Is Colloidal Silver an Insidious Health Fraud?
As published attacks on colloidal silver usage become more frequent, it behooves us to take a look at the existing facts and become grounded in them rather than allowing the carefully contrived scare stories to stampede us in the opposite direction.
This week, we’ll take a quick look at some of the scary charges one online medical doctor has been making against colloidal silver usage, and discover how his charges stack up against the facts.
As you’ll see, when the myths and misconceptions against colloidal silver usage are carefully examined, and the shrill rhetoric is stripped away and replaced with facts, colloidal silver remains one of the safest and most effective of all nutritional supplements when used responsibly.
Here’s the story the colloidal silver naysayers hope you’ll never read…
Hi, Steve Barwick here, for The Silver Edge…
An online article from a doctor (M.D.) who calls himself “The Pathology Guy” has been repeatedly sent to me for comment. It’s little different from other anti-colloidal silver articles. It begins by calling colloidal silver “an insidious health fraud.”
The Pathology Guy then goes on to state that using colloidal silver will cause it to accumulate in your body…there will be no way to get rid of it…and it has “two serious complications” which he defines as “argyria” and “massive brain damage.”
Lions, and Tigers and Bears (Oh, My!)
Considering the fact that I’ve been using colloidal silver almost daily for over 20 years, and have experienced neither argyria nor massive brain damage, I’ve decided to respond to the article by taking a quick look at what, in my humble opinion and long-term personal experience, are some of the most fallacious or exaggerated statements made by The Pathology Guy.
In addition to calling colloidal silver an “insidious health fraud,” and stating that its usage will result in argyria and “massive brain damage,” The Pathology Guy also states that “the FDA emphasizes there isn’t a shred of non-anecdotal evidence that it works.”
He goes on to say that “Argyria turns the skin permanently gray-blue, causing serious disfigurement. Websites promise this won't happen, but it's a lie.”
And he laments
that he’s had “three correspondents with argyria
write me asking for help,” but “I could offer none.”
Yes, he actually offered to help a governmental agency take someone’s child away from them simply because they gave their kid a nutritional supplement that’s been in widespread use for over 100 years and is sold in just about every health food store in America.
Then comes the clincher. The Pathology Guy writes:
Same Stuff, Different Day
If you’ve ever taken a peek at the MayoClinic.com website, the WebMD.com website or any of the FDA’s published anti-colloidal silver jabs, you’ll realize immediately that these charges are very similar to the one’s being made by The Pathology Guy.
articles like those on MayoClinic.com and WebMD.com are
purposefully written scare tactics designed to frighten people away from trying
colloidal silver so they’ll have no effective natural health alternative to Big
Pharma’s prescription antibiotic drugs.
The Pathology Guy says he’s a medical doctor (i.e., M.D.), so I’m not sure which category he fits into. But here’s my personal opinion of what’s he’s written, in light of the existing facts as I understand them:
It’s also sold online by such notable drug store chains as Walmart pharmacies, CVS Pharmacy, and Walgreen’s, which I believe are three of the four largest drug store chains in the U.S.
DrugStore.com also carries colloidal silver. And of course, Amazon.com, one of the world’s largest sellers with revenues of $107 billion annually, sells a plethora of different colloidal silver products in the U.S. and worldwide.
It’s been estimated that there are some 10 million colloidal silver users throughout North America and South America alone.
the author’s contention in his final paragraph that “the fad seems to have died down, with only a few companies promoting
colloidal silver for oral intake,” is of course erroneous.
Indeed, if you Google the phrase “colloidal silver for sale” you’ll get something like 354,000 search results from the U.S. and around the world. That’s not a passing “fad.” That’s massive worldwide acceptance of colloidal silver usage.
The Argyria Issue
all, argyria is very
rare. Out of the estimated tens of
millions of users of colloidal silver worldwide, only a tiny handful have ever reported argyric
In televised news interviews, for example, the so-called “colloidal silver blue man,” Paul Karason, admitted openly that he’d been using extremely high daily dosages of colloidal silver -- as much as 10 to 20 ounces a day -- for over ten years before he turned blue.
