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Committee for the Responsible Use of Silver in Health


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Last updated: 8/20/07

Silver in health

Silver has been used in the health field since, well, for as long as there has been a health field. It was used in times of antiquity for fighting germs and healing tissue, and those uses have continued to this day. It has been undergoing a rapid resurgence in use in recent times in the medical and industrial fields. However, in the field of human disease and, specifically, the realm of internal or systemic use, silver has remained essentially in the realm of alternative medicine. In that realm, it has become increasingly popular and at the same time increasingly controversial, with a rapidly growing number of people asking questions and decidedly few people providing accurate and reliable answers.

We have observed four primary factors contributing to the controversy and confusion surrounding the use of silver in health. They are:

Claims of far-reaching benefits

Proponents of silver in alternative medicine, both business and consumers alike, often make very far-reaching claims about silver and what it can do, and has done, for conditions that are often not treatable with conventional medical approaches. Just as often, proponents tout the safe and natural qualities of silver over using drugs, and claim that silver is not only much safer but far more effective than drugs. While it's most often used as an alternative to antibiotics, proponents claim it also has broad-spectrum antiviral and antifungal abilities, as well as being very powerful at helping heal tissue. It's easy to see why some vested interests could feel threatened.

Alternative medicine

As a naturally occurring element, silver is not readily patentable except in very specific situations and therefore cannot be protected by the pharmaceutical industry on a carte blanch basis, making it less prone to be taken through the drug approval process. In the absence of patents and drug approval, silver products used for health are often in the realm of alternative medicine, which by nature is a somewhat controversial area and too often subject to unwarranted attacks (some feel as a result of pharmaceutical interests and, they claim, influence those interests have over the government).

Complicated area of science

Silver's efficacy as an antimicrobial agent and as a tissue healing agent seems to come from silver "ions." A silver ion is a silver atom that is missing an electron. It has a "plus-one" electrical charge. Being the size of an atom, it's very difficult for us to watch what it does. The level of our understanding of the interaction of ions in and on the human body today is far from conclusive, to say the least, and this involves no less of a limitation when it comes to silver and silver ions. Therefore, there are a great many conflicting claims being made that have very little scientific data to back them up—whether in favor of one silver product over another, and whether touting or denigrating silver in general.

Cosmetic side-effect from overdosing

Too much silver in the body can cause a harmless but nonetheless undesirable skin discoloration called "argyria." This factor has fueled a controversy where passions and biases have greatly overshadowed facts, level-headedness and the dissemination of reliable, useful information to foster safe use of silver products. In our society today, we can tolerate cancer-causing substances and a myriad of other very harmful things that go into our bodies, that do their damage internally and therefore out of sight, far more readily than we can tolerate an undesirable cosmetic effect, providing powerful fuel for those who wish to denigrate silver. A picture is worth a thousand words and, in this case, can overshadow scientific rationality. See our Silver safety page for factual information on the safe—and unsafe—use of silver systemically.




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This site is owned by Ralph Fucetola, JD, who also owns and operates the Vitamin Lawyer web site.

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