Dr. Tom O’Brien, Guest Writer
Medicinal use of silver predates recorded history, and can only be guessed. It is fairly certain, however, that the use of silver vessels for storing and carrying water made use of one of its important properties… which was that of destroying the water-borne bacteria and pathogens, thus allowing the water to remain purer for extended periods of time. This principal was rediscovered by Krause in 1928, when he utilized silver coatings in water filtration systems to sterilize water for domestic purposes, and for swimming pools. He claimed the method was unaffected by small concentrations of salt, the presence of organic matter, or temperature variations.
MODERN USES OF SILVER:
In addition to water purification, Krause also produced a colloidal powder that was used clinically for wound dressing, as a spray for tonsillitis, and as a wet pack in treating burns and abrasions. Other products of the time were Uglow Black Silver Sand, Fissan-Silver Powder (Silver mixed with milk albumin and a colloid), Movidyn and O-Silver. All of these products, plus many other forms, had basically the same purpose, namely, to limit or eliminate pathogenic bacteria from wounds, inflamed mucous membranes, drinking water, etc.
The modern use of silver… almost exclusively as an antiseptic… dates from 1897 when Crede’s Ointment (Colloidal Silver is an ointment base), was both used in the treatment of wounds and skin diseases. Crede is said to have gotten the idea for these compounds from the use of silver foil as an anti-infective wound dressing at Johns Hopkins University.
A few years later, A.C. Barnes developed a form of mild silver protein which he called “Argyrol” and was an effective local anti-infective.
As presently used in medicine, silver compounds may be divided roughly into two general classes, namely, the soluble silver salts such as the nitrates and citrates, and the relatively insoluble compounds such as the oxides, halogen salts (chlorides and iodides), and the proteinates which do not dissolve but which are presented as colloidal suspensions. Of the soluble silver salts the most common is the nitrate, which acts as an astringent, irritant, or caustic, depending on the strength of the solutions used and the duration of their application.
Silver nitrate is commonly used either in solid sticks or pencils, or in solutions of varying concentrations. These are used for the removal of warts and the stimulation of ulcers and granulations. One percent solution of silver nitrate is instilled into the conjunctival sac of newborn children for the prevention of “ophthalmia neonatorum” (a junctivitis occurring in infants born to mothers affected with gonorrhea, frequently leading to blindness). Said treatment is not without its dangers, as cauterization of the cornea and subsequent blindness may occur.
Silver nitrate and silver oxide were used in the form of pills containing Kaolin and Petrolatum for the treatment of gastric ulcers and hyperacidity. This fell out of favor because of limited effectiveness and the risk of Argyria or Argyrosis, (a discoloration of the skin, internal organs, mucous membranes, etc).
Colloid silver solutions are combinations of insoluble forms of silver, such as the iodides, chlorides, oxides, etc., with, usually, organic, protective colloids. The insoluble forms are precipitated in the presence of the protective colloids (such as gelatins) in such a way that the particle size is very small and the particles do not settle out but remain in suspension. These suspensions have many of the attributes of true solutions.
These small particles of silver compounds act as reservoirs releasing silver ions (the active portion of the compounds) in a controlled manner and in minute amounts. The protective colloid in addition to preventing agglomeration and/or coagulation of the silver compound, also has a soothing action. The colloidal silver preparations may be divided into three classes: the silver halides, the strong silver proteins, and the mild silver proteins. The greatest advantage of the halides over the proteinates is the fact that they are light in color and do not stain linens as the proteinates do.
STRONG SILVER PROTEINS:
Although the strong silver proteins contain only small amounts of silver, this amount is largely ionized, which makes it more antiseptic than the mild silver proteins. However, because of the increased ionization, the strong silver proteins are more irritant. The strong silver proteins tend to alter on storage in that they become more strongly bound to the protein, thus yielding a less concentrated silver ion solution, thus decreasing the antiseptic values accordingly.
