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Hi Ho Silver! The Amazing Health Properties of Silver – Now and Throughout History

Historical, healing element used in applications from liquid storage for prolonged preservation to eradication of virus, bacteria and fungus.

Silver, is a precious metal that is not only pleasing to the eye when used for personal or decorative ornamentation but also pleasing to our health with its rather unique properties that help eliminate the bugs that create disease and illness within us.

Natural Antimicrobial

Silver has the ability to destroy pathogenic microbes like viruses, bacteria and fungus that otherwise attack our body and cause illness

Even in extremely small amounts (parts per million), silver is an extremely effective antimicrobial that is able to stop the growth and spread of viruses, bacteria and fungus. It is nature’s antibiotic and as we’ll see, it’s been known and used as such for millennia. Despite the discovery and advancement of other forms of antimicrobials and antibiotics, silver remains a safe and able player in the arsenal.


It’s ‘Elemental’ My Dear Watson

Periodic Table of the Elements containing silver the 47th elementBefore we delve into the history and properties of silver as a health adjunct let’s start with a few interesting general tidbits. Silver is the 47th element on the periodic table of elements and is known as a “transition metal” just as gold is. Silver happens to be the most electrically conductive metal, meaning it can pass an electrical signal down it quicker and with less degradation than any other metal. This makes it superior in things like musical instrument cable used in audio applications. Silver is also the most thermally conductive metal, meaning a given amount of heat can travel through it faster than any other metal.

Historical Anecdotes

Phoenicians stored their liquids in silver vessels to preserve then contents from spoilingPhoenicians used water vessels made of silver to keep water, wine and vinegar fresh and free from spoil or contamination.  Phoenicians were a seafaring, maritime people along the eastern Mediterranean sea around the time of the classic Greek era.

Persian king Cyrus the Great created one of the first boards of health and utilized the purification of water by boiling and then storing in large vat-like containers made of silver.  Cyrus the Great was a notable historical figure noted in religious scripture like the Christian Bible (Ezra 6: 3-5) and the Islamic Koran.

Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilizations used silver as a means to purify and preserve fresh stores of water and other liquids.

Hippocrates, who is considered the “Father of Medicine”, and to whom the Hippocratic Oath sworn by healthcare professionals derives from, wrote millennia ago that silver has healing and anti-disease properties.

American pioneers trekking across the United States put silver coins in their drinking flasks and containersSailors during the European seafaring days would drop silver coins into their barrels of water and milk.

American pioneers were said to have done the same as they trekked into the western United States.

Here is a quote from the abstract of a published article in the PubMed database entitled, History of the Medical use of Silver.

Silver has been used for at least six millennia to prevent microbial infections. It has been effective against almost all organisms tested and has been used to treat numerous infections and noninfectious conditions, sometimes with striking success. Silver also has played an important role in the development of radiology and in improving wound healing.

Today’s Use of Silver in Personal Health and Public Sanitation

Swimming Pool Purification

Silver is widely used to purify swimming pool water, and it doesn’t sting your eyes as chlorine does. A dramatic demonstration recently took place in Nebraska: Fifty gallons of sewage was pumped into a pool without any disinfectant. A standard measure of contamination is the count of E. coli, an organism found in the human intestinal tract. The count soared to 7000 E. coli cells per millilitres of water. Then the water was flushed through silver electrodes – and within three hours it was completely free of E. coli.” – Taken from 1978 report by Jim Powell.


Silver Nitrate for Canker Sores and More

Silver nitrate sticks are used as a form of chemical cauterization and are used for canker sores, ulcers, nose bleeds and moreSilver nitrate is a compound that contains silver. When introduced to wet or moist skin tissue it burns and cauterizes the area. Silver nitrate sticks (long, thin wooden stick with silver nitrate at the end) can be used to treat canker sores by essentially ‘burning’ out the sore… a sort of chemical cauterization with a natural antiseptic incorporated (the silver). Silver nitrate can also be used similarly to treat oral ulcers, nose bleeds (by cauterizing the most exterior tiny blood vessels within the nasal mucosa ) and to kill nail beds (podiatrists may do this after removing an ingrown toenail).