This, compared to a normal adult dosage of one teaspoon to an ounce a
day, depending upon body weight.
They were overdosing themselves on it. And they continued to do so for very long periods of time before they reaped the consequences of their actions.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve explained that ALL substances -- whether
natural or man-made -- have dosage thresholds which need to be honored if you
don’t want to experience some kind of negative side effect.
They completely ignore the tens of millions of people who use colloidal silver responsibly, and enjoy its many benefits without ever incurring any harm whatsoever.
That’s a very disingenuous tactic, in my opinion. It’s the equivalent of a person saying “Never eat anything with sugar in it because it causes diabetes, rotten teeth and eventually death.”
Of course, we all know that sugar is a relatively innocuous substance as long as it’s not over-indulged in. Used within reason, and with common sense, it adds to the taste and flavoring of foods, and helps make bitter foods and drinks palatable.
mother nature puts sugar – in the form of fructose -- into what would otherwise
be bitter foods like oranges, lemons, limes or grapefruits. Why? To
make them more palatable to us, because nature knows those foods are good for us.
Nevertheless, we don’t freak out, call sugar “an insidious sweetener fraud,” and write online articles about why you should “never, ever eat sugar,” right?
reasonable individuals, we simply avoid excessive
sugar usage, and enjoy the benefits of responsible and relatively limited sugar
As I mentioned in the past, I’ve used colloidal silver daily for 20 years now. The only thing “blue” on me is my eyes, and I was born that way.
But that’s because I don’t use it abusively. I use it in very small amounts, daily, as a nutritional adjunct to help keep my immunity at peak levels, and to help ward off infections.
The only time I use it in higher dosages is if I do indeed end up getting an active infection of some kind, such as a case of food poisoning. And even then, I’ll only do so for a few days to a week at most, and then take a “vacation” away from colloidal silver usage to allow my body to expel any excess.
I also take antioxidant substances known to help the body process silver more effectively.
These include the three specific antioxidants recommended to colloidal silver users by Harvard-educated Dr. Jonathan Wright, M.D., i.e., vitamin E, selenium and N-acetyl-cysteine.
As Dr. Wright has stated:
"Silver belongs to the family of metals that also includes copper and gold (both of which can also have numerous health benefits when they're used properly).
One of the primary concerns people tend to have about using these metals is the risk that they'll accumulate in the body and lead to heavy metal toxicity.
But if you have plenty of antioxidants in your diet, such as selenium, vitamin E, and amino acids like N-acetyl cysteine, you're safe from any harmful effects from this family of metals. Germs, however, are not."
The bottom line is that if normal daily usage of colloidal silver brought about argyric skin-staining, the substance would have been banned decades ago.
colloidal silver has been in use since the early 1900’s, and the FDA knows from
this over 100 years worth of historic perspective that very few cases of argyric skin-staining ever happen, and that when they do,
it’s generally when people have taken abusively high dosages for overly-long
periods of time.
Understood in the correct context, this is actually a true statement. There are websites out there that say you can drink as much colloidal silver as you want each day, and do so for as long as you want, and as long as it’s properly made it can never harm you.
Those websites are run by people I call the “lunatic fringe,” who apparently don’t care who they hurt. As I previously stated, there’s no substance on the face of the earth – either natural or man-made -- that doesn’t have some kind of dosage threshold.
And if you surpass that dosage threshold on a regular, ongoing basis, for months on end, sooner or later you’re going to pay the price for it.
You might even get away with it for years on end. But it will catch up with you, sooner or later, just as ingesting excessive amounts of sugar, or alcohol, or tobacco or antibiotic drugs, or statin drugs, or soda pop, or vitamins, or what-have-you will catch up with you if you do it long enough.
Please see my article “Which Type of Colloidal Silver User Are You?” to learn more about the difference between responsible colloidal silver usage and irresponsible colloidal silver usage.
Okay. That’s nice of him to admit his lack of knowledge about the treatment of argyria.
