For thousands of years silver has been used as a healing and anti-bacterial agent by civilisations throughout the world. Its medical, preservative and restorative powers can be traced as far back as the ancient Greek and Roman Empires. Long before the development of modern pharmaceuticals, silver was employed as a natural antimicrobial and antibiotic.
Before the advent of modern germicides and antibiotics, it was known that disease-causing pathogens could not survive in the presence of silver. History will show that the Greeks used silver vessels to keep water and other liquids fresh. The Roman Empire stored wine in silver urns to prevent spoilage. The Chinese emperors and their courts ate with silver chopsticks. During the Middle Ages, the Royal families ate and drank from silver utensils and were rarely sick. Using the silver utensils and goblets, however, contributed to a bluish hue to their skin tone. For this reason they were called “blue bloods” because their blood had greater levels of silver in it (this condition was known as Argyria). Bluebloods were also protected from the rampant plagues common to Europe in those centuries. Prior to the invention of refrigeration, it was common practice to drop a silver coin into a container of milk to delay spoilage.
Between 1900 and 1940 silver was the primary antibiotic used in medical practice. Silver leaf was used to combat infection in wounds sustained by troops during World War I. By 1910, Henry Crookes had documented that certain metals, when in a colloidal state (i.e. suspended in a solution), had strong germicidal action but were relatively harmless to human beings.
However, by the 1940s modern antibiotics were introduced. The shelf life of colloidal silver was poor, as they had no way to keep the silver particles in suspension for longer than fifteen minutes. Physicians would have to mix silver preparations in their offices and then give to patients either orally or by injection. The impractical use of silver antibiotics gave way to the ‘ready to hand’ sulfa drugs and eventually penicillin. At the time these compounds were deemed more effective and easier to use. Now we know that they cause antibiotic-resistant strains to develop from overuse of these drugs. This is fast becoming a big problem in the medical world today. To date, there have been no substantial findings to indicate that bacteria develop resistance to silver.
Silver in today's medicine is undergoing a renaissance, with innovative new products that are able to sustain the release of silver ions enabling better surgical and wound-related uses. In Ayurvedic medicine, silver is used in small amounts as a tonic, elixir or rejuvenative agent for patients debilitated by age or disease. Silver nanoparticles are even being incorporated into clothes, like socks and stockings. You can even buy a washing machine that uses silver ions to kill germs in clothes.
Colloidal Silver Products
With conventional antibiotics creating resistance and having nasty side-effects, people are looking at natural alternatives to combat their seasonal colds and flu. The ‘alternative medicine’ industry has jumped on the band wagon and taken advantage of this opportunity. However, this has created many different forms of colloidal silver on the market which are relatively less effective and could be considered toxic with long term use (if you class turning blue toxic). Generally, there are three types of products that are marketed as “colloidal silver” today and these can be briefly categorised as follows:
w Ionic Silver Solutions - Ionic silver solutions are products whose silver content primarily consists of silver ions. Silver solutions are typically clear like water or have a slight yellow tint. It’s made by a process called electrolysis or some call it the 'electro-colloidal process'. This is where a small electrical current is applied to silver strips placed in distilled water. Although ionic silver is often marketed as colloidal silver, it’s not true colloidal silver. Ionic silver products contain low percentage of silver particles, which render it less effective than true colloidal silver. Ionic silver is still a strong anti-microbial, and can be effectively used in situations where chloride is not present. When chloride is present – such as inside your body – then what little silver particle is present in the solution will survive to produce some benefit. Be aware that most "colloidal silver" generators sold for home use produce ionic silver solutions, and not true colloidal silver. If you take ionic silver products according to the manufacturer's recommended dosage, ionic silver will not cause argyria.
w Silver Protein - Silver protein products are the second most prevalent type of so-called colloidal silver products on the market. These products are a combination of metallic silver particles and a protein binder to keep the particles in suspension. One tip-off that it's a silver protein product is if it claims to have high concentrations of colloidal silver (typically in the range of 30 to 20,000 PPM*). These products have the lowest particle surface area for a given silver concentration, making the silver inaccessible for safe and effective absorption by your body. Due to the high concentration of large silver particles, silver protein products are known to cause argyria.
w True Colloidal Silver – True colloidal silver is the suspension of sub-microscopic silver nanoparticles in water. These silver nanoparticles can be anywhere from 10 – 100 nm in diameter (around 1/10,000 to 1/1,000 of a human hair!). These silver products are the least prevalent type of colloidal silver on the market due to the high cost of production. In true colloidal silver, the majority of the silver content is silver nanoparticles. This means it has a much greater particle surface area relative to the total silver content so its effects are more powerful. True colloids will typically contain between 50 and 80 percent nanoparticles, while the remaining percentage will be in the form of silver ions. Because of the high concentration of silver particles, true silver colloids are never clear like water. True colloids are brownish in colour as the silver particles block light. Due to the very low concentration of ionic silver and small particle size, true silver colloids do not cause argyria.
(*PPM is a ratio of the mass of silver relative to the water. For example, 10 PPM means in one litre of water there is 10 milligrams of total silver content.)
Silver nanoparticles are typically made in two different ways:
1. Physically– by grinding silver into very small particles before suspending in water as colloids.
2. Chemically– Silver salt is reduced into very small particles using a chemical reducer.
Many well-studied nanoparticles are generated with a method called “green synthesis,” which is by using a biologically-generated substance to reduce the silver salt into silver nanoparticles.
