Message Number: YG4505 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Claire Curtis
Date: 2001-06-12 19:50:00 UTC
Subject: Re: Heavy Metal (Collodial Silver, NOT Metallica)

Hi Bob C. --

First let me say that I have never thought about using Colloidal silver.
I have no preconceptions about its effectiveness.

However, I felt that some of your arguments against it were a little
weak. You assume that for an agent to have a biological effect on a
bacterial population, it must be a toxin.
>If silver, held in suspension at 10 PPM (parts per million) is an
effective antibacterial, >that means such a suspension has a negative
biological impact at that dilution.
Not necessarily so.

Bacteria live in an ecosystem; you can shift the population of an
ecosystem without using an LD-50 tested agent. pH is one factor that can
drastically alter the bacterial population balance, and the
acid/alkaline agent do not need to be toxic. Salinity has a similar
effect. Another possibility that you are overlooking is that the silver
has a beneficial effect on the body tissues, rather than a deleterious
effect on the bacterial population. Either way, silver does not need to
have a drug-like or toxic effect to have a beneficial effect as a

You rightly point out that the CS manufacturer's theorized mechanism of
action seems absurd. But debunking their theory doesn't mean that CS has
no effect. In a scientific enquiry, the first question is whether the
phenomenon exists. After that, you evaluate models that may explain the
mechanism by which the phenomenon occurs. So first: does the phenomenon exist?

The best verification of a phenomenon is a controlled experiment. So we
should check whether any such experiments have been performed. However
-- and here is one of the dirty secrets of medical research -- most
medical research is NOT based on truly controlled experiments, and so
results are often inconclusive. (Biological systems are so complex
that it is virtually impossible to do properly controlled experiments,
and the sample sizes are usually too small to get the data confidence
intervals that would be required in physics.) So, suppose experiments
have not been done or are inconclusive. What then? The phenomenon is
merely unsupported, not disproved.

The next best verification is the testimony of experts who have been
persuaded that a preponderance of anecdotal evidence supports the
phenomenon. This is the ultimate justification for 'peer review' as part
of the scientific acceptance procedure. (And this is why the credentials
of the experts are important).

The same article you cited
( supports the idea
that silver in this sort of application can have an effect.
It says:
>"Silver does have helpful uses. For example, silver nitrate was used
for many years as
>drops in newborns' eyes to prevent blindness caused by gonorrhea, and
it is also used
>in salves for burn victims. Some water treatment methods (including
water filters) also
>use a form of silver to kill bacteria".
I would put this opinion in the 'indicative but not persuasive'
category. This is enough for me to NOT discard the idea that colloidal
silver might have a beneficial effect in some circumstances. And enough
to suggest that someone must have written a few scientific papers about
it, so the next step would be to go on a literature search. At this
stage I'm just looking for evidence of effectiveness, not a theory of
how it might work.

* Would I use Colloidal Silver on my ferrets? Possibly. I have seen
nothing so far to indicate that it could be harmful in these doses, and
I have heard reports of its effectiveness; admittedly anecdotal, but on
good authority.
* Would I advocate its use? Only if further research turns up better
verification that it had a beneficial effect.
* If I were a vet, would I prescribe it in combination with other
treatment? Maybe, but I would proceed very cautiously, because without a
plausible mechanism of effect we cannot predict how it will interact
with other treatments.

OK now I'm as long winded as Bob.
Time to let the guys out and play.