Respectful Insolence

Colloidal silver: The real Blue Man Group

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People never cease to amaze me.

Sometimes it’s in a good way, when a person whom I would least expect to be capable of it does something really kind or brilliant. Sometimes it’s in a bad way. One of the bad ways people never cease to amaze me is how someone can continue down a path that has obviously caused them harm. I was reminded by this by a news story that’s been making the rounds of the media. I first saw it a couple of days ago on the local ABC affiliate, and it seems to be making the rounds of many affiliates nationwide. It’s the story of Paul Karason.

Paul Karason is blue, and an “alternative medicine” remedy, colloidal silver, made him that way:

A former Oregon man who’s skin is bluish-purple is hoping to put down roots here and find acceptance.

His name is Paul Karason, and he’s blue.

It’s not makeup or paint.

The 57 year old started making the transition from fair skin and freckles to this about 14 years ago.

“The change was so gradual I didn’t notice it. A friend I hadn’t seen in months saw me when I was at my parents’ house and said, ‘what did you do to your face.’”

What Paul did was use a substance called colloidal silver.

Made by extracting silver from metal, into water with an electrical current, and drinking it, it’s billed as something that will cure just about everything that ails you.

Paul swears by it.

“After it turned your skin blue, your still drinking it?”

“Yeah, but much less,” said Paul.

What Karason has is clearly a case of argyria, a known complication of chronic use of colloidal silver. Indeed, he has perhaps the worst case I’ve ever seen. His skin really is a silvery-blue color, and the video above gave me a rare opportunity to impress my wife. When the preview for the story came on, with a brief shot of Karason, I piped up that he had clearly been using colloidal silver, which turned his skin blue. Of course, it helps that I had come across this phenomenon before. There is, for example, the case of Rosemary Jacob, who also has a case of argyria, but not quite as bad. Still, it’s bad enough, as these photos show. She had to get dermabrasion done in order to lighten the tone of her skin, but she still looks far from normal.

Colloidal silver is touted as a “super antibiotic.” That credulous idiots like über-quack Mike Adams enthusiastically embrace it, touting it for practically any infection with a disclaimer to have a naturopath supervise (as if that would prevent argyria):

In this sense, colloidal silver is a lifesaver: When all else fails, it can beat infections presumed unbeatable. It is under these extreme conditions that patients may justifiably consider using colloidal silver internally — but only under the direction of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopath.

AIDS-related pneumonia due to staphylococcal, pneumocystis, streptococcal, klebsiella and fungal infections may also warrant internal use of colloidal silver. These types of pneumonia are very difficult to fight with traditional antibiotic treatment; moreover, people with weakened immune systems, such as acquired immune deficiency syndrome, are especially prone to them. For a weak immune system, these types of pneumonia are sometimes unbeatable, making alternative measures a necessity. “Dr. Marchial-Vega had considerable clinical experience with a colloidal silver preparation that contains between 20 and 25 parts of silver per million parts of water. This preparation has proven effective in patients with HIV. In the hospital, the therapy is administered by a special nebulizer as well as orally,” reports Dr. James Howenstine in A Physician’s Guide to Natural Healing Products that Work.

This is, of course, a load of efflux from one of Mike Adams’ colon cleanses. In reality, colloidal silver is so bad that only the most deluded devotees of “alternative” medicine believe it to be anything but risk without benefit. Even most naturopaths eschew it. Still, quacks keep touting this stuff. The rationale usually given to is a classic case of making an unjustified leap to a conclusion based on inappropriate use of data. Just because colloidal silver inhibits bacterial and fungal growth in cell culture does not mean that drinking colloidal silver suspensions will fight infection in the body. Jacob gets it right when she writes:

Colloidal silver (CSP) is not a new alternative remedy. It is an old, discarded traditional one that homeopaths and other people calling themselves “alternative health-care practitioners” have pulled out of the garbage pail of useless and dangerous drugs and therapies, things mainstream medicine threw away decades ago.

The same is true about so many so-called “alternative” medical therapies. As I pointed out before, it’s extremely rare for such remedies ever to go “extinct,” regardless of how ineffective they are. Even useless remedies with significant side effects (like colloidal silver) seem to persist.

Men like Paul Karason suggest why:

Actually Paul doesn’t believe drinking this potion caused the discoloration. He believes it happened because he rubbed it on his face to treat a skin problem.

But a medical condition called Argyria has been linked to such discoloration since the days when silver solutions were used as antibiotics.

Mr. Karason may be entitled to his “beliefs,” but he is not entitled to his own facts. He may “believe” that the colloidal silver didn’t turn his skin that shade of grayish-blue, but it’s quite clear that it did and that his skin will continue to get bluer and bluer as long as he keeps using his favored remedy. Denying it won’t change it, nor will undergoing chelation therapy, as one of the more breathtakingly idiotic commenters after the story suggested.