Mild silver protein solutions react in just the opposite way, with the silver ion concentration increasing with age, and the solutions becoming more irritant. This problem was solved in 1957 when a method was found to stabilize mild silver protein solutions indefinitely.
MILD SILVER PROTEINS:
Typical of the mild silver proteins is “argyrol”. The mild silver proteins contain between 19 and 23% of silver, which probably exists as silver oxide particles protected by a suitable protein colloid such as gelatin. Only a small fraction of the silver in mild silver protein solutions is ionized. Despite this fact, the amount of silver that is ionized is surprisingly constant. Dilutions as weak as 0.01% of a typical 20% solution, still have an ion concentration very nearly that of the more concentrated solution. The importance of this is apparent considering that the solution is greatly diluted by body fluids but can still remain effective.
Although the strong silver proteins are more effective on mucous membranes for germicidal and antiseptic effect, they are more irritant and stimulant. The mild silver protein group acts also as a mucilaginous demulcent and protective, and as a detergent for dislodging pus.
ELECTROLYTIC COLLOIDAL SILVER:
It has long been known that colloidal silver can be produced by arcing an electric current across two silver electrodes submerged in distilled water, or mild electrolyte. However, the process is of little value because of the extremely small amounts of silver that can be kept suspended in solution. That as it may be, there is a benefit derived of considerable importance. The electric arc (used in such a manner) creates a nitrogen-free ozone that (as a dissolved gas) is a benefactor in helping to harm, anaerobic bacteria. In spite of the ozone benefit, the silver benefit is reduced to near zero.
MIRACLE DRUGS A MIXED BLESSING:
With the advent of so-called “miracle drugs”, the silver compounds fell out of favor. However, the miracle drugs have been found to be a mixed blessing. In spite of the initial benefits… they can produce patient sensitization and may become ineffective with prolonged use.
On the other hand, sensitization with silver compounds is very low,… if indeed it occurs at all. Another disadvantage of the sulfonamides and antibiotics is their relatively short spectrum of activity. The silver preparations, on the other hand, have broad consistent anti-microbial action against many common pathogens, and they have appreciable activity against mycotic and viral infections.
A third fault to be found with the new drugs is the development of resistant strains of organisms against which the antibiotic has little or no effect. The action of the silver ion, however, remains constant and the development of strains of organisms resistant to its action is relatively unknown.
A MODERN CRISIS:
In 1993, doctors wrote an estimated 220 million prescriptions for oral antibiotics. The consequence of the casual use of drugs that were powerful enough to virtually wipe out some of the world’s scourges… is a rising bacterial resistance to antibiotics and a resurgence of bacterial diseases that were all but conquered decades ago. In the past 50 years, bacteria have developed more than 100 resistant factors to antibiotics.
Diseases like tuberculosis are making a dramatic come back in new drug-resistant strains. Malaria and cholera are sweeping through some countries. Gonorrhea, salmonella and pneumonia are all appearing in new forms that are resistant to many antibiotics. Common infections like staph and strep are sometimes turning into deadly illnesses.
SUPER BUGS ARE WINNING:
Bacteria, by their very nature, try to thwart the agents that destroy them. Whatever the prevailing cause, resistant bugs are moving faster than researchers are creating new antibiotics.
Doctors are seeing an increase in resistance to strep pneumonia, the most common kind of bacterial pneumonia. Staph infections are now resistant to penicillin, and some of the common hospital infections now respond only to the most potent antibiotics.
When faced with a drug that can kill them or inhibit their growth, bacteria can develop a method of growth that is not disrupted by the effects of an antibiotic… or the bacteria can begin to produce an enzyme that breaks down or inactivates the drug. Researchers have long known that bacteria can thwart antibiotics by swapping bits of DNA gene material, but they have underestimated how much trading goes on, even between different species. These resistant strains have been appearing more rapidly than anyone ever imagined.
The CDC reports that tuberculosis strains resistant to the two most effective drugs increased six-fold between 1986 and 1991, and resistant bugs now make up more than 20% of bacteria that causes pneumonia, meningitis, and other infectious diseases.
