Responsible internal use is entirely safe
Understanding safety considerations
usage with the 12-for-25 rule and Silver Supplement Safety Chart
manufacturer's safety report
Responsible internal use is entirely safe
CRUSH intends to bring sanity and factual, responsible information to a field that, until now, has experienced a considerable need for this kind of resource. It seeks to bring reason to the use of silver in healthespecially internal useand to put an end to the irresponsible claims that have existed at both extreme ends. It pulls the plug on the myths that say that any silver product is safe to use in "unlimited" quantity, and it likewise pulls the plug on the nonsense that says that no silver product is safe even if used intelligently and according to directions.
Too much of anything has consequences. Two of the most common conditions for which children are treated at poison control centers are excessive intake of water and excessive intake of salt. In the case of silver, the main consequence of excessive intake is a rare skin discoloration called argyria.
To put things in perspective, however, this only occurs with extremely irresponsible use. As is demonstrated by referring to the U.S. EPA safety guidelines on silver, responsible use of a dietary supplement that contains silver introduces less silver to the body than what could exist in the average person's drinking water intakeless silver than could exist in a liter or two of ordinary drinking water fully meeting EPA guidelines.
The most definitive
and concise government report on the safety of silver is at the following
Protection Agency - Integrated Risk Information System - Silver
The Reference Dose (RfD) that it describes is the guideline that all other EPA agencies, including those that set the drinking water standards, refer to as the most authoritative guideline.
In reading the
document, note that the RfD that is represented as 5E-3 mg/kg/day should
be read as follows:
5 to the exponent
of minus 3 (0.001) = 0.005 milligrams per kilogram of body weight
Argyria is the condition that the EPA's RfD safety limits for daily intake of silver are based on. Indeed, explanation behind the RfD guideline clearly states, "The critical effect in humans ingesting silver is argyria, a medically benign but permanent bluish-gray discoloration of the skin. Argyria results from the deposition of silver in the dermis and also from silver-induced production of melanin. Although silver has been shown to be uniformly deposited in exposed and unexposed areas, the increased pigmentation becomes more pronounced in areas exposed to sunlight due to photoactivated reduction of the metal. Although the deposition of silver is permanent, it is not associated with any adverse health effects. No pathologic changes or inflammatory reactions have been shown to result from silver deposition." It also clearly states, "Argyria, the critical effect upon which the RfD for silver is based, occurs at levels of exposure much lower than those levels associated with other effects of silver."
Some people have
apparently developed the notion that silver is toxic, or that it can
build up in certain organs, neither of which is the case or poses any
concern at levels below those necessary to cause argyria. Between 1%
and 4% of the silver that we ingest is permanently retained in the body,
distributed relatively evenly throughout the tissue structure and organs
of the entire body. The rest is excreted rather quickly, primarily through
The question of
"parts per million" or "ppm" is often brought up
when debating which products are safer than others. Likewise, some manufacturers
irresponsibly say that colloidal silver cannot cause argyria, and some
irresponsibly claim that silver ions or silver complexes and compounds
can be harmful. The fact is that there is currently no reliable scientific
data in existence to demonstrate that any form of silver is any more
or less likely to contribute towards the manifestation of argyria than
any other form. Likewise, there is no scientific data to suggest that
silver ions are in any way more or less safe than colloid silver. (As
to complexes and compounds, it depends entirely on what the silver is
combined with to create the complex or compound. It's like saying water
can be unsafe if you mix it with "other" things. If you mix
it with fruit juice, it's probably safe. If you mix it with gasoline,
it's probably not.) Note that nowhere does the EPA suggest that either
of those distinctions has any bearing whatsoever on safe levels of silver
What matters is
simply knowing and controlling the total level of silver being ingested.
Whether or not the form of silver is a factor in how much the silver
may play a role in contributing towards argyria, it seems quite clear
that if you don't ingest enough silver to exceed safe consumption levels,
the form makes no difference and argyria is impossible.
There is no cut-and-dried
safe limit of silver ingestion, partly because the RfD is a general
guideline and not a cut-and-dried level, partly because individual sensitivity
can vary, partly because the time period during which a given quantity
of silver is ingested may have a bearing on the safe quantity of total
silver ingestion, and partly because it is impossible to determine a
safe level of silver ingestion for silver products without first knowing
the amount of silver in the food and water intake of the individual.
The fact is that
most of us consume a considerable amount of silver in our food and water
intake every day, unless we restrict ourselves to purified water that
has had most of the mineral content removed. Argyria doesn't "just
happen" from ingesting silver. It happens from ingesting far too
much silver. The question is, "What is too much silver?"
