The topic that I want to address today are health care scams and I’m going to start with Colloidal Silver, which you will sometimes see advertised in Alternative Health newspapers and magazines or on some radio shows that cater to that crowd.
You may not have even heard about colloidal silver until now, but that’s not unusual. Basically, it is microscopic particles of silver suspended in a solution. The broader commercial definition of colloidal silver includes products that contain various concentrations of ionic silver, silver colloids, ionic silver compounds or silver proteins in purified water. Colloidal silver with concentrations of 30 parts per million (ppm) or less are typically manufactured using an electrolysis process, whereas colloidal silver with higher concentrations of 50 ppm or more are usually either silver compounds such as silver chloride and silver iodide or are solutions that have been bound with a protein to disperse the particles.
With me, so far? Okay, sorry if it got a bit complicated there.
Anyway, silver had been used as an antibacterial treatment in the days before antibiotics, such as penicillin, were developed and the processes for making them was perfected. Colloidal silver and other treatments that used silver, were, for the most part, abandoned at the advent of modern antibiotics. Colloidal silver works by inhibiting the growth and reproduction of bacteria, essentially starving bacteria to death. Sounds good, so far, right? So, you may be wondering why doctors stopped using it, if it worked so well, in favor of using antibiotics.
Now, people in the Alternative Health Industry will tell you that colloidal silver is the victim of a conspiracy by the pharmaceutical companies. The drug corporations suppressed the making and use of colloidal silver, so that they could make their millions selling antibiotics to the medical community. Anyway, that’s the story they like to tell. “It’s a conspiracy!” Yeah, it always is.
Colloidal silver’s proponents will often leave-out the reason why it’s no longer in use by doctors: silver can build-up in your body, make you sick and even kill you. There is a report available online of a 71 year old man who died after taking colloidal silver orally for four months. Here is an excerpt of the report:
“Department of Clinical Neurological Sciences, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada. The authors report a case of a 71-year-old man who developed myoclonic status epilepticus and coma after daily ingestion of colloidal silver for 4 months resulting in high levels of silver in plasma, erythrocytes, and CSF. Despite plasmapheresis, he remained in a persistent vegetative state until his death 5.5 months later. Silver products can cause irreversible neurologic toxicity associated with poor outcome.”.
One of the most obvious signs of silver-poisoning is that your skin turns a blueish color. Oh, by the way, this change of color is usually permanent. This condition is called Argyria.
There is a Libertarian Party politician in Montana, named Stan Jones, who took homemade colloidal silver, out of fear that the Year 2000 “problem” that had panic-stricken dupes predicting the end of the modern world as we know it, would make modern antibiotics unavailable. So, he self-medicated himself with colloidal silver and it made his skin turn a blue-gray. Here’s a picture I found of him on the Internet. I swear I didn’t doctor it:
Another guy, Paul Karason, took colloidal silver over the course of a decade and it made his skin turn purplish-blue. He was taking it orally and rubbing it into his skin as a treatment for dermatitis. Despite his current skin color – argyria also stains the internal organs, by the way – he still touts colloidal silver for its “great benefits” for sinus, arthritis and acid reflux. He moved from Oregon to Madera, CA in the hopes of finding greater community acceptance. He describes himself as a recluse, of sorts. I’m looking forward to him and all the other disciples of colloidal silver selling “Blue Power” t-shirts, buttons and bumper stickers on CafePress. Eventually, a lot of them are going to have a common skin color, if they keep it up. Here’s a picture of Paul, whose skin is an even darker shade of blue that Mr Jones
Argyria has also been observed in people who work with silver or silver compounds, so it didn’t just happen when people started taking colloidal silver. The effect of ingesting silver was already well-known beforehand, so there is no excuse for not knowing about it. Studies in rats also show that drinking water containing very large amounts of silver (9.8 grams of silver per U.S. gallon water or 2.6 grams per liter) is likely to be life-threatening.
So, silver, while being very pretty and somewhat valuable, isn’t good for you to eat, drink or breath-in. ‘Nuff said.
So, why is colloidal silver still attracting people? Seriously, if the stuff has been shown to cause brain damage, seizures, and death or a persistent vegetative state., or even if it just turns your skin and internal organs a blueish color, why do people still use it? Well, there are some angles involved and I’ll do my best to impart some Truth.
First, you have the very real history of colloidal silver’s use as an antibacterial. Nothing works for selling a product like it actually having happened. They just leave out the reasons it was discontinued.
Second, you’ve got the Conspiracy Angle. A conspiracy is always blamed for why a particular product isn’t in-use by doctors. The conspiracy claimed is that Pharmaceutical companies are conspiring with doctors to suppress the use and even the knowledge of colloidal silver in the hopes of cashing-in on selling their antibiotics. I’ve even seen machines being sold in some publications that allow people to make their own colloidal silver. I don’t think they mention the argyria thing, though, or the guy who died from taking it. Essentially, what the multi-level marketers (them, again) tell their customers is that they are “taking control of their own health” by using colloidal silver, instead of having their doctor prescribe antibiotics. Naturally, the MLMs are making money, but they will tell you that their doing it to help you live healthier and longer, not to make money. Sure.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has declared that colloidal silver cannot be marketed as a drug, since all drugs must be approved through a rigorous government-sanctioned procedure. So, MLMs market it as a “supplement” to get-around that law. Supplements don’t have to acquire government approval.
I’m not saying that antibiotics always work or that they are perfect. Every drug, every herb, every food will affect somebody in a negative way. That’s not a conspiracy. That’s Life.
One reason why some antibiotics stop working is the natural course of evolution even applies to bacteria. When people don’t take their prescription antibiotics for the length of time their doctors tell them, the bacteria can evolve to resist antibiotics. This requires stronger antibiotics. In some cases, there are some bacteria that can resist all but the strongest of antibiotics and this is partly because the bacteria has been allowed to evolve, instead of people following their doctors’ advice and letting the antibiotics kill it completely.
You see, doctors go to medical school and they know more about medicine than some guy selling some product through a newspaper ad.
Eventually, some multi-level marketer is going to send me a complaint that I am costing them money by publishing these blogs. They might claim that I am an agent of the pharmaceutical companies, the medical industry or some other such nonsense.
The only loyalty I have is to the Truth and if the MLMs can’t handle the Truth, that is not my problem. It’s theirs.