Myths About Colloidal Silver: Unraveling Negative Propaganda

8 Prevalent Myths and Misconceptions About Colloidal Silver

Copyright 2011 Steve Barwick, The Silver Edge

Lately, there’s been more misconception about colloidal silver going around than I’ve seen since the FDA first instituted their failed campaign to ban it back in the late 1990’s. People seem to be “salting” various news and social networking forums with this misinformation, in an attempt to get it passed around the internet and posted on even more forums.

This, of course, is a classic campaign to get misinformation about colloidal silver to go “viral,” meaning to get it passed around unwittingly by others who think they’re doing the world a favor by posting the latest “facts” on colloidal silver.

In reality, they are posting myths about colloidal silver that have been purposely concocted by shills for certain groups that have a vested interest in seeing colloidal silver defamed (think Big Pharma).

Here then, are some of the current myths making the internet rounds:

Myth #1: Children are being harmed by colloidal silver

First, we saw the Friends of the Earth environmentalist group come out with their new position paper calling for a total ban on the over-the-counter sales of colloidal silver products as well as EPA regulation of all products using silver as an antimicrobial agent. And why? Because, they claimed, the proliferation of silver-based antimicrobial products is depriving children of coming into contact with the requisite number of pathogens needed to stimulate their tiny immune systems.

Of course, it’s an unbelievable claim at face value. After all, little kids eat dirt. They roll around in the grass and dirt all day, throw mud balls at each other, play baseball in empty lots, climb trees, swim in lakes and rivers, play on dirty floors, climb into dumpsters in search of “treasure,” and do all of the things needed to put them into contact with hundreds of billions of microorganisms every single day of their lives. Yet the Friends of the Earth — with a straight face, mind you — presented as a reason to ban colloidal silver and other silver-based products the idea that kids’ immune systems were being developmentally deprived thanks to the proliferation of so many silver-based products. And this new myth is now being picked up in forums across the internet and used as “evidence” that colloidal silver is harmful. Clearly, these guys at the Friends of the Earth have never had children.

Myth #2: Colloidal silver has been “banned by the FDA”

Then we had the recent MSNBC news article written by reporter Mike Celizic which declared that the FDA had “banned colloidal silver” back in 1999. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. What the FDA did was prohibit colloidal silver vendors from labeling their product as a “natural antibiotic” and restrict colloidal silver advertisers from talking about its powerful antimicrobial qualities in advertisements.

This action, of course, led to more public interest in colloidal silver than it had ever enjoyed in its entire 100-year history, and propelled colloidal silver into one of the most popular nutritional supplements of all times. Celizic’s erroneous contention, however, has now been picked up by other writers and spread across a variety of internet forums where it is being used by opponents of natural health to convince people not to use colloidal silver because it’s been “banned by the FDA.”

Myth #3: Colloidal silver causes a “cytokine storm”

Next, we had a famous internet doctor claim that colloidal silver could cause a potentially deadly “cytokine storm” (massive inflammation) in the lungs of even healthy individuals. The doctor presented no evidence whatsoever for his claim. And a quick search of the available medical data demonstrated that the only significant research done on colloidal silver and cytokines showed that silver actually modified cytokine expression and reduced inflammation.

The authors of the medical study even stated that colloidal silver should be further investigated as a potential treatment for the massive inflammation caused by the “cytokine storm” phenomena. The famous internet doctor later removed the erroneous statement from his website, but not before other writers spread it all over the internet as “evidence” that colloidal silver usage can have potentially “deadly” consequences.

Myth #4: Colloidal silver harms human cells

We also recently saw the old “colloidal silver harms human cells” myth being dredged up again. Once more, the culprit was the environmental group Friends of the Earth, which erroneously attributes medical research demonstrating that silver damages bacterial cells (i.e., e. coli cells) as evidence that silver damages human cells. Of course, they can’t explain how Dr. Robert O. Becker of Syracuse Medical University was able to conduct all of those now famous in vivo (i.e., in the body) medical studies on human subjects, in which he used an electronic device to drive billions of tiny silver particles deep into the infected tissue and bone of “incurable” victims of osteomyelitis, and managed to cure every one of them without causing any harm whatsoever to their cells. Certain other internet writers have also misinterpreted a recent test tube study demonstrating that high levels of silver in the bloodstream could harm certain human cells.

The levels used in these lab tests would have been the equivalent of 15 ppm in the human bloodstream – a level you couldn’t reach without drinking gallons of a standard colloidal silver solution. The bottom line is that contrary to the assertions of the environmentalists, a recent study conducted by researchers at the Department of Neurobiology, Institute of Anatomy, at the University of Aarhus in Denmark, and published in the journal Histochemistry and Cell Biology (5 April 2008) has demonstrated that the human body has a specific process for sequestering and detoxifying accumulated silver and preventing it from harming human cells. This puts the lie to the contentions of the environmentalists who claim that silver damages human cells.

Myth #5: Colloidal silver causes hardening of the arteries

Honestly, I don’t know where in the world this one came from. But suddenly it’s cropping up on websites all over the place, with no documentation whatsoever to back it up. As usual, it appears that one writer is simply quoting another, who is then quoted by another, and another until a complete fallacy becomes “reality.” Several weeks ago I googled “colloidal silver and hardening of the arteries” and “colloidal silver and arteriosclerosis” and searched for several hours. I couldn’t find a solid piece of medical documentation for the claim that colloidal silver causes the hardening of the arteries, except for the regurgitated and unattributed claims in those articles. I also searched the various medical science news sites (even the ones that are routinely critical of silver) and couldn’t find any references to it causing artery problems.

