|Amber in Therapeutics
by Gabriela Gierlowska (reprinted with permission)
One day Phaeton, the son of Helios, the God of the Sun, managed to convince his father to allow him to drive his horse-drawn chariot down the firmament. The father agreed, but as soon as the horses felt that the charioteer was inexperienced, they bolted.
The sun burnt the African land to ashes, tanning its inhabitants black. So as to prevent further damage, Zeus was forced to strike Phaeton with lightning into the river Eridanus. Phaeton's sisters, the Heliades, lamented his fate, cursing the gods.They were turned into poplar trees as punishment. Grieving, they kept crying. Their tears became resin, which turned into amber. Years later, the sea is still throwing the sisters' amber tears onto the shore.
The existence of ancient amber amulets is evidence that people believed in the power of the stone since the earliest prehistoric times.
Amber has also been used as a kind of foundation stone to ensure health and good luck for inhabitants of a dwelling. The faith in the effectiveness and power of amber continues until today.
As ages ago, amber is still perceived as an exceptional stone, as it smells nicely when warmed in your hand, gives out a resinous scent and aromatic smoke when burnt, electrifies and attracts small piece of paper when rubbed, sinks in fresh water but floats on the surface in saltwater, contains inclusions (traces of life dating back 40 million years ago).
But the most fascinating is perhaps its unequalled colour diversity.
The uniqueness of amber also results from the visual properties of the raw stone. Forms created by nature are interesting: drops, icicles, and nuggets with a natural opening were used as the first amulets. They were strung on a leather thong for protection or as a decoration.
Then there were figurines of animals, birds, and fish which were to guarantee successful hunting or fishing. People believed that just as amber attracts dry grass blades, such amulets attract luck and happiness and have a special power to ward off evil.
Various amber amulets, such as amber hearts, crosses, elephants with a raised trunk or figurines of Buddha are still used today. Necklaces are also a type of amulet. In the Polish regions of Kurpie and Kashuba we may come across "pajaki" and "kierece" which decorate peoples' homes. "Kierce" are connected with the cult of the sun.
The first records concerning the use of amber as medicine date back to antiquity. Initially medicines were made only from ingredients available in the natural environment: plants, animals and minerals. It was also believed that the more ingredients a medicine contained, the better the final results. An original formula by Nicolaus Copernicus, kept in Sweden, specifies 22 ingredients, including amber.
Albert the Great (1193-1280), a Dominican and a philosopher, identifies amber as the first among the six most effective medicines "...Sunt sex in medicis, quae vincunt raobore aurum: succinium, ocastorem, mors, camphora, tartarus, aurum."
Tinctures originate from the same period. They were based on beer, wine or water and were effective cures for stomach and rheumatic aches. There are no records even vaguely suggesting any harmful or undesirable effect of amber.
In the Middle Ages plagues swarmed across towns, taking a heavy toll of the inhabitants. Fumigation with the smoke of burning amber was recommended as an effective preventive measure. As recorded by Matthaus Praetorius, During the plague not a single amberman from Gdansk, Klaipeda, Konigsberg or Liepaja died of the disease." (1680) Amber smoke is still used in aromatherapy.
Both the first monograph on amber (Succini historia 1551) and the first Polish monographic paper on amber were written by doctors. Perhaps because representatives of the medical profession both witnessed and instinctively felt the protective and therapeutic value of amber.
Amber was for centuries perceived as a bactericidal agent. Hence, amber baby teethers, spoons, cigarette holders and pipe mouthpieces. There are also 17th century tea containers made from amber.
In 1546 G. Agricola, a mineralist and a doctor, obtained succinic acid using dry distillation. The dry distillation (accomplished by heating amber in a vacuum) divides amber into acid, oil and rosin, all of which are exceptionally valuable and very useful.
Baltic amber contains 3-8% of succinic acid, a scientifically examined medical substance used in contemporary medicine. The highest content of the acid is found in the amber cortex--the external layer of the stone. Therefore, nuggets and amber goods (necklaces, bracelets and pendants) made from non-ground or little ground raw material should be used for therapeutic and bactericidal purposes.
Recent scientific research has also proved that succinic acid has a very positive influence on the human organism. It strengthens the body, improves immunity, the course of energy-related processes and the balance of acids. Succinic acid was analyzed by the pioneer of modern bacteriology, the Nobel Prize winner, Robert Kock (1886), who confirmed its positive influence and discovered that there is no risk of the accumulation of surplus amounts of succinic acid in the human organism, even after the introduction of considerable amounts into the body.
In present day times, tens of effective medicines containing succinic acid have been manufactured and patented, especially in the USA and Russia. Of particular value are pharmaceuticals preventing the aging of human cells, which use succinic acid as an inhibitor (an agent slowing down or totally stopping the loss of) of potassim ions and an antioxidant. Therefore, the acid may be called a scientifically described, modern elixir of youth. Succinic acid is also a valuable product for sportspeople. It is not a stimulant improving one's effort on a single event basis, but rather a stimulator of a balanced, comprehensive development.
