Silver - The Dark Side of a New Health Craze - Rebuttal by Marshall Dudley
Ads for it litter the Internet and alternative health magazines. "Phyto-silver" (such as in the product previously sold by Seasilver USA until the Federal Trade Commission cracked down on them in June, 2003), colloidal silver, metallic silver, and silver salts are being promoted as the new germ-killing regimen.
Actually these are old methods, and were mainstays prior to the formation of the FDA, and promotion of manufactured antibiotics that create a better bottom line for pharmaceuticals. Some silver compound like silver nitrate are STILL used for such things as prevention of blindness in newborn's eyes caused by gonorrhea and salves for burns and metallic silver is used in water treatment, such as water filters. (1)
I am not sure why SeaSilver is mentioned here, that really has nothing to do with silver, but is extracted from plants and contains a large number of different minerals. The list of ingredients can be found at http://www.sea-nutrients.com/seasilver-ingredients.htm. It is NOT colloidal silver or any relation to it.
Silver is toxic!
Not according to any accepted published information. According to the CRC handbook 52nd edition page B-30:
While silver itself is not considered to be toxic, most of its salts are poisonous due to the anions present.
Silver is a transition metal, not a heavy metal, and according to the EPA totally non-toxic to mammals. It is extremely toxic to molds, fungus, bacteria, protozoa and viruses.
MSDS sheets for silver all indicate 0 health effects. (2)
But for more than 40 years we have known that silver is a hard, proven carcinogen - a cancer-causing agent.
Every modern reference lists silver has having no carcinogenic properties.
The EPA restricts any carcinogens to negligible levels. The level that the EPA now accepts in drinking water is 1.142 ppm. If you assume a person drinks 64 ounces of water with 1 ppm of silver, and takes 2 ounces of 5 ppm colloidal silver, then they would receive 6.4 times as much silver in their EPA approved drinking water than the colloidal silver. It is incomprehensible that 2 ounces of 5 ppm CS could be harmful and that over 6 times that much in your drinking water is not.
Silver is not listed as a human carcinogen by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the National Toxicology Program (NTP), the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) or the European Union (EU). (3)
Metallic silver is listed in the 1979 Registry of Toxic Effects as causing cancer in animals.
This is an old document and all versions are available by subscription only. However OSHA not only lists this general document, but they have a document, "TOXICOLOGICAL PROFILE FOR SILVER" specific to silver at the CDC website. (1) The following is the most recent information they have on silver with regards to cancer:
No studies were located regarding the following health effects in humans or animals after inhalation exposure to silver or silver compounds.
Perhaps the reference is to subcutaneous imbedding of silver foil (Oppenheimer et al. 1956). Taking this paragraph (which concludes with: silver is not expected to be carcinogenic in humans) indicates that the above claim is contrary to their published information:
Cancer. No studies were located regarding cancer in humans following inhalation, oral, or dermal exposure to silver or silver compounds. Fibrosarcomas have been induced in rats following subcutaneous imbedding of silver foil (Oppenheimer et al. 1956). In this study, imbedded silver metal foils appeared to produce fibrosarcomas earlier (latent period as short as 275 days compared to 364-714 days) and more frequently (32% of implantation sites compared to O-S%) than other metal foils (steel, tantalum, tin, and vitallium) tested. However, experiments on several metals (steel, tantalum, and vitallium) were not complete at the time of publication so adequate comparisons could not be made. In addition, it should be noted that several material are known to regularly produce such tumors when implanted subcutaneously in animals, and the relevance to carcinogenesis in humans is uncertain (Coffin and Palekar 1985). Both positive (Schmahl and Steinhoff 1960) and negative (Furst and Schlauder 1977) results for tumorigenesis have been reported following subcutaneous and intramuscular injection, respectively, of colloidal silver in rats. However, the relevance of these routes of exposure to exposure conditions at hazardous waste sites has not been clearly established. Animal toxicity and human occupational studies using normal routes of exposure have not provided indications of carcinogenicity, and silver is not expected to be carcinogenic in humans.
and Reference 1 further states:
No studies are available on whether silver may cause cancer in people. The only available animal studies showed both positive and negative results when silver was implanted under the skin.
The EPA has determined that silver is not classifiable as to human carcinogenicity.
