Chemical Composition of Minerals
The purpose of the section is to introduce you to the elements that make up minerals commonly used in crystal healing, and also to think about the implications of these elements in healing.
I encourage you to visit the Web Elements site (www.webelements.com), which has wonderful online version with lots of interactive material, including the uses of each element in both industry and biology. There is another online Periodic Table that interacts with Wikipedia entries on each element: http://www.ptable.com.
Chemical composition of minerals is shown by a chemical formula. Impurities are often responsible for colouration, but these are usually not reflected in the chemical formula.
To understand the importance of knowing the chemical make-up of minerals, let’s look at a few examples. You will find by looking at the periodic table that calcite (CaCO2) is a calcium carbonate. With basic knowledge of anatomy and physiology, you will know that calcium is the main constituent of the skeletal system, and therefore calcite is often used in crystal healing to help mend fractures of bones or treat bone density issues in post-menopausal women. Hematite (Fe2O3) is an iron oxide. Iron helps to maintain healthy red corpuscles and oxygenate the blood, and hematite is frequently used to treat anaemia as well as circulatory problems, as well as traditionally being employed to staunch blood flow in wounds.
The best way to familiarise yourself with chemical composition is to go through the Periodic Table, and look up the uses of the different elements, but some of the most common are listed below, along with their biological role in the human body:
Aluminium may be involved in the action of certain enzymes, but aluminium compounds are toxic, and it has been linked with Alzheimer’s disease
No biological role, but small doses are believed by some to stimulate the metabolism
Although toxic, as an ultra-trace element it is essential in humans, and its lack results in inhibited growth
Barium has no biological role, and is highly toxic, although it is employed in internal body imaging; it is used in glassmaking, rubber making and for creating green colour in fireworks and pyrotechnics
1.5% of total body mass in humans
Forms part of the cell walls and bones; the ionized form (Ca2+) is necessary in blood clotting, release of hormones, contraction of muscle, and other processes
18.5% of total body mass in humans
Essential to life, as it forms the backbone chains and rings of all organic molecules
0.2% of total body mass in humans
The anion (negatively charged particle) is the most plentiful anion in extracellular fluid, and is essential in maintaining fluid balance in the body
Trace chromium is involved in glucose metabolism; any more than trace is toxic
The core of vitamin B12, essential in absorption of iron
Essential to all life as a trace element; the key component of redox enzymes and of haemocyanin; a good conductor of both heat and electricity, and thought by many to act as an anti-inflammatory and to aid pain relief when worn, by drawing off the inflammation; copper has bacteriostatic qualities, and malachite, a copper ore, has been used for thousands of years in the treatment of infection
Fluorine (as fluoride, in an organic form) is added to drinking water in order to render teeth impervious to bacterial attack
Gold has no biological role, but is used in some drug treatments for rheumatoid arthritis
3.2% of total body mass in humans
A constituent of water, and in most organic molecules
0.1% of total body mass in humans
Essential for carrying oxygen around the blood stream
Toxic, affects the nervous system and gut, but is also used to block x-rays, and can be useful for certain types of protection and blocking of electromagnetic stress
Lithium-based compounds, such as lithium carbonate, are used to treat manic-depressive (bipolar) disorders.
Essential for the action of some enzymes; deficiencies can lead to infertility and malformation in growth
Essential for all life, and plays a role in nitrogen fixation (a process by which the normally unreactive nitrogen gas is turned into other compounds) enzymes, and nitrate reduction enzymes. Too much molybdenum can block iron absorption.
An important trace element, thought to be necessary for the health of the liver
65.0% of total body mass in humans
Essential to life and a component of water; used to generate ATP (a molecule used by cells to temporarily store chemical energy)
Potassium salts are essential for both animals and plants: the potassium cation (positively charged particle: K+) is the major cation in intracellular fluids, and is necessary for nerve and muscle impulses; potassium is essential for nerve and heart function.
Necessary to rats and chicks (and one would assume humans…) for skeletal development; also used for making glass, transmitting energy (for example in computer chips), and has excellent optical properties
Silver has no biological role, but is often used for cleansing; colloidal silver is taken internally, and plasters are sometimes lined with silver, because of its antibacterial properties.
.2% of total body mass in humans
Important for regulation of fluids in animals and humans; the main extracellular cation, necessary for nerve and muscle impulses; used in cleansing
No biological uses, but oddly is used for the red colour in fireworks (strontium is the main constituent of celestite, which is blue-grey)
No biological uses, but incredibly strong, light weight, flexible, resistant to corrosion, non-magnetic, and, when used in pigment; reflects infrared radiation; a main component in joint replacement, especially ball-and-socket joints, due to its strength and light weight, and in dental implants, as it easily fuses with bone tissue
Vanadium is a trace element, and it is not known in what way it is biologically important for humans, but according to the WebElements website, is an essential nutrient for rats and chicks, apparently.
A key component to many enzymes; contained in insulin; plays a role in reproduction, sexual maturation, male sexuality, and the immune system
The periodic “law” of chemistry recognises that properties of the chemical elements are periodic functions of their atomic number (that is, the number of protons within the element’s atomic nucleus). The periodic table is an arrangement of the chemical elements ordered by atomic number in columns (groups) and rows (periods) presented so as to emphasize their periodic properties.
There are many different ways, sometimes ingenious, of arranging the chemical elements according to which properties are of particular interest but that shown here is a standard form of the periodic table. The relative merits of various other periodic table organisations is still the subject of debate.
While the name Dmitri Mendeleev is usually credited with the with the form of periodic table as we know it today, many other excellent researchers made profound contributions to its development, including Antoine Lavoisier, Jöns Jakob Berzelius, Johann Döbereiner, John Newlands, Alexandre-Émile Béguyer de Chancourtois, Lothar Meyer, and others.