In antiquity, rubies and other gemstones were thought to treat disease when they were used as ointments or swallowed as potions or teas. Color was critical for determining the medicinal use of gemstones. Red stones, including ruby, spinel, garnet, and carnelian, were thought to prevent and cure blood and inflammatory diseases, boils, hemorrhages, and anemia.
During the Middle Ages, rubies were believed to prevent death by poison or plague. From the 12th to 14th centuries, members of the Christian clergy became interested in lithotherapy–the practice of using gemstones to treat physical or mental ailments. During this period, the Christian church opposed magic in any form, but it endorsed the tradition of the medicinal gemstone.
Skeptics were dismissed as heretics, and scholars who did not enthusiastically support tenets of lithotherapy were threatened with excommunication. The father of modern botany and zoology, Dominican monk Albertus Magnus, was one of many serious scholars who dabbled in the study of lithotherapy. He believed that ruby had greater healing powers than all other gemstones.
Western societies have also used rubies to benefit the heart and circulatory system, to improve digestion, to jumpstart the metabolism, and to cure arthritis, colds, fevers, flu, and headaches. They have also been used to alleviate eye problems and to stimulate the adrenals, kidneys, reproductive organs, and the spleen.
Precious metals have also been used for medicinal purposes for many centuries. The precious metal used to mount a ruby may augment its ability to heal. Silver is also said to be beneficial for the circulatory system, the throat, and the lungs. It restores mental and hormonal balance, it is good for treating hepatitis, and it purges the body of toxic elements.
Gold’s biocompatibility and conductivity have been recognized for ages. Worn on the body, gold is said to be helpful for treating blood, skin, and heart conditions as well as epilepsy, scoliosis, dyslexia, and autism. Platinum and palladium armor the body, providing systemic protection from both disease and infirmity.
With so many meanings prescribed to rubies, it should come as no surprise that rubies also have a lengthy history as expressions of love. Discover that next in Rubies & Love.