egyptians were using copper sulfate to sterilise the water used in their tonics. Zinc was also reportedly used by the Romans to promote the healing of wounds.
You will consider some examples of the historical uses of metals in medicine next – starting with gold.