Lane Lenard, Ph.D.
Ask almost any physician to name the gold
standard in antimicrobial therapy the treatment against which
all others are measured and it's likely he'll
cite one antibiotic drug or another. It s true that for the last
half of the 20th century, scores of high-tech drugs, from
ampicillin to Zythromax, have worked wonders on an enormous
scale, killing a wide variety of bacterial pathogens and saving
countless lives in the process. But are they really the safest and
most effective antimicrobial treatments available today
The surprising answer may be, No, they're
not. In fact, the real gold standard among antimicrobial
agents turns out to be silver!
And not just any silver, but a new, revolutionary,
patent-pending form of stabilized colloidal silver atoms that
kills virtually any germ with which it comes into contact, has
no known side effects, and does not lead to the development of
resistant organisms. Those who understand the mechanisms by
which conventional antibiotic drugs work will understand how
crucial these three points are. Every antimicrobial agent
available today inactivates or kills only a limited spectrum of
bacteria, viruses, or fungi; often causes side effects or
allergic reactions at therapeutic doses; and not infrequently
contributes to the development of resistant species. The only
exceptions to this rule are mild silver protein-containing
Can these statements possibly be true?
Can something as simple as silver be so effective and so safe?
If so, why do so few physicians know about it? To answer these
questions, we need to know a little something about the history
of silver-based therapies.
Hi Ho, Silver
Everyone knows what silver is. It's the white, shiny metal used
to make jewelry, cutlery, and coins, not to mention the bullets
of a certain legendary masked man who rode a horse by that name.
But besides all its beauty, ordinary metallic silver has
legendary antimicrobial properties. In ancient Greece and Rome,
those who could afford it often stored their perishable liquids
in silver containers, because the metal helped retard the growth
of microorganisms that spoil food and cause disease. Prior to
the development of refrigeration, it was once common to drop a
silver coin into a container of milk to retard spoilage.
There is no doubt that inorganic silver salts are highly
germicidal. In more modern times, the development of
silver-based therapies closely paralleled the growing awareness
of the microbial etiology of many diseases. Silver's germicidal
action was first documented during the late 1800s. A few years
after Louis Pasteur in France and Ignaz Semmelweis in Hungary
began touting the antimicrobial benefits of high temperatures
and hand washing, respectively, silver therapy pioneers such as
Lea, Crookes, and Cred began developing early colloidal silver
products that appeared to possess remarkable antimicrobial
During the early years of the 20th century, as medical
scientists searched in vain for a magic bullet that
would destroy pathogens but leave healthy tissue unscathed,
scores of scientific papers were published documenting the
beneficial effects of silver-based products for treating
bacteria of all types, including those that cause diseases like
typhoid, gonorrhea, various gynecologic and ophthalmic
infections.1,2 We know today that these pioneering researchers
came agonizingly close to finding their magic bullet, and like
those carried by that masked rider of the plains it
was made of pure silver.
Beginning in the early 1900s, it became common practice to place
a few drops of silver nitrate solution in the eyes of newborn
babies at birth to prevent ophthalmic infections that could
cause blindness. When wires or other metallic devices had to be
implanted in the body, the preferred metal was silver due to its
inherent antimicrobial properties. Bacteria simply could not
grow on it.3
So confident were some turn-of-the-century physicians in the
germicidal power of silver that they would perform what might be
considered reckless stunts to demonstrate it. At a 1916 meeting
of the American Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists,
for example, one attendee, Dr. Baughman of Richmond, Virginia,
described his encounter with the pioneer silver researcher, in
Dresden, Germany: He invited me to see him operate.
He took a probe, stuck it into an abscess, put some silver
solution on it, and offered me to put it in my mouth. I did not
care to do so, but he did put it in his own mouth. He told me
that this silver solution would cure any sort of septic trouble.
By 1939, as penicillin and other antibiotic drugs began to
replace silver colloids, the American Medical Association
recognized at least 96 different proprietary silver-based
products in clinical use at the time.5 Even today, silver
sulfadiazine is considered by most medical experts to be the
topical antiseptic of choice, i.e., the gold standard, in
patients with extensive burns. This drug is known to inhibit the
growth of nearly all pathogenic bacteria and fungi, including
some species that are resistant to antibiotics.6, 7
Until 1938, silver-based products were the most widely used and
most effective antimicrobial agents in medical practice. As
penicillin and the other antibiotic drugs became increasingly
available in the ensuing decades, silver-based products, which,
by comparison, were prohibitively expensive, relatively
slow-acting, sometimes crudely formulated, and often difficult
to use properly (they tended to be very unstable, and had to be
mixed immediately prior to use to prevent precipitation), soon
fell into disuse, except for a few select applications, as noted
Recently, however, silver s antimicrobial properties have been
enjoying a rebirth in interest among medical professionals for a
variety of reasons.