But it’s not just men like Mr. Karason. There are even more credulous and ignorant defenders of colloidal silver, people like Will Fitzpatrick, who writes risibly paranoid rants like this:

The reason we hear so much about the “danger” of Argyria is not because it is likely to occur by use of colloidal silver but because it is the only charge its detractors can come up with. Colloidal Silver is the worst nightmare possible to its detractors. Who are the detractors of colloidal silver? Let’s look at the cast of characters. In 1938, the medical and pharmaceutical industries finally got the congress to pass the law they had so long lobbied for. I am not going to debate the usefulness of this legislation which mandated formation of the Food and Drug Administration and took over regulation of what is today over 1/3 of the US economy (including food). There are pros and cons and this debate has been addressed thoroughly for many years in other forums. What has evolved from its formation is a consortium of strange bedfellows. If an FDA employee can please those he regulates in the drug industry while he is in his position at the Agency, he will have a good job waiting when he retires. It is very similar to the explanation of why Pentagon procurement officers end up as high ranking officers in the defense industry. Follow the money trail. It is not difficult. It is quite transparent as a matter of fact. The FDA/Pharma ties have been well established in congressional hearings in recent years, so I won’t go over that territory again here. This relationship then, defines one class of the detractors of colloidal silver (and other alternatives to allopathic medicine), the FDA bureaucrats. They have been slowed but not stopped by recent legislation such as DSHEA, The 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act. These career bureaucrats, motivated by the big money to be reaped at their future employers have so abused their power in violation of the letter and intent of the DSHEA that they were boldly admonished by Senator Dan Burton in a senate hearing recently. A summation of that letter can be found here: http://www.craigwinters.com/burton.htm

Another group of detractors of colloidal silver and other alternative medicine products and treatments is the self appointed, vigilante quack watchers. They have taken it on themselves (so they would have you believe) to watch out for the interests of the “American Consumer” to protect them from dubious “cures” and products which would steal their money and keep them from seeking “legitimate” medical treatment. It seems like a noble cause until you delve into their background, methods and cohorts. The most notorious of these “witch-hunters” is Stephen Barrett, MD. Ah, you say, he is a doctor! Well, he was a doctor until he gave up his license some years ago. Actually, he was a psychiatrist, a doctor of the mind, hardly a valid qualification for the crusade he has taken up. His wife is a real MD according to information on his website so don’t be concerned that he has no other visible means of support. Also, he authored and co-authored several books of anti-alternative medicine. He became the darling of the medical industry in the 1980′s with several awards for his books and articles attacking products and alternative modalities which have now been vindicated and even embraced by most of mainstream medicine. Chiropractic, Acupuncture, and the use of vitamins and minerals are among them. With most of his enemies vindicated, he crusades on to find more effective alternative treatments to demonize and destroy. Colloidal silver has become one of his favorite whipping boys in recent years with his willing accomplices, Rosemary Jacobs, FDA, FTC and the press.

In other words, never mind all those blue people. Never mind doctors have known for several decades that argyria is a complication of the prolonged use of colloidal silver. Just keep believing.

And just keep opening your wallet to buy the stuff.

ADDENDUM: Steve Novella and Skepchick comment.

Comments

  1. #1 wfjag
    December 21, 2007

    When I read “The Five People You Meet In Heaven” I thought the author was engaging in dramatic license in saying that taking colloidal silver will turn you blue. (My wife teaches H.S. English and this is one of the assigned books. This story has been a popular discussion point. She’s looking for other references. I’ll be sure to point out this blog.)

  2. #2 wfjag
    December 21, 2007

    Laymen apparently aren’t the only ones engaging in human-self-experimentation. See Professor’s Little Helper in Nature. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v450/n7173/full/4501157a.html

    Your thoughts would be appreciated.

  3. #3 daedalus2u
    December 21, 2007

    There is a discssion of some of the medical details here.

    http://dermatology.cdlib.org/111/case_reports/argyria/wadhera.html

  4. #4 Flaky
    December 21, 2007

    The first thing I though was: Cool! I need to get me some silver. But I don’t think I’d want to wait 14 years to turn blue, nor would I enjoy being blue permanently.

  5. #5 notmercury
    December 21, 2007

    Topical application of silver salts (not colloidal) can discolor the skin, temporarily. Colloidal silver, when taken internally, deposits UNDER the skin, effectively a tattoo.

    There is nothing he can do to reverse it so he can expect to be Forever Blue. With the red eyes and white beard, it’s kind of patriotic.

  6. #6 long_john_silver
    December 21, 2007

    There are volumes of evidence based research on silver used in mainstream medicine. Silver nitrate was administered to newborn eyes for years. Wound dressing with silver impregnated material is still in use today. It goes on and on. I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the use of silver. It’s use is already firmly established in conventional mainstream medical practice.

  7. #7 DLC
    December 21, 2007

    Hm… talk about having the Blues. Or talking until you’re blue in the face. How do you get rid of the blue color ?
    repeated dermabrasions ? This guy was turning blue and didn’t notice? He has an aversion to mirrors ?
    Crazy.