Claims that it is safe have come primarily from the companies that make silver products - hardly a trustworthy source of unbiased information.
Actually the data that it is safe comes from the fact that not one single study has ever found any toxicity to silver or as a cause of cancer. Companies selling silver products simply state those facts. I have not found one study in 5 years of searching that has indicated that silver is not safe, as opposed to many which show a great lack of safety for typical modern antibiotics. The CDC has found this to be true as well as they indicate in reference 1.:
Predominantly negative genotoxicity studies and the lack of reports of cancer associated with silver in humans, despite long-standing and varied usage, suggest that silver does not cause cancer.
Silver in any form is a bio-accumulative toxic heavy metal, like mercury, lead, and arsenic.
False, silver is not a heavy metal, it is a transition metal, as is copper and gold. Comparison with toxic heavy metals is a red herring. It is also false that it is bioaccumulative. Studies done by Roger Aldman (4) have shown that virtually 100% of silver taken orally is eliminated from the body within a few months.
Its action as an antibiotic comes from the fact that it is a non-selective toxic "biocide."
It is not a biocide, which means that it is toxic to all of life, it is germicide, that is only toxic to viruses and one celled life form. That is exactly what one wants if trying to kill bacteria, viruses, algae, funguses and protozoa. It is a proven fact that is it not toxic to mammalian cells, and when taken as a colloid in water in a typical strength of 10 ppm, the water is more toxic than the silver. Water has an MD50 of 190 G/KG for mice which works out to less than 2 gallons for a 100 pound woman. (6)
It is known - and acknowledged - that long-term use of colloidal silver or silver salts deposits metallic silver under the skin, turning people's skin an ashen-gray color, an affliction known as argyria (see reference below).
Once again a false statement, one that is easily proven false. Silver salts do and can cause argyria, that is not in dispute. The physics is well known and is experienced by everyone as the standard photographic process. Silver salts when exposed to light gain an electron producing a silver atom. Then the silver atom (known as the latent image in film), will grow when exposed to additional silver salts and a developer in an alkaline solution (known as development in photography). When the silver particles grow sufficiently, they will begin absorbing light and causing a darkening of the area, whether in a photographic print, or the skin of an animal. It is impossible to make a photograph using silver particles to start with, that is the end result (and if you leave a dark photo which is dark because it has particles in the emulsion in the light over time it will tend to fade, not darken). Likewise it is impossible to cause argyria using colloidal silver which IS silver particles already. Silver compounds and silver colloid have nothing in common as far as argyria is concerned, and despite what many claim colloidal silver does not only not cause argyris, it can be an effective prophylactic against argyria. That is if colloidal silver is taken with silver salts there will be a reduced likelihood of argyria from the salts. The following reference uses IES to mean Electrolytically Isolated Silver, which is a combination of both colloidal silver and ionic silver that many people make with distilled water and pure silver electrodes:
A silver compound will typically become silver chloride as soon as it hits the stomach. The silver chloride is sparingly soluble, about .8 ppm. The dissolved silver chloride will move into the blood stream and once there will be exposed to chemicals that will induce the silver to plate out on any other silver particles present. However initially there will be no other silver particles present, so the silver chloride circulates in the blood until exposed to light in the skin, where they are photo reduced to silver atoms. This is the photographic process that occurs when you take a picture (with a film camera). Once the silver atoms are produced in the skin, then the rest of the silver chloride will begin reducing onto those particles making them grow very fast, and resulting in many of them getting stuck in the skin. Since the particles are so small, they will appear as black or blue, giving the skin a bluish cast. This is called argyria, and can result from taking silver compounds without any colloidal component.
Since there are two components to EIS, then two different things happen.
The colloidal portion diffuses through the stomach wall rather quickly and enters the blood stream as long as the particles are small enough.
The ionic portion is a combination of silver hydroxide and silver oxide. While in solution they continually convert from one to the other and back again. Each has a solubility of about 13 ppm, so any EIS which is less than about 26 ppm and a pH of 7 will be totally dissolved. Upon contact with the HCl (hydrochloric acid) of the stomach both of these compounds will immediately form silver chloride. The silver chloride has a solubility of .8 ppm, so most of the silver chloride will precipitate out, but the remaining part will quickly move into the blood stream. As it does, that which precipitated will redissolve and move into the blood stream as well. The end result is that most of the silver chloride will move into the blood stream over time, but at a lower rate than the colloidal portion.