- First, the overuse of conventional antibiotic drugs
has led to the development of widespread antibiotic
resistance among many common bacteria. There is a very real
fear among infectious disease specialists that any day now a
common bacterial species will become resistant to all known
antibiotics. Already, several common bacteria have been
identified that are resistant to every antibiotic but one--vancomycin.
As this article was being prepared, the New England Journal
of Medicine published the most recent incidence of this
frightening trend, an outbreak of multidrug-resistant
pneumococcal pneumonia and bacteremia.8 Silver may have an
important advantage over conventional antibiotics in that it
kills all pathogenic microorganisms, and no organism has
ever been reported to readily develop resistance to it.
- Second, silver-containing products are
not only far less costly to produce than their pre-WWII
ancestors, they are also more effective, safer, more stable,
and easier to use.
- Third, and most exciting of all, it is
a fact that they may be safe and effective for the
prevention and/or treatment of a variety of general internal
and topical infections, including:
- Ear infections
- Thrush (candida)
- The common cold and other viral
- E. coli infections
- Intestinal infections
- Sinus infections
- HIV infection
- Lyme disease
- Food poisoning
The FDA has set out to ban the use of many colloidal silver
products, calling them ineffective and misbranded
for their labeled uses. The FDA has also begun playing upthe
negative side effects associated with the use of these
products, particularly a condition known as argyria.9 This
well-known effect of an overdose of silver salts appears as
a permanent ashen-grey discoloration of the skin,
conjunctiva, and internal organs. As for safety, argyria is
not a recognized side effect of mild silver protein, nor are
there any other side effects.
All Colloidal Silvers Are Not Created Equal
What makes VRP's colloidal Mild Silver Protein formulations
so much better than everything else out there? There are
three key differences.
1. Atoms, Not Ions:
Vitamin Research's Mild Silver Protein colloids are composed
of silver atoms, whereas all other colloidal silver
preparations are composed of silver ions. While silver ions
are highly toxic at high concentrations, silver atoms are
2. Ideal Particle Size:
In order to kill bacteria and other microbes, silver
particles need to fall within a narrow range that has been
determined by scientists at the National Institutes of
Health (NIH). Vitamin Research's Mild Silver Protein
particles made from silver atoms are exceedingly small and
within the ideal range. Most importantly, the particulate
size does not change, as it does with ionic colloidal
A colloid is a suspension of insoluble particles in a liquid
medium. As one early 20th century colloid researcher
described it, A beam of light passed through a
colloidal solution illuminates its path, just as a beam of
sunlight in a darkened room is visible when the air contains
dust or smoke. 10 Most products today that are touted to be
colloidal silver are actually not colloidal suspensions at
all, but are, in reality, ionic solutions. These solutions
are inherently unstable. The silver particles soon settle
out, like the dust floating around a room. Using a silver
product that has settled out will be ineffective at best, or
dangerous at worst. In contrast, Vitamin Research's Mild
Silver Protein is a true colloidal suspension, produced
using a patent-pending technique that results in a highly
stable product. The atoms never come out of suspension.
Early versions of colloidal silver were made by simply
grinding up metallic silver or a silver salt, such as silver
nitrate, into a fine powder and suspending the resulting
particles in an appropriate liquid medium. But there are
serious problems with these methods.
Grinding up pure silver yields large particles that do not
remain in solution very long. Such solutions, properly used,
could be effective but are
difficult to use. They have to be prepared just before use,
shaken vigorously to force the silver into solution, quickly
drawn into a hypodermic syringe and immediately injected
An effective dose using such preparations required extremely
high concentrations of silver. It was not uncommon for
patients to receive an average dose of one gram of silver
per day. Such doses were prone to cause argyria.
Most colloidal silver sold today in health food
stores and over the Internet is made electrically by placing
silver electrodes in water. Applying an electric current to
the electrodes releases silver ions into the water. This
resulting solution contains silver ions that can certainly
kill a few pathogens, and in most cases does so safely. The
problem is that the solutions so produced are extremely
weak, containing silver ions at a concentration of only 3 to
5 parts per million (ppm). In order to be effective for
treating infections, the silver concentration should be at
least 30 to 40 ppm.
The particle size of these electrically made ionic silver
preparations is also problematic. Although the particles
start out at a bactericidal level, the fact that they are
ions, i.e., charged particles, means that they tend to
attract each other and soon begin forming ever larger
clusters that eventually become too large to kill bacteria
and too large even to stay in solution.
