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Silver Makes a Comeback

by John T Wilson(more info)

listed in infections and inflammation, originally published in issue 26 - March 1998

Colloidal silver is emerging as one of the wonders of science that the medical establishment is just beginning to rediscover. It's being used in bone surgery in the United States and in 70% of US burns units; Swiss biochemists are studying silver's ability to interrupt the cellular replication of HIV at various stages; and in Canada, Switzerland and the US, doctors use various forms of silver to treat a multitude of infections.

In one of the Monty Python books there is a comic advertisement for the spoof Welsh self-defence art of Llap Goch in which it was pointed out that it was so powerful that you would be able to attack and disable your enemy before he had even thought of attacking you! It is a thought that those who have been mugged in the street relish, for even if the police are informed and the attackers caught (unlikely) you have still suffered the attack, with all the pain, loss and trauma involved.

Our attempts to defend ourselves against illness are a bit like that – the enemy illness strikes, we call in the doctor, who gives us a prescription for antibiotics and we mop up the remaining symptoms with it, wishing we had been able to avoid catching the illness in the first place. Why can't we take the antibiotic first?

Interestingly, genetic engineers have recently been working on research to deal with the hundreds of bacteria which threaten our health by altering one of the bacterial enzymes (called RnaseP) so that their resistance to antibiotics is lowered.

In the fight against disease, medicine is increasingly coming up against bacteria which have developed resistance to modern antibiotics, and these "super bugs" represent a great threat to health as they multiply and spread. The result is a worrying increase in the incidence and virulence of traditional viral and bacteria-caused diseases which we thought we had all but conquered – tuberculosis, bronchitis, candida, diphtheria, dysentery, meningitis, salmonella infection, etc.

Modern antibiotics have, of course, other disadvantages. You cannot buy them over the counter, so, for those ailments such as colds, flu and other minor infections, you have to make a doctor's appointment, sometimes waiting for two or three days before you can get a prescription – by which time the infection has virtually run its course.

Also, many people are allergic to various modern antibiotics and suffer side effects that can be as bad (if not worse!) than the original complaint.

In fact, evidence is now emerging that in some instances antibiotics are implicated in the increase in some forms of serious illness. A team of specialists in Gloucester found that in towns with meningitis clusters there were 50% more prescriptions for antibiotics and nine times more cases of B-group bacterial meningitis than in comparative towns with a lower incidence of the disease. While the team has been unable to conclude that the greater frequency of antibiotic prescriptions is actually responsible for the increased incidence of meningitis, it did conclude that there are strong reasons for further investigation. However similar enquiries in the United States and France suggest that antibiotics may kill off natural bacteria in the respiratory tract which are natural protectors against meningitis.

More disturbing, perhaps, is a report in Newsweek Magazine which stated that in the USA 13,000 hospital patients died of infections that resisted every drug that the doctors tried.

More and more people are becoming disillusioned by the "take this prescription" syndrome which is the hallmark of modern medicine, which waits until a disease develops and then simply prescribes a dose of powerful antibiotics. This is a short sighted policy, particularly when we know that continually taking antibiotics weakens our resistance to illnesses in the long term and plays havoc with our immune system – the body's natural defence.

The immune system is a highly complicated group of mechanisms (antibodies, antitoxins and white blood cells) that go into action to protect the body from invasion or attack by foreign or harmful organisms. There is increasing evidence that over-prescribing of antibiotics can lead to damage to the immune system and its ability to respond effectively to infections and other threats. Added to this is the ever-increasing threat from free radicals – free-floating molecules within the body that seek to attach themselves to healthy cells causing the damage known as oxidisation which leads to cell and tissue degeneration and disease. Many scientists and researchers believe that it is this process which is the root cause of many of the degenerative diseases such as arthritis, rheumatism, heart disease – perhaps even cancer and AIDS.

Given the above, it is not surprising that in the UK we now spend £1.4 billion in over-the-counter medicines, from vitamins and herbal preparations to non-prescription drugs and potions, as Mintel has reported recently. Another survey by MORI also showed that 47% of 1,000 adults interviewed said they were more likely to buy over-the-counter drugs for self-treatment than they were two years ago.

Significantly, more than half the adult population were shown to suffer from colds, flu, headaches, coughs, sore throats, stuffy noses, indigestion, chapped lips and diarrhoea – and these are the areas where both prescription medication and alternative medicines are most used.

The interest in natural and holistic approaches to health is growing apace, with an increasing recognition of the importance of a positive approach to health through a better diet, regular exercise and a return to some of the traditional ways of keeping illness at bay.

One of these, you will be pleased to know, works on the Monty Python principle of attacking a wide range of illnesses before they even think of attacking you! In other words, there is something you can do to give yourself prior protection against a whole range of bacteria and viral-caused infections and illnesses before they strike you down.

Interestingly, this is based on a substance used by the ancient Greeks and Romans, and later by the Wild West settlers, to keep liquids pure – silver.

While it is thought that silver was used as a remedy in ancient Egypt, the first written mention of its use in a medical context is found in a pharmacopoeia published in Rome in 69BC, while the first clear record of its use as a medical agent is in the writings of the Mohammedan School founded by Geber (702–765AD). Much later, in 1834, the German obstetrician F. Crede used a one per cent solution of silver (silver nitrate) on the eyes of new-born children, virtually eliminating the incidence of blindness from disease in new-born babies.

Among many other results reported by medical researchers and practitioners was that of J. Mark Howell, who wrote in the British Medical Journal in 1917 of his successful use of colloidal silver for septic conditions of the mouth (including pyorrhoea alveolaris – Rigg's Disease), throat (including Meniere's symptoms and closure of Valsalva's inflation) and in generalised septicaemia, leucorrhoea, cystitis, whooping cough and shingles. Dr Robert Becker noticed a correlation between low levels of silver in the body (the human body naturally contains about .001% silver derived from the soil through the food we eat) and their vulnerability to ailments, concluding, since those with low silver levels were frequently sick, had innumerable colds, flu, fevers and other sicknesses, that a silver deficiency in the body was the reason for the improper functioning of the immune system.

