Harmlessness of colloidal silver
Colloidal silver: an ancient and safe product
It’s a story that has kept the media busy: an illness that turns you blue or grey (argyria) due to colloidal silver. This campaign against one of the oldest, natural antipathogens was quite successful in 2007: to the extent that Americans were searching for the word “argyria” almost as often as the term “colloidal silver”*1. So is colloidal silver truly dangerous? Is it really the cause of argyria?
There have been very few cases of argyria since 1700 (the only listed side effect of colloidal silver)*2 and all of these identified cases involved other forms of silver (silver chlorides, silver nitrates, silver salts) at extremely high doses.
Professors Padlewska and Schwartz explained:
“The most common cause of argyria is mechanical impregnation of the skin with small silver particles among those working in or with silver mines, silver refining, silverware and metal alloy manufacturing, metallic film on glass and china, galvanisation and photographic processing.”*3
No mention of colloidal silver! Is the danger of using colloidal silver just a myth?
1. The most famous recent cases of argyria
The Paul Karason case
Paul Karason appeared in many TV shows before a broad public in 2008, among them the show of Oprah, followed by several millions spectators. This case is the most famous case of argyria.
For 14 years Karason had been drinking around 1 litre of colloidal silver per day with a concentration of several hundred ppm*4! Furthermore, he added sodium to improve the conductivity and to speed up the manufacturing process of the colloidal silver, which he made at home.
Following the use of colloidal silver, he reported that his gastric reflux disappeared in 3 days, his dermatitis improved extraordinarily and that his arthritis and sinusitis also went away.
Paul Karason ingested silver salts and consumed about 200 times the maximum daily limits recommended by the EPA for 14 years.
The Stan Jones case
Stan Jones was a candidate for the senatorial elections in the 2000s. Like Paul Karason he used a machine at home to produce colloidal silver and added salt to speed up production. He used tap water and left the machine running for one hour. He drank 250 ml per day for 3 years*5.
He reported that while taking colloidal silver his psoriasis was cured. He also added that he was not as “blue” as the media reported (only minor discolouration) and he even said that they had faked the photo that circulated during an interview with Steve Barwick.
Stan Jones drank silver salts and consumed 50 times the maximum dose recommended by the EPA.
The Rosemary Jacobs case
Rosemary Jacobs was focused on by the media in the late 1990s. She contracted argyria after using silver for 3 years via nose drops she was using to treat her chronic colds.
In the 1960s nasal solutions were very highly concentrated, about 100,000 to 300,000 ppm*6! Furthermore, the silver used was combined with proteins to extend its life, therefore it was not colloidal silver.
It is difficult to estimate the daily dose taken by Rosemary Jacobs, because we do not know how many drops she applied per day when she caught a cold. Let’s suppose that she took 10 drops per day (circa 0.25 ml), this would be the equivalent of consuming 70 times the maximum dose recommended by the EPA. Again, she did not consume colloidal silver, but rather silver proteins.
2. Of 357 cases of argyria, none were caused by colloidal silver
In “Argyria, the pharmacology of silver” published in 1939, the authors William R. Hill and Donald M. Pillsbury indicated that they were able to identify 357 cases of argyria between 1700 and 1939 in the USA*2. In these registered cases the argyria is mainly due to the ingestion or spraying of silver nitrates, Argyrol (silver proteins for the nose between 100,000 and 300,000 ppm) and Collargol (silver protein ointment at 150,000 ppm). In the only two cases where colloidal silver was taken, the patients had also taken Argyrol.
The authors emphasise that the absence of physiological problems in people affected by argyria is impressive, in other words the side effects are merely cosmetic. Researchers point out that they believe the first signs of argyria occur after ingestion of 6 grams of silver nitrates. This is the equivalent of 150 litres of our colloidal silver at 40 ppm.
They also observed that argyria is to some extent reversible. However, the protocol to follow is constraining. According to the authors of the report, different forms of silver, not colloidal silver, may be dangerous if used excessively.
3. But what do the health organisations say?
The WHO does not give any particular health recommendations regarding silver in drinking water in its “Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality” (2008), indicating that silver does not represent any risks to human health*7.
“Levels in drinking-water treated with silver for disinfection may be above 50mg/litre. Recent estimates of daily intake are about 7mg per person. Only a small percentage of silver is absorbed. Retention rates in humans and laboratory animals range between 0 and 10%. [...] An oral NOAEL (No-Observed-Adverse-Effect-Level) for argyria in humans for a total lifetime intake of 10 g of silver was estimated on the basis of human case reports and long-term animal experiments.”
In addition the WHO states that:
“There are no adequate data with which to derive a health-based guideline value for silver in drinking-water.”
According to the EPA:
“No evidence of cancer in humans has been reported despite frequent therapeutic use of the compound over the years. [...] An uncertainty factor [...] is applied to account for minimal effects in a subpopulation which has exhibited an increased propensity for the development of argyria. The critical effect observed is a cosmetic effect, with no associated adverse health effects.”
According to the same institution and under the hypothesis that 4% of ingested silver is retained, the daily silver dose over a lifetime is limited to 350 micrograms*8 for a person weighing 70 kilograms. That is the equivalent of two teaspoons of colloidal silver at 40 ppm.
