colloidal silver, argyria, antibiotic, silver medicine Clear Springs Press

Colloidal Silver Medical Uses, Toxicology & Manufacture


         Most of the medical literature states that the only adverse effect of excess consumption of silver or silver products is a condition called argyria. Argyria is characterized by gray to gray-black staining of the skin and mucous membranes produced by silver deposition. This coloration is permanent. Most authorities state that argyria is disfiguring because of the discoloration of the skin but has no other harmful consequences. Hill and Pillsbury note in their 1939 book Argyria, "A striking feature of argyria is the absence of any evidence that the deposits of silver produce any significant physiologic disturbance of the involved organs or tissue.... Aside from the pigment deposit, the gross and microscopic appearance of the involved tissues is normal. Argyria is, therefore, of significance only from the standpoint of cosmetic appearance." (1) Hill and Pillsbury could only find 239 reported cases of argyria by 1939. At this time, silver had been in widespread use for over four decades. Most of the cases involved chronic use ranging from 3 to 25 years. Over half of the cases were associated with silver nitrate usage. Even so, they concluded that even with silver nitrate "the danger of argyria is very slight if the total amount injested by mouth is below six grams." (1) It is estimated that, in recent years, many thousands of individuals have consumed colloidal silver products with no adverse effects or indications of argyria. There have been, however, a very small number of cases and they have achieved notoriety.

         One well publicized example is the case of Rosemary Jacobs. Rosemary's case was reported in The New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 340:1554 May 20, 1999 Number 20. The journal states, "A 56-year-old woman has had discolored skin since the age of 14. At the age of 11, the patient was given nose drops of unknown composition for 'allergies' and three years later her skin turned gray." Silver nitrate nose drops were commonly prescribed in that era. Over half of the cases of argyria documented in the early 1900's were associated with silver nitrate use. (1) Silver nitrate is a caustic silver salt. It is not colloidal silver.

         You can read Rosemary Jacob's story at:

         Another well publicized case of more recent vintage is that of Stan Jones. Stan Jones is a politician from Montana who acquired the condition of argyria by consuming extremely high quantities of a home-made colloidal silver. Stan brewed his home-made colloidal silver by using tap water and salt with a battery powered colloidal silver generator. He drank eight ounces or more of this product containing an unknown concentration of silver daily for at least two years. (102) This is far in excess of quantities that are usually used for therapeutic purposes. His source was also of dubious quality.

         There have been additional recent cases of argyria reported. While the data is sketchy, it appears that there may be a half dozen or so cases reported. Fortunately, the number is extremely small compared to the number of individuals using silver products. It appears that those afflicted with argyria of recent origin used doses grossly in excess of amounts indicated for therapeutic effects. It also appears that they likely used products of unknown and questionable composition. They also consumed the substance over a long period of time, often years. Argyria from silver overdose is avoidable with good information, reliable silver products, and due diligence.

         The amount of silver that must be consumed to cause argyria is not well understood. The risk factors for developing argyria depend on the dose of the silver product, the type of silver product, the duration of exposure, the route of exposure (i.e., ingestion, inhalation, or skin contact), and on the exposed individual's physiology and health.

         There are reports that argyria has occurred in adults who were given 900 mg of silver orally over a period of one year. (1) There are also cases in the literature where 6.0 grams of silver nitrate administered orally and 6.3 grams of silver arsphenamine administered intramuscularly were known to produce argyria. (1) Another study estimated the minimal oral dose for producing argyria to be 25 to 50 grams taken over a 6 month period. (62) A single fatal dose is estimated to be 10 grams, although recovery from larger doses has been reported. (Note: This 10 gram figure is for silver nitrate which is significantly more toxic than colloidal silver.) (56)

         Using the most conservative figure, 900 milligrams of silver corresponds to the silver content in 90 liters of 10 PPM colloidal silver. These doses are very large compared to the doses usually consumed by individuals using over the counter health food store colloidal silver products. Even with these quantities, risk of toxicity may be reduced by spreading the intake out over a period of time to allow the excretion mechanisms to keep up with intake.

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