  8. #8 Orac
    December 21, 2007

    There are volumes of evidence based research on silver used in mainstream medicine. Silver nitrate was administered to newborn eyes for years. Wound dressing with silver impregnated material is still in use today. It goes on and on.

    Those are topical uses of silver-based solutions and compounds. Silver can be a good topical antibiotic. There’s no evidence that taking silver compounds internally does any good from an antibiotic perspective, and it can cause horrendous complications like agyria. There is no scientific or medical justification for it.

  9. #9 Ex-drone
    December 21, 2007

    Orac,
    You’re not thinking like an altie. If something is claimed to work, then you’re supposed to overuse it, ingest it or dilute it infinitesimally. Get with the program.

  10. #10 daedalus2u
    December 21, 2007

    It is all a conspiracy.

    Silver is an excellent electronic shielding material. The metal with the highest electrical conductivity. Where does this silver deposit? Everywhere in the body, not just in the skin, but everywhere else too. Like being tattooed everywhere, in your skin, in your brain, in your liver, everywhere.

    What better way to shield yourself from the government mind rays than with silver (the best electrical conductor) deposited directly in the brain. No doubt this beats the aluminum foil hat hands down. Shielding that cannot be removed.

    Do they let the prisoners at Guantanamo prison have access to colloidal silver? Of course not, they don’t want to let them shield their brains from the mind rays being used to read and control their thoughts.

    Why is Orac (an electronic computer) advising people to not consume colloidal silver? Obviously so they don’t shield themselves from his electronic mind control schemes.

  11. #11 apanthropic
    December 21, 2007

    If you happened to miss this page (“Cosmetic Argyria) in your browsing, you may find it amusing—especially the wonderful woo of this thread on “curing” argyria to which they link.

  12. #12 MarkH
    December 21, 2007

    Ha! nice one Daedalus.

  13. #13 TheProbe
    December 21, 2007

    He could get a job as Grandpa Smurf.

  14. #14 Amy Alkon
    December 21, 2007

    Blue skin and yellow teeth…it’s so U of M.

  15. #15 PalMD
    December 21, 2007

    Go Blue!
    We have an argyria patient in our resident clinic. We always march the new interns in to see her.

  16. #16 Old Ari
    December 22, 2007

    If they remake “Treasure Island”, he could play “Long John Silver.

  17. #17 Harry Abernathy
    December 22, 2007

    What is the typical silver particle size in colloidal silver? For scientific purposes, I buy colloidal silver down to 5 nm particle size. I would have serious concern about all the NON-visible places where such tiny particles could penetrate and do damage.

    Daedalus: You’re CLEARLY in the silver-lined pocket of Big Silver, trying to dupe good God-fearing people out of their money. Silver’s resistivity at room temperature is only marginally better than copper. People should obviously load up on this much cheaper miracle metal. AND I’m assuming colloidal copper (which, sadly enough, can be purchased from some altie types) will eventually give your skin a pleasing tan hue. Unless all that copper oxidizes, giving you a less appealing green patina…

  18. #18 Amy Alkon
    December 22, 2007

    Are there health problems caused by consumption of this silver (beyond turning blue)? Is there any evidence of any health benefit from consumption?

  19. #19 Eamon Knight
    December 22, 2007

    He could get a job as Grandpa Smurf.

    Or find a way to grow antennae and he can pass for Andorian (which will come in handy when we make contact and need infiltrators….in about 200 years).

  20. #21 txjak
    December 22, 2007

    One has to wonder if the conductivity of all that silver might not cause a short circuit of a defibrillator. Is he also more of a lightning rod than the average joe?

  21. #22 Sastra
    December 22, 2007

    What if he followed that cancer cure which involves carrots — the one that turns you orange? Would he turn green? Or maybe just some odd shade of brown, so he looks like he came from some tropical country, and not so much like he came from Mars.

  22. #23 XPM
    December 22, 2007

    22 messages and still no Eiffel 65 references…da ba dee da ba die…da ba dee da ba die…da ba dee da ba die…

  23. #24 DuWayne
    December 23, 2007

    I am curious, other than turning one an interesting shade of blue, is argyria actually dangerous? Not that slowly turning into a smurf is all that attractive an idea, but if one is willing to accept that, is there reason for concern?

    I ask because I have a friend who is obsessed enough(or was when we had regular contact) with colloidal silver, that he actually built from a kit, the machine that one uses to produce it. About a year ago I heard from a mutual friend who mentioned that John wasn’t looking so good lately, that he had a bit of a pallor about him. Makes me wonder if he is getting agryria himself.

    Not that he would listen to anything I have to say. He found my current blog not so long ago and sent me an email berating me for being a murderous sell-out to big pharma. Presumably in regards to my posting about HIV/AIDS denialism.

  24. #25 Patience
    December 23, 2007

    DuWayne, wikipedia thinks “However, it has been noted that such conditions can lead to impotence and penile atrophy in extreme cases.”

    That’s…icky, even if it’s totally fictional.