What’s more, I hired a pharmaceutical consultant to track down the origin of this growing myth. He searched the PubMed database and other key medical study databases and could find absolutely nothing indicating any negative connection between colloidal silver and arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. We did find a recent study published in the prestigious medical science journal ACS Nano, demonstrating that silver stops red blood cells from clumping, which would help prevent heart attacks and strokes rather than cause them. You can read about that study here. So at this point, my conclusion is that someone just made up the claim out of whole cloth, and it is getting passed around the internet by people too lazy to do any fact-checking or to demand documentation.

Myth #6: Colloidal silver causes harm to kidneys

This pervasive myth, along with Myth #7 below, is being cited in a variety of news articles on the internet, as well as by environmental groups like Friends of the Earth that are working to force the EPA to regulate colloidal silver products as “pesticides.” Both of these myths are unfounded. As Dr. Gary Connett wrote in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine in 2007, “Case reports have described possible nephrotoxicity and neurotoxicity, but these have not been substantiated by studies in animal models.” (See J R Soc Med 2008: 101: S51–S52. DOI 10.1258/jrsm.2008.s18012.) In other words, doctors have speculated that silver usage has caused harm to human kidneys and the human nervous system based on individual case reports, but that speculation has not been proven to be true when silver is actually tested.

Silver given to animals during medical studies has shown no significant harm to the kidneys, liver or nervous system of the animals. And it could not be definitively demonstrated that silver was the actual culprit in the few individual human cases that led doctors to speculate that silver may have nephrotoxic or neurotoxic properties. In short, there is no significant evidence that silver harms the liver or the nervous system.

Myth #7: Colloidal silver causes harm to the nervous system

See Myth #6 above. Again, numerous internet “news” reports cite this myth, but there are to date no studies proving it. It is all based upon speculation, from a few single cases in which doctors made assumptions that later could not be proven to be true in animal studies. According to a study titled “Critical Observations on the Neurotoxicity of Silver,” published in Critical Review of Toxicology (2007;37:237-50), “Although silver is metabolized throughout the soft tissues, available evidence from experimental animal studies and human clinical reports has failed to unequivocally establish that it enters tissues of the central nervous system or is a cause of neurotoxic damage…No evidence is available to demonstrate the toxic risk of silver to the peripheral nervous system…Transitory silver sulfide deposits seen in the tissues of the blood-brain and blood-CSF barriers are mostly lysosomally bound or deposited on basement membranes or collagen without toxic effects.

Silver is mostly excreted from the body in the urine and feces.” In other words, in animal studies and human clinical reports, there is no evidence that silver causes harm to the human nervous system.

Myth #8: Colloidal silver causes cancer

This myth is being promulgated chiefly by one of those fake internet “doctors” who is pushing high-dose vitamin C therapy to help prevent infections. Now, I’m not against high-dose vitamin C therapy, but I am against people pretending to be doctors when they’re not. And I’m certainly against people who promulgate outright lies, such as the lie that colloidal silver causes cancer. This myth originally circulated in the 1970’s after some scientists surgically implanted silver discs under the skin of animals, and saw that sarcomas (soft tissue cancer tumors) later developed. So they announced to the world that silver causes cancer.

Later, when more level-headed researchers looked into the situation, they discovered that just about anything surgically implanted under the skin would induce sarcomas, i.e., glass, plastic, ivory, wood, etc. This is due to a phenomenon called “solid-state carcinogenesis.” In other words, it wasn’t the silver at all, but the normal effect of just about anything being implanted directly under the surface of the skin. The Environmental Protection Agency later jumped into the fray, looking for another reason to regulate silver, but after reviewing the existing medical and scientific documentation the agency had to conclude, “No evidence of cancer in humans has been reported despite frequent therapeutic use of the compound [i.e., silver] over the years.” In other words, there are no cases of colloidal silver-induced cancers reported in the medical or scientific literature. Quite the contrary, researchers Furst and Schlauder later conducted animal studies designed to avoid the possibility of solid-state carcinogenesis. They found that silver injected intramuscularly once a month into rats did not induce cancer.

Colloidal Silver and Global Warming?

Next, they’ll probably claim that colloidal silver causes global warming.

After all, it takes electricity to make colloidal silver. And electricity is generated through coal fire plants. And coal fire plants put “greenhouse gases” into the atmosphere. And “greenhouse gases” ostensibly rip holes into the ozone layer allowing excessive ionizing radiation from the sun to come streaming into our atmosphere resulting in warmer temperatures.

So there you have it. We must ban colloidal silver because it causes global warming. Seals are dying in Antarctica because thoughtless, greedy, uncaring natural health lovers are using colloidal silver.

No. Wait. For the sake of the children, we must ban colloidal silver because the FDA has already banned it. No. Wait. We must ban it because it can cause a “cytokine storm” and harm human cells. And that causes global warming. No. Wait…

…Oh, whatever. Just ban it because Big Pharma and the environmentalists hate it. At least that would be honest.

Copyright 2011 Steve Barwick, The Silver Edge. See disclaimer