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There are also reports of gold-based medicines being used in China and Arabia around 2500 BC.Gold has also been used in dentistry; excavated graves in Italy dating from 1000 to 400 BC were found to have skulls containing gold bridges.It is therefore not surprising that a deficiency (or excess) of certain metals can severely compromise an organism, as we addressed briefly in Chapter 1.
The use of mercury compounds is now largely forbidden because of their poisonous properties, but they are still to be found in traditional therapies such as Chinese, Tibetan and Ayurvedic medicines.
Metals and their compounds have been used for medical applications throughout history and it is interesting here to take a brief look at some of the milestones.
Some of the earliest examples date from as far back as 3000 BC, when the ancient Egyptians were using copper sulfate to sterilise the water used in their tonics.
Next, we will consider the use of metals in imaging.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is widely used for the diagnosis of many ailments and it has been found that certain gadolinium complexes can be used to enhance the contrast of the image.
Probably the most famous metal-containing complex to be found in the 20th century, however, is that of the platinum-containing anticancer drug, cisplatin.