  25. #26 Weezy
    December 23, 2007

    Wikipedia is not written by experts. ANYBODY can write their “thoughts!” Please tell me “what” study proved that colloidal silver caused impotence and penile atrophy! So does “turning 50″! I don’t believe it. I think Paul took too much, too strong! I think we’ve learned something from Paul. Consistent use of anything, even good stuff, might produce treatement effects. Yeah, the carrot thing is a perfect example.

    And surprise, surprise, if you make your own C.S. NOBODY CONS YOU OUT OF MONEY! Does C.S. stop bacterial infections? If the answer is yes, then which side effects would you rather have? Discoloration of skin or permanent damage to nearly every organ in your body (from pharmaceutical antibiotics)and a slow, eventually painful death from your organs dying out on you.

    Also, what’s with the statement that says C.S. causes Argyria and has “other dangers.” WHAT other dangers? I happen to know several people who take C.S. and aren’t blue or impotent! So one guy turns blue from misuse and all of a sudden “the stupid people” are poisoning themselves? I’m just appalled that these “wise” people aren’t complaining about all the medications that the FDA “approves” that kill people! How ’bout griping about that?

    Lastly, has anyone ever asked Paul HOW MUCH C.S. he took everyday for 14 years? Has anyone asked Paul if it cured his dermatitis? Has anyone asked him if he is healthy and seems to resist bacterial infection? I’d like to know! Paul, if you’re reading this. Please answer these questions!

  26. #27 Orac
    December 23, 2007

    Does C.S. stop bacterial infections? If the answer is yes, then
    which side effects would you rather have?

    The answer is no when colloidal silver is taken internally. You obviously didn’t bother to follow the links that I provided. It is true that silver-based compounds can be effective topical antibiotics and that they are used that way, but there is no evidence that they are effective when taken internally. There is, however, plenty of evidence that they can cause argyria. In other words, it’s all risk for no benefit.

  27. #28 notmercury
    December 23, 2007

    Assuming that colloidal silver kills bacteria when taken internally, and it’s my guess it would, how likely is it that it would only work against pathogens?

    Who thinks it would be a good idea to try to kill every microbe that inhabits the human digestive system?

  28. #29 Weezy
    December 23, 2007

    Wikipedia is NOT written by experts. ANYBODY, who can type, can write their “thoughts!” Very bad resource for information. So, please tell us “what” study proved that colloidal silver caused impotence and penile atrophy! BY THE WAY, it IS a proven fact that riding a bike 20 miles everyday, having a bad week at work and turning 50 can all cause the same malady! C.S does not cause that. In fact, a study quoted in the FDA report states that C.S. actually improved some urinary disfunctions in men. See Federal Register / Vol. 64, No. 158 / Tuesday, August 17, 1999 / Rules and Regulations. (type colloidal silver in Search) I believe that Paul took too much, the wrong kind and for too long! I think we’ve learned a very important lesson from our blue friend. Consistent use of anything, even good stuff, may cause unwanted effects. Yes, the carrot thing is a perfect example. We were not meant to eat the same thing all the time. If we look at the food that was available during the hunter/gatherer age, people ate VARIOUS things based on seasons!

    What the FDA says. I just did some research on FDA rulings for C.S. They came to a general conclusion that it is NOT SAFE because there are no tests (that they accept) to say it’s safe. And the side-effects mentioned in some news articles (that came from the FDA report)include side effects for ANY GENERAL product that “MAY CONTAIN silver, silver ion, silver chloride, silver cyanide, silver iodide,silver oxide, or silver phosphate,” NOT JUST true C.S. which is simply elemental silver in distilled water. True C.S. has no known side effects. See http://www.silver-colloids.com

    Now back to the great Colloidal Silver rip-off conspiracy. If you spend a bunch of money on C.S., yes, you will get ripped off. Surprise, surprise, if you make your own C.S. NOBODY CONS YOU OUT OF MONEY! Get good directions and follow them. Does C.S. stop bacterial infections? There are a lot of people that say YES. AND I happen to know several people who take C.S. and aren’t blue or impotent! So… ONE guy turns blue from misuse and all of a sudden the world gets on the bandwagon to try to stop people from poisoning themselves?

    I’m appalled that these “wise” people aren’t complaining about all the medications that the FDA “approves” that literally kill people! That little warning they give you that says the medication “may” damage your liver, stomach, kidneys or whatever, should be changed to “probably will.” Google “Death by Medicine” By Gary Null, PhD; Carolyn Dean MD, ND; Martin Feldman, MD; Debora Rasio, MD; and Dorothy Smith, PhD. These physicians and scientists report that over about 800,000 Americans are killed every year by conventional medicines… and we’re worried about a few otherwise healthy people turning blue! Give me an ever-lovin’ break! Okay, I’m through railing.

    Please, can’t you just leave the blue guy alone? I’LL BE YOUR FRIEND, PAUL! LET’S START A BLUE GUY BLOG!

  29. #30 Weezy
    December 24, 2007

    Sorry that I “double-posted.” I had a glitch with my computer and thought my first post didn’t go through. So I did some more research and rewrote. Oops!