But truth be told, for well over a decade now there’s been a medical laser procedure similar to the one used for tattoo removal which allows the practitioner to remove argyric skin-staining, as long as it’s caught early.
This procedure was developed and perfected by Dr. Alison Vidimos of the Cleveland Clinic. She’s taught this procedure to other practitioners from around the world.
When I briefly interviewed her by phone some years back, she told me she’d only had a total of 12 patients she’s performed the procedure on in the decade since she developed it and taught it around the world.
Out of the millions of colloidal silver users in the U.S. alone, that’s an indication of how few people abuse the stuff and end up with the argyric skin-staining.
that’s because most colloidal silver users use the substance responsibly, and therefore never experience
a problem with argyria.
Big Pharma Moving
Toward Internal Silver Usage
A recent clinical study demonstrating that Silver Makes 26 Antibiotic Drugs Work Better Against Pathogens clearly tells us that even the medical community is now preparing to add oral doses of silver to their failing antibiotic drugs
Why? Because they know silver often dramatically boosts the effectiveness of
their antibiotic drugs against pathogens.
Even the big drug companies and the medical community are gradually turning back to antimicrobial silver, which, before the advent of prescription antibiotic drugs in the late 1930’s and early 40’s was one of their mainstays for healing infections in the human body.
In spite of his antagonism towards the oral usage of colloidal silver, The Pathology Guy does admit in his article that topical usage of antimicrobial silver for burn victims “is of unquestioned value.
But what he fails to mention is that antimicrobial silver is also now being used in many kinds of medical implants to help keep antibiotic-resistant super-pathogens from colonizing the implant.
These medical implants work by constantly leaching silver ions inside the body at the implant site, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, for the rest of the patient’s life. In other words, the medical community is already using silver internally, albeit for this very specialized purpose.
with the recent spate of clinical research demonstrating silver to vastly
improve the efficacy of antibiotic drugs (see two more articles on this subject,
here and here), it’s only a matter of time before the
medical community will relent and begin using antimicrobial silver orally to
help fight infections.
In fact, over the last few years giant pharmaceutical companies like Jansen, as well as Johnson & Johnson, have been looking at ways – in this case, a very strange way -- to use antimicrobial silver internally in order to staunch exactly such infections (see article here).
So the idea that topical usage of antimicrobial silver as remedy for burn victims is good, but internal usage of colloidal silver constitutes “an insidious health fraud,” is a mistaken notion at best – unless, of course, you want to charge the surgical implant specialists and big drug companies with “insidious health fraud,” as well.
It’s my bet that sooner or later, if The Pathology Guy is an honest man, he’s going to have to publicly eat his words -- especially when Big Pharma comes out with the first FDA-approved silver-based antibiotic drug.
Or is silver, when used internally, only a bad thing when individuals do it for nutritional supplementation purposes, but not a bad thing when Big Pharma and the medical community do it?
The FDA knows colloidal silver works, just like the medical community knows it works. FDA regulations, however, state that any natural substance that’s being sold as a “cure” or “remedy” for a known medical issue is being misbranded and sold as a “drug.”
This is their way of protecting pharmaceutical company profits.
You can legally sell vitamin C, for example, as a nutritional adjunct to people’s daily food intake. But you can only advertise it as a means to “augment your body’s levels of vitamin C.” You can’t advertise it as a “cure” or “remedy” for cold or flu, even though millions of people use it for exactly that purpose.
Likewise, you can sell colloidal silver as a mineral supplement, but you can’t advertise it as an infection-fighting agent, because that’s a medical usage, and only FDA-approved drugs can be sold for medical purposes.
In other words, nutritional supplements are only supposed to be sold to aid in one’s nutritional intake. By law, they can’t be sold to “cure” any medical issue. So the FDA’s occasional attacks on colloidal silver are largely seen as being designed to stop people from touting it as a medical treatment, since it’s not yet an approved prescription drug.
Now for the Scary Stuff
Okay, let’s get down to the truly scary stuff.
The Pathology Guy wrote:
“The neurology team at Western Ontario published (Neurology 62: 1408, 2004) an account of a colloidal silver enthusiast who over the course of four months brought his levels tremendously high.