In answering that,
we need to first dispel the myth that ppm has any bearing, other than
being used in the math to figure total silver ingestion levelsmath
which must of necessity factor in the serving or dosing of the product
A bottle of 10-mg
tablets of vitamin C and a bottle of 100-mg tablets of vitamin C are
each exactly as safe as each other, no more and no less, if the dosing
is such that in both cases you're ingesting the identical amount of
vitamin C. If you take ten 10-mg tablets or you take only one 100-mg
tablet, it's still 100 mg. (The only other difference that matters is
comparing prices, for which you would factor in how many capsules of
one it takes to equal the same ultimate dosing of the other.) With silver,
ppm only matters for knowing how to do the math in order to know how
much silver is in a dose in evaluating safety (or for comparing prices).Unlike
the milligrams content with capsules, ppm is a bit more difficult to
calculate because it's a measurement of silver "concentration,"
which needs to be factored together with the "quantity" being
consumed of the silver product in order to determine the total "amount
of silver" being ingested, which is typically represented in milligrams
or micrograms (a milligram is equal to 1,000 micrograms).
An important issue
to consider is that plain drinking water can contain up to 0.1 mg of
silver per liter and be within EPA safety guidelines. If you take a
silver supplement that adds a little to that, you're probably fine.
If you take a silver supplement that doubles, triples, or quadruples
that, you're still "probably" fine, as long as you don't do
that every day for many years. The goal is to be taking such small quantities
of a silver-containing dietary supplement product that you can take
it every day of your entire life and know you're entirely safe, allowing
extra room for the many, many days you didn't use a silver-containing
dietary supplement. This should be very easy to do and, frankly, should
require nothing more that reading and following the label directions
of a reputably made and labeled product. Of course, that's assuming
you're not taking in an inordinate amount of silver in your daily drinking
water or food, or any other source.
In reviewing the
math in the EPA IRIS, it's worth noting when considering the RfD that
many people must surely be consuming amounts of silver well beyond the
RfD in their drinking water all over the country on a regular basis,
yet reports of argyria are extremely rare and seem to result almost
exclusively from people taking very irresponsible amounts of silver
for long periods of time, often taking ounces if not glassfuls per day,
and often with homemade products where they can never be sure what the
amount of silver is that they're ingesting. Also, we should note, too,
that most drinking water is probably well below the RfD, but the silver
levels are usually not printed on the labels. Therefore, it's not at
all easy to know how much silver one is ingesting from their food and
Finally, and quite
significantly, it's worth noting that the RfD is based on lifelong daily
ingestion levels (well, daily use for 70 years). Argyria is generally
a matter of total ingested silver over a lifetime, regardless of whether
it was ingested in a short period of time or over many years. Although
some evidence certainly indicates that the body can only eliminate silver
at a certain rate and that, therefore, ingesting considerable quantities
over short periods may affect the match, the RfD is generally designed
to ensure safe levels of silver assuming ongoing daily intake for life
(or 70 years).
Safe usage with the 12-for-25 rule
The 12-for-25 rule is a formula devised by Jay Newman, president and CEO of Invision International Health Solutions, manufacturers of
a dietary supplement containing silver, and a member of CRUSH.
It provides a simple method for determining how many drops an individual can take per day of any given silver product to be at or below 25% of the RfD guideline.
SEE THE SILVER SUPPLEMENT SAFETY CHART FOR A SIMPLE CHART SHOWING HOW MANY DROPS TO TAKE PER DAY OF ANY SILVER SUPPLEMENT TO REMAIN WITHIN 25% OF THE RFD GUIDLEINE. (The calculations are already done for you!)
Note that in the
formulas below, the "x" symbol indicates "multiplied
The formula is:
12 x pounds
÷ ppm = drops
What that says in plain English is the following:
12, multiplied by the number of pounds of body weight of the person, divided by the ppm of the product, equals the number of drops of the product that it is safe for the person to take per daybecause it will result in an amount of silver intake that is equal to about 25% of the amount of silver the EPA suggests as the safety guideline (RfD) for the upper limit of daily silver intake.
Note: In converting drops to teaspoons and fluid ounces, use the following conversions:
1 teaspoon = approximately 100 drops (actually, about 105 drops)
1 ounce = approximately 600 drops (actually, about 630 drops), or 6 teaspoons
The 12-for-25 rule can be applied to the ingestion of any product that contains silver, regardless of whether it is commercially produced or made at home and regardless of whether the product is called ionic or colloidal or nano or anything else. (Note that CRUSH strongly advises against homemade silver products unless very diligent steps are taken to determine the ppm of silver in the product being produced. Note, too, that it is not always sufficient to rely on a manufacturer's labeling claims with respect to the ppm of silver in the product. Prudence is advised.)
It maintains that
a basic rule of thumb that's probably more than safe is that if your
daily intake of silver from a dietary supplement is less than about
25% of the silver that the EPA recommends as safe for daily oral ingestion
of silver, you're probably fine. This is like saying that if the EPA's
suggested limits on silver concentration in drinking water are exactly
met, and a person drinks a liter of water per 77 pounds of body weight,
obtaining the equivalent of 25% of that much silver with a dietary supplement
will result in about the same amount of silver as their drinking an
additional 25% of a liter of their water per 77 pounds of body weight.
