Colloidal Gold in the Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Peter B. Himmel, Jorge D. Flechas, Guy E. Abraham

Gold salts (aurothiolates), once the primary therapy for active RA, have in recent years declined in use because of an apparent lack of long term efficacy, toxic side effects, and delayed onset of action. One of us (GEA) postulated that the active ingredient in aurothiolates is colloidal gold generated by in vivo disproportionation with subsequent clustering of monoatomic gold, and that the side effects were due to the aurothiolates themselves and the trivalent cationic gold generated from the disproportionation. If this postulate is valid one would expect colloidal gold to have therapeutic effects in RA and devoid of side effects.
Methods: 10 patients (6 female, 4 male; average age 50 +/- 3.16 (SE) with long standing erosive RA ( 9 of 10 seropositive) were given an oral dose of 30 to 60 mg a day of colloidal gold (Aurasol-tm) for a period of 1 month. Clinical exams were performed weekly and laboratory studies done on weeks 1, 2, 4. Gold toxicity was evaluated by questioning the patient as to pruritus, rashes, oral ulcers, metallic taste, GI disturbance. The blood was checked for a drop in WBC, Hb, platelet count, BUN, creatinine or eosinophil elevation; and urine for proteinuria. Efficacy was evaluated by an 86 Joint Count Index scoring for joint tenderness and swelling: AM stiffness; the Modified Health Assessment Questionnaire (MHAQII) by T. Pincus and an ESR.
Results: Statistically significant improvement were found on each weekly exam for joint tenderness and swelling beginning with the first week 58.8 to 18.2 (p<0.01) for tenderness; 42.5 to 15.9 (p<0.01) for swelling. Joint swelling reduced further to a value of 13.0 (p<0.001) by week 4. Patients fatigue decreased from 5.32 to 3.35 (p<0.05) over the month and a feeling of satisfaction in one’s ability to do activities was apparent after 1 week, 3.1 to 2.5 (p<0.01) and persisted. No laboratory tests indicative of gold toxicity were noted. One patient reported 2 chancre sores which cleared while on therapy, 8 of 10 patients responded to colloidal gold.
Conclusion: In this pilot study colloidal gold (Aurasol-tm) was found to be rapid acting (within one week) by reducing joint tenderness and swelling, without side effects, improved ones feeling of satisfaction in the ability to perform activities and reduce fatigue in 8 out of 10 patients with long standing erosive RA. The study will continue for one year. More definitive controlled trials should now be undertaken with colloidal gold.
Note: The study has now completed its eighth month with all ten of the original patients still enrolled. The patients continue to do well with no significant side effects noted. This data is being compiled to be submitted for publication.