Silver is Bad, Maybe
November 14, 2002
Would you be surprised to learn that our bodies are made up of more bacterial cells than human cells? I certainly was. But don't let this factoid scare you - fortunately most of
the bacteria in our body perform useful chores such as helping to eliminate toxins and protecting us from Salmonella.
The bacteria subject was raised by this question e-mailed to me by an HSI member named David: "What effect does taking colloidal silver have on the beneficial bacteria that are supposed to live in your stomach?"
Good question - and the answer leads directly to some very important information about natural antibiotics that may come in handy during the upcoming flu and cold season.
Days of silver past
To begin with, David is probably thinking about the beneficial bacteria that live in other areas of the digestive track. Compared to the intestines, for instance, the stomach doesn't contain many bacteria (good or bad) because of its high acidity. The most notable exception is the bacterium called helicobacter pylori (h. pylori) that causes peptic
ulcers and thrives in the mucous layer that protects the lining of the stomach from the intense acidic activity.
We'll come back to h. pylori in a moment. First I'll address David's concern about colloidal silver and its effect on good bacteria - a concern that anyone who uses any type of natural or synthetic antibiotic should be aware of. Most likely, David was writing in response to a recent e-Alert about antibiotics written by HSI Panelist, Allan Spreen, M.D. ("Be Afraid...be very Afraid - Part II" 10/17/02).
Colloidal silver is nothing more than submicroscopic metallic silver particles finely dispersed in water, which is taken orally to prevent infections. As Dr. Spreen pointed out, Dr. Jonathan V. Wright's research has found that bacteria have an enzyme system that is disrupted by the presence of silver ions, causing the organism to die. Before the advent of
pharmaceutical antibiotics in the 1940's, colloidal silver was a commonly used antibacterial agent. Today, however, it's considered controversial, probably because there is no known use for the silver ion in human biochemistry.
So can colloidal silver do harm to the good (and necessary) bacteria in your body?
I asked Dr. Spreen if he would address this question and he agreed, first pointing out that when using olive leaf extract (another natural antibiotic), the good bacteria are adversely
affected and need to be replaced, during and after use, with probiotics - supplements of good bacteria. He added, "My assumption is that the exact same thing happens with the use of colloidal silver because bacteria all operate similarly metabolically. That's why probiotics must be taken with any anti-bacterial attempt, and also why such agents (olive leaf extract, grapefruit seed extract, colloidal silver, etc.) should not be used for extended periods."
Which brings us back to the stomach and how to deal with the hard-to-treat h. pylori bacteria - the primary cause of peptic ulcers. A recent study from Taiwan concluded that
probiotics may increase the effectiveness of conventional antibiotics in treating h. pylori by reducing the harsh side effects of the antibiotics, which include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and allergic reactions. But in addition to problematic side effects, the antibiotics used to treat h. pylori have created a new drug-resistant strain of the bacterium.
In a previous e-Alert ("Enchiladas and Beer" 5/30/02) I told you about a formula called Probiotics 12 Plus that contains a beneficial bacterial strain proven to destroy resistant pathogens. In vivo (living organism) testing showed that this formula's helpful bacteria, called TH 10, inhibits all strains of h. pylori - even those that have become resistant to antibiotics. Probiotics 12 Plus is available from Uni Key Health Systems (800-888-4353).
So in the next few months, if you find you need to take a round of antibiotics (either synthetic or natural) to fight off a stubborn cold or a flu that stops you in your tracks,
consider adding a good quality probiotic to your supplement regimen. It may help considerably in bringing your body back to normal functioning, with trillions of bacterium cells working hard to keep you healthy.
PROTECT YOUR PROSTATE
One in every two men will be stopped in their tracks by prostate problems after age 50. And that number gets as high as 90% of men in their 70s and 80s. Fathers...grandfathers... brothers. I don't know about you, but I don't like those odds.
But now you have the power to avoid their fate. There are safe, natural ways to stave off these all-too-common problems -- and they have solid science behind them. Even the American Medical Association admits one of these powerful herbs beats a popular prescription drug by fighting prostate problems without all the common side effects.
Have you ever seen a blue person? I'm not talking about someone who's sad or depressed - I mean a person whose skin has a distinct blue coloring.
A recent issue of The New Yorker magazine carried an article about the Libertarian candidate for the US Senate from Montana, Stan Jones. Jones stood out politically (he advocated the dismantling of the F.B.I., the C.I.A., and the Departments of Energy and Education, among others), and he stood out personally because his skin is a light shade of blue.
This rare condition is called argyria (from the Greek word for silver: "arguros"), and it's caused by excessive intake of silver. There was a time when silver was a typical
ingredient in nose drops and other medicines for colds. Before its use was discontinued in the 1950's, a number of people suffered from argyria, which is a permanent condition. In Jones' case, argyria was caused by colloidal silver.
Three years ago, Jones was using a colloidal silver preparation in anticipation of possible shortages of antibiotics due to Y2K. But apparently he overdid the treatments. According to Dr. Spreen: "Amounts needed for antibacterial effect tend to be far below doses that cause argyria. Dr. Wright suggests adult doses of 1 tablespoon of colloidal silver at a 40 ppm (parts per million) concentration at the first signs of any infection and 1-2 teaspoons three to four times daily until the infection is gone. Then stop!"
The key word in those instructions, of course, would be "stop!" As Dr. Spreen has already pointed out - no antibiotic treatment should be used on an extended basis.
I've heard of argyria cases where people who were treating infections with colloidal silver felt that it wasn't working and upped their dosage. Not a good idea. And there are proponents of silver that claim argyria can only be triggered by ingesting impure colloidal silver.
By all accounts, argyria is a difficult condition to live with. So if you do decide to try colloidal silver, be absolutely certain that you're using it properly. Because, as noted in The New Yorker article, if you do develop argyria, one of the hardships you'll have to endure are the predictable Smurf jokes.
To Your Good Health,
Health Sciences Institute
16, Issue 9, Page 1669, September, 2002
"'Friendly Bacteria' Help Eradicate the Peptic-Ulcer
"Normal Flora" Medical Microbiology, Southern Illinois
"A Case of the Blues" Robert Sullivan, The New Yorker,