Colloidal Silver and Silver-Resistant Pathogens

Are some pathogenic microorganisms resistant to colloidal silver?

The answer is “yes” and “no.” And it depends largely on who you’re listening to, and how their studies were conducted.

Indeed, it turns out that many reported cases of bacterial resistance to silver have been either exaggerated, mistaken or based on poor study design by researchers.

Here’s the bare-bones truth no one else is telling you…

Hi, Steve Barwick here, for The Silver Edge

Some resources claim there are only eight pathogens that are resistant to the infection-fighting qualities of colloidal silver. Others say there are 20.

Actually, it’s a little more complex than that.

There are over 20,000 cataloged pathogens in existence, and probably 20 million un-cataloged pathogens.

So it’s quite inevitable that sooner or later you’ll run across a silver-resistant pathogen, which is to say, a pathogen that will not be killed by oral or topical use of colloidal silver.

After all, colloidal silver is not “God.” It’s just a natural substance that happens to have some very powerful antimicrobial and disinfectant properties.

Researchers claim antimicrobial silver is effective against over 650 different pathogenic microorganisms, whereas most traditional antibiotic drugs are effective against only several dozen pathogens, at best.

So this certainly makes antimicrobial silver the most broad-spectrum of all-natural infection-fighting agents. But it cannot kill every single pathogen on the face of the earth.

The “complex” part is that while a certain species of pathogen might be quite susceptible to silver, a sub-species of that same pathogen might demonstrate at least some degree of resistance to silver.

Partial Truths…

So, for example, you have some researchers claiming that the Enterobacteriaceae pathogen is silver-resistant. (See “Colloidal Silver Medical Research Before 1940“)

But that’s only a partial truth because it is only a sub-species of that family of pathogens that clinical studies have demonstrated to be silver-resistant.

On the other hand, there are multiple other sub-species of Enterobacteriaceae that are very susceptible to the antimicrobial qualities of colloidal silver, including some of the antibiotic-resistant “superbug” forms. (See “Colloidal Silver Versus Antibiotic-Resistant CRE Bacteria“)

There are also researchers who claim colloidal silver is ineffective against E. coli. (See “Colloidal Silver Medical Research Before 1940“)

But this too is only a partial truth, because it’s only a sub-species of E. coli that’s been demonstrated in a handful of studies to be silver-resistant.

Indeed, many other strains of E. coli have been demonstrated to be very susceptible to the antimicrobial qualities of silver. (See “Colloidal Silver and E. Coli” as well as “7 Deadly Microbes Killed by Colloidal Silver at Very Low Concentrations: Study“)

I’m not trying to complicate the issue; it just is what it is.

Just because a bacterium is said to be “silver-resistant” doesn’t mean every single member of that family of pathogens is silver-resistant. It might only be a single sub-species that’s demonstrated silver-resistance, as in the above-mentioned cases.

When “Silver-Resistant” Pathogens Aren’t Really Resistant…

The situation gets even more confused because some – and perhaps a majority – of the research that’s ostensibly demonstrated silver-resistance in pathogens turns out to be misleading.

In some cases, for example, researchers have labeled a certain pathogen as being “silver-resistant,” when in reality the pathogen was only resistant to the type of silver being used in the study.

According to a clinical research white paper from the Immunogenic Research Foundation titled Microbial Multi-Drug Resistance (MDR) and Oligodynamic Silver:

“Over the past two decades, multiple studies with differing designs and speciations of silver-based drugs have indicated that certain bacterial species and strains have physiological mechanisms that circumnavigate silver’s toxicity.

These mechanisms are essentially plasmid based or chromosomal based; the later expressing as ATPase translocating mechanisms.

In neither case did investigators employ nanoscalar oligodynamic silver. Instead, the experimental designs typically utilized silver salt compounds, which deliver poor amounts of bioactive silver.”

In short, in studies that supposedly demonstrated there to be silver-resistant pathogens, the type of silver used was typically a silver salt compound such as silver nitrate, rather than “nanoscalar oligodynamic silver,” meaning electrically-generated ionic silver with very small particle size.