Once it is in the blood stream it is exposed to the same effects we discussed for silver compounds above. Basically it will try to plate out on any silver particles it finds. Since there will be colloidal silver which already passed into the blood, there will be lots of particles for it to plate out on. So in short order the silver in the silver chloride plates out onto the colloidal particles already there, and they grow by a small amount. Typically for an EIS of 10% particulate content, the particles should grow to about double in size. This is insufficient to cause them to get caught up into tissues, and they eventually get removed by the kidneys.
So, as it turns out. colloidal silver is actually a prophylactic against argyria, instead of a cause as some would have you believe.
Argyria is considered permanent.
It is by many, but there are reports of protocols that have successfully removed argyria in the last 10 years.
However it is agreed one does not want argyria, and thus should avoid silver salts and MSP if at all possible.
This is precisely the circumstance that proved that silver was a cancer-causing agent - implanted into the skin of animals it caused cancerous lesions.
The paper being referred to indicates that many metals planted under the skin cause fibrosarcomas. This paper also lists steel as causing the same thing, and using the same logic would indicate that iron, which is in virtually all vitamin and mineral supplements, is also cancer causing, which it is not. Plus implanting something under the skin, an action that is known to cause cancerous cells even with benign materials, has nothing to do with taking a very small amount of it orally or using it topically.
It also accumulates in internal organs, continually exposing the cells of those organs to silver, wreaking unknown havoc, and it is likely that it actually interferes with the body's normal immune processes.
This is proven wrong by a number of studies, as given above. Silver does not accumulate, except in cases of argyria from silver compounds, one study was cited above already. What kind of statement is "wreaking unknown havoc"? It means that there is no known havoc, so there is the assumption of some "unknown havoc" that must occur to support his view. Unscientific at best and totally misleading at worst. Also it is likely that it interferes with immune process is not only pure speculation, but contrary to thousands of reports of people (including myself and members of my family) who have effectively never caught a cold, the flu or anything else after taking an ounce or two of colloidal silver a day. I began taking one to two ounces of 5 to 10 ppm colloidal silver a day in 1999, and have not had one single herpes simplex outbreak since although I would typically get at least one outbreak a month previously.
The former manufacturer of one of these products - Seasilver - actually claimed that silver is an "essential" nutrient. This was an outright falsehood. The human body has no need or use for silver. The claims made by the company were so outrageous that they received a "cease and desist" order from the Federal Trade Commission in June, 2003, and now the company, allegedly "reconstituted," sells an innocuous product made from Aloe Vera, fruit juices, Pau D'Arco Extract, and some obscure sea herbs.
Whether it is essential or not remains to be seen. There is no MDA or RDA for it, but that is true for many things that are known to be essential. As far as "cease and desist" orders, they are normally done for economic reasons, not to protect anyone. A few years ago a wine company got one for putting factual information on their wine bottles as to what the wine contained.
Meanwhile, all of the people who have been potentially harmed by the original SeaSilver product that contained "phyto-silver" colloidal silver are left twisting in the wind, wondering whether the silver now firmly implanted throughout their bodies will harm their immune system or start the chain reaction of cancer. (See below if this applies to you.)
I am not familiar with the SeaSilver product. If it a colloid, a mild silver protein, or a salt/compound? If a pure colloid then it is known that there will be no accumulation, and that their immune systems are not harmed. It is certainly known that there is no cancer causing potential, and in fact there are hundreds of reports of people beating cancer after taking colloidal silver, most likely due to it's antiviral activity. If it is a salt or mild silver protein, then the downside outweighs the upside in my opinion, since both lack effectiveness, and can cause argyria.
Silver as a historical antibiotic
That is correct, but counter to the first paragraph that labels them as "new".
Silver was used through the ages as a germ-killing agent because at those times they had no other choices. There were no antibiotics, and no natural germ-fighters had been discovered.