All things considered,
the 12-for-25 rule should obviously be a very reliable safety
To calculate how
much that would be, here are some general mathematical guidelines:
The EPA Reference
Dose ("RfD"), the recommended safe daily intake limit of
silver from all sources, is:
("mg"), which is 5 micrograms ("mcg"), per kilogram
(which is about 2.2 pounds) of body weight.
into saying the RfD is about 2.27 mcg per pound of body weight per
To target no more
than 25% of that, you'd want your silver intake from dietary supplements
to consist of no more than 0.5675 mcg of silver per pound of body
weight per day.
To calculate that
is a bit more tricky.
We'll start by
assuming that a drop of water-based ionic silver complex or colloidal
silver from a typical dropper contains approximately 0.04683 grams
of water* at room temperature based on what we know. (This converts
to about 21.3583 drops per gram, and assumes a cc is equal to a gram,
which is true to within two-tenths of one percent at room temperature.)
Translating that into silver concentration, we have the following:
A drop of a
1-ppm silver product from a dropper contains roughly about 0.04683
mcg of silver.
A drop of a
10-ppm silver product from a dropper contains roughly about 0.4683
mcg of silver.
A drop of a
100-ppm silver product from a dropper contains roughly about 4.683
mcg of silver.
Thus, the silver
content of a drop of any given silver product from an eye dropper
is roughly about:
is the silver concentration, in parts per million, of the given
(How much silver
may be contained in a spray depends on the particular dispenser. A
reasonable assumption is that a spray may contain on average the equivalent
of roughly about three drops.)
A teaspoon may
contain about anywhere from 80 to 100 drops, depending on the reference
source you use. For our calculation purposes, we'll call it 100 drops
to be conservative (to end up consuming less silver).
With that information,
we can now calculate how much it takes to be within 25% of the RfD.
The formula for
the calculation to determine how many drops per day is within the
12-for-25 rule is:
(pounds of body
weight x 0.5675) ÷ (ppm v
which can also
be represented as:
(pounds of body
weight ÷ ppm) · (0.5675 ÷
or, in a simpler
pounds of body
weight ÷ ppm x 12.1183 = safe
number of drops per day
pounds ÷ ppm = drops
or, rounding it
off (to within about 1%) for further simplification, we have the final
12-for-25 formula of:
pounds ÷ ppm = drops
which is the same
by pounds of body weight divided by ppm of the product equals the
number of drops of the product that can be taken per day that will
comprise an amount of silver that's less than 25% of the RfD (EPA
recommended safe daily limit of silver from all sources).
For example, say
a person weighing 180 pounds has a silver product that has a silver
concentration of 20 parts per million, and they want to know how much
of the particular product they can take per day that would comprise
an amount of silver that's less than 25% of the RfD suggested daily
limit of silver from all sources. The math they would perform is as
25% of the RfD
for their body weight is "180 pounds multiplied by 0.5675 mcg"
which equals 102.15 mcg. That's the total quantity of silver they're
going to target as a daily intake limit.
The amount of
silver in a drop of their 20-ppm silver is "20 multiplied by
0.04683 mcg" which is 0.9366 mcg.
mcg (total silver target) divided by 0.9366 mcg (amount in a drop)"
tells them that about 109 drops is how many drops of their 20-ppm
product they want to limit themselves to per day since that will
comprise an amount of silver that's less than 25% of the RfD.
So, the formula
way of reaching the same figure (within about 1%) is using the 12-for-25
pounds ÷ ppm = drops
180 ÷ 20 = 108 drops
(If we look
at the average conversion to teaspoons, roughly one teaspoonful
should be a reliably safe amount.)
As a second example,
say a 210-pound person has a 100-ppm silver product.
The long form
of the math would be:
0.5675) ÷ (100 x 0.04683) =
way of reaching the same figure (within about 1%), using the "12-for-25"
pounds ÷ ppm = drops
210 ÷ 100 = 25.2 drops
rule should keep just about everyone within very safe limits for ongoing
daily use of any silver product.
Just remember that
the government's RfD is based on a lifetime of consumption, so it stands
to reason that most people have plenty of room for making up the difference.
It takes a lot of silver to cause argyria. That's why so few people
have ever developed it, even with the irresponsible claims made by the
manufacturers of some silver products, with the existence of silver
in our food and water supply, and with perhaps millions of people having
used silver products.
manufacturer's safety report
An excellent report
on ensuring safe levels of silver usage is the Silver
100 Safety Report, published by Invision International, Inc.,
manufacturers of a dietary supplement containing silver. It puts together
some of the most pertinent government reports and regulations related
to silver safety. Once you get a feel for
the math that's shown in that report, you'll be able to make similar
calculations based on the ppm and intended dosing of virtually any silver
product you plan on taking. Of course, the 12-for-25 rule provides a simple calculation to do that for you.
