Understanding the difference between various types of products available can be challenging for those new to silver medicine. This document is designed to help clarify the differences in quality and types of colloidal silver. If this FAQ doesn't take the mystery out of the different types of products, please let us know!
Dr. Robert O Becker
his landmark book, Body Electric, Dr. Robert O Becker documents the
re-discovery of silver for use in modern medicine. As well as demonstrating
silver's antibacterial properties, Dr. Becker discovered that silver
ions have the potential to eliminate cancerous cells.
View our overview of Dr.
Robert O. Becker's research conclusions,
and then explore our document on silver iontophoresis.
The Different Types of Medicinal Silver Products
What does the term colloid mean and why is it used with so many types of silver products? What does the term "colloidal silver" mean?
The term colloid was first used in 1861 by Thomas Graham, and is Greek for "glue". A colloid refers to tiny particles suspended in any medium, typically a liquid or gel. Particles in colloids are usually sized between 1 - 1000 nanometers in diameter. Colloidal silver technically does not refer to silver ions or complex compounds in ionic form ( aqueous solutions, dissolved solids, etc. ). Ionic silver solutions contain elements or compounds that are dissolved in water. However, the term "colloidal silver" has truly lost its scientific meaning, and should be considered a generic term for health products containing silver in a fluid medium. A statement that a substance is "colloidal silver" is not nearly enough information to gauge the type of product being offered.
What is a silver compound? Are silver compounds safe to use?
A silver compound is silver directly associated or chemically bonded with another element or another compound. A compound can have completely different properties and effects than effects associated with elements comprising the compound. For example, the water molecule is a compound created with two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. Just because the compound is made up of oxygen, doesn't mean it can be breathed!
Some silver compounds, such as silver oxide and silver chloride, are relatively harmless in the human body ( yet demonstrate reduced benefit in laboratory testing ). Other compounds, such as silver acetate, silver nitrate, silver arsphenamine, and branded products such as Argyrol, Neosilvol and Collargol, can be extremely toxic in the human body due to the extremely high concentration of silver. All silver compounds used, for a variety of reasons, place a user at risk for argyria.
There is likely NO benefit from using a silver compound in place of a quality isolated colloidal silver product when the product is to be used internally. The risks associated with use of high PPM silver compounds have been very well documented. Most compounds available today contain an extraordinary amount of actual silver content ( as measured in grams or micrograms ). Silver concentrations usually range from 50 ppm to 1500 ppm. A daily dose of two tablespoons of such products can lead to a silver overdose. Some companies use the term "stabilized ionic silver". Such stable formulations are usually made by the creation of compounds, such as silver citrate, silver acetate or silver nitrate.
One can often tell a silver compound by carefully examining:
PPM - Products containing above 50 PPM silver are usually ( but not always ), silver compounds. Products containing over 75 PPM Silver are either mislabled, or always compounds.
PH - Properly made EIS should be very close to nuetral - PH 7.0. Products that overly acidic or overly alkaline either contain other compounds or are comprised of silver compounds. Some EIS products made by using a high voltage method of production contain excess nitrogen, and therefore test acidic.
Exceptions: There are a growing number of products that complex molecules made up of silver and oxygen. These products show promise, but require further study.
What is Mild Silver Protein?
Mild silver protein is a silver compound. It is called "protein" because the silver is bonded with organic compounds ( proteins ). Mild Silver Protein, or MSP, has been known to cause Argyria. Lab comparison we've seen show that a quality electro-colloidal silver outperforms mild silver proteins in vitro ( "in lab experiments " ) against bacteria by a wide margin with only a fraction of the concentration of actual silver.
After personally investigating a large handful of marketing companies, our reluctant conclusion is that most organizations who market MSP are unscrupulous, and purposefully mislead their customers. We only found a few companies that demonstrate any public responsibility whatsoever; indeed, these companies will only sell their products to medical professionals. Multilevel marketing is often used to perpetuate the ignorance, and we know of two cases of Argyria that have resulted in the misuse of silver proteins. We can only strongly recommend that one studies deeply before actually using silver proteins in the body. When dealing with an unknown silver substance, it is critical to know the actual amount of silver in grams/micrograms in the product ( per dose ).
What is colloidal silver created via the electrolysis method then?
There are three possible "states of silver" that are created purposefully via the electrolysis method: Ionic silver ( Ag + ), charged silver particles, which are clusters of negatively charged silver atoms ( AG - ), and metallic silver particles ( charged silver particles can agglomerate and drop out of the colloidal suspension ). All three have benefits, although almost universally one attempts to minimize the size of silver particles in colloidal silver production.
Silver oxide may be created as a byproduct of the production process. If a saline solution or other salt primer is used, silver chloride is formed in abundance and extraordinary "agglomeration" occurs, with extremely large particles forming as a result. Using tap water or salt in the production process produces a low quality product with a needlessly high content of actual silver, and can place a user at risk for argyria with long term use.