    Mr. Orac, I couldn’t find the link that you submitted that specifically proved that C.S. doesn’t kill infection when take internally. (It’s a lot of reading) Were there clinical tests or something? Could you resend that link? Thanks

  30. #31 DuWayne
    December 24, 2007

    Not mercury -

    You’d be surprised. I use several different plants to help with my insomnia and anxiety (the latter related to bipolar, no insurance at the moment), so I spend a fair amount of time in stores that also sell a lot of woo. They often put tags up, recommending enzyme supplements, close to the “cleansing” products, including colloidal silver and minerals. The enzyme supplements are often labeled with warnings not to take them just before taking many cleansing products, indeed recommending one take the cleansing products just before bed and taking the enzymes in the morning.

    One of my ex-lovers is really into this sort of stuff, though she actually has some issues with the colloidal silver. She was however, really big on some other sorts of cleansers that would kill bacteria. She had a pretty strong regimen that delineated the times for taking various products. I tried it once, in preparation for a tantric sex ritual she wanted to try, suffice to say, I spent way too much time in the potty.

    Bloody hippies.

    Weezy -

    Here’s the thing, in all likelihood it does kill parasites. Which would be great if it weren’t for the fact that many of the parasites living in the human body have a symbiotic relationship to the host, indeed are essential to the healthy function of the digestive tract. The reason that I spent so much time in the bathroom while on the regimen I mentioned above, was explained to me by my doctor – I wasn’t digesting my food properly.

    The other problem I have with these parasite killers, is that people all too often take too many of them. So you use the colloidal silver, fine, taken in small enough doses and by itself, it probably won’t cause much of a problem, though if it isn’t causing a problem, it probably isn’t doing anything you want it too either. But many folks don’t stop there. The same friend I mentioned in my original comment, also takes (at least he used to) black walnut shell, which is a fairly potent toxin. On top of that, he was also taking several other plants that kill or supposedly kill bacteria.

    Another, even bigger problem, is the extreme toxicity of some of the plants that people like to use. One that seems to be gaining in popularity, is poke root, which is a toxin that attacks the respiratory system. Another is sweet-flag, which was traditionally used as a stimulant that sharpened the senses for long hunts. Medicinally it was used to induce vomiting. The problem with it is, no research has been done to investigate it’s neurological effects, especially over long term use. Finally, wormwood is becoming very popular. Again, little research has been conducted to investigate the neurological effects of longterm use. It should be noted however that wormwood is the source for the hallucinogenic effects of Absinthe.

    The problem with all of this, is not that it couldn’t potentially have some efficacy, it’s that there is no evidence that it does. Worse, without research, there is also no evidence that this and many other substances don’t cause serious and dangerous side-effects. This is not to say that EBM doesn’t often come with serious side-effects, it’s that with EBM the side-effects are a known quantity. People with susceptibility to certain side-effects can avoid taking particular medicines. People can also weigh the negative against the benefits.

    None of that is possible with alternative medicine. And on top of the irresponsibility of not knowing the potential side-effects, people also market things that are actually extremely dangerous, such as the poke root, which I recently saw in an herb shop, without any warnings of it’s highly toxic nature. The women who had recently opened it, was shocked when I called her on it. She was completely unaware that it was so poisonous.

    I am all about natural medicine. I suspect that some plants which certain pharmaceuticals are derived from, are possibly superior to the synthesized versions. The problem is that they are not a known quantity, while the pharmaceuticals are for the most part. Absent the evidence and study, the pharmaceuticals are the better choice. I would love to see natural medicines get studied, so that rather than existing under the heading of “alternative” medicine, they would either be medicine or discarded. If it is medicine, it’s medicine. Alternative is just another word for no evidence.

  31. #32 Phyllalicious
    January 7, 2008

    Okay, so he’s literally blue… he knows what caused it and continues to do so. PLUS he gets his “15 minutes of fame” out of the deal. Other than turning blue, has he harmed himself or others? Chill out Orac, there are much bigger issues facing the human race than turning blue. If it cured the defamation of our characters and mortal soul, if it made people go back to their calm religious ways of life and made humanity stop all the insane practices that are killing us all off, then I could see giving this situation as much notarity. If you put your hand in the toilet bowl of an airplane, you’ll turn blue also. Which is where all of this waste of time belongs, in the toilet.

  32. #33 Barry
    January 7, 2008

    I think another blue man, Stan Jones, deserves a mention. He’s a Libertarian politician and appears to be quite unhinged (not that the two are related, of course).

  33. #34 Caledonian
    January 7, 2008

    Okay, so he looks ridiculous. But it’s just a skin color change – it’s merely cosmetic (although shocking).

    What neurological effects does building up silver in the body cause? What organs does it affect besides the skin?

  34. #35 Luna_the_cat
    January 8, 2008

    DuWayne, Caledonian — there is such a thing as silver poisoning. And from http://dermatology.cdlib.org/111/case_reports/argyria/wadhera.html:

    Consumption of large doses of colloidal silver can result in coma, pleural edema, and hemolysis. Colloidal silver is also toxic to the bone marrow and may be associated with agranulocytosis.