Succinic acid is found in many contemporary plants and is a common and indispensable food ingredient. However, deficiencies of succinic acid are frequent as it is rarely found in nature. Even unripe gooseberries and rhubarb stalks, which are the richest in the acid, contain a thousand times less of the acid than the Baltic amberï¿½succinite.
What is interesting succinic acid is not found in many fossil resins similar to amber. Succinic acid, acquired by dry distillation in form of crystals. easily dissolves in warm water. It may be used as a food additive.
Succinates (most often calcium succinate, potassium succinate, and sodium succinate,) which excellently stimulate the development and proper functioning of the human organism, are used for medicinal purposes. Succinates are very effective after long-lasting illnesses and injuries. They make it possible for the pacient to regain immunity to disease as well as intellectual fitness complete with the ability to concentrate.
The Russians promote succinic acid as an important anti-alcohol medicine reducing the fondness for alcohol, and what is even more intersting, quickly eliminating the effects of excessive alcoholic consumption. A 0.1 g pill brings back the ability to work within a quarter of an hour.
All cultivated plants react in an excellent way to even very small amounts of a solution of succinic acid. Vegetable crops increase to 40%, while the plant growth is much faster than usual. Shoots and leaves of plants become resistant to fungal and bacterial diseases.
Amber oil is another universal medicine recognized as very effective, especially for all rheumatic diseases. Giacomo Fantuzzi so reported from his 1652 journey:
"...A very valuable, strong, acrid and thick oil is made from amber. The oil has a thousand beneficial properties as specified in the formula I got in Gdansk, where the process has been developed to perfection, and the oil from white amber is believed to be the best and the most expensive..."
Amber oil permeates the skin very fast, penetrating deep into the tissue and exerting a positive influence, leading to the introduction of the majority of negative ions. It improves blood circulation and eases muscle pains.
Following the influence of Oriental medicine, amber oil is used for massage. In this case, its considerable bactericidal and electrostatic properties play the most beneficial role.
Rosin is another product of dry distillation of amber. It is used for the manufacture of high-quality impregnates and bonding agents as well as varnishes which for centuries have been used in the manufacture of stringed musical instruments.
Amber treatment as described by Russian doctors and scientists:
for internal use: powder and tincture as well as succinic acid and succinates;
suppositories with honey; inhalation (smoke from burnt amber);
for external use: ointments, amber oil, poultices and massages with the use of amber powder, massage with a polished nugget, acupuncture with needles with amber tops, baths in amber stones in room temperature and in temperature increased to 37-38 degrees Celsius, walking barefoot on a layer of fine amber, wearing amber jewellery, amulets, necklaces and bracelets.
Current research shows that the micronization of amber improves its assimilation by the stress-weakened organism of contemporary man. The unfavorable environmental conditions prevailing today block the natural flow of energy-related processes in cells. Blocks affect cellular metabolism and significantly weaken the immune system, but the natural energy of amber is able to stimulate its renewal.
This is confirmed by research carried out by a Kaliningrad-based doctor, Nikolai Moshkov (2002). He obtained fast and fully effective therapeutic results by rubbing very fine powder from pure energizing amber into the ill places (head, spine, thyroid gland, chest, limbs).
One may get the most visible results by applying the amber powder to the skin on the face.
We are surrounded by all sorts of electrical devices: radios, television sets, microwave ovens, hair-driers, shavers, computers and mobile phones, which affect our organism. Modern research proves that we may protect ourselves against their negative influence by making friends with amber-wearing amber jewellery, necklaces, bracelets, brooches, rings or pendants, or carrying a raw amber figurine or nugget in our pocket. Warming up, amber changes ionization, positively influencing our frame of mind and rebuilding the disturbed electrostatic field. We will be happy and full of energy once again, and we will attract luck.
The Baltic amberï¿½succiniteï¿½is a natural fossilized resin. Initially it must have been used by plants as an antibiotic against viruses, substance healing cuts or a plaster for wound dressing. Its mysterious, not yet fully recognized unusual properties have always aroused curiosity and exerted fascination on people. They evoked awe and respect, but never fear or dread as was the case with some precious stones. Amber inspired magicians, doctors, scientists and artists. They could see that it is a stone which is alive, which is constantly changing.
Not much has changed since then in this respect. Amber is trying to communicate with us, but we are still unable to understand it and discover its secrets. We do not even know which tree produced this fantastic resin 40 million years ago.
The treatment it gets in autoclaves destroys not only its aroma, but also its therapeutic power. This is confirmed in latest research and it may well be that amber so protects its fundamental secrets against careless, thoughtless destruction.
Current research confirms what people have felt and believed in for centuries. There is magical power in the Baltic amber (succinite). It is an exclusively good power, worth getting familiar with and it is for our protection.
Text & Images by Gabriela Gierlowska, reprinted with her permission
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