Gallico gallus, coq français, French rooster.

Gallium is a silvery metal discovered in 1875 by the French chemist LeCoq, who named it Gallium in honor of France, known as Gallia, to the Romans.

LeCoq denied suggestions that he had, in fact, named the element after himself, although since the Latin for Coq (cock or rooster in English) is Gallus, the rooster and France have long been associated, which means that whatever LeCoq’s intentions, an association between his name and the element he named is unavoidable.

Gallium has no known nutritional role in humans. However, it has a number of striking therapeutic uses, including tumor-supression, as an antagonist of aluminum-induced osteoporosis, and as an antibiotic effective in cattle against Mycobacterium avium, the causative agent in Crohn’s disease.

Gallium salts, applied topically, have also been found highly effective in treating arthritic pain.The effect was discovered by people treating horses with gallium for a type of lameness known as navicular disease. Soaking their hands in 14% gallium nitrate solution while treating their horses, they found permanent relief from arthritic pain in their fingers.

This effect was tested by soaking the severely arthritic hands of a 60 year-old woman in gallium nitrate solution for 90 minutes (1). Pain lessened noticeably during the treatment and ceased entirely within 48 hours, and neither pain nor inflammation returned within a two-year follow-up period.

Arthritis appears to be associated with the deposition of calcified particles in the sinovial fluid of affected joints (2). Thus, if gallium salts relieve arthritis by eliminating such deposits, they might also prove effective in treating kidney stones, which are calcified deposits in the kidney, ureter or bladder. In at least one case, the expectation has been remarkably confirmed (3). Over three days, the patient imbibed two liters of water contain 120 milligrams of gallium. On the third day, the patient’s urine turned white, before returning to the normal color. Thereafter, the patient suffered no further pain or other evidence of kidney stones.

The suggestion arising from these studies that gallium is effective in treating arthritis and kidney stones through an antibiotic effect on nanobacteria (2,3) is highly questionable, since structures resembling nanobacteria can be generated in sterile blood serum by appropriate control of the concentration of carbon dioxide and bicarbonate ions (4).

(1) Eby, G. 2005. Elimination of arthritis pain and inflammation for over 2 years with a single 90 min, topical 14% gallium nitrate treatment: case reports and review of actions of gallium III. Medical Hypotheses 65: 1136.

(2) Tsuromoto, T. et al. 2006. Identification of Nanobacteria in Human Arthritic Synovial Fluid by Method Validated in Human Blood and Urine using 200 nm Model Nanoparticles. J. Proteome Res. 5: 1276.

(3) Eby, G. 2008. A hypothesis for anti-nanobacteria effects of gallium with observations from treating kidney disease. Medical Hypotheses 71: 584.

(4) Martel, J. and J. Ding-E. Young. Purported nanobacteria in human blood and calcium carbonate nanoparticles. PNAS. 105:5549.