    In rare cases, consumption of enough colloidal silver to cause argyria is also associated with seizures; this may be associated with central nervous system toxicity noted for high doses of silver. Far more commonly, ingestion of colloidal silver is associated with intestinal ulcers and their side effects, including pain, diarrhea, and digestive problems.

    Many of the toxic effects of silver overconsumption, either as colloidal silver or “silver salts”, were mapped in the 1930s, when colloidal silver was one of the few antibiotics in existance. There is a reason why silver was abandoned for internal medicine as soon as something better came along. A more modern discussion, although not freely available on the web, is
    Fung, M C, Bowen, D L “Silver products for medical indications: risk-benefit assessment.” J-Toxicol-Clin-Toxicol. 1996; 34(1): 119-26

  35. #36 Jim Thomerson
    January 8, 2008

    In 1968, my departmet was authorized for a MS program. A student came to us who had been working as a lab assistant in medical school. He had done some work on use of injested colloidal silver on patients who had leg burns. The idea being to cut down on fecal contamination. I, by default, ended up supervising him. I got his thesis into publishable shape so was fourth or fifth coauthor, and graduated the first student out of our new MS program. There was some debate about the academic soundness of all this within the department.

  36. #37 Luna_the_cat
    January 8, 2008

    Jim Thomerson — “There was some debate about the academic soundness of all this within the department.”

    Er, “all this”? All this what? Can you elaborate on what the “this” was?

  37. #38 Jim Thomerson
    January 8, 2008

    My colleagues had two problems. First, the research was not done on campus, and, in fact, had been started before the student entered our program. Secondly, I had no particular qualification, in terms of the student’s research, to supervise the student. Like I said, we had just started the MS program and things were not well considered. A local problem, not a cosmic one.

  38. #39 Spencer Jones
    January 20, 2008

    Several things about this news story that strike me as odd right off the bat:

    First of all, the man is really blue. I mean really blue. When people contract argyria (i.e., skin graying) from ingesting excessive amounts of colloidal silver over long periods of time, they usually turn grey, not blue. That’s because the excessive silver buildup in their body has worked its way to the skin (the human body’s largest organ of elimination), and when the sun strikes the skin it tarnishes the large number of silver particles lodged there, turning the skin slate grey.

    It is quite possible this man actually has a heart disease resulting in cyanosis (skin bluing from oxygen deficiency in the blood). Nevertheless, he says his condition is the result of taking colloidal silver for the past 14 years, so we have to take his word for it.

    As I have been warning for the past 12 years, drinking excessive amounts of colloidal silver on a daily basis for long periods of time will indeed result in argyria for many people, particularly those with poor kidney and liver function. That’s because the excessive daily intake of silver particles is more than their kidneys and liver can expel at any one time. This can result in a residual buildup of the silver particles in the body’s tissues each time a person drinks more silver than their excretory organs can expel. Eventually, over time, the body tries to push this residual buildup of silver from the tissues out toward the skin, at which point the skin turns grey upon exposure to sunlight.

    Also, the news story doesn’t tell us how much colloidal silver this man was taking daily. This is a typical ploy of the corporate news media. They want you to believe that any amount of colloidal silver is potentially dangerous, when that is in reality the farthest thing from the truth. But to create the illusion, they don’t bother to tell you how much colloidal silver was taken each day for those 14 years, even though that is the most critical factor in the story! As one experienced colloidal silver user stated in a blog regarding this news video, “This idiot would had to have drank Colloidal Silver by the gallon to have that happen to him!” While we disavow the name-calling, the point is well taken. You have to try real hard to discolor your skin by drinking colloidal silver. It is actually easier to turn your skin orange from drinking too much carrot juice than it is to turn your skin gray (or blue) from drinking colloidal silver.

    We also noticed that in the original news video of this story from CNN, the man is shown using a conventional colloidal silver generator distributed by a company in Canada. We are familiar with the company that makes the exact generator displayed in the news video, and personally like the people behind the company. We have spoken with them several times in the past, and they are clearly very sincere about helping, educating and empowering people to be responsible for their own health. But as we have warned you for many years now, most conventional colloidal silver generators produce overly-high levels of silver (i.e., ppm, or silver by weight) in every batch, and the particle size of the silver is also often overly-large. So you have to be very careful if you are using a conventional colloidal silver generator.

