Historical Uses of Silver
Silver is a naturally-occurring element found in many places, from drinking water to foods, including mammalian milk, wheat, and mushrooms. One study conducted in the United Kingdom found that the average adult consumes 27 micrograms of silver in their daily diet (Table 1).7
Silver has been used throughout history to improve human health. The ancient Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, and Phoenicians used silver vessels to preserve their drinking water.1 Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, was the first to describe the antimicrobial benefits of silver.2 In the Middle Ages, silver eating utensils gave rise to the phrase "born with a silver spoon in your mouth." Silver found use in antimicrobial and wound-healing applications for battlefield medicine in the 1800s and early 1900s.3 Today, silver is used to purify drinking water on the international space station,4 promote wound healing,5 and in medical devices.6
Tables 1 and 2 .pdf
Peer-reviewed literature provides evidence of naturally occurring silver colloids (silver nanoparticles) in river waters in Texas12 and Mexico,13 with the mechanisms of particle formation being understood to include the natural organic matter found in freshwaters.14 Natural silver nanomaterials have been present throughout history, and pose no health risks as opposed to engineered nanomaterials that can cause concerns.
Safety of Silver
Numerous peer-reviewed in vivo studies have been conducted to evaluate the potential for silver nanoparticles to have acute or chronic toxicity effects. Table 2 summarizes some of these results. Dosages are presented in terms of mg/kg/day, as well as the number of times in excess of the US EPA's recommended oral daily reference dose (RfD) to ensure safety in drinking water. Argyria has been reported when silver exposure to the body in any form (i.e., metal, ionic or nanoparticle), either orally or by inhalation, exceeds a lifetime 10 gram exposure.15 A conversion to the number of tsp of a 23 ppm silver product required to achieve an equivalent silver mass dose is also provided. No observed adverse events were reported at 6,000X the RfD. For context, 18,261 tsp is almost 24 gallons. Consuming that volume of water would pose a health hazard long before the quantity of silver would.
It is critical to keep in mind that the silvers in these studies were of highest purity standards (e.g., pharmaceutical grade water). Safety profiles of colloidal silvers can differ dramatically when impurities or other formulation ingredients are present. It is generally accepted that only high purity products, such as silver hydrosol with only two ingredients, can use the current peer-reviewed literature as guidance. The lack of bioavailability found in colloidal silver with large particles arises from the lack of surface area, leading to exponentially lower efficacy as size increases. This is visible to the eye as yellow, brown, or orange colors due to the surface plasmon resonance of silver nanoparticles.
Peer-reviewed research indicates that particle size, silver purity, the purity of the water, and the purity of the colloidal silver formulation are important when assessing the safety of silver products. Silver hydrosols only contain bioactive silver ions and naturally occurring nanoparticles. Look for a product that uses only pharmaceutical grade purified water, and 99.999% pure silver to ensure safety.*
Silver and the Gut Microbiome
A 2016 peer-reviewed study from University of Michigan has explored the potential for impact of silver oral dietary supplementation affecting the gut microbiome.16 The study revealed that compared to water controls, silver did not significantly affect the biodiversity of species in the gut microbiome. However, a prescription antibiotic affected the balance of species by over 50%. This is consistent with the understanding of gastrointestinal distress when taking prescription antibiotics and the common recommendations to take probiotics during such treatments.
Remarkably, silver has no disruption on the gut microbiome diversity. Furthermore, the excretion profile of silver was found to follow a bell-shaped curve time profile, with over 98% excretion through fecal elimination after 24 hours.17
Silver hydrosol dietary supplementation can be used to provide daily immune support.* For short term situations, multiple doses per day can provide additional support when needed.* Silver, along with basic immune support, has been used historically to support skin, gut, oral and eye health.2
Silver first aid gels can provide a natural alternative for individuals seeking non-pharmaceutical choices. Silver first aid gels will follow the same efficacy trends as liquid dietary supplements.* Clear and colorless products indicate maximum bioactivity, while yellow color is an indication of the presence of colloidal silver particles, acting as inactive silver metal reservoirs.
High quality and purity products ensure that the margin of safety identified in recent literature is transferred seamlessly to patients utilizing one of nature's best kept health secrets.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.
Rob MacCuspie, PhD, is the Director of Science at Natural Immunogenics. His nearly twenty years of experience spans government national labs, academia, and industry. Career highlights include leading the development of the silver nanoparticle reference materials for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, publishing over 40 peer-reviewed papers and one US patent.
"Dr. Rob" began his journey to integrative medicine through his wife's health journey. An integrative practitioner used gene and antibody tests to diagnose her condition when allopathic medicine had failed for years. As part of her diet changes and supplement regimen, the practitioner recommended silver hydrosol to support her immune system. Dr. Rob is excited to now be able to help others discover the health benefits of silver he has learned in his professional and personal experiences.