He developed myoclonic status epilepticus (i.e., uncontrollable, never-ending jerking of his body), and progressed into coma. He went into a persistent vegetative state and was allowed to die 5.5 months later.”
Hey, that would scare even me.
But once again, the author appears to be merely regurgitating what others have said, without looking more deeply into the case for himself to see if it’s true.
First of all, if the patient’s blood levels of silver were “tremendously high” then the person must have been using colloidal silver abusively. And in such a case, he shouldn’t be used as an example of normal colloidal silver usage.
selectively touting only the most negative and scary accounts, and failing to
point out that tens of millions of people use colloidal silver regularly
without ever experiencing seizures, coma or any other side effects for that
matter, is a very disingenuous
Nevertheless, even abusive use of colloidal silver is not generally known to cause neurological problems like those described in the single medical case The Pathology Guy has dredged up.
According to researchers Drake and Hazelwood, in the study “Exposure-Related Health Effects of Silver and Silver Compounds: A Review”:
“Silver in any form is not thought to be toxic to the immune, cardiovascular, nervous, or reproductive systems (ATSDR, 1990) and is not considered to be carcinogenic (FurstandSchlauder, 1978).”
Interestingly, researchers point out that in India the native population consumes some 605,000 pounds of edible metallic silver foil per year in food.
That’s because they wrap certain foods in very thinly beaten silver foil, and the food is consumer foil and all.
What about the consequences of such egregious intake of silver? As stated in the journal Materials Research Innovations, Vol. 11, No. 1, (2007) pages 3-18, there are none:
“A recent paper by Das et al. provides the remarkable datum that some 275,000 kg [i.e., 605,000 pounds -- ED] of edible metallic silver foil are consumed every year (in food) in India.
No known adverse health effects have ever been recorded. This epidemiological evidence that silver as a metal is not toxic in any way needs no further comment.
Further support for the obvious safety of consuming metallic silver (Ag0) is in the worldwide consumption of (so called) silver colloids, often made at home in primitive electrochemical cells by probably some millions of citizens, again with no ill effects.”
Getting back to the individual who suffered the myoclonic status epilepticus seizures: The medical report says he was “a previously healthy 71 year old retired office worker.”
But when you read further, you find out he had stage B adenocarcinoma of the prostate (i.e., prostate cancer) and had discontinued all natural therapies months earlier.
In other words, colloidal silver was not the only supplement he’d been taking. For example, he was also taking PC-SPES, a dietary supplement recalled by the FDA due to contamination with prescription drugs.
he apparently discontinued taking his
nutritional supplements altogether – including the colloidal silver -- and
began following the doctor’s recommended treatment plan for his prostate cancer.
· Abnormal growth filled with fluid or semisolid material
Incidence not known
Bicalutamide is also known to have nervous system side effects, including “dizziness, paresthesia, and insomnia.” Paresthesia, of course, is caused by damage to peripheral nerves.
What’s more, the drug bicalutamide is also known to cause disturbed sleep patterns, and there’s a known medical association with disturbed sleep patterns and myoclonus seizures.
And now for the clincher: According to FactMed.com, there have been two reports of Bicalutamide causing epileptic seizures! They write:
“Between January 2004 and October 2012, 2 individuals taking BICALUTAMIDE reported EPILEPSY to the FDA.
A total of 1638 BICALUTAMIDE drug adverse event reaction reports were made with the FDA during this time period.
Often the FDA only receives reports of the most critical and severe cases; these numbers may therefore underrepresent the complication rate of the medication.”
What’s more, other anti-androgenic drugs have also been linked to epileptic seizures. According to Wikipedia, the Phase 1 clinical trial into one such anti-androgenic drug had to be terminated “because of an epileptic seizure in a patient.”
Wikipedia writes that this “led to findings that several anti-androgens produce off-target antagonist binding to GABA-A receptors” which can result in seizures.
The FDA wrote more about that here, in an Office Director Decisional Memo, stating that a particular anti-androgenic drug caused a “dose-dependent increase in the risk of seizure.”
