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Colloidal Silver Medical Uses, Toxicology & Manufacture

The Different Forms of Colloidal Silver

         A colloid is a very small particle which remains suspended in water without actually forming an ionic solution. A colloid of silver is a very small particle of metallic silver suspended in water. The atomic micro-clusters of silver atoms found in colloidal silver range in size between approximately 0.001 and 0.01 microns. The small size means a very large surface area of silver per unit volume of silver. This small size, with its large surface area to volume ratio, enhances the surface chemistry of silver and dramatically increases the reactivity of silver with the substances that it comes in contact with. These particles are smaller than the individual cells of bacteria and some of the particles are smaller even than viruses.

         An "ionic" silver compound, by contrast, is one which will dissolve in water. Being soluble, its chemical reactivity is even higher than that of a colloidal suspension. Ionic silver compounds, or silver salts, are, however, more toxic to living systems than colloidal suspensions. Silver Nitrate has been used as a germicide and even as an internal medicine in the past. As a germicide, it is extremely effective but can be caustic and irritating to tissues and only a fool would swallow the stuff. Other ionic compounds have varying degrees of effectiveness as a germicide and varying degrees of toxicity as well.

         Many of the colloidal silver products on the market are a blend of ionic silver and suspensions of pure metallic silver in water. Some manufacturers bind the silver to a protein or polymer molecule to stabilize it and prevent precipitation. There is some debate about which form is best.

         Here are some of the major types of silver products that are or have been produced and used:

         Electro-colloidal Silver - This type of silver is produced by an electrolytic process or some version of electric arc. The concentration is typically from 1 to 20 PPM for the low voltage cathodic process.

         Mild silver Protein (MSP): Silver colloids are precipitated from a silver salt by a reducing agent and chemically bonded to a protein. The concentration may vary from 20 PPM to 5,000 PPM.

         Powdered Silver: A very high voltage is used to disintegrate the silver. This process could be described as both a thermal and electrical process.

         Ground Silver: In this process, silver was ground to a fine powder. This process was abandoned because the silver particles were too large.

         Silver salts: These are ionic silver compounds that are produced chemically.

         There are a number of silver compounds that have been used in medicine or are being used now. These include silver sulfadiazine, silver nitrate, silver citrate, silver iodide, silver chloride, silver lactate, silver oxide and silver picrate.

         In the past, several colloidal silver products were listed in the United States Pharmacopoeia (U.S.P.) and the National Formulary (N.F.). (64) These included colloidal silver iodide containing 18-22 percent silver (diluted to 0.05-10 percent silver for local use) and strong silver protein containing 7.5-8.5 percent silver (diluted to 0.5-10 percent). None of these formerly recognized colloidal silver preparations have been official in the U.S.P. or the N.F. since 1975. (64)

         Colloidal Silver websites on the internet often present contradictory opinions on the virtues of different types of silver products. Some claim that ionic silver is more e ffective while others claim that colloidal silver is more effective. Still others claim that mild silver protein or compounds like silver citrate are superior.

         An ion is an atom which has lost or gained one or more electrons and is left with a positive or negative charge. While metallic silver is regarded to be insoluble in water, it is known that a small amount is dispersed in the water. It is unclear exactly what form this dispersal is in.

         One theory is that a small amount of silver goes into solution by forming a compound of AgOH with the free hydroxyl radicals in the water. Another is that silver reacts with dissolved carbon dioxide to produce a compound of Ag2CO3. Either of these compounds could produce a low concentration of silver ions in solution.

         In the debate over colloidal versus ionic silver, it appears that some producers regard electrically charged microclusters of metallic silver to be ions. In addition to the differences in the definition of ionic, there is some challenge in measuring the relative composition of ions versus colloidal particles in particular products.

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