A DAY after its team of researchers found traces of gold in the urine of Gir cows, Junagadh Agricultural University (JAU) on Tuesday said it would seek the help of other researchers and laboratories for replication, even as ayurveda experts hailed the development.
“The Agricultural Research Council sub-committee on basic science has reviewed the findings of the team led by Prof Balu Golakia, and has concurred that traces of gold are present in the urine of Gir cows. The research team worked very patiently and meticulously for about five years before coming to their conclusion. The laboratory where they carried out their analysis is a setup accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL). But now we shall submit the findings of the team to other researchers for replication and further validation,” JAU vice-chancellor Prof Aarvind Pathak told The Indian Express on Tuesday.
The Agricultural Research Council is an in-house body of JAU, monitoring research in various fields by students and researchers associated with the varsity. The vice-chancellor is its chairman, while heads of various departments and principals of JAU colleges are its members. The committee also has independent experts on its board.
The research team led by Prof Balu Golakia, head of department of biochemistry and biotechnology, had announced on Monday that a litre of Gir cow urine contains three milligrams to 10 milligrams of gold. Over the last four years, the team tested 400 urine samples collected from Gir cows kept at the JAU cattle breeding farmin Junagadh. The team employed the Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (IPC-MS) process at the Food Testing Laboratory of department of biochemistry and biotechnology for elemental analysis of cow urine. The team found traces of gold in the form of water-soluble salt, along with other metals.
The researchers also deployed Liquid Chromatography Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry to detect unknown metabolites in cow urine and Gas Chromatography Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry to count the total compounds in the urine samples. Prof Golakia said that through IPC-MS, they could detect gold and other metal salts in the urine. The equipment they used for conducting this process has the precision of counting parts per billion.
“There is a reference in Atharva Veda that cow urine contains gold. We wanted to validate this claim, and therefore, took up this minor project of trying to find traces of gold in urine, along with our larger project of analysing cow urine holistically and find out its properties useful for human and plant health,” Prof Golakia said.
The research team leader further said that the gold content varied with age of cows and season of the year: “The gold concentration is higher in urine of calves as compared to adults. Similarly, more gold was found in urine of dry cows as compared to milching ones. The gold content was observed higher in samples collected during summer as compared to monsoon.”
The research team also simultaneously tested samples of urine from buffaloes, camels, goats and sheep, but they returned negative for gold. “The gold salt in cow urine can be transformed into powder, and then into metal balls. But we do not prescribe to start an industry of extracting gold from cow urine. The objective of the research was to demonstrate to farmers how important is cow urine and by extension, the cow as an animal. Work is on to identify compounds in cow urine which can be used for plant health and growth,” said the professor, adding that preparations were on to submit their findings to science journals for publication.
The research team identified 5,100 compounds in the cow urine, and said that 388 of them have medicinal properties. “The ayurveda fraternity welcomed the development. “This is a significant and very important observation. It can lead to new therapies in disease cure. Gold is very vital for almost all functions of the human body, especially our nervous system. As prescribed in Ayurveda, Swarnaprashana or small quantity of gold mixed with liquid and given to children boosts their mental health and development,” said Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha, vice-chancellor of Gujarat Ayurvedic University, Jamnagar. Vaidya Kotecha further said that they will include the observations of JAU researchers in a registry that the Ayurveda Universtiy is building so that ayurveda practitioners and researchers can replicate and validate the research.