Staphylococcus and enterococcus are wreaking havoc in eastern hospitals. Staphylococcus is a potent bacterium that tends to breed in hospitals and infect surgical wounds, heart valves and blood. Enterococcus also tends to go after heart valves. The greatest fear of some medical researchers is that these two bacteria will meet up, and with a gene bestowal, create a killer infection that is resistant to every known antibiotic.
A BLEAK PROGNOSIS:
There is strong evidence that the AIDS virus may be just such a “killer”. Identification of the AIDS virus resulted in intense R&D programs launched by major pharmaceutical companies… each hoping to benefit from the monetary gains that would follow proprietary discovery of an AIDS cure. One such company, after 10 years of intensive research and over “one hundred million” in research expenditures, was confident their investment had paid off.
The drug, which had shown such promise in the lab, was cleared for testing in the real world. Within ten weeks of its introduction and clinical use, the super-bugs had responded to the challenge. The drug was pronounced useless, and a frustrated spokesman of the company stated, “It may be decades before we find an answer to the AIDS problem, “if we ever do'”.
It seems strange that, in view of silver’s effective use in the past against bacterial and virus infection, that it has been completely ignored in seeking a cure for this dread disease. The wonderment is further heightened when we consider that pathogens are powerless to mutate and build effective defenses against its lethal action.
CANCER AND THE SILVER CONNECTION:
Experimental work by Robert O. Becker, M.D., indicates strong need for research with silver compounds and cancer. In his impressive book Cross Currents, he outlined work that had been done in earlier experiments, to find out if possible, how the salamander was able to grow new body parts. They concluded: The answer involved primitive cells and electrical potential.
Because of the human body’s inability to produce primitive cells (except in bone marrow), they concluded that regeneration in human tissues was impossible. However, in his field of orthopedic surgery, Dr. Becker encountered problems of a radical nature in patients with infected fractures and open wounds, which would not respond to conventional drug therapy. According to Becker, his patients were those:
“Who not only had large open wounds with exposed, infected bone, but also had unhealed fractures of the same bone in the infected site.”
Previous research had documented that positive metal ions of silver, when pushed into the tissues by electrolysis, can chemically react with membranes of living tissues without being harmful to human cells. The the use of silver electrodes, they were not only able to rid the infected areas of pathogens, but discovered and added bonus as well. Dr. Becker states:
“What we had actually done was rediscover the fact that silver killed bacteria, which had been known for centuries.” “The electrically generated silver ion was doing something more than killing bacteria… it was also causing major growth stimulation of tissues in the wound.”… “When we finally tracked down exactly what was happening, we found that as human fibroblast cells (which are common throughout the body) were exposed to the electrically generated silver ions, the dedifferentiated. They were then able to multiply at a great rate, producing large numbers of primitive, embryonic cells in the wound even in patients over 50 years of age. These “uncommitted” cells were then able to differentiate into whatever cell types were needed to heal the wound. So what we were in fact doing was turning on regeneration in human tissues, which I had thought we would never be able to do.”
ELECTROCHEMICAL THERAPY AND CANCER:
(Becker in Cross Currents)
“If the electrically generated silver ion dedifferentiated normal human fibroblast cells, would it also dedifferentiate human cancer cells? If so we would have a way to duplicate in human beings. Dr. S. Meryl Rose’s experiments with salamander cancers, in which dedifferentiated cancer cells are differentiated as normal cells.”
Unfortunately, a lack of funds aborted further experiments to clarify the issue Indications that such electrochemical treatment might prove successful is related in an experience by Dr. Becker in treating a patient with bone infection:
“I also had a patient with severe, chronic bone infection who had an associated cancer in the wound. He refused amputation, which would have been the treatment of choice, and insisted that I treat his infection with the silver technique. After three months, the infection was under control and the cancer cells in the wound appeared to have changed back to normal.”
About the Author
Dr. Tom O’Brien is the Founder and President of the Center for Natural Wealth in Yonkers, New York. He can be reached at 914-237-0805.
This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.
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