However, Dr. Roger Altman published a study in 1999 on the capacity of the body to eliminate silver and here is his conclusion*9:
“Ingestion of properly prepared CS does not result in silver accumulating in the body. There is no evidence that silver deposits significantly in hair or fingernails and, in fact, the data support the conclusion that after taking more than 2 mg of CS per day for several months, silver seems to be purged from the body (mostly through urine) at about the same rate at which it is consumed.”
4. No side effects reported to monitoring agencies
In 1999 a letter was sent to the FDA requesting the following information*10:
The number of deaths due to the consumption of colloidal silver
The number of allergic reactions due to the consumption of colloidal silver
The number of adverse drug interactions involving colloidal silver
The number of reported cases of argyria due to electrically generated colloidal silver
The number of reported cases of argyria due to colloidal silver without stabilisers
Here is the surprising answer:
“In response to your request of 14/10/99, in which you requested the side effects due to the use of colloidal silver […] We searched for the information in the side effects database and we have found no cases that correspond to your request.”
5. A colloidal silver based medicine?
This is indeed the case. There is a medicinal product containing colloidal silver, called: “Oligostim cuivre, or, argent” (Oligostim copper, gold, silver). It passed all validation phases required by French health organisations, from the “Agence nationale de sécurité du médicament et des produits de santé” (the French agency for the safety of pharmaceuticals and health products) to the “Haute Autorité de Santé” (the highest health authority). This proves that colloidal silver is not a danger in principle.
The medicine is based on 3 noble metals: silver, gold and copper. The website Doctissimo.fr describes it*11:
“Used for strengthening the immune system, in particular while recovering from infectious diseases and asthenic conditions.”
And with regards to contraindications, the same website says::
“Due to the lack of experimental and clinical data and as a precautionary measure, use of this medication should be avoided during pregnancy and while breast-feeding.”
And finally the list of side effects: “n/a”
6. Many studies demonstrate the harmlessness of colloidal silver
In addition to all the facts listed above which prove the harmlessness of colloidal silver, many scientific studies confirm the very same. Institut Katharos counted a total of 15. For this site we have selected three of them:
A. Scientific report on 120 years of silver nanoparticle history
In this report the authors show that silver nanoparticles have been used for over 100 years by humans and that they have even been registered as a biocide in the United States since… 1954, more than 60 years!
It is noted that a huge proportion of EPA registered biocides contain nanosilver: 53%. These biocides come in many different forms: water filters impregnated with silver, algicides and antimicrobial additives.
B. Randomised controlled trial in vivo
The first thing to note is that the randomised, controlled, double-blind trial in vivo is the benchmark for well conducted scientific trials.
In this case the researchers tested exposure to a colloidal silver solution (10 ppm) for 3, 7 and 14 days in the American Biotech Laboratories. The study was carried out as a randomised, controlled, doubleblind trial on humans. The 36 volunteers underwent the following tests after taking colloidal silver: metabolism test, blood test, platelet test, urine test, inflammation test, saliva test, physical test, vital test and magnetic test.
The conclusion is unambiguous: No significant clinical changes to metabolism, haematology or urine were identified.
C. Study conducted at the University of Copenhagen
In this clinical study conducted in June 2007 in the faculty of pharmaceutical sciences of the University of Copenhagen the researcher tried to answer the following question: Is colloidal silver toxic for human body cells?
The researcher used epithelial cells from the lung (A549) in the study. He compared the effect on cells of the brand Ionosil (colloidal silver) with atomic gold and silver clusters in order to look for indicators of cytotoxicity, inflammation and potential damage to DNA.
No signs of toxicity, DNA damage or inflammation were noted from the colloidal solution Ionosil.
1) “Insights for search” about the terms “argyria” and “colloial silber” in the USA: http://www.google.fr/trends/explore#q=colloidal%20silver%2C%20argyria&geo=US&date=1%2F2007%2037m&cmpt=q&tz=
2) Report on registered cases of argyria: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1069121-overview
3) Report by William R. Hill and Donald M. Pillsbury on the 300 reported cases of argyria in "Argyria - The Pharmacology of Silver", 1939, p.69:
4) The “Silver colloids” association on Paul Karason: http://www.silver-colloids.com/Pubs/blue-man.html
5) Interview with Stan Jones by the health journalist Steve Barwick: http://www.thesilveredge.com/blueman.shtml
6) The author of “Silver, the neglected antibiotic”, reporting on Rosemary Jones: http://sci.tech-archive.net/Archive/sci.med.diseases.lyme/2004-06/0432.html
7) WHO report "Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality", p.434: http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/gdwq0506.pdf
8) Revised EPA report on silver,1996: https://web.archive.org/web/20150206003217/http://www.epa.gov/iris/subst/0099.htm
9) Study by Dr. Altman on the capacity to eliminate silver: “Colloidal Silver: Where does it go when you drink it? How long does it stay there?”
10) "L'argent colloïdal, un remède en or" (en. Colloidal silver, a remedy worth its weight in gold) by Jeanne Perros, edition Guy Trédaniel, 2011, p.84-85
11) Product description of the medicine Oligostim on the doctissimo website: http://www.doctissimo.fr/medicament-OLIGOSTIM-CUIVRE-OR-ARGENT.htm
12) Article by the health journalist Mike Adams: http://www.naturalnews.com/036599_gun_control_prescription_drugs_deaths.html