But it doesn’t end there, of course. After the three months of treatment with this drug that cripples the body’s production of male hormones and can cause numerous side effects (including rare cases of seizure, and damage to peripheral nerves), the patient then underwent 35 cycles (!!!) of radiation therapy over seven weeks.
the clincher: The seizures began shortly
after the completion of the drug treatment and radiation therapy. That was three
months after the patient had stopped using colloidal silver and other
supplements. Can we say “Hmm”?
“silver toxicity” were the cause of his seizures, you’d think it would have triggered
the seizures when the patient’s blood levels of silver were at their highest, rather than 11 weeks later when
they were likely significantly lower.
the man’s past use of silver was blamed for his seizures, and not the medical
treatment that took place shortly before the seizures actually started.
Now it gets worse: When the elderly gentleman’s seizures started, the doctors apparently put him on another drug -- Propofol -- the drug involved in Michael Jackson’s death.
Why would they do this? I have no idea.
Two years earlier the Journal of Neurology and Neurosurgical Psychiatry (2002: 73:86-95) had published a study in which doctors from the Mayo Clinic noted that Propofol did indeed work against the symptoms of myoclonus seizures.
However, nearly a quarter of the patients treated with it slipped into a vegetative state and died in comas. Isn’t that interesting? This elderly gentleman mentioned by The Pathology Guy also went into a vegetative state and died in a coma after use of this prescribed drug.
By blaming the man’s death on colloidal silver, could the doctors have been trying to divert attention away from the fact that they gave the elderly gentleman such toxic drugs and treatments over a three month period? I don’t know. But it certainly sounds suspicious to me.
the patient outcome for that particular drug (i.e, Propofol), when used for the treatment of myoclonus
seizures is very frequently death.
“From the medical literature, in 31 patients treated with Propofol used in refractory status epilepticus, there was a 23% mortality rate, although the deaths were attributed to other causes rather than being attributed to the drug.
One could also say that in
cases of status epilepticus treated with Propofol,
almost one in four patients die. So the odds for this gentleman surviving his
treatment weren't very good to begin with.”
(See study here.)
pharmaceutical researcher friend also wrote, “In the past, other common prescription drugs have been known to have
triggered myoclonic status epilepticus, including ‘cephalosporin-type
antibiotic drugs which can induce a neurotoxic syndrome with encephalopathy and
non-rhythmic, stimulus-sensitive myoclonus.’”
Indeed, some would posit that a more likely trigger for the seizures would have been the doctor-prescribed drugs and the intensive radiation treatments and subsequent side effects, including the mental, physical and emotional stress of trying to avoid dying from the prostate cancer.
Other well-known medical experts – including some who do not advocate colloidal silver usage -- have been honest enough to point out what’s been known for decades: antimicrobial silver is generally not known to be toxic. For example, Britain’s top expert on the medical use of antimicrobial silver states:
“..there is very little substantive evidence that silver acts either as a cumulative poison in the human body like lead and mercury, or that it reaches toxic levels in any tissue. Silver does accumulate preferentially in the basement membrane region of the dermis, but no evidence has been seen to show that this is either life-threatening or a clinical manifestation of toxicity.”
-- Silver in Healthcare: Its Antimicrobial Efficacy and Safety in Use, by Alan B. G. Lansdown, pg. 45
Lansdown, who holds a Ph.D and is a senior lecturer at the Imperial College Faculty of Medicine in London, also states:
“Case reports have occasionally stated that silver is deposited in brain and neurological tissues and that it is a cause of certain neurological changes, but critical evaluation of these and other studies indicate that silver is not absorbed into neurological tissues but becomes bound in lysosomal vacuoles of the blood-brain barrier and in the blood-cerebrospinal fluid (SDF) barrier.”
-- Silver in Healthcare: Its Antimicrobial Efficacy and Safety in Use, by Alan B. G. Lansdown, pg. 60
What’s more, according to a study titled "Critical Observations on the Neurotoxicity of Silver," published in Critical Review of Toxicology (2007;37:237-50):
"Although silver is metabolized throughout the soft tissues, available evidence from experimental animal studies and human clinical reports has failed to unequivocally establish that it enters tissues of the central nervous system or is a cause of neurotoxic damage...No evidence is available to demonstrate the toxic risk of silver to the peripheral nervous system..."
