Posts Tagged ‘alternative medicine’

Health Food Scam: Colloidal Silver, Part Two

1 August 2009

Alonzo’s note: Rosemary Jacobs posted a reply to the initial blog posting on the subject of colloidal silver. Instead of including it in the comments, I have taken it upon myself to give her message its own blog posting. I have taken the liberty of adding paragraph divisions and a few other modifications. Ms Jacobs is welcome to post to this blog on this topic whenever she wishes.

This blog was brought to my attention and I was asked to comment on it.

I will try to be brief but that will be difficult since I have been researching silver and argyria for decades since I have had argyria for over 50 years. I have had a website warning people about the silver scam for over 10 years. Please look at it and contact me privately if you want references or more info.

While Alonso’s blog is excellent, there are a few errors. Silver was discontinued because it didn’t work and it discolored lots of people. Silver like alcohol, peroxide, clorox, etc. is a disinfectant that kills many pathogens on contact but not inside people who ingest it like an antibiotic does. There are approved topical drugs that contain silver. Without pulling the citation from Ontario, I believe that the authors themselves concluded that the evidence does not actually demonstrate that silver was the cause of the man’s injuries and death. I and most researchers do not think that the large body of evidence available indicates that silver causes other problems besides argyria, gray skin, although it is very possible that it may in some people but not most. No one knows how many people really ingest silver or how much they ingest since the industry is not regulated.

Lab analysis has shown that silver supplements as well as other virtually unregulated “dietary supplements” often carry inaccurate labels. Some silver supplements have no detectable amount of silver. Others have more or less than the label indicates. Neither are the labels correct about the type of silver in them, but that is irrelevant since there is a great deal of evidence indicating that silver and only silver in any form or all by itself is what causes argyria. What is not known is the toxic amount, the amount that will discolor the average person. Silver forms strong chemical bonds with tissue throughout the body including that in the skin. It isn’t the protein that some silver supplements are bound to that does this. It is the silver which many salesmen refer to as “pure silver”. And large particles don’t get “trapped” anywhere.

If salesmen had an understanding of basic chemistry, they’d know that. There are many cases of argyria caused by silver supplements. There are attorneys getting out-of-court settlements on the behalf of those with the courage to admit that they have been conned and hire an attorney to represent them in a timely fashion, before the statutes of limitations expire. But unfortunately, aside from Jones & Karason I only know of one other person who has admitted publicly that she got argyria from a silver supplement. The others are terribly embarrassed. They feel like idiots. As one said to me, “I feel so stupid. I believed the salesman who told me it was nontoxic and that I could take as much as I wanted. I believed him till I turned gray!” Many people who got argyria from supplements took far less than Paul did and many followed the labels on the products they were sold. (This goes for both commercial brands and home brews made from kits.)

There isn’t a shred of evidence that ingesting silver in any form or amount offers any health benefits whatsoever. There is no evidence in the med. lit. and argyric people have the same health problems as other people and we die at the same average age as everyone else. I was told by an ABC producer who interviewed me and Karason that Oprah got Paul to have a physical which showed that he has prostate cancer. I haven’t verified that, but I had breast cancer at the age of 42 in 1984 even though according to many silver promoters cancer is one of the ton of diseases that silver in our bodies is supposed to prevent and cure.


Health Food Scam: Colloidal Silver

11 January 2009

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:
Stan Jones

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
Paul Karason

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.