Every winter parents look for ways to protect their children from cold and flus or at least get their little ones through the illness more easily. One resource that may be underutilized because it’s not so well-known or understood, is colloidal silver.
What is Colloidal Silver?
Silver is a naturally occurring metallic element. Silver can come in many forms such as silver nitrite, silver oxide and silver chloride and is even found in food and drinking water.
The word colloidal simply refers to a type of mixture where the particles of one substance are suspended in another substance. For example, milk is a colloid where butterfat globules are dispersed in a water-based solution.
Thus, colloidal silver is a catch-all term for a liquid that contains silver suspended in a solution, usually purified water.
Is Colloidal Silver a Medicine, Supplement or Essential Trace Element?
Although silver has extensive medicinal qualities, colloidal silver for use by the public is classified as a dietary supplement by the FDA. This classification prevents manufacturers of colloidal silver from making any health claims; they are only allowed to make a “structure/function” claim.
According to the FDA:
A health claim describes “a relationship between a food substance (a food, food component, or dietary supplement ingredient), and reduced risk of a disease or health-related condition.”
A “structure/function claim may describe the role of a nutrient or dietary ingredient intended to affect the normal structure or function of the human body, such as, “calcium builds strong bones.”
And yet, although some health authorities state that silver is not “essential” and necessary for humans to function, research has indicated otherwise. After a three-year study, Health Canada (Canada’s FDA equivalent) classified Sovereign Silver, a silver supplement made by Natural Immunogenics, as a trace element and therefore essential for human health.
What are the Medicinal Qualities of Silver?
“Thanks to eye-opening research, silver is emerging as a wonder of modern medicine. An antibiotic kills perhaps half-dozen different disease organisms, but silver kills some 650. Resistant strains fail to develop. Moreover, silver is virtually non-toxic. Says Director of biochemistry in St. Louis’ Washington University’s Department of Surgery and pioneering silver researcher, Dr Harry Margraf, “Silver is the best all around germ-fighter we have.”1
Hippocrates documented silver’s antimicrobial characteristics back in 400 B.C but before and since then, cultures around the world have used silver to protect their health. In “History of the Medical Use of Silver”, Dr. J. Wesley Alexander documents the rich history of use. Some highlights are below.
- The Phoenicians stored water, wine and vinegar in silver vessels to keep it pure and fresh.
- The Romans, Chinese, Greeks, Australians and early US settlers used silver in one form or another for the same purpose – to prevent spoilage of water, milk or food and reduce proliferation of bacteria.
- Silver in the form of silver sulfadiazine or silver nitrate is often used as a topical antimicrobial for the prevention and treatment of infections in burns and wounds.
- Silver nitrate drops have been used as treatment against blindness in newborns resulting from exposure to maternal gonorrhea or chlamydia.
- To purify swimming pools. “A dramatic demonstration took place in Nebraska: Fifty gallons of sewage was pumped into a pool without any disinfectant. A standard measure of contamination is the amount of E. coli, an organism found in the human intestinal tract. The count soared to 7000 E. coli cells per milliliters of water. Then the water was flushed through silver electrodes – and within three hours was completely free of E. coli.”2
Effective Against Multidrug Resistant Bacteria
Most exciting is recent research that has found silver can combat multidrug-resistant bacteria. A 2012 article in the Journal of Applied Microbiology entitled “Silver Nanoparticles: The Powerful Nanoweapon Against Multi-Drug Resistant Bacteria” summarizes the many studies that document this incredible ability and how it works. Specifically, in a research article entitled “Silver Enhances Antibiotic Activity Against Gram-Negative Bacteria” in the June 2013 issue of Science Translational Medicine, researchers showed:
“…that silver disrupts multiple bacterial cellular processes, including disulfide bond formation, metabolism, and iron homeostasis. These changes lead to increased production of reactive oxygen species and increased membrane permeability of Gram-negative bacteria that can potentiate the activity of a broad range of antibiotics against Gram-negative bacteria in different metabolic states, as well as restore antibiotic susceptibility to a resistant bacterial strain.”
In sum, adding silver to certain antibiotics boosted their effectiveness by 10 to 1000 times.