The Breakthrough Discovery
Formulations at Vitamin Research discovered that colloidal
silver suspensions made from pure metallic silver atoms (not
ions) could be an extremely effective antimicrobial agent.
However, the particles were often too large, the doses too
high, and the particles would not stay in suspension very
They also learned that Ionic colloidal silver made from
silver salts could be effective but could also be toxic.
While those solutions that were made electrically were
generally safe, they were usually too weak to be useful.
Neither of these silver solutions was stable.
The Ideal Solution
The ideal approach appeared to be colloidal silver
preparation made from silver particles (pure silver atoms)
of the most effective antibacterial size that would stay in
suspension indefinitely. Was such an ideal formulation
possible? At first, it did not seem so. But then scientists
made a breakthrough. They found a way to combine trace
amounts of silver atoms (which are inherently safer than
ions) with a protein in distilled water to form a colloidal
dispersion of sufficient concentration to be effective
against pathogenic organisms. So stable was this colloid
that none has ever come out of suspension, including samples
produced more than seven years ago!
The next question was could this true colloidal suspension
efficaciously and safely kill pathogenic organisms?
Remarkably, when the clinical results started coming in,
they were uniformly and overwhelmingly positive. The
scientists found that their colloidal silver product was
clinically effective against virtually every infectious
organism tested, yet was completely nontoxic. It did not
even cause argyria with prolonged use of high doses.
How Does It Work?
No one is quite sure why silver is lethal to living cells.
According to one theory, silver binds to microorganisms,
which somehow causes the body to eliminate them. It is also
possible that silver, which is a foreign body, is recognized
as such, thereby causing a general activation of the immune
system, which then kills all pathogens. A third possibility
is that the rapid back-and-forth brownian motion, which is
characteristic of colloidal silver particles, somehow
literally pulverizes the pathogens.
An even more interesting question that according to
everything we know about silver, the atoms won't kill
anything; only the ions are lethal. How then, could a
colloidal silver preparation made from silver atoms have any
clinical benefit The answer, which stumped the researchers
for several years, was actually quite obvious when they
finally figured it out.
What happens when silver is exposed to oxygen? It tarnishes!
That is, it becomes oxidized, forming silver ions. It's as
simple as that. Unlike the injection of high concentrations
of purely ionic colloidal silver, the production of silver
ions with mild silver protein is slow and measured, because
it only occurs when a silver atom comes in direct contact
with a molecule of oxygen. Think of it as a natural,
The result is a more gradual effect. The safety and
prolonged anti-microbial effect of this product has been
demonstrated in studies in which enormous doses of mild
silver protein have been administered intravenously to
people with AIDS, chronic Lyme disease, or
flesh-eating staph or streptococcal infections. And,
as the FDA-registered labeling clearly states, it has
no known side effects.
It appears that medicine finally has its silver
See Also: Silver
Protein Reduces Viral Load and
Silver Protein Review
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1. Simpson W, Aberd M. Experiments on the germicidal action
of colloidal silver. Lancet. 1914; Dec. 12:1359.
2. Roe A. Collosol argentum and its ophthalmic uses. Br Med
J. 1913; Jan. 16:104.
3. National Standard Dispensatory. In: Hare H, ed; 1916.
4. Brown G. Colloidal silver in sepsis. Trans Am Assoc
Obstet Gynecol. 1916; Jan-June:136-143.
5. Hill W, Pillsbury D. Argyria. The Pharmacology of Silver.
Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins; 1939.
6. Mandell G, Petri W, Jr. Antimicrobial Agents:
Sulfonamides,Trimethoprim-Sulfmethoxazole, Quinolnes, and
Agents for Urinary Tract Infections. In: Hardman J, Limbird
L, eds. Goodman & Gilmans The Pharmacological Basis of
Therapeutics - 9th Ed. CD-ROM. New York: McGraw-Hill
7. Harvey S. Antiseptics and disinfectants; fungicides;
ectoparasiticides. In: Gilman A, Goodman L, Rall T, Murad F,
eds. Goodman and Gilmans The Pharmacological Basis of
Therapeutics. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co.;
8. Nuorti J, Butler J, Crutcher J, et al. An outbreak of
multidrug-resistant pneumonia and bacteremia among
unvaccinated nursing home residents. N Engl J Med.
9. Food and Drug Administration. Over-the-counter drug
products containing colloidal silver ingredients or silver
salts. Federal Register. 1996;61:63685-53688.
10. Clark A. The properties of certain colloidal
preparations of metals. Br Med J. 1923;Feb. 17:273.
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