In other words, experts attest that in animal studies and human clinical reports there is no conclusive evidence that silver causes harm to the human nervous system or the brain.
And reports that silver can get past the blood-brain barrier or cerebrospinal fluid barrier have also been shown to be incorrect. According to the above-mentioned study, the silver is instead trapped in “basement membranes or collagen without toxic effect.”
In other words, the blood-brain barrier and cerebrospinal fluid barrier keep silver out of these sensitive areas of the body, just as they’re supposed to.
However, the powerful anti-androgenic drug, Bicalutamide, which was given to the elderly gentleman before he developed the myoclonic status epilepticus seizures, is indeed known to cross the blood-brain barrier and affect nervous system function.
As written in Wikipedia, “it appears that bicalutamide does indeed cross the blood-brain-barrier in humans and affect central function, as supported by potential side effects such as diminished sexual interest, fatigue, and depression.”
So based on the experts I’ve quoted above, and the fact that there’s no real evidence the elderly individual’s status epilepticus monoclonal seizures were indeed caused by colloidal silver, it would seem to me that The Pathology Guy’s charge that colloidal silver usage results in “massive brain damage” is ludicrous at face value.
I think I’ve said enough about The Pathology Guy’s cheap slap at colloidal silver as an “insidious health threat.”
Here’s some additional reading on the topic of colloidal silver safety – including some of the myths and misconceptions -- you might want to look into:
You might also find the following articles interesting:
Also, if you haven’t done so already, be sure to get your copy of the Colloidal Silver Safe Dosage Report, which is available FREE by email, and which shows you how to calculate your maximum safe daily dosage rate based on the ppm of the colloidal silver you’re using and your body weight.
Make Your Own Colloidal Silver For Pennies
Colloidal silver can be purchased at just about any local health food store, or through a number of online sources including Amazon.com.
However, it’s quite literally one of the most expensive and heavily marked-up natural supplements in existence.
Health food store owners, for example, often charge as much as $20-$30 for a tiny four-ounce bottle. Yet the cost to manufacture four ounces of colloidal silver is about 12 cents. Yes, I said twelve cents.
O course, people are willing to pay through the nose for colloidal silver, since it’s safe and natural, and works so well against germs, mold, fungus, and even viruses.
But thankfully, there’s no need to pay such
exorbitant prices for colloidal silver, when you can make your own, quickly and
easily, in the comfort and privacy of your own home, for about 36 cents
If you’re interested in learning how to make your own high-quality colloidal silver at home, for about 36 cents a quart, here are some additional short articles you might want to take a look at:
Meanwhile, I’ll be back next week with another great article on colloidal silver….
Yours for the safe, sane and responsible use of colloidal silver,
Important Note and Disclaimer: The contents of this Ezine have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Information conveyed herein is from sources deemed to be accurate and reliable, but no guarantee can be made in regards to the accuracy and reliability thereof. The author, Steve Barwick, is a natural health journalist with over 30 years of experience writing professionally about natural health topics. He is not a doctor. Therefore, nothing stated in this Ezine should be construed as prescriptive in nature, nor is any part of this Ezine meant to be considered a substitute for professional medical advice. Nothing reported herein is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The author is simply reporting in journalistic fashion what he has learned during the past 17 years of journalistic research into colloidal silver and its usage. Therefore, the information and data presented should be considered for informational purposes only, and approached with caution. Readers should verify for themselves, and to their own satisfaction, from other knowledgeable sources such as their doctor, the accuracy and reliability of all reports, ideas, conclusions, comments and opinions stated herein. All important health care decisions should be made under the guidance and direction of a legitimate, knowledgeable and experienced health care professional. Readers are solely responsible for their choices. The author and publisher disclaim responsibility and/or liability for any loss or hardship that may be incurred as a result of the use or application of any information included in this Ezine.
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