There are many studies confirming silver’s incredible medicinal characteristics, and yet the FDA restriction on making certain claims prevents such knowledge from being readily available to the public. Testimonials offer some insight into how the general population has used silver for their health. People have used it for cuts, scrapes, burns, bug bites, skin rashes, cold sores, pink eye, ear infections and to prevent or shorten the duration of colds and flu.
Are All Colloidal Silver Products the Same?
No. There are different types of colloidal silver products such as silver hydrosol, ionic silver, protein silver, homeopathic silver and others. Each one has different physical and chemical characteristics based on the form of silver used, the particle size, particle charge, the PH or the purity of the solution. All of these properties can affect the effectiveness of the silver product.
Does Silver Turn People Blue?
Many people have heard about the “blue man” (Paul Karason) and that his intake of colloidal silver (aka ionic silver) caused his skin to turn blue. This condition is known as argyria and is a permanent discoloration of the skin. What is less known is that he was consuming silver by the glassful daily for years, and because he was making it at home, had no idea how much he was ingesting. He admits that he was solely to blame because he did not monitor his intake and didn’t notice his skin changing because it happened gradually over the years.
In the world of food, diet and nutritional supplements, the truth is that their efficacy and safety is always dependent upon the application and dosage.
“Anything in excess has consequences …with normal responsible usage, silver supplements are entirely harmless to humans,” – Jeffrey Blumer, M.D., Ph.D. director of the Center for Drug Research (the world’s largest clinical research center for pediatric drugs) and former director of the Greater Cleveland Poison Control Center.
How Silver Intake Is Calculated
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a suggested Reference Dose (RfD) of 5 micrograms of silver per kilogram of body weight per day (5mcg/kg/day) from all sources, including drinking water and food. The EPA’s RfD limit is very conservative; it is specifically intended to keep a person’s intake of silver below any level that could possibly accumulate or cause any side effects.
However, the instructions found on most silver supplement bottles provide the dosage in parts per million (ppm), not micrograms. If you are trying to ensure you are staying within safe limits, this difference may lead to confusion when converting from ppm to mcg.
To simplify the conversion, you can use the Silver Safety Calculation created by the Silver Safety Council, an organization founded by doctors, chemistry professors and world leaders in health-freedom advocacy to disseminate information on how to use silver safely.
There are three calculations: (1) daily use for life, (2) short-term use, and (3) total use over your entire lifetime. All three calculations can be found in the Silver Safety Pyramid.
The Calculation for short term use, which is considered to be approximately 10 days per month, is below.
Body weight in lbs x 120 divided by the ppm of silver of in the supplement you want to take = the number of drops to take of that silver supplement per day. This will place you at just 25% of the EPA’s RfD safety guideline for total daily intake of silver.
Applying the Silver Safety Calculation for ChildLife First Defense
ChildLife’s® First Defense is a children’s supplement that supports your child’s natural defenses and immune strength. First Defense contains colloidal silver at 12ppm along with olive leaf extract, larch arabinogalactan, St. Johns wort and zinc gluconate. Below is how you would apply the Silver Safety Calculation for short term use of First Defense.
For an infant at 6 months of age with the average weight of 17 pounds:
17lbs x 120 = 2040 divided by 12ppm = 170 drops per day (100 drops per teaspoon = 1 ½ teaspoons daily or ½ teaspoon 3x daily)
For a 2 year old child with the average weight of 30 pounds:
30 lbs x 120 = 3600 divided by 12ppm = 300 drops per day (3 teaspoons daily or 1 teaspoon 3x daily)
For a 5 year old child with the average weight of 40 pounds:
40 lbs x 120 = 4800 divided by 12 ppm = 400 drops per day (100 drops per teaspoon = 4 teaspoons daily)
In addition to ChildLife’s First Defense, Sovereign Silver (known as Silver Hydrosol) is another silver supplement made with integrity and backed by extensive years of research. For licensed health care practitioners, Natural Immunogenics, the maker of Sovereign Silver, offers Argentyn, the professional grade of Sovereign Silver.
Colloidal Silver is an extremely safe product when taken as directed, like all medicines and supplements.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in December 2011 and has been updated to provide a more comprehensive overview.
Farber, M. Paul. (1995). “The Silver Micro Bullet: A Preliminary Scientifically Documented Answer to the Three Largest Epidemics in the World.” Houston. Professional Physicians Publishing & Health Services, Incorporated.
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