Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Liquid Colloidal Sliver
Metallic Particles Suspended in Water

To put this debate more in perspective, even if it were safe, silver is also completely unnecessary.  If people were to take sufficient vitamin C and other immune support nutrients, the immune system would be strong enough to fight off most bacterial and fungus attacks —Jonathan Campbell, Health Consultant (Campbell, 2010).

On June 20, 2013, the Los Angeles Times reported on a brand-new study that shows promise in fighting drug-resistant microbes (bacteria that in recent years have become increasingly resistant to antibiotics).  The element that helped, commonly called colloidal silver, is similar to what Hippocrates prescribed for patients in ancient Greece.  In a study published Wednesday (June 19, 2013) in Science Translational Medicine, researchers found that by adding trace amounts of silver to common antibiotics, the medications became up to 1,000 times more effective infighting infections in mice (Morin, 2013).

But Campbell’s caution is wise.  His concern (published and posted several years before this study), is still relevant today. According to the Mayo Clinic, it's not clear how much colloidal silver may be harmful, but it can build up in the body's tissues over months or years. Most commonly, this results in argyria (ahr-JIR-e-uh), a blue-gray discoloration of skin, eyes, internal organs, nails and gums. While argyria doesn't pose a serious health problem, it can be a cosmetic concern because it doesn't go away when those afflicted stop taking silver products.

According to the Mayo Clinic site, excessive doses of colloidal silver may also cause irreversible, serious health problems, including kidney damage and neurological problems such as seizures (Bauer, 2013).

The Dermatology Online Journal, reports the first recorded use of silver for medicinal purposes dates back to eighth century.  In 980 AD, for example, Avicenna used silver filings as a blood purifier, for offensive breath, and for palpitations of the heart. Tellingly, his pathology text describes a patient with bluish discoloration of the eyes associated with ingestion of silver.

The online journal said in the Middle Ages silver nitrate was used for the treatment of nervous system disorders such as epilepsy and tabes dorsalis. After Dr. Halstead of Johns Hopkins University applied silver foil and gauze to wounds to prevent infection in 1897, silver became popular in use as an anti-infective. In the pre-antibiotic era, it was used in nose drops (Argyrol, a silver proteinate), in sinusitis and common-cold remedies, and for the treatment of syphilis (Neo-Silvol, a silver arsphenamine). More recently silver arsphenamine has been used in topical astringent preparations (Wadhera and Fung, 2005).

The benefits of silver are undisputed, and if used with caution may be beneficial.  But zealot-like claims report no harm.  This is not always true; like echinacea, an herb common in medicine cabinets in the 1930s and 1940s, colloidal silver should be used only until symptoms improve.  Keville (2002) believed echinacea, when taken as a preventive, worked best only if taken for a week or two, then suspended for at least a week (if not longer).  "This may also be true of other herbs that enhance the immune system.  I'm often asked if this means echinacea is toxic.  Not at all.  Think of it as teaching your immune system how to operate, then giving it a chance to practice" (Keville, p. 2).

Silver has been used since antiquity.  According to a website that sells silver, titled Nature's Natural Antibiotic, colloidal silver has been used as far back in recorded time as 4000 BC (interesting, since the Dermatology Online Journal sites 980 AD as the starting point).  Of course, information is fluid, and often passed down in non-medical journals.  And, the source is not referenced

Still, it is fun.  According to the site, silver coins were often kept in drinking water and milk in order to prevent spoilage before the days of refrigeration. Early settlers used silver, according to the article, and many people remember their grandparents placing silver dollars in milk in order to prolong its freshness at room temperature. Even the Royals got into it.  They were called bluebloods because of the silver content in their blood and the blueness of their skin (when eating, royalty used silver plates, bowls and utensils almost exclusively). Essentially, they digested large particles of silver over extended periods of time, which created a permanent discoloration of the skin, due to the excessive silver deposits (Alexander, 2001).

But all is not well in the blue-blooded world of silver.  In an email unrelated to Alexander’s article, it became clear passions ran deep on both sides.  In a letter to Jonathan Campbell, Geoffrey Leigh, M.Sc., claimed there was no basis for concern.  He wrote:there was not the slightest chance of colloidal silver causing argyria (Campbell, 2010).

“A false statement,” Campbell said.

“One produces 99.999% 20ppm EIS and effectively treats a wide range of infection including MRSA,” Leigh said.

“A true statement,” Campbell replied, “but so what? There are better, natural antibiotics available.”

According to the Dermatology Online Journal, silver is the forty-seventh element of the periodic table and has an atomic weight of 107.87.  Adverse health effects of this metal will depend on the dose and form of exposure, the duration of exposure, the route of exposure (i.e., ingestion, inhalation, or skin contact), and also on the exposed individual's characteristics (age, sex, nutritional status, and state of health).  Consumption of large doses of colloidal silver can result in coma, pleural edema, and hemolysis (Wadhera and Fung, 2005).

Wadhera and Fung have some pretty scary photos on their site.  Included here is another documented case.


Argyria is rare, and colloidal silver can help.  Still, when health is restored, the silver should go back in the cabinet.  It should come out only when needed.

New findings are exciting.  American Biotech Labs (ABL), for example, just released what is believed to be the first ever human-ingestion safety study on both a silver supplement, and also a nano-particle. The published abstract for the study states that ingestion of the patented ABL nano-silver particle showed no negative effects on any tested system in the body (American Biotech Labs, LLC, 2013).

This is great news!  When the salesperson stops by, don't forget to ask the hard questions.


Alexander, C. (2001). History of true colloidal silver.  Retrieved July 30, 2013 from http://true-colloidal-silver

American Biotech Labs. (2013, April 23). First ever double-blind human-ingestion study on nano silver. PRNewswire. Retrieved July 18, 2013 from http://www.prnewswire

Bauer, B. A. (2013). My dad takes colloidal silver for his health, but is it safe. Consumer Health.  Retrieved July 18, 2013 from http://www.mayoclinic

Campbell, J. (2010). Natural Cures. Retrieved July 18, 2013 from http://www.cqs

Keville, K (2002). Herbs for cold and flu. Mother Earth Living.  Retrieved July 31, 2013 from http://www.motherearthliving
Morin, M. (2013, July 20). Silver may help to fight infection. Los Angeles Times, p. 1AA. 

Wadhera, A., & Fung, M. (2005). Systemic argyria associated with ingestion of colloidal silver. Davis, CA. eScholarship. Retrieved July 15, 2013 from http://escholarship