    This is precisely the reason why we chose to distribute the new Micro-Particle Colloidal Silver Generator, which allows you to produce silver particles so small it takes a Transmission Electron Microscope operating at a whopping 175,000x magnification to see them. In comparison, silver particles produced by conventional colloidal silver generators can generally be seen under a standard microscope operating at only 20,000x magnification. This means the silver particles produced by the new Micro-Particle Colloidal Silver Generator are an astonishing 875% smaller than those produced by conventional colloidal silver units. In other words, they are far smaller than any blood cell, blood vessel, virus, bacteria, or fungus. You can see a Transmission Electron Microscope photograph of these tiny sub-microscopic silver particles by going to our home page at http://www.thesilveredge.com and scrolling down until you get near the bottom of the page, where you will see it on the right-hand side. As you will see, the new Micro-Particle Colloidal Silver Generator produces silver particles as small as .0008 microns, which is eight ten-thousandths of a single micron. As far as we know, these are the smallest silver particles produced by any low-voltage colloidal silver generator on the face of the earth. This is probably why the new Micro-Particle Colloidal Silver Generator is now the world’s most popular colloidal silver generator.

    Finally, this gentleman’s contention that his skin turned blue from rubbing colloidal silver on it, rather than from drinking it, is…well…rubbish. If the colloidal silver actually did cause his condition, then it was from drinking it in excessive quantities over long periods of time. If he rubbed anything on his skin and turned it blue, I can assure you it was not colloidal silver. This man is apparently blue nearly from head to toe. It is highly unlikely he was rubbing colloidal silver all over his body. And even if he was, it would not have turned him into a Smurf.

    Also I would be extremely remiss if I did not point out one more vital fact in regards to this news video: Out of the estimated seven to 10 million regular colloidal silver users in the United States alone, this is only the second or third person the news media have been able to find in the last 20 years (to my knowledge, anyway) who has “turned blue.” (For the inside scoop on the last news media “blue man,” see our web site at http://www.thesilveredge.com and scroll down to the link titled “Did Colloidal Silver Turn This Man Blue?” As you will see, the news media claimed a man turned blue from taking colloidal silver back in 2002, but that story turned out to be highly exaggerated.)

    At any rate, I still find it absolutely amazing that the news media will find two or three people who get this benign but unsightly skin condition out of the literally millions of regular colloidal silver users in the U.S. and Canada, and then broadcast it from the rooftops as if it were the norm. But they won’t mention the astonishing 2.2 million people who suffer serious and quite often life-threatening adverse reactions from prescription drug use every single year, or the 100,000 Americans KILLED each year from prescription drug use, which is 30 times more than all of the U.S. troops killed in the Iraq war! Let’s see now: two or three people turning blue in 20 years from excessive colloidal silver usage, versus 100,000 people a year being flat-out put into their graves by common drugs their doctors prescribed them. Which is more newsworthy? I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

    This man’s case is obviously an extremely rare one. But it is a good example of what we have been saying for years: In much the same way you wouldn’t eat a half a bottle of vitamins a day unless you want to endure some potentially nasty side effects over time, you also can’t take excessive amounts of colloidal silver daily without eventually provoking a nasty side effect called argyria. Most people are intelligent enough not to take the kind of huge daily dosages that would be necessary to stain your skin like this man has apparently done over the course of the past 14 years. But there are still many web sites out there that claim colloidal silver has “no side effects whatsoever” and that you can “drink all you want with no risk.” Those are blatantly untrue statements. And we have been sounding the alarm against such statements for years.

    Again, just as you can’t take all of the vitamins you want every day without risk, so you can’t drink all of the colloidal silver you want each day without risk. If you take excessive quantities of colloidal silver daily for long periods of time, you do indeed risk contracting argyria (i.e., skin graying). It is not a guarantee you will become argyric. But it is a very real risk. The key to avoiding side effects from colloidal silver, or from any other natural supplement for that matter, is the same one your mother taught you when you were a little child: “Don’t overdo it; use MODERATION in all things.” If an ounce of colloidal silver a day works good for you, then for goodness sakes don’t start thinking that maybe 16 ounces a day will be even better. It is that “more must be even better” mentality that ultimately produces these rare cases of side effects which the news media in turns capitalizes on in order to scare people away from using this otherwise safe and powerfully effective all-natural infection-fighting agent and immune system booster, which has been used by tens of millions of people worldwide since it was first invented in the late 1800′s shortly after Edison harnessed electricity.

    For those interested in learning more about colloidal silver dosage, please visit our web site at http://www.thesilveredge.com and download our FREE special report titled “What’s the “Safest” Daily Dosage for Colloidal Silver?” which uses the EPA’s (Environmental Protection Agency) own figures to determine how much colloidal silver is safe to take daily. Just use the link in the located in the upper left-hand corner of the home page. You might also want to scroll down the page and find the link titled “Buyer Beware: Not All Colloidal Silver Generators Are the Same” and read that article, which is posted right on the web site.

    What’s more, our home page article will explain how we became the largest colloidal silver generator distributor in the world, and it also reveals our role in helping develop the world’s most popular colloidal silver generator – the Micro-Particle Colloidal Silver Generator – which produces silver particles so infinitesimally small the human body is able to absorb, utilize, and successfully excrete them with greater ease than any of the silver solutions produced by conventional colloidal silver generators. This superior absorption, utilization and excretion alleviates the need to take huge daily quantities of colloidal silver, giving you all of the benefits of this powerful natural infection-fighting agent and immune system booster without the risk associated with excessive usage.