This is true as well of other silver compounds. For example, at least one sub-species of the common Enterococcus pathogen is known to be resistant to silver sulfadiazine cream. So you’ll find many clinical resources listing this pathogen as being “silver-resistant.”

Yet other clinical researchers have found that the very same pathogen is killed quite easily by electrically-generated colloidal silver (i.e., ionic silver).

This makes sense, because the Enterococcus is a very hardy pathogen. And silver sulfadiazine cream is designed to release a very slow trickle of silver ions to help keep microbial populations from spreading throughout burn wounds.

But Enterococcus is not easily affected by such a slow release of silver ions. On the other hand, if you expose this same pathogen to higher quantities of silver ions by applying enough pure, unadulterated electrically-generated colloidal silver, it dies rapidly.

That’s because electrically-generated colloidal silver is composed chiefly of pure silver ions. And silver ions are the active, infection-fighting “specie” of silver.

So “carpet bombing” a pathogen like Enterococcus with pure silver ions all at once, rather than exposing it to a very slow stream of silver ions being released from a silver compound like silver sulfadiazine (which you could think of as a weakened solution), does the trick.

This means the pathogen is not silver-resistant at all. It’s simply that the right “specie” of silver must be utilized, and the right dosage of silver must be utilized, if the pathogen is to be effectively killed.

Bacterial Culture Contamination

Another problem that’s confused the issue is when researchers neutralize silver’s antimicrobial qualities before the silver can kill the bacteria in a Petri dish.

This usually happens when the researchers grow the bacteria in a nutrient growth media containing substances such as strong salts, minerals, sugars, amino acids and proteins such as soy casein.

When silver is applied to pathogens being grown in such laboratory nutrient media, these substances tend to bond strongly with silver and reduce its effectiveness.

In essence, the researchers unwittingly dampen silver’s effectiveness without realizing it. They then conclude they’ve discovered another type of bacteria that’s become resistant to silver.

But if the silver were to be applied to the very same pathogens outside of the presence of the artificial growth medium, it would easily destroy the pathogen.

As revealed in the clinical research white paper from the Immunogenic Research Foundation, Microbial Multi-Drug Resistance (MDR) and Oligodynamic Silver:

“Another most common problem of these experimental designs was the inadvertent culture contamination with various salts, something which will reduce silver efficacy.

The colloidal state and dynamics of living tissues is at odds with typical culture techniques and mediums, and brings about the unfortunately situation of requiring readers to compare apples to oranges.”

In other words, the nutrient growth media used in laboratories to grow bacterial colonies is quite different from living tissue.

So all the researchers have actually demonstrated is that silver won’t work as well against the bacteria being tested when they’re grown in the laboratory in an artificial growth media that reduces silver’s effectiveness.

Indeed, as far back as 1983, in a study titled Silver and Its Compounds (pg. 335; Disinfection, Sterilization and Preservation), a researcher named Grier demonstrated the fact that:

“Some so-called silver-resistant microorganisms may result from an apparent neutralization of the metal’s inhibitory action [by assay artifacts – ED]…

…these include the presence of chelators such as serial amino acids, constituents of hard water, different buffers, light, incubation temperature, and particularly, soluble components of soy agar (TSA) and tryptose glucose extract agar (TGE)”

Once again, in artificial laboratory growth media there can be components that neutralize silver’s antimicrobial qualities.

On the other hand, in the human body there are transport mechanisms such as the metalloprotein transport system that are specifically designed to “escort” silver intact through harsh chemical environments so it can do its work when it comes into contact with a colony of pathogens.

According to the above-cited clinical research white paper, Microbial Multi-Drug Resistance (MDR) and Oligodynamic Silver:

“More specifically stated, the ‘apparent’ resistance of microbes to silver-based drugs is typically due to (1) an inadequate protocol or procedure, or (2) neglect of the necessary parameters so carefully reviewed by Goetz, Zhao and a NASA commissioned study.