Using true colloidal silver will harness silvers’ amazing abilities without the side effects. What follows are only a few of those health benefits:
Antibacterial- Colloidal silver can kill and prevent bacterial growth, including bacteria that are antibiotic-resistant, such as MRSA. It can kill some strains of pathogenic yeasts, including Candida and Cryptococcus. It can effectively fight against cholera and a dangerous strain of E. coli, both of which could cause deadly diarrhoea if left untreated.
Wound Care/Skin Health - Certain colloidal silver preparations applied topically can treat and repair tissue damage from burns, thrush, periodontitis and other conditions such as ringworm. Applying silver products on cuts, sores, and boils also promotes healing. Applying silver to rashes and insect bites can aid in soothing itches. Silver’s antibacterial properties can provide relief from acne breakouts and treat eczema when applied to the affected area.
Pink Eye/Ear Infections - When applied on the infected eye, the tiny silver colloids pick up the infected cells by attracting them electromagnetically and sending them into the bloodstream to be eliminated. It soothes and wipes out eye infections such as conjunctivitis and stys. Ten drops of silver in the ear can aid in wiping out ear infections.
Antiviral- Colloidal silver benefits can be experienced as an anti-viral for HIV/AIDS, herpes, shingles and warts. Colloidal silver suffocates the virus and reduces the activity of the HIV virus in AIDS patients. Silver also has the ability to inhibit both Hepatitis B & C viruses.
Anti-Inflammatory - Silver nano-particles have shown success in promoting anti-inflammatory properties. Research is showing that colloidal silver can reduce swelling, speed healing, and boosts cell recovery.
Sinusitis - Widely used to control sinus infections, colloidal silver can benefit people as a nasal spray. Specifically shown to kill Staph aureus, you can add a few drops of silver in a “neti pot” or by applying directly into your nasal cavity and letting it drain down your throat by tilting your head back. Silver’s anti-microbial properties have shown promise in stopping asthma attacks. When ingested, silver has the ability to combat Whooping cough.
Cold/Flu - Over time, antibiotics lose their ability to combat infection. Silver has been shown to boost the immune system to fight infection. Silver’s antiviral properties help combat the common cold and have shown promise in inactivating influenza. Some claim that colloidal silver helps prevent all types of flu, including swine flu.
Pneumonia - Colloidal silver can help fight against bronchitis and pneumonia when ingested internally and breathing it into your lungs. The silver directly contacts the germs residing in the lungs, which are causing bronchitis or pneumonia. The most effective method to get the colloidal silver into the lungs is to use a nebulizer. Generally, use one teaspoon approximately three times a day for 10 to 15 minutes.
Unlike antibiotics, which are specific only to bacteria, colloidal silver eliminates anaerobic pathogens (bacteria, viruses, yeasts, and fungus) by binding to their cell walls and destroying the enzymes that fend off oxygen molecules, thus oxidizing them to death. Conversely, the silver nanoparticles neutralise the minority of aerobic pathogens by disrupting their ability to use oxygen. This begs the question: will colloidal silver destroy friendly gut bacteria the way pharmaceutical antibiotics do?
Some colloidal silver advocates claim it is so readily assimilated into the blood through the stomach and gut linings before it can linger in the lower intestines where our friendly bacteria mostly reside. Therefore, it isn’t an issue. However, some colloidal advocates don’t think that the intestinal flora issue has been clearly established. They recommend the following as precautionary measure:
w Have probiotics on hand and use them an hour or more after ingesting colloidal silver.
w Swish and hold a dose of colloidal silver in your mouth to absorb most of the particles sublingually into the bloodstream through the capillaries under and around your tongue as long as possible before swallowing.
w Nebulize the colloidal silver solution, making it go directly into your bloodstream via the lungs blood vessels.
Because colloidal silver does have some side effects, research suggests using it carefully rather than liberally. In addition, it could interfere with or enhance the effects or side effects of some medications, therefore it is best to consult your physician before using it in conjunction with any medications.
Recipes for Health
The best time to use colloidal silver is at the onset of any infection. Keep in mind to never use it for more than 14 days in a row. It needs to be applied differently for each condition. Here are a few suggestions for how to use colloidal silver:
w 2-5 drops applied directly to the skin.
w 1 drop taken orally for immune support.
w 1-2 drops into eyes for pink eye (use a fresh colloidal silver bottle for eye drops).
w 1-2 drops can help disinfect any wound or sore by applying onto a bandage.
w If prepared properly, it can be injected into a muscle, a cancerous tumour, or into the bloodstream.
w 5 drops added into a neti pot or directly sprayed into the nose.
w 5-10 drops can be applied vaginally or anally.
To Sum Up…
The potential of colloidal silver is just beginning to be discovered. Some environmentalists fear that the widespread use of silver nanoparticles in washing machines, clothes, bedsheets etc, could affect the health of bacteria, yeasts, and other microorganisms in the environment. More research is definitely warranted to look into the long term effects of consistent silver exposure.
The effectiveness in the use of silver to kill bacteria and fungus is unquestionable. However, this does not mean it kills every type of bacteria, yeast, virus or fungus. The issue is complicated by the fact that not all colloidal silver products are of the same quality. Products made at home or by the use of electrical charges to ionise and suspend the silver may not give you the desired effect. Therefore, use a good quality product from a reputable company. The product is non-toxic when used as directed (and not longer than two weeks). It is always best to consult a health professional before taking colloidal silver regularly for any length of time. If you do find that you want to take it daily for a while then be sure to take some probiotics during or after its use to maintain a proper balance of microflora.