"What we have actually done", says Becker, "was rediscover the fact that silver killed bacteria, which has been known for centuries. When antibiotics were discovered, clinical uses for silver were discarded."

Further extensive research carried out in the early years of this century and in the 1970s and 1980s established colloidal silver (minute particles of silver suspended electronically in a pure water solution) as a highly effective agent against over 650 pathogens, with none of the side effects found with the powerful modern antibiotics.

For example, in 1910, Dr Henry Crooks, a pioneer in colloidal chemistry, wrote that: "Certain metals, when in a colloidal state, have a highly germicidal action but are quite harmless to human beings... it may be applied in a much more concentrated form and with better results... Bronchial tuberculosis... Staphylococcus pyogenes, various Streptococci and other pathogenic organisms are all killed in three to four minutes: in fact, no microbe is known that is not killed by this colloid in laboratory experiments in six minutes, (and) the concentration of the (silver) does not exceed twenty-five parts per million...". (There is, in fact, a small number of silver resistant bacteria which have so far been documented, including: Citrobacter Freundii; Enterobacter Cloacae; Enterobacteriacea (some strains); Escherchia Coli (some strains); Klebsiclla Pneumonize; P. Stunzeri (some strains); Proteus Mirabilis; and Vegetative B. Cereus Spores.)

That assessment has been borne out by all later research – indeed NASA, in common with over half the world's airlines, uses silver to provide its space crews with safe drinking water. It would seem that the researches of the genetic engineers referred to earlier in this article could be largely wasted effort, given that, for most practical purposes, the problem has already been solved (but subsequently forgotten about) over eighty years ago.

Silver began its more recent come-back in the 1970s when the late Dr Carl Moyer, Chairman of the University of Washington's Department of Surgery was given a grant to develop improved treatment for burn victims. Dr Harry Margraf of St Louis, the chief biochemist working in the programme under Dr Moyer, tested 22 antiseptic compounds, finding drawbacks to all of them until he focussed on colloidal silver, which proved to be the most effective and is now used in all major burn centres throughout the world.

In 1971 Dr E. Henderson, Professor of Microbiology at Temple University's School of Medicine reported his experiments which tested colloidal silver's ability to block production of HIV in human T-cell Lymphocytes (white blood cells). At very low doses the colloidal silver dramatically blocked viral production with little, if any, toxicity.

With the widespread loss of confidence in the medical establishment, at least as far as everyday ailments and medications are concerned, people are increasingly taking more responsibility for their own health, returning to folk and herbal medicines and realising the importance of preventative health care. The growing interest in the benefits of colloidal silver is part of this general move towards taking responsibility for one's own health rather than waiting to be cured once illness has been allowed to take hold.

The experts who have revived interest in this effective, traditional "cure-all" recommend taking approximately a teaspoonful of colloidal silver a day. This has the effect of strengthening the immune system and giving protection against a wide range of disease- causing organisms. Colloidal silver can also be added to plant water to prevent disease and kill mould and various other harmful organisms and can be sprayed on fruits and vegetables to keep them from turning brown through oxidisation.

Colloidal silver is emerging as one of the wonders of science that the medical establishment is just beginning to rediscover. It's being used in bone surgery in the United States and in 70% of US burns units; Swiss biochemists are studying silver's ability to interrupt the cellular replication of HIV at various stages; and in Canada, Switzerland and the US, doctors use various forms of silver to treat a multitude of infections.

Silver can save lives and, on a less dramatic but nonetheless important scale, it can keep us free of many of the irritating and debilitating illnesses that modern antibiotics are becoming increasingly powerless to ward off. Silver has always been a synonym for wealth; now, it appears, it has equal importance as a determinant of health.

Facts about silver
•    Silver has been used for healing since the time of the Pharaohs.
•    The medical use of silver was first documented in 69BC.
•    Colloidal silver contains microscopic particles (0.01 – 0.001 microns) of silver suspended electrostatically in pure water.
•    Colloidal particles are so fine that they remain in suspension and will pass through human and animal membranes.
•    Colloidal silver will kill over 650 known pathogens by disabling the enzymes used by bacteria, fungal and viral agents for their oxygen metabolism,
suffocating them on contact.
•    No side effects or harm from taking silver colloids has ever been reported.


Colloidal Silver, the Antibiotic Alternative, Canty & Baranowski, Association for Advanced Colloidal Research, Oregon.
The Body Electric and Cross Currents, R. Becker, MD.
Colloidal Silver, Where Have You Been?, Iris A. Moore, The New Times, Seattle WA, May 1994.
Remembering the Wonder Cure Time Forgot: Colloidal Silver, Tonita d'Raye, Ten Minute Read Company, Oregon, 1996.
More News on Silver, Leonard Herschberg, John Hopkins Hospital.
Colloidal Silver, the Hidden Truths, Keith F. Courtenay.
Antibacterial Efficacy of a Colloidal Silver Complex, L. Bretano & H. Margraf, Surgical Forum, Vol. 17, 1966, pp 76–78.
The Molecular Mechanics of Copper and Silver Ion Disinfection of Bacteria and Viruses, R. B. Thurman & C. P. Gerba, paper presented at the First International Conference on Gold and Silver in Medicine, The Silver Institute, Wash., Vol.18, 4, Pp 295–302, 1989.


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About John T Wilson

John Wilson is a writer, lecturer and publisher who is also involved in a nutritional supplement business

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