“Hamilton-Miller et al., have reported that bacterial strains completely resistant to the salt speciations of silver have proved erroneous when proper study designs were employed.”

In other words, when pathogens that had previously been demonstrated to be “silver-resistant” were instead raised in a growth medium that didn’t neutralize silver, and when proper procedures were followed by the researchers, the supposed “silver resistance” suddenly vanished, and the pathogens were killed.

In such cases, the supposed “silver resistance” of the pathogen was actually non-existent.

Dosage Also Matters

In other studies in which researchers claimed to have discovered silver-resistant pathogens, the dosage used in the study was simply not strong enough for that particular pathogen.

Indeed, when later studies were conducted using stronger-than-average doses of silver, these same pathogens were either killed outright, or so badly disabled they could no longer create infection.

In other words, in some cases, the original researchers who claimed to have found “silver-resistance” in the pathogens simply hadn’t used a strong enough dose to fully affect the pathogen.

Finally, in some studies unusually weak forms of antimicrobial silver were used, when stronger forms were called for. So killing the pathogens would simply have been a matter of switching to a more powerful form of silver. But the researchers instead concluded that the pathogens had become “silver-resistant” when in fact they hadn’t.

What this means is that of the very few instances of silver resistance on record, at least some of them – and perhaps a majority of them – were not even true.

Additional Information…

Back in the 1980’s when researchers compiled the list of 109 pathogens and related medical conditions shown in the older medical literature (pre-1940’s) to be treatable with antimicrobial silver, they included a list of eight pathogens known to be silver-resistant.

You can find that list of eight pathogens that are said to be silver-resistant in my article “Colloidal Silver Medical Research Before 1940“.

Of course, that was previous to 1940. And in truth, only certain sub-species of those eight pathogens have been demonstrated to be silver-resistant in clinical studies, and as I’ve pointed out above, some of those studies demonstrating “silver-resistance” are highly suspect, at best.

At this point in time (2014) there are now said to be some 20 different pathogens (out of the 20,000 cataloged pathogens) that have been demonstrated in clinical studies to “exhibit various degrees of resistance to the bactericidal effects of silver-based drugs.”

But “various degrees of resistance” is not the same as actual silver-resistance. It just means that in many cases, higher doses or stronger forms of silver would do the trick.

For a more complete overview of the issue of silver-resistant microbes – including a list of the 20 bacterial sub-species that are said to “exhibit various degrees of resistance to silver” – you might want to read my earlier and much longer article “Can Pathogens Develop Resistance to Antimicrobial Silver?” at this link:

Make Your Own High-Quality Colloidal Silver

Making your own high-quality, electrically-generated colloidal silver is one good way to make sure you have the most effective colloidal silver solution possible.

Many commercial brands of colloidal silver are adulterated; one study demonstrated that only about 43% of bottled colloidal silver products tested actually contained the concentration of microscopic silver particles listed on the label.

Some colloidal silver products contained no silver particles at all!

In other cases, the silver particles in the commercial solutions have proven to be so large, they’re extremely difficult for the body to absorb, assimilate, distribute and afterwards excrete.

And in other cases, the potency of the colloidal silver solution has been demonstrated to be extremely weak because the solution had been sitting on store shelves for so long the silver particles were beginning to precipitate out of suspension and fall to the bottom of the bottle!

But when you make your own colloidal silver with a high-quality Micro-Particle Colloidal Silver Generator from

  • You get fresh, pure batches every time!
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  • No hidden fillers, dyes, protein or gelatin coatings or other additives, just fresh, pure colloidal silver!
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To learn more about making and using colloidal silver with a high-quality Micro-Particle Colloidal Silver Generator, just click the link in this sentence.

Or watch some of the short colloidal silver videos at the link in this sentence.

And don’t forget, I’ll be back next week with another eye-opening article on colloidal silver. So be sure to stay tuned…

Yours for the safe, sane and responsible use of colloidal silver,
Steve Barwick Signature
Steve Barwick, author
The Ultimate Colloidal Silver Manual

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Meet Steve Barwick

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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