We will be searching
for other examples of responsibly researched and presented safety information,
and welcome anything you would like to bring to our attention along
those lines for our review.
Questionable manufacturers' claims
have seen some very irresponsible claims in promotional materials. We
suspect that some manufacturers really believe their own claims, while
others are not so concerned with facts as with promotion. In either
case, the consumer and the entire industry suffer when manufacturers
fail to do their homework before making claims, especially when those
claims relate directly to product safety.
claim: colloidal silver can't cause argyria
Some colloidal silver
manufacturers claim that because it's colloidal silver, or because it's
a certain form of colloidal silver (such as produced using AC/DC current,
or pure elemental silver, or any one of a number of descriptions), it
cannot lead to argyriaand it is therefore claimed that an individual
can safely consume considerable (if not unlimited) quantities of the
given product on an ongoing basis without being concerned about argyria.
The fact is that there is no scientific data of which we are aware that
reasonably supports the conclusion that colloidal silver of any form
is less likely to contribute towards argyria than any other form of
claim: colloidal silver only kills bad bacteria but not good bacteria
The body contains
a remarkable quantity of beneficial bacteria, primarily in the gastrointestinal
tract, that is vital to a healthy body. In fact, the same form of bacteria
can be vitally necessary and beneficial at some times and life threatening
at other times, depending on the location in the body and the quantity
of the bacteria. Some colloidal silver manufacturers claim that their
product, either because it's colloidal silver or for some "special"
reasons, only kills the bad bacteria in the body but not the good or
beneficial bacteria. We are not aware of any scientific data to reasonably
support the position that any silver product is selective in the kind
of bacteria that it will or won't kill.
claims: ppm of homemade colloidal silver products
Equipment and instructions
for making homemade colloidal silver products are available in many
forms, from buying parts at the local hardware and electronics store
to buying ready-to-use equipment. In essentially all cases, the silver
concentration or ppm of the resultant mixture will vary, usually very
widely, from batch to batch and, in fact, through the production cycle
of any one given batch. (Other wide variations in terms of particle
sizes and overall composition are typical with homemade products as
well.) Regardless of whether a manufacturer claims that a given ppm
will result, this should not be taken at face value. Certainly some
equipment manufacturer's or providers of do-it-yourself instructions
are more knowledgeable and reputable than others, Nonetheless, it is
highly advisable to test each batchby sending a sample out to
a lab if necessaryfor silver concentration before use, especially
when considering long-term, ongoing use of the product.
Questionable claims: taking an amount of silver with the supplement that “equals” the EPA Oral RfD for silver (350 mcg for an average adult) is safe
The manufacturers of some silver supplement products have published so-called "safety" information incorrectly citing the EPA Oral Reference Dose (RfD) for silver in implying that a person can safely take a quantity of their silver product that results in consuming 350 mcg of silver per day. The EPA Oral Reference Dose (RfD) for silver is indeed 350 mcg of silver per day for an “average” (154-pound) adult. However, the RfD is a suggested safety limit for daily oral intake of silver from all sources. In citing the RfD as a guideline for safe usage of a dietary supplement containing silver, it is imperative to address the fact that a substantial portion of the RfD limit is already being used up by the silver in the average individual’s food and drinking water intake, which must be subtracted from the RfD in order to determine what is available for silver from other sources such as a silver supplement. Additionally, the RfD varies based on the individual’s body weight. In order to determine a reasonable usage level for any silver supplement based on the EPA RfD for silver, one must first allow for the silver in the food and water intake as well as make adjustments for the individual’s body weight. (Note that the 12-for-25TM rule does just that.)
Questionable claims: taking silver products by the teaspoon or ounce that contain 2,000-ppm, 3,000-ppm and higher of silver is safe
Some companies sell products they refer to as "colloidal," "ionic" or "nano" silver, which contains silver concentrations as high as 2,000 ppm of silver, 3,000 ppm of silver, and even higher, while suggesting that one should use it by the teaspoonful or even by the ounce per day. This is extraordinarily irresponsible labeling and obviously results in the intake of silver levels far, far in excess of the RfD when one looks at the math. Again, all their claims about their products being "exempt" from contributing towards argyria due to the form of silver or size of the colloidal particles they may claim to have are entirely without any scientific support.
* Note that the exact volume of a drop of liquid will vary, depending on the viscosity of the liquid, shape of the dropper, speed, temperature, and so forth. The figures shown are based on an estimated volume of 0.04683 mcg per drop of the given silver supplement (which is assumed to be water-based).
The 12-for-25 rule is a trademark of Invision International Health Solutions, Inc.