Not totally true. Although there were no modern antibiotics, there were still a number of well known, and quite powerful antibiotics such as garlic, grape seeds, olive leaves (which is mentioned in the Old Testament, which is believed to predate the FDA), green tea, oregano oil and so forth. Of course availability of these natural antibiotics could have been a problem. But the main reason for dropping the use of silver as an antibiotic was financial, not effectiveness. Fact is pharmaceuticals can make far more money selling a patented antibiotic for dollars a dose, than colloidal silver for a pennies a dose.
Because people in general did not know that it was important to take large amounts of vitamin C (most people still don't), their immune systems were severely compromised for much of their lives. Thus silver was considered a life-saving medicine. Silver nitrate drops were used to prevent eye infections in newborns, for instance.
That is true. In fact silver nitrate is STILL used some places for that.
Silver was (appropriately) dropped from use in the U.S. with the introduction of antibiotics and biochemical antiseptics, but suddenly gained popularity again in the 1990s.
Silver was dropped because there was no money to be made in trying to sell something that was not patentable, and could be made cheaply and easily by almost anyone. In addition silver made by the processes at that time was significantly less effective than that which can be made today.
The FDA proposed banning silver in over-the-counter products in 1997, and issued a final rule in 1999, but never acted on it.
That is correct. When silver began getting popular again, the drug companies attempted to get the FDA to ban them, but through legislation passed by congress was prevented from doing so.
The silver manufacturers claim that they are not subject to any federal laws about safety because silver was used before the Food and Drug Act - that they are grandfathered. Of course this begs the question: so were lead and mercury preparations and many other extremely toxic "medicines" that have since been banned from commerce.
It is true that they are grandfathered. They do not claim that that allows them to sell anything toxic, since colloidal silver is totally non-toxic, just it allows them to continue to sell it as a mineral supplement. Toxic substances should be banned, but since silver is non-toxic, there is no apparent reason for mentioning them except to attempt obfuscation.
Silver is unnecessary
That is a rather broad statement. It is certainly necessary for photographic uses, and it may not be necessary as a germicide, but then many of God's greatest gifts are NOT necessary, but instead very nice to have. That is the nature of gifts.
To put this debate more in perspective, even if it were safe, silver is also completely unnecessary.
Why? The alternatives are a completely safe colloidal silver (not silver compounds or mild silver protein), or safe natural antibiotics such as garlic, green tea, olive leaf and grape seed, or unsafe modern antibiotics. Silver is on the same footing as the other safe natural antibiotics, and is as such necessary for people who want to solve a problem without introducing another one in it's place.
If people were to take sufficient vitamin C and other immune support nutrients, their immune systems would be strong enough to fight off most bacterial and viral attacks.
This is true for some but not all people. Some have weakened immune systems from diseases, diet, genetics or old age that require additional assistance.
People who take large quantities of vitamin C each day rarely get ill, and when they do the course of the illness is much shorter and milder. For extremely virulent diseases, there are much more powerful, potent, and less expensive natural antibiotics and anti-viral agents that are completely safe that are derived from food and medicinal herbs.
These are all good ways to go. But as far as being less expensive, I have never seen any of the natural antibiotics that are less expensive then the penny a dose for colloidal silver, and the notion of more powerful is rather dubious. Fact is that some natural antibiotics are more effective than colloidal silver taken in small amounts for some things, and colloidal silver taken in small amounts is more effective for other things. Personally if I am really afraid of catching something serious, or trying to help someone with a serious problem, I will mix colloidal silver and olive leaf extract, the combination seems to be much more powerful than the sum of their independent effectivnesses. In the same light, colloidal silver mixed with aloe vera is much more effective on burns and acne than either alone.
Green tea extract, turmeric extract, oregano oil, and olive leaf extract are good examples of natural antibiotics that also have other, health-promoting features. Both green tea extract and turneric extract are also potent selective chemotherapeutic agents for cancer - they cause cancer cells to self-destruct - and they are also powerful anti-inflammatory aids. Oregano oil and olive leaf extract have been shown to effectively kill pathogenic bacteria, viruses, funguses, and protozoa such as malaria, and there is anecdotal evidence that they kill AIDS viruses.
That is all true. However colloidal silver can be added to this list of effective non-toxic substances and the evidence that it kills HIV (AIDS is actually a symptom, which can be caused by a number of things) is not anecdotal, but published fact(5):
Due to this interaction, silver nanoparticles inhibit the virus from binding to host cells, as demonstrated in vitro.