Eye Drops to Prevent Infection in Newborns

A dilute solution of silver nitrate is used after birth to prevent against sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrheaA dilute silver nitrate solution is sometimes used in newborn babies’ eyes in order to prevent infection of sexual transmitted diseases that can be introduced while the child is passing through the birth canal. It’s primarily used in this capacity to prevent a gonorrhea infection in newborn eyes. Such an infection can actually cause blindness to the neonate.



Today silver is used in burn cream preparations including the popular prescription cream silver sulfadiazine (brand name Silvadene).


Colloidal Silver Uses

Cold and Flu

Taking a 1 to 2 teaspoons of colloidal silver preparations daily when you have the first early symptoms of cold or flu can stop the illness dead in its tracks. Many users swear by this method to stay healthy all throughout the nasty cold and flu season.


Adolescents (as well as adults) have discovered that splashing a little colloidal silver on the face helps to significantly reduce pimples. The cause of zits or pimples most commonly occurs from clogged pores where certain bacteria (propionibacterium acnes) are allowed to multiply with sebum as its food source. Silver kills this bacteria and its ability to multiply.

Eye Styes

Some people discuss using colloidial silver preparations like Silver Biotics as eye drops to treat an eye stye or even some infections. A stye on your eye is a self-contained condition that will heal on its own within a weeks time in 99% of cases. Perhaps colloidal silver speeds up the process. I don’t endorse or rule-against this treatment but you may want to get more information on it before you implement its use.


HIV structure in blue against a black background displaying the finger like protrusions that adhere to our T-4 cellsA fairly controversial and sometimes heated conversation between some groups is the claim that silver can sure AIDS. It has been anecdotally documented many times that even fairly low amounts of daily colloidal silver preparations cure AIDS/HIV. There are many forums across the internet where you can read users experiences regarding such ‘miracles.’ Such as this thread on “Colloidforum.com” http://www.colloidforum.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?t=438


Strange Claims and Conditions of Silver

AIDS CURE – Silver-Compound CURE Registered with U.S. Patent Office

Red ribbon display at the White House in 2007 on World AIDS day - AIDS / HIV is a terrible disease and affliction - Does silver provide a treatment or cure?

Tetrasilver Tetroxide, or molecular formula Ag4O4, is a strange compound related to a strangely obscure U.S. patent for an AIDS cure. AIDS or the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is when your body’s T4 immune cells drop below 200 as a result of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) hijacking them (eventually destroying them in the process of making more HIV cells). The tetrasilver tetroxide molecule is injected into the blood stream in a parts-per-million concentration and chelates (or in other words “binds”) with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other immune suppressing compounds and destroys them.  Now that may be a little heavy in the scientific arena for many readers but feel free to check out more info in the actual listing at the U.S. Patent Office website. It is U.S. Patent # 5,676,977 and can be found here. Whether or not this “cure” works is, I suppose, debatable. Otherwise, wouldn’t the world know about it and be using it to cure AIDS? I was under the impression that in order to get something patented you must demonstrate and substantiate with 100% accuracy that the patented device can produce its claim. If the patent office does issue the patent it is basically confirming the validity of the device to its claim, in this case a cure for AIDS. Maybe not? An interesting bullet point for silver nonetheless.


Argyria – Blue Skin Syndrome

Blue Men - Graphic displaying Blue Man from Las Vegas, Papa Smurf and a man suffering from a pigmentation condition known as Argyria

Argyria is a condition where the skin’s pigmentation has taken up so much silver that it permanently causes blue skin. It usually begins with deposition around the nail beds. So if you’re looking to be a Smurf for Halloween and recall this article and believe that ingesting loads of silver will help make your “costume” be more convincing… just remember, it’s an irreversible condition.