    Finally, if you want to learn even more about the safe usage of colloidal silver, I am happy to announce that Life & Health Research Group has recently placed their one-hour, studio-quality Colloidal Silver Secrets video on sale for only twenty bucks. If features Steve Barwick, author of The Ultimate Colloidal Silver Manual, being interviewed relentlessly by television personality Kristyn Burtt on just about every aspect of colloidal silver usage you can imagine. He even demonstrates how to make a crude, emergency colloidal silver generator out of common household implements in under two minutes. I don’t know how long they will keep this great 60-minute long video (available in DVD or VHS) available at such a low price, so you should check it out now at http://www.lifeandhealthresearchgroup.com

    Regards and good health!
    Spencer Jones for TheSilverEdge.com

  39. #40 Orac
    January 20, 2008

    It is quite possible this man actually has a heart disease resulting in cyanosis (skin bluing from oxygen deficiency in the blood).

    No it isn’t. Cyanosis doesn’t look like that, and I’ve seen other videos of the man. His color is grayish-blue (or bluish-gray), just as we see in agyria.

    Your extended comment, which threatens to reach levels of verbosity usually only seen in my articles, notwithstanding, there is no evidence that imbibing colloidal silver on a regular basis is good for your health or treats diseases. Silver is used as a topical antibiotic, but that’s because using a topical paste it’s possible to achieve microbicidal concentrations of silver. There is no good evidence that taking it internally can do that and even less evidence for the other health claims attributed to colloidal silver, while there is considerable evidence of the downside.

  40. #41 Caledonian
    January 20, 2008

    Generally speaking, something capable of killing microorganisms should be capable of harming human tissue as well – things like antibiotics are the rare exception.

    Ingesting a heavy metal in an attempt to kill bacteria is so obviously stupid that if mainstream medicine were to support it, even the wackiest and least rational denier would be up in arms. It’s only because people want to beat doctors at their own game that they do something so dumb.

    I wonder whether the visible effects actually make it harder for people to acknowledge that they’ve done something stupid – the more obvious to others the results are, the more foolish a person must be to do such a thing uselessly, and the greater cognitive dissonance a person must overcome to admit they were stupid.

  41. #42 Death by ignorance
    January 29, 2008

    Argyria is a condition brought about by ingestion of silver salts or massive quantities of low voltage produced ionic silver. Modern elemental nanoparticle silver, made with a high voltage AC process passes over 99% of the silver out of the body within 48 hours of ingestion.

    You cannot get argyria by applying silver topically.

    Minimum Amount Of Silver Intake Known To Cause Argyria Historically

    The minimum amount of silver ever known to cause argyria in adults from the use of any silver compound (including salts) is 900 mg of silver taken orally in one year. In order to reach this level of silver intake, an individual would have to consume at least 380 – 8 oz. bottles of a 10 PPM silver product within a year. Testing suggests that an average adult dosage of about ½ to 1 teaspoon taken one to three times daily, is usually sufficient to cause a generally helpful effect in connection with the human immune system. This means that an individual would have to consume over 50 times the normal adult dosage every day for a year, to even reach the lowest level ever known to cause argyria. It should be noted that EPA standards for the amount of silver that can be safely consumed in drinking water is about an ounce per day (EPA RED document page 2, 4th paragraph). It is also important to note that even during the years from 1918 to1940 when silver was a government approved antibiotic alternative of sorts, and millions of people using these very strong (high content) silver products, there were only about 7-12 people a year who developed generalized Argyria.
    Source:http://www.americanbiotechlabs.com/researchArticles/argyria.html

    Silver compounds (salts) will be created by people making their own silver with less than pure water or silver. To effect a noticeable improvement to symptoms presenting in a systemic infection, very large amounts of large particle, badly made silver preparations must be consumed.

    Modern nanoparticle silver sols require only 1 teaspoon full per day, of only 10 ppm strength, to accomplish, what seems to allopathic medicine, miraculous cures… when their antibiotics are failing.

    This article deals with ancient technology to frighten you away from the breakthroughs in modern medical silver technologies. These technologies threaten the extremely profitable business of disease that the pharmaceutical companies enjoy…. his this sort of scare propaganda.

    Educate yourself. Google “nanoparticle colloidal silver”. It might save your life.

  42. #43 Orac
    January 29, 2008

    Modern nanoparticle silver sols require only 1 teaspoon full per day, of only 10 ppm strength, to accomplish, what seems to allopathic medicine, miraculous cures… when their antibiotics are failing

    Really?

    Evidence, please?

    Anecdotes don’t count. I want to see well-designed clinical trial evidence showing that colloidal silver can accomplish these “miraculous cures.”

    I’ll wait.

  43. #44 Johnny
    March 14, 2008

    Unca Cecil takes on colloidal silver

    http://www.straightdope.com/columns/080314.html

    Sample quote –

    “None of this, you’ll note, adds up to the proposition the colloidal-silver types are pushing, namely that chugging silver juice is good for you.”

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