This is one of the few times when I believe the government should act to ban a health "supplement."
I disagree totally, that would only increase everyone's insurance costs, increase the death rate, and increase the pharmaceutical's coffers. It would also set a precedent that would be used to ban all the others over time as well.
Silver is fine for coins and jewelry (although for earrings it should have a stainless steel hook for pierced ears). But silver compounds should not be sold in products that people consume.
I agree with that. Silver compounds are not only much less effective than colloidal silver, but also can cause argyria and some are even toxic.
I believe silver is a clear and present danger to anyone who consumes it.
Why? There has NEVER been one case of a person being adversely affected by true colloidal silver (excepting herx reactions which can occur with any antibiotic when ramped up too fast), and not one single case of argyria, EVER.
It has proven very effective, and is known to be totally non-toxic. The only reason to ban it would be to increase the pharmaceutical profits, or as part of a broader genocidal/eugenics policy.
Furthermore, having this "supplement" available provides ammunition for the drug companies and other anti-natural supplement forces for full FDA regulation of supplements, which would kill the entire natural supplement industry.
Oh, they are gunning for all supplements already. This is being accomplished by CODEX and other initiatives by the phamacuticals worldwide. The ideal way for them to succeed would be to divide and conquer, which is exactly what seems to be happening here. United we stand, but divided we fall is as true today as it was in the 1700's.
I urge anyone who has used SeaSilver purchased before June, 2003 who develops or has already developed argyria or cancer to seek the advice of a product liability or class action torte lawyer. SeaSilver USA headquarters is located in Carlsbad, CA. If you have any leftover bottles of the material and/or purchase receipts, I suggest you save them as evidence.
I cannot comment on Sea Silver, as I do not know what it is. I do know that if it caused argyria OR cancer in anyone it could not have been real properly made colloidal silver, and to imply that colloidal silver can cause similar problems is using guilt by association and has no scientific merit.
Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances, 1979 Edition, National Institute for Occupational Safety and
Health, Cincinnati, OH.
I am not sure why the reference to an outdated document is given. A much more comprehensive document published by the CDC is at (1) and correctly identifies silver as harmless when taken orally.
The following abstract is concerning mild silver protein, which has nothing to do with true colloidal silver. MSP, as it is called, is known to cause argyria, and typically has 50 to 100 times the amount of silver in it as true colloidal silver because it's effectiveness is so low. MSP and silver compounds should be avoided at all costs, but colloidal silver is harmless. Guilt by association is like saying that nitrogen is deadly because a compound of nitrogen, hydrogen cyanide (HCN) is deadly. There is simply no merit in these arguments that attempt to obfusticate the truth.
Cutis 2000 Nov;66(5):373-4 Abstract quote
The onset of argyria following the use of dietary supplements containing colloidal silver protein is presented. The
patient was using a silver-containing product for cold and allergy prophylaxis.
We review the past and present medicinal roles of silver and include a differential diagnosis for argyria. The hyperpigmentation of argyria is usually permanent, and it follows a sun-exposed distribution.
This case report highlights the potential for toxicity following the use of dietary supplements and demonstrates the importance of physician inquiry regarding alternative medicines. Finally, we examine the limited role of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in regulating alternative medicines marketed as dietary supplements.
The following should need no comment, as the FDA is recognized as being the watchdog of pharmaceutical profits, so wanting to ban a substance is often an indication that it is effective and inexpensive, instead of ineffective and dangerous. Their statement that silver is "not generally recognized as safe and effective" is about as blatant as they get, since they have approved silver compounds for medical uses, including silver nitrate drops, and silver sauves for burns, as well as silver bandages for burns affirming the safety and effectiveness of such products despite their denials.
FDA Final Ruling, 1999
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
colloidal silver ingredients or silver salts for these disease conditions.
FTC Crackdown on SeaSilver USA
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Jonathan Campbell, Natural Health Consultant
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Note: The author of this article is not associated with any manufacturer that produces colloidal silver or generators. He became interested in this marvelous stuff when he was able to cure a kidney infection in a few days that doctors had been unable to cure for 15 years. This article is written to assist mankind to stay healthy despite many powerful forces that are attempting otherwise. If ANY factual errors are found in this report please report them to email@example.com so they can be corrected.
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