Health benefits of geologic materials and geologic processes
The reemerging field of Medical Geology is concerned with the impacts of geologic materials and geologic processes on animal and human health. Most medical geology research has been focused on health problems caused by excess or deficiency of trace elements, exposure to ambient dust, and on other geologically related health problems or health problems for which geoscience tools, techniques, or databases could be applied. Little, if any, attention has been focused on the beneficial health effects of rocks, minerals, and geologic processes. These beneficial effects may have been recognized as long as two million years ago and include emotional, mental, and physical health benefits. Some of the earliest known medicines were derived from rocks and minerals. For thousands of years various clays have been used as an antidote for poisons. “Terra sigillata,” still in use today, may have been the first patented medicine. Many trace elements, rocks, and minerals are used today in a wide variety of pharmaceuticals and health care products. There is also a segment of society that believes in the curative and preventative properties of crystals (talismans and amulets). Metals and trace elements are being used in some of today’s most sophisticated medical applications. Other recent examples of beneficial effects of geologic materials and processes include epidemiological studies in Japan that have identified a wide range of health problems (such as muscle and joint pain, hemorrhoids, burns, gout, etc.) that may be treated by one or more of nine chemically distinct types of hot springs, and a study in China indicating that residential coal combustion may be mobilizing sufficient iodine to prevent iodine deficiency disease.
|Health benefits of geologic materials and geologic processes
|R. B. Finkelman
|International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
|USGS Publications Warehouse