The best way to describe a good colloidal silver via the electrolysis method is the term "isolated silver". Isolated silver refers to silver particles and silver ions, surrounded by pure water molecules: H2O. Silver, hydrogen, oxygen, a small amount of nitrogen, and a minute amount of carbon are the only elements present, with the silver ions bound predominantly with ( OH - ).
I have seen some information that says silver ions are very toxic in the human body. These conflicting reports can be confusing!
These reports are derived from misquoting studies conducted by a researcher named Petering, who was very active in research in the 1970's. Sometimes this "bashing" method is used purposefully, sometimes through ignorance. Petering studied ionic silver through the use of silver acetate ( among other compounds ), not isolated silver, and used silver in quantities that FAR exceed the EPA standard for silver toxicity. Be VERY weary of any product that uses ion bashing in its literature and promotional material. The benefit of silver ions has been conclusively demonstrated by the most rigorous scientific requirements in the world.
Some reputable colloidal silver advocates believe that silver particles cannot cause Argyria. However, the reality is that silver, while in ionic form, cannot possibly cause argyria. In order for Argyria to occur, the silver ions must "plate out" in metallic form. It has been well documented that long term exposure to microscopic silver dust can cause Argyria.
Silver can cause Argyria.The only valid debate is how quickly and at what dosage level different types of products begin to accumulate in the body.
The real issue concerning Argyria is how silver, in ionic or particulate form, is handled by the body. The greatest determining factor in the cause of argyria is the concentration of silver and the actual amount of silver intake. There is no definitive data that suggests one type of silver, based on the anion, protein, or salt associated ( or lack thereof ), is less of a risk than any other. We only know that silver particles, silver salts ( even CS made with salt added ), proteins, and other ionic compounds have caused Argyria. The common factor was a daily intake that exceeded the EPA's recommended safet levels.
Is it Possible to Reverse the Condition of Argyria?
We now have a few cases reported where argyria has been completely reversed by utilizing a very specific internal cleansing program. The first landmark case, overseen by Dr. Grace Ziem, was the result of industrial exposure. The second case of argyria was caused by the excessive consumption of silver chloride. View our initial comments: Cure for Argyria - at our Alternative Medicine and Colloidal Silver Forum.
If silver ions are so great, why do some highly reputable scientists and researchers claim that silver particles are so much better?
Even the best of us are still human. While these researchers have some points very worthy of examination, their perspective is often colored with a biased viewpoint toward their own avenue of research ( and their own products ).
There are very valid arguments concerning the biological transportation of silver ions. However, there are equally valid arguments about the transport of silver particles in the human body. Most processes that produce isolated silver produce both silver ions and silver particles. The future of isolated silver research really lies in learning how to harness ionic silver in the body, since in-vitro bacterial studies show that high quality ionic silver outperforms a high quality particulate silver by a wide margin.
Learning when one type of silver CAN be beneficial over the other is a complex endeavor. There is no conclusive evidence that one type is superior over the other when used in the body. Ultimately, there is really no need to "slam the door" on either. A high quality particle silver solution certainly performs adequately in many circumstances. There IS no simple answer to these questions, despite claims made otherwise.
Independent and non-biased research is certainly called for, but standards are not as of yet present that make any such research truly worthwhile. Informal studies conducted by dedicated researchers are informative, but fall VERY short of addressing key variables in production and usage. Our best advice is to not put one's life in the hands of fanaticism, no matter how attractively worded and high-sounding the "material" being viewed may be.
Find a product that works. Use it responsibly.
The Parts Per Million ( PPM ) issue is very confusing. Should one use a colloidal silver product with a high concentration or low one?
There are many technical considerations to address in making this determination. Generally speaking, a 3 - 10 PPM high quality colloidal silver product is a sufficient concentration for effectiveness in the body. With extremely clean production methods, one can achieve a high quality colloidal silver at slightly greater concentrations. Currently, our opinion is that a 26 ppm is the cap on the highest quality isolated silver product, as determined by TEM, with the 26 ppm product being laboratory produced.
For external use, greater concentrations may be desirable to increase the amount of actual silver exposed to the skin. However, with most available production methods, a higher concentration yields a lower quality end product. The result is an unstable solution with large particles.
We would not "offhand" recommend the use of silver products with high concentrations without fully disclosed laboratory analysis. Questions that need to be answered in such cases:
1) How much silver is actually in one standard dose?
2) What is the particle size range?
3) Are there any compounds or stabilizers in the product?
4) How are the particles dispersed in the solution?
Most companies that market a high PPM colloidal silver ( ~ 100 - 1500 ppm ) will not answer all of these questions. Many, we have found, will not give you the time of day if you ask these questions, and request to see the results of both a TEM and studies conducted via atomic adsorption ( AAS ). We see incredible value in both methods of analysis. The silence of these companies when faced with sincere and well-placed questions speaks for itself. The bottom line is that higher concentration, for use in the body, is NOT desireable.
See Also: Classifying Different Silver Products by Properties and Testing Colloidal Silver