Even heavy-metal chelation techniques does not remove silver deposits. I would, however, explain that this condition is extremely rare and usually is a result of a tremendous amount of silver consumption over a long period of time (and usually protein-bound silver preparations rather than pure silver ions suspended in water which is the nature of colloidal silver). The recommended maximum daily dose of most colloidal silver preparations is two teaspoonsful which contains a low number in the parts per million department… very safe and something not to cause concern when used properly. Check out Chemistry Behind the Blue Man Unlocked for a more detailed explanation of the mechanism behind this phenomenon.

Here is a published case study that can be found in the PubMed database, “Argyria Associated with Colloidal Silver Supplementation.”


Silver, “Superbugs” and Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic impregnated discs placed in petri dishes containing a bacteria culture. Each disc has a different antibiotic it has been soaked in. It demonstrates the relative resistance to antibioticsA growing problem within the healthcare system is an epidemic known as antibiotic resistance. This is the evolutionary adaptation of bacteria to resist destruction by the antibiotics that are meant to kill them. You have probably heard of MRSA (methicillin (or multiple) resistant staph aureus ) in hospitals. These are killers because if the infection takes hold there are very few antibiotic choices left (if any sometimes) to clear the infection and many patients end up dying from sepsis / septic shock / SIRS. Silver is not a heavy hitter like intravenous antibiotics but many report anecdotally clearing long-standing infections (usually upper respiratory) with colloidal silver after trying multiple courses of traditional antibiotic therapy. Now, bacteria cannot, or at least have not found a way to, become resistant to silver as an antibiotic. The exact way that silver is able to kill pathogenic (illness causing) microbes is not well understood.

Tidbits from a 1978 article by Jim Powell

To the Moon! NASA Chooses Silver Water Purification System

“After testing 23 methods of purifying water, NASA selected a silver system for the space shuttle.”

“Silver is the best all around germ-fighter we have.” Dr. Harry Margraf

“Japanese firms have announced five startling technologies which use silver to purify air. One company converts 50 parts per million of carbon monoxide to harmless carbon dioxide [what we exhale] by passing the gas through a stack of screens coated with silver compounds. Another uses silver compounds to remove vinyl cyanide, methyl cyanide and hydrocyanic acid from its discharges.”

NASA space shuttle logo. After evaluating over 20 water purification systems NASA settled on using a silver based system - This was in the 1970'sA meteoric rise in the acclaim and merits of silver-based health applications occurred in the 1970’s but not much later seemed to be mysteriously abandoned and even scorned.  The use of silver was being touted in numerous governmental and private sector research studies with applications in Japan, Switzerland and the U.S. Despite this voracious climb we soon saw an exponentially opposite descent from favor as we entered the 1980’s. Some believe this was in response to threatened pharmaceutical, medical and other industries. I don’t want to put much stock in conspiracy theories but suffice it to say, it was a strange reversal without much publicized evidence of support. It’s interesting to go back and look at these snapshots of history. Check out this pdf file of the original article (famous in some circles) written by Jim Powell in 1978 from which these quotes were taken.


That’s All Folks!

So as you can see, there is quite a compelling history for silver-based health applications. There are many ‘authority’ discreditors out there selling silver as ineffective at best and simply dangerous in the extreme. These should evaluated with the evidence they have to support their claims. Colloidal silver and other silver-based health applications have been demonstrated to be safe and anecdotally effective for many. Simply look at Amazon.com reviews of reputable colloidal silver brands like Silver Biotics. They aren’t multi-million dollar research studies with results published in peer-reviewed journal articles but they still speak volumes. Use your voice of reason, resources and power of observation to make your own decision.

About Doctor Scott Health

Dr. Scott McLeod, PharmD is an independent researcher, health advocate and author living in Santa Barbara, CA. For more information about Scott and Doctor Scott Health please visit the 'About' section, here.

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