What's antibiotic resistance? Although antibiotics may temporarily cause symptoms to disappear, a host of resistant organisms remain in the body to later reassert themselves, overpowering the very antibiotics prescribed for them. According to Mary Eley, the Executive Director of the Michigan Antibiotics Resistance Reduction Coalition, "Every time you take an antibiotic, you teach that bug something new."
As scientists seek other solutions, much attention has been focused on the use of silver because of its well recognized antimicrobial properties (in killing bacteria, yeast, fungi, and viruses.) Prior to the widespread adoption of antibiotics in the middle of the last century, silver had thousands of years of successful use around the world. Currently, there are over eighty FDA approved silver based products.
Health consumers, who want to try silver, typically use colloidal silver. (A colloid is a stable suspension of silver particles in water.) But are they safe? An EPA report on tests conducted on ingested silver reported that 99% of the silver consumed was excreted within one week.
In making product choices, consumers can choose among different types of silver, including:
• Whole silver particles, which at large sizes cannot be adequately absorbed
• Whole silver particles at nano sizes which can be properly used by the body
• Ionic silver, incomplete nano silver particles missing an electron, which may be readily absorbed, but may interact unpredictably with other bodily biochemicals
Another key issue is optimal engineering of the particles. Effective products should have an amount of silver low enough for safe daily use. Read the label to see the product's parts per million of silver vs. its water base. High solutions (100 parts per million or above) may carry an increased risk of side effects, including a condition called argyria, in which the skin darkens or turns blue. Recently, the Oprah Winfrey show featured the so-called "blue man," who consumed very high levels of silver over many years.
Since most of us don't want a permanent skin color change, recommended dosages of nano-sized whole silver products at low parts (30 or below) per million, will not produce argyria, scientists say. You would have to consume over fifty times the normal dosage every day for a year to run that risk. Further, a recent study indicates that argyria can only result from the consumption of ionic forms of silver, not from metallic silver or metallic silver nano-particle products.
Efficacy studies have been done on next generation colloidal products, so-called "silver aquasols." Composed of nano-sized whole silver particles suspended in pure water, aquasols have been shown to reduce pain, as well as bring resistant microbes to heel. Used in combination therapy with antibiotics to achieve what scientists call "bactericidal synergism," active silver solutions have shown marked activity against proven bacterial-resistant strains including E.coli. salmonella, MRSA, and others.
What has confounded some scientists is that studies have shown that silver has pronounced anti-bacterial effects even at minute dilutions below what has been considered necessary for any biochemical agency. For example, the aquasols tested in one